Travel Tips For Retirees
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Why You Need A Travel Journal

When I was young, my dad always carried around one of those enormous camcorders. It was heavy, bulky, and he seemed to be a bystander looking in on our vacation adventures. We are going to explore the reasons why you need a travel journal and how fill all those blank pages.

As I began traveling with my own children, I had a small camera and a travel journal. I wanted to be part of the experience while keeping track of precious memories with my family.

Now, with my grandchildren in tow, I carry my phone. Any notes I need I either take a photo or send myself and email. Then, when I have down time at the pool, at breakfast, or late in the evening, I transfer my thoughts to my travel journal.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in affiliate advertising programs like Amazon designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees, there is no additional cost to you. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

What Are Travel Journals

why you need a travel journal
Photo Credit: Marcos Paulo Upsplash

I am the trip family planner. Years ago, I would arm myself with AAA Trip Tics, a good old-fashion paper map, and the half used spiral bound notebooks my cherubs discarded at the end of the school year.

Now I use Google Docs and Trello Boards to keep all of my information organized. My bulky camera has morphed into the ubiquitous cell phone. I still like to have a book of maps in the car, you never know when your cell service will go AWOL. My writing journal is fancier, but is still an integral part of my travel must-haves.

Itinerary Planner

Unless you are traveling to an all-inclusive, never leaving the resort, type of vacation an itinerary of some sorts will keep you on time and organized.

I keep all my notes, reservations, and addresses in a Google Doc itinerary, it’s the perfect tool for organizing a trip and capable of keeping live web links, maps, and day-by-day activities. However, it is data service dependent, so I keep a hard copy tucked in my journal.

Once my itinerary is pretty solid, I transfer the information to my travel journal. I like to write it in, I am a writer after all, but a stapled copy of the Google Doc itinerary works well too. Once it’s in the journal, I feel confident that we are covered when we encounter stretches of no WI-FI signal. An itinerary safety net if you will.

Adventure Record

why you need a travel journal
Bistro 17, Orlando Florida, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Of course, your journal is your adventure record. I like to write in my journal early in the morning or late in the evening, that way it doesn’t interfere with my fun time. To keep my memories of the events fresh, I take a lot of photos. With your phone, its so easy. I take photos of signs, locations, things that interest me, etc. These are memory-jogging pic that will be deleted once I transfer the information into my journal. The don’t need to be pretty. For example, I toured all the hotels at Universal for The Ultimate Guide To Universal Orlando Resorts Hotels. Before I even entered each hotel, I took a quick pic of the sign so I could keep track of what pictures went with which hotels. All those pools look very much alike!

I also like to use videos to describe the feel of a place or experience, and again I delete them once I’ve recorded the information. This cuts down on phone storage overuse.

There are photos I keep, of course, but many of the ones I take are for reference not posterity. Have the photos also helps if I go a day or two before logging in my journal. The next adventure is always more important than documenting what has gone by.

What you record is up to you, you are the writer of this story.

How To Overcome The Fear Of Blank Pages

why you need a travel journal
Photo Credit: Clay Banks from Upsplash

Your Itinerary Will Fill Your First Pages

The first way to overcome the blank page scares is to add your itinerary to your travel journal. Add it before you even begin to pack. Adding your plans to your journal will add to the excitement of the upcoming adventure and get you off and writing about the trip. An added bonus, it solves the white pages issue before you even begin your next adventure. What are your goals for this trip? Write them down. Do you want to relax by the pool every day? Are you interested in exploring the region’s food? Wine? Maybe it is an activity based trip and you want to climb a mountain?

Add your trip expectations and wishes to your travel journal, they will help keep you focused.

Put Pen To Paper By Taking Notes

why you need a travel journal
Plymouth, MA, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Find a chair with a beautiful view and just soak up the atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the here-and-now, what do you see, how does it smell, use your senses as a jumping off point to get your pen moving across the journals’ page. If you are a perfectionist, then use a notebook to record your travel ideas, thoughts, etc. Later, at home, transfer these notes into beautifully written prose to record your world travels.

I know many writers that prefer a compact pocket travel journal. They are in the habit of writing down prompts as they go through their day. I prefer to use my camera and email as a notebook. However, a small, pocket size notebook and a golf pencil work wonderfully for this type of note taking.

Details Make The Best Travel Journals

Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

How many or how few details you record is up to you. I love writing about food and wine, so I tend to journal all the little details on my plate. “Bathed in a buttery Beurre Blanc sauce, the succulent P.E.I. mussels played happily with the crusty baguette. ” Okay, now I’m hungry!

You know when you hear a song and it brings back a certain time and place. the best travel journals capture that feeling. They are like the ear-worm of seeing the world.

Tips For Filling Blank Pages Of A Journal

I want to share a few tips about journaling by exploring some of my trips with you. Below are some prompts and questions you can ask yourself and answer in your journal. It’s not just about filling the blank space, it’s about your personal travel diary entries, your personal memories.

Where did you go?

Boston’s Back Bay, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Simple, right? This is the easiest thing to capture in your travel journal. The best travel stories start with when I was in …..

My heart is in Boston, we live just outside the city, and love to wander around the winding, hilly streets. Spending a day just walking around exploring the different neighborhoods we often find new and surprising adventures. Taking a photo keeps the details in the front of my memory until I can get them down on paper.

How much did you spend?

Paris, Photo Credit: Barbara Quinn

Again, another easy way to get words down in your journal. Sometimes I not fond of adding up all the dollars that are going out; but it can be a good lesson in better planning.

Big trips mean spending money, sometimes it flows out so quickly and you can easily loose track. The receipts end up in every pocket of my backpack and usually they are in a different currency. I keep a page in my journal just for expenses. If I have a good day exploring free venues, then I can comfortably splurge for fancy French dinner. If I buy spur-of-the-moment tickets to a private tour, then I might be looking for a small bistro for a quiche served with the house wine. It’s all about balance.

How did it make you feel?

Giants’ Causeway Northern Ireland, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

This is an opportunity to use all those wonder descriptive adjectives you have floating in your head. It was uplifting, invigorating, joyous, confident, etc.

When we were in Northern Ireland, we climbed the Giants’ Causeway. Scrambling over the outcroppings in the freezing cold weather with the chilly wind off the Atlantic blowing in our face was otherworldly. Climbing the rugged, barren landscape felt like we were hiking the moon’s surface on a cold day.

What did you enjoy?

Flamingos in St. Thomas, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

I find this is the easiest question to answer. After all, isn’t the point of traveling to have fun and enjoy the journey.

I just adore flamingos. I love birds, and these long legged pink beauties are one of my favorite. I’d have plastic ones on my lawn if my hubby let me. It was a special moment for me to capture this flock. The photo was taken in 1990, so the image quality is poor, but the happiness it brings me makes it worth keeping.

Why did you love it (or not)?

Paella Cooking Class, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There is a fine line between enjoying something and loving something.

We took a paella cooking class when we visited Barcelona. My husband doesn’t cook, but he enjoyed the experience. My friends and I have a passion for discovering new foods and love to cook. This was one of the highlights of my visit to Spain. In my travel journal, the notation is I LOVED IT!

What did you learn?

How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona
Bistro view from Montjuic, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Travel teaches us any number of things; cultural understanding, self expression, new ideas, self confidence, and more.

To reach the top of this gorgeous mountain in Barcelona, you can take a bus. That doesn’t make such a good story. So we took a little cable car that stretched high above the harbor. While the little tin can we were riding in swayed in the wind, I realized, even though I was afraid of the height, I could enjoy the adventure. As soon as I let go of my fear, my vision cleared and I could see all around for miles. This was one of those ah ha moments for me. I learned to take a deep breath, and just experience the moment.

My reward, a beautiful view to enjoy an Estrella and one of the best travel experiences of the trip.

Who did you meet?

Vail, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There is the opportunity to meet so many interesting people when you travel. Engaging locals in conversation will usually lead to great ideas about where to go and what to see. Adding personal stories to your journal is a fun way to explore an area.

I’m not a skier any more, but my family still loves to ski. One time at Vail, we were lucky enough to rent a flat in the village with a view of the mountain. I took a food tour one day, all by my self, and met the most interesting people. The guide was a local chap and knew everyone in town. My journal was full of interesting people that day.

Do you want to go again?

Pebble Beach, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There are so many wonderful and interesting places to travel in the world. For me, they have to be extremely beautiful, interesting, and enjoyable to go back again.

Pebble Beach and coastal California is one of those “best travel” places. We didn’t get to play when we visited due to time restraints, but we will definitely plan a trip back. Living here must be like waking up in a beautiful dream every day.

Notebooks Vs Travel Journals

Lined notebooks are just as good as a classic leather journal. However, once you start writing your travel journals you will want something beautiful to capture and hold your words. The feel of a leather journal in my hand inspires me to share my very best travel stories. I have always loved a diary, the best travel journals are just a traveling diary record.

Documenting Travel Adventures

Maroon Bells, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

My goal to day is to inspire you to document your personal travel memories. Time passes so quickly and we should enjoy our getaways, search for new travel adventures, and jot down all the wonderful stories we encounter in our journey.

Inspiration For Your Travel Journal

You don’t have to travel around the world to write in your travel journal. The best places to practice journaling is on local explorations. Travelers can be locals. Try a few of these ideas to get you started journaling.

  • hikes
  • restaurants
  • famous sites
  • natural wonders
  • maps
  • outings of all sorts
  • city guides
  • shopping
  • unique stories
  • personal stories

Kids And Travel Journals

Street Art Tour, Denver, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Make journalism fun for these wonderful little travelers. Photo journalism is a great way for kids to be part of the game. Give them a camera or an old phone and let them go photo crazy. Spend time helping them with some of the composition basics and then let them explore the artistic process.

As the education system morphs due to the pandemic, our kids are experiencing more history and culture first hand. Part of their curriculum is begin able to translate what they see, feel, experience; this will service them well as they grow and explore the world as adults.

You don’t have to buy them fancy travel journals, although I’m sure they would love one. The idea is to get them writing about what they did, saw, and felt on their travel adventures.

Getting Comfortable With Writing

Maybe you want to be come a writer. The best way to become great at writing is to put pen to paper daily. Write in a notebook, type on a computer, compose in a journal. The more you write the faster the words come to you, the more descriptive your vocabulary becomes, and the ability to collect your thoughts cohesively improves with practice. Like every other task we undertake, repetition is key to success; practice not perfection.

You will find your own personal style through consistent writing. Do you love the art of dramatic story telling? How about exploring your comedic bent? A how-to guide is always a hit and sometimes difficult to execute. There is a keen sense of satisfaction garnered from putting your thoughts on paper. The best travel journals are very personal accounts of details seen through your “travelers eye.” Only you can create stories from your unique perspective.

You can become a writer, it time to map our your personal journal story. There are so many journalistic avenues that are associated with travel writing. The list is extensive, but using these ideas will help you get started putting pen to paper.

  • Itinerary building
  • Personality profiles
  • Photo journalism
  • Story telling
  • Food and libation
  • Activities
  • Personal stories
  • Inspirational stories

Lined Vs Unlined Travel Journal

Whether you prefer a collection of notebooks or a leather bound journal, any bound paper will work, the ultimate goal is to capture your wonderful memories down on the page.

Do you like to draw, then an unlined journal may be just the thing. I can’t draw, but I know many journalist who can capture the essence of a time and place with just a few artistic lines that make the page come to life.

Writing in a lined journal with a leather cover, it makes me feel writerly. I like a classic, plain cover with lots of narrow lined pages. Each writer needs to explore what is their personal travel journal style. Any journal that gets you writing is the best travel journal for you.

The Best Travel Journals

Amazon is amazing right, you can find anything you want right at your computer. Below are a few great travel journals that are practical. Below are my thoughts on why the best travel journals below are a good brand for journaling and note taking.

Remember, a travel journal is not a planner, it is a vehicle to document where, what, how, and why we travel.

The Dragonfly Heart Travel Journal

why you need a travel journal

The Dragonfly Heart Journal. It has a clasp – love that. Since it is also refillable, so you can use it for a very long time. It is a good investment piece. The size is great – 5 x 8, so it will fit in your backpack and even your pocketbook. Its made from faux leather for the vegan crowd. The price is good too.

Vintage Style Leather Travel Journal

why you need a travel journal
Leather Journal Writing Notebook

This Leather Journal Writing Notebook is super old school and travel journalist chic. It has a cool vintage vibe and will make you feel like you stepped out of a Casaba in Casablanca on an assignment for the New York Times. The price is good, it is a quality leather journal, and is a manageable size at 5 x 7. The pages are stitched in, so when you have filled it up, you need to purchase a new one. Which I love, it’s like that going-back-to-school feel full of new possibilities.

Travel Journal For Kids

Travel Journal For Kids

Get your cherubs off to a great start with their own little travel journal diary. The Travel Journal For Kids has preprinted pages with cues to inspire them what to jot down. I has only 60 pages, so it will cover a few trips, which will give them a feeling of accomplishment when it is completed. The size is 6 x 9, doable for small hands. The spiral binding helps to keep their pencil and book together. Happy bonus, it’s offered at an excellent price.

That’s A Travel Journal Wrap

I hope you have discovered why you need a travel journal. Now that we are able to travel again, it’s time to grab your travel journal or notebook and hit the ground running.

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  1. I absolutely love the idea. That would be great as a souvenir but also great when it’s time to write our blog post. Thanks for sharing ideas on how to start journaling.

  2. I definitely need a dedicated travel journal! I use a notebook on some trips, and my phone on others. If I had the journal, my note taking would definitely be more consistent!

  3. I do love taking along a travel journal! Mine has become more of a notebook, full of notes before I go. I add to those as I travel and then use all those notes to create posts when I get home.

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