How to make a travel journal

Travel journal cover

My grandmother is currently downsizing from her 3 bed home where she has lived for the past 30 odd years to a 1 bed apartment in a warden retirement home. She’s very excited about her new life, at the prospect of meeting lots of new friends but we are going through the process of what to keep and what to throw away. It’s a tough job and a long one.

Travel Journals – a thing of the past?

Today during our keep/chuck ceremony we stumbled across her travel journals. I remember these back from my childhood when I would spend hours watching her make them, passing her the empty sugar sachet or postcard to stick in. I was fascinated about the journal and about the travels and the story they told as I turned the pages.

travel journal collage

Back to the present, we sat down for a long while going through them; me, living her travel through the pages, she, reliving the moment and remembering all sorts of things from those travels. I never knew she would have moved to New Zealand she loved it so much.

What is a travel journal?

A travel journal is more than a photograph album, it’s a memory book that captures all sorts of moments. It’s a bit like a Time Capsule because as you open the pages you are transported back to that moment in time and how fantastic is that for our children who are quick to forget but when prompted by a photo or a memory it all comes flooding back?

Travel journal

What a brilliant idea for them to sit and write or draw or create as you go through the holiday creating a bit of quiet time in the busy schedule of Eat. Beach. Sleep. Repeat. What a great idea to keep them alert and on the lookout for signs of the new place you are visiting

What do I need to make a Travel Journal?

The beauty is you can be as frugal as you wish, the joy that a travel journal gives is the creativity and the recording of the holiday memory through your eyes.

There are travel journals online to buy, take a look at Midori and fauxdori for inspiration, put those search terms into Pinterest and the page will come alive. Then check out my Pinterest Travel Journal board I’ve been creating

A very simple notebook can do the trick but if you intend to stick things in like me then a ring binder will allow more space between the pages.

travel journal verona

What else do I need?

  • A pen and the desire to create a memory
  • Fine point colour felts
  • scissors
  • highlighters
  • washi tape
  • glue stick
  • paper clips
  • post its
  • scrapbooking coloured paper
  • coloured pencils
  • felt pens – watch out they don’t bleed through to the next page
  • a zip bag to keep it all in.
  • Hard card to keep flowers to dry in
  • Plastic bags for collecting items on the go

I’m sure there’s plenty more you could take but I’ll stop there for now, you get the idea.

travel journal kit

Do a little prep before you go

Find a map of the area you are going to and stick it in, have a search on internet for what’s to see, what food is typical, drinks to try and where.

Write a Top Ten Things To Do list, a What I need to remember list. You’re getting excited – write about it! What I am hoping the weather will be like, what I am most looking forward to.

Parts of the holiday to cover

  • The journey – time of departure, method of travel,how long did it take, best bit?
  • Your accommodation – what, where, nicest thing? Worst thing?
  • Country facts – flag, money, language – how do you say hello?
  • Food and drink
  • Places visited
  • Souvenirs
  • Daily diary – snippets of your day
  • Overall best bit

What to collect for your journal

  • Travel tickets (plane, train, bus & metro)
  • Luggage tags – does the airline offer some at the check in desk?
  • Tourist maps & brochures (very handy for cutting out later and sticking next to photos)
  • Museum, art gallery, movie & theatre tickets
  • Menus from restaurants and cafes
  • Flowers, leaves & herbs
  • Napkins, matchbooks, business cards
  • Receipts, coins, stamps
  • Coasters & beer mats, wine labels
  • Food labels that are different, sweet wrappers, bottle caps
  • Magazines, newspaper cuttings in the local language
  • Postcards and photographs (when you get home)
  • Tags from clothes & souvenirs, shop bags
  • Sand from the beach (place in a small plastic bag), Flat sea shells & sea glass
  • Rubbings of interesting textures (graves, paving stones & metal grates)
  • Drawing or sketch
  • A small watercolor painting of something you saw, sunset, flower, view
  • Journal entry – write down what you did, how you felt and what you saw

and finally some travel quotes that you might like to use

Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before — Dalai Lama

We came. We saw. We loved.

If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.

I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

The trouble is you think you have time — Buddah

Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.

I want my toes in the sand and a cocktail in my hand.

Eat. Beach. Sleep. Repeat.

The more that you read,

The more things you will know,

The more you will learn,

The more places you will go — Dr Seuss

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.

Travel far enough you meet yourself.

Travel makes one modest: one sees what a tiny place one occupies in the world — Gustave Flaubert


  1. April 1, 2015 / 4:19 PM

    Oh Mari, this is absolutely fabulous! What a great keepsake of your grandmothers! I have a couple of scrapbooks that I made as a kid from holidays we went on – they’re a lot of fun to look back on.

    I’m totally pinning this as I need a kick to do something similar! x

    • April 1, 2015 / 7:31 PM

      Thanks Michelle, I’m so pleased you like the idea, I can’t wait to get cracking with our first one this Easter holiday.

  2. April 1, 2015 / 4:37 PM

    Gosh how lovely to have all those journals to look back in. I think I might start one with the kids. Such a lovely idea.

    • April 1, 2015 / 7:32 PM

      We’re going away over Easter so I already have one started ready for production which inspired the post. I think they are a great idea and so creative.

  3. Hannah Staveley
    April 1, 2015 / 7:38 PM

    Looks fab but would not work for me as don’t go abroad much :(c

    • April 1, 2015 / 7:45 PM

      We’re spending summer on the South Coast, Dorset and i shall do exactly the same with that holiday as there is so much to see and do and it’s a different part of the world. I wouldn’t let not going abroad stop you.

  4. April 1, 2015 / 8:00 PM

    what a wonderful idea and it would be a lovely keepsake

    • April 1, 2015 / 9:42 PM

      We really enjoyed going through them together and I’ve promised to go back and read more.

  5. April 1, 2015 / 8:59 PM

    This is brilliant and I made one of these when I went to Russia. I have also done one from visiting Florida.

    • April 1, 2015 / 9:43 PM

      Ooooh I’d love to see the Russian one I bet that’s a really interesting one.

  6. April 1, 2015 / 9:09 PM

    oh Mari, I am so loving this! .. we have lots of travel plans starting soon and this is such a lovely thing to do as a family! … I can totally see how your Grandmother loved doing these journals

    • April 1, 2015 / 9:45 PM

      Funnily enough we came across my great grandmother’s travel journal of New Zealand at the turn of the century and that was fascinating too, stuff you can’t throw away for all the right reasons.

  7. April 1, 2015 / 9:19 PM

    What an absolute treat to go through your granny’s travel journals with her, and how fab that she’s kept them for so long.

    I keep saying I’ll do this and I never get round to it but I really must, especially for family holidays, I know Ruby would love looking at them, and again when she’s older.

    • April 1, 2015 / 9:47 PM

      I’m going to rope the girls in to helping me do it, it will be a family project and they can watch and learn from me, one day they’ll be better at it than me.

  8. April 1, 2015 / 10:41 PM

    What a wonderful keepsake to have. I love the idea of collecting rubbings and collecting bits and pieces that will transport you back to a certain time and place.

    • April 2, 2015 / 8:31 AM

      I think it adds a bit more fun to the holiday too as you look with different eyes and are more aware of your surroundings.

  9. April 2, 2015 / 6:51 AM

    Love thi Mari…I made one of my trip to memphis with my mum …treasures indeed

    • April 2, 2015 / 8:32 AM

      That must be a beautiful time to look back on Becky, a treasure indeed.

  10. April 2, 2015 / 9:14 AM

    Love seeing your Grandmother’s journals, how fabulous! I love doing this with my kids. My Mum always made us keep a family holiday diary, we all wrote something every day, they are such precious memories. I found the one my husband and I did on honeymoon too. I need to sit down and make the box of honeymoon stuff into a journal – ooh great idea Mari, that would be a fun 10th anniversary present. Pass the wash tape!

    • April 2, 2015 / 1:44 PM

      Fantastic honeymoon present Penny, get cracking on that idea.

  11. April 2, 2015 / 10:04 AM

    Oh my goodness Mari those journals are just amazing. I started trying to make journals for the kids and their first holidays but I’m ashamed to say that I never got round to finishing them. I actually feel pretty bad about that now I’ve seen these.

    • April 2, 2015 / 1:45 PM

      You are not alone Penny, I have a ton of unfinished projects that need completing, I’m taking one at a time and not allowing myself to start anything new until I have cleared the decks.

  12. April 2, 2015 / 10:45 AM

    whata great idea your so lucky t be able to do this

  13. April 2, 2015 / 5:35 PM

    What a lovely idea Mari – I follow a scrapbooker on instagram and I must admit I’ve been tempted to have a go myself. What a nice way of keeping memories x

  14. April 2, 2015 / 6:12 PM

    This is such a wonderful idea. All my holiday photos are languishing in cyberspace. Perhaps it is time to print some hard copies and get creative.

  15. April 2, 2015 / 6:43 PM

    Oh Mari, I love this idea! I generally just take loads of photos which then get stored on my computer forever – I must do this!

    • April 3, 2015 / 8:40 AM

      Exactly that. It’s only when I’m hunting down a particular photo from years ago I realise how much is there.

  16. April 2, 2015 / 7:37 PM

    That’s such a lovely idea. What a great way to collect memories. I’ve pinned to my family travel board

    • April 3, 2015 / 8:41 AM

      Thank you Rebecca for pinning. I love it and am looking forward to doing our one.

  17. April 2, 2015 / 8:08 PM

    Such a lovely idea Mari. Will be fantastic to look back on one day. My children have huge scrapbooks of a lot of places we have visited. They often get in the way when they are left lying around, but they contain so many memories now!

    • April 3, 2015 / 8:42 AM

      And they become precious don’t they? Try threatening to throw them away and look at the horror on their faces, which is good as it’s their childhood they are holding on to.

  18. April 3, 2015 / 7:49 AM

    I tend to use my blog as our travel journal but the kids love taking memorabilia into school to show friends and this is a lovely idea

    • April 3, 2015 / 8:44 AM

      I use my blog too Kara but I think it’s good for the kids to get creative and I really enjoyed going through my grandmother’s journals, there was something very special about it and that’s what I hope to capture, something to hold in your hand.

  19. April 3, 2015 / 4:15 PM

    What a fabulous idea, I’ve started writing a journal this year and I think I will try to include things from any trips I make in it too, so it will be partly a travel journal too.

    • April 3, 2015 / 5:57 PM

      I started the year with a Smash book, it’s a cross between a journal and a scrapbook which inspires creativity. Where I am terrible at being regular it helps me dip in and out.
      You might be interested in the Smash it Wreck it board I set up on Pinterest, there’s a ton of ideas for journalling .

  20. April 3, 2015 / 5:11 PM

    This is such a good idea and a great way to preserve those memories x

    • April 3, 2015 / 6:01 PM

      Thank you I am glad you agree. I’ll be back at some point with a finished result I hope :)

  21. April 3, 2015 / 6:40 PM

    I have to admit that a travel journal would never have crossed my mind until reading your post. Such a lovely idea – something I’ll be looking at again before I go travelling. Stephen :o)

  22. April 5, 2015 / 10:02 PM

    I love this.
    What lovely memories.
    I made one when I went to Oz and it’s lovely looking back on and showing the children obviously weren’t there

  23. April 12, 2015 / 11:53 AM

    this is so lovely Mari, I used to make scrap books as a child and I really want to start making more grown up versions.. when I find the time! x

  24. April 13, 2015 / 9:19 AM

    What wonderful memories for you to be able to look back on from your Gran, and for you to be able to pass on too with your journals. I have one of a holiday we did with my Mum & Dad to Greece when I was 8 – and I love looking at it now! Such great tips here, and so beautifully put together as well. Thanks so much for linking up to the Parenting Pin it Party on our 100th birthday :-)

  25. April 13, 2015 / 10:11 AM

    This is a lovely idea, and all looks so pretty and effective, too. A great how-to and a special way to preserve memories.

  26. April 13, 2015 / 12:29 PM

    oh this is a really beautiful idea and I bet my boys would love to make one of their trip to France.

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