As we are gearing up for summer and planning our travels, one of the first things I anticipate and excitedly plan for is my summer travel journal. I started keeping one a few years ago on our annual road trip to Michigan, and now it’s one of my favorite activities of the summer. Not only does the completed journal become a keepsake (my kids love looking at my old Michigan journals with me)–documenting so many things on our trip I would otherwise completely forget–but the activity creates a space for gratitude and helps me slow down during exciting adventures and really think about all the things I’m discovering and enjoying and my favorite moments on the trip.
It’s also a great activity for kids during travel. Lainey and I often side-by-side journal, a great creative bonding activity for us. And before big trips, I love getting her all set up with a little package of supplies that will make journaling fun–stickers and washi tape, colored pencils, a few good pens, and a little bag to keep it all in.
I change up how I journal every year, but last year was my favorite travel journaling experience. I had the sweetest blank book journal, handmade by my friend, and I wrote in it every single day, drawing pictures and writing down all the things that were making me happy on our trip. Every morning, I poured my coffee, lit a candle and sat down to color and write whatever I could think of that was memorable the day before–something I wore that made me happy, something funny Dash said, a dinner we enjoyed together on my dad’s back deck, my favorite scenes from a town we visited. And then my kids got all into it, wanting to see the new journal pages every day.
Want to keep a travel journal this year? Do it! Even if you’re not taking any trips, journaling through summer can help create a tourist perspective and help you reflect on things you love, making even the places you experience every day seem suddenly more special. Before you get started, here are a few things that have helped make our journaling experience more meaningful and fun:
Dig & Co. Adventure Journal & Travel Case
I used this journal last year, and I loved it. The size is perfect, the pages are all blank so you can completely freestyle your entries, it’s handmade and personalized with whatever you want on the front, and it comes in the sweetest wool case. I have looked back through this journal several times this year after we returned, and it never fails to make me happy.
I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded (Chronicle)
This year, I’m keeping just a small 5/5 watercolor sketch journal to paint favorite things on my trip, so I’m using this journal with it to document other adventures. It’s full of the most fun, creative prompts (I have a feeling Lainey will love it too) like writing down snippets of conversations you hear from people talking on their phone and writing down what you imagine the person on the other line is saying, asking people you meet for recipes, recording colors you see, making press releases for your daily adventures. I’m so excited to fill it this summer.
Square Watercolor Journal (5×5)
I bought one of these for me and one for Lainey for this summer. The goal is to illustrate one spread a day with a scene we remembered from the day. I love how little and simple it is (perfect to keep in my purse).
Kids Travel Journal (Mudpuppy)
This is a great beginner travel journal for kids. It includes some great prompts as well as lots of free space for their own writing.
What to Journal
So now you have a journal for your travels–what do you put in it? The sky is the limit! Sure, you can simply record what you did and saw every day, but travel journaling gets really fun when you color outside the lines and include all sorts of other details from the trip.
Tape pictures and ticket stubs in it, draw, doodle, color. Here’s a list of fun things to include while you’re journaling:
– Places you visit
– Great meals you ate
– Things you fell in love with
– Fun souvenirs you bought
– Funny things that happened on trip
– Favorite moments
– Quotes from people on the trip
– Things you wore
– Tape or tuck in pockets: pictures, postcards, bumper stickers, ferry tickets, plane tickets, event tickets, brochures, receipts to a great meal
– Write down all the songs from your road trip playlist and rate them 1-10
– Make a list of the favorite things you packed in your suitcase for the trip (your kids will love reading this someday)
– Keep a list of your favorite smells from the trip
– Write down detailed steps for the perfect s’more you made at the first summer campfire
– Describe in detail your favorite breakfast from your travels
– Document a new recipe discovered on your trip (your sister’s dill dressing, your Bed & Breakfast owner’s pineapple smoothie)
– Write down all the songs you chose on the jukebox at the mountain lodge you stayed at
– Document all the things you bought thrifting
– Take pictures of your family members standing in front of something that’s the same color as their outfit and tape them in journal.
– Take pictures of a family member doing handstands in funny places on trip and tape them in journal.
– Do daily challenges like “5 Things that are Yellow that I Saw Today” or “5 Things that Remind me of Love I Noticed Today”
One of our favorite things for trips is our Polaroid ZIP Printer.
It’s this itty bitty printer that fits in my purse, and it requires no ink–the magic is in the paper. It connects to my phone, and I can print any pictures I take in a matter of a few seconds. The back paper on the photo can be peeled off to turn the photo into a sticker, so you can add photos to your travel journal in a snap.
I’ve had a couple different portable printers like this as well as Instax cameras, and this, by far, prints the best photos. I have a photo printed from this printer on my refrigerator, and it’s been there three years and hasn’t faded.
Not everyone likes to get arty in their journals, but I love drawing and coloring in mine. Art supplies we keep in our journal bag:
Watercolor Pocket Paint Set
Sakura Micron Pens (won’t bleed with the watercolor paints)
Prismacolor Pencils (we also use Crayola)
Draw 500 Nature Things The best little drawing book
20 Ways to Draw a Dress
Stickers: Michael’s and Joann’s both have a great selection of travel stickers including specific destinations. I’m not as “scrapbooky” as I used to be, but Lainey loves adding these to her journals.
Travel Journal “Pen Pals”
One other way to make travel journaling extra fun, especially for kids, is to find journal partners. This year, we’re pairing up with our Nashville friends who are also traveling this summer. We bought the same journals, and at least once a week, we’ll take photos of our journal pages and the things we’ve recorded and text them to our journal friends and vice versa. Kind of like pen pals. :o) It’s a great way to share adventures, and a fun challenge to keep us creative and committed to our trip documentation.