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Why I Started Keeping a Travel Journal

Ok listen:  I love my iPhone as much as you probably love yours.  I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t rely heavily on my phone (however, to date myself I am actually old enough to have owned a pager).  This especially comes into play when I travel!  I’ve even written a post on the Best Apps for Foreign Travel.  Smart phones are amazing! They come in handy!  Hooray!  But I also have to acknowledge how much of my time is spent, accessible and connected, via my phone (and just about every other device I own) and how that shapes my days.  While I wouldn’t change it I do have to admit just how distracting it can be at times and how it can actually detract from experiences, especially when it comes to traveling.

I will typically make notes in my phone to remind myself of things to do or the name of a place/dish/person/book/whatever to come back to later.  So it would stand to reason that I would do this when I travel, too.  I take notes about the names of specific places or people I come across or make references to specific photos taken or recommendations. I also take about a million pictures with my phone each trip! I have started to become more aware of what having my phone in my hand does to me, regardless of the reason I’m using it.  This is why I’ve made a conscious effort to go old school:  with a travel journal!

I grabbed a small notebook that’s been sitting in my office, unused, for a few years (I know, I know) and threw some extra pens in my bag with the idea of utilizing it on my most recent trip through Central America.  In all honesty I’ve been sort of dragging my feet about keeping a physical travel journal after viewing a bunch on Instagram and Pinterest that looked too perfect to be real. I focused more on how my drawings would look and what I would write and what kind of markers I should use…and then I realized that regardless of whether or not the Insta/Pinterest journals were real it wasn’t relevant to me.  I’m not going to be taking photos of my travel journal because it’s mine.  For me and me alone.  So it doesn’t matter if it’s scribbles or terrible hand drawn maps or a collection of haiku about tropical fruit:  it’s only mine.  After realizing this I was more excited than ever to have one!  Here are a few positive benefits I noticed while using my travel journal:

  • I was less distracted than when I use my phone.  Physically writing down details/notes/whatever into my little book didn’t take away from my surroundings or cause me to sneak a peek at my email (or Instagram or Facebook).
  • I felt more inclined to spend time on detailing what I was writing about instead of quickly typing up notes in my phone.  The simple act of writing with pen to paper pulled more out of me than I would have thought.
  • Back to the distractions:  it can be so easy to compare where you are with someone else’s documentation of the same place (*ahem* Instagram *ahem*) and feel a sense of disappointment or that you’re missing out.  Real talk: comparison is horrendous.  But when you’re granting yourself permission to unplug and to focus on what’s important to you (and only documenting what stands out to you personally) you really connect with where you are.  Less distractions/comparisons equal more enjoyment.
  • You don’t look ridiculous with your phone in your hand at all times, just saying.
Yes, a phone was used to take this but it was snapped quick and then put away to enjoy the day!

Just to clarify: I’m not trashing phones! I still carry mine with me everywhere but have noticed a benefit for me personally when keeping a journal. You prefer to type everything up in your phone? Go for it! It’s whatever works best for you in a particular situation/setting. Going forward I’m definitely going to stick with my travel journal.  I’ll still always have my phone, of course, but it could use a little vacation itself every now and again.

Do you use a travel journal?  What do you love about it?

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  1. Beth

    November 7, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I love my phone too, but there is something more personal about writing in a journal. Although sometimes I can’t even read my own writing, I enjoy the process more when I have a pen in hand.

  2. Trent Peek

    November 8, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I love travel journals, as I came across one I made when I was 15 and traveled Europe on a school trip. It’s neat to see how my brain worked back then and why I am the way I am now.

  3. Stephanie

    November 8, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I love the idea of travel journaling. In fact, I tend to journal things like this too, but I do it all on my phone. I should start keeping a notebook with me to do it on paper. That sounds so nice to be able to look back on.

  4. Rebecca Sanchez

    November 8, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I think journaling itself is great for your mind and spirit. The act of tactically expressing thoughts, feelings, and observations engages our mind differently. With so much phone use, we really need to do meditation to release our minds from always being on. In a way that’s what journaling does for us!

  5. Julie

    November 8, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve never used one but I really like the idea. It’s almost like a little souvenir from every place you visit!

  6. Mistle

    November 9, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I too use my phone a lot when I travel! Taking photos or notes while seeing all the sights around me. However, when I was younger I used a travel journal to keep up with everything I loved! I need to start doing this again! Loved that you starting using a journal for traveling!

  7. Abby

    November 9, 2019 at 10:18 am

    I agree completely that there’s something different about putting pen to paper. I love the convenience of my iPhone as well, but I tend to carry around a real notebook too!

  8. Amanda

    November 9, 2019 at 11:09 am

    A travel journal is such a great idea! You can then go back and read what you saw that day.

  9. Christa

    November 9, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I love this! As much as I love and rely on technology, there’s something so special about writing in a notebook. Also, I literally have a basket of pretty, unused notebooks in my office. Does this keep me from buying more pretty notebooks? Nope. ?

  10. Melissa

    November 10, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    I don’t have a travel journal but it seems like a great idea. Especially to write down what we were feeling in a certain place. I will need to try it!

  11. Jerrieal Small

    November 10, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    The phones and technology can be distracting at times, I don’t have a travel journal but I do have a regular journal that I like to write in from time to time.

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