travel journal background

How to Make a Travel Journal (Diary)

When you travel, you enjoy immersing yourself in different cultures and expanding your mind to new perspectives. Time and experiences pass quickly. Every day is full of new and unique adventures, particularly when you’re visiting exciting and magical ports.

On your trip, your five senses become thoroughly engaged. And the further afield you travel, the more you get to see, hear, taste, smell and touch.

But as every traveler knows, it’s difficult to take it all in when you’re in the moment. It’s also incredibly hard to recall, relive and recapture your experiences after the fact.

create a travel journal

A travel journal can be an actual book or an online blog or vlog you use to record what happens on your trip. It is a marvelous tool to capture those experiences and memories creatively and permanently. Use a journal to capture:

  • Stories
  • Discoveries
  • Adventures
  • Beauty
  • Experiences
  • Keepsakes
  • Memories
  • Moments in time

Whether you travel once in a blue moon to Bangkok, Thailand, the world’s most popular city to visit by travelers in 2016, or are a regular Windstar Cruises cruiser, a travel journal is a wonderful keepsake of your journey that you can refer to over and over again. We’ve created a handy tutorial on how to make your own travel journal for your next trip. Let’s get started!

Steps to Making Your Own Travel Journal

Start with a shopping trip.

Gather the 5 Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

When you create your travel journal, it’s personal to you. However, there are certain items most everyone can incorporate to build their dream journal. Take the time to consider how you’ll capture memories, whether it’ll be visual, written or a bit of both. For instance, you may feel creative and wish to set up a collage or add a painting to your book.

  1. Travel Diary

Your travel diary is a paper place to collect all of the day’s thoughts and happenings. You can either have a physical diary or write one online. Either type is beneficial, depending on what you prefer and what’s easiest for you. Bookstores, craft stores, and online retailers carry blank journals for writing in.

thailand cruises or trip

Choose one with a strong binding that opens flat on a table. Remember to pick a book that fits regular postcards as you’re sure to have a lot of these. Make sure your journal is small enough to carry along with you wherever you may be.

A top tip is to buy one with acid-free paper so your sketches and writing will hold up for years without degrading.

  1. Craft Supplies

It’s likely you’ll want to stick photos, tickets, souvenirs and so on into a hard-copy travel journal. Therefore, you need craft supplies to enable you to do so. Some ideas include the following.

Buy Highlighters, Colored Pencils, Pens or Watercolors

Buy pens you’re comfortable writing with and you know you’ll use. Have tools for sketching readily available if you like to draw. You may wish to consider buying gel pens, as these write over almost anything. They also come in a variety of colors. Don’t paint directly in your journal, as this can make a mess. Instead, try painting on scraps of paper and postcards and then adding them to your journal.

Purchase Tape and/or Glue Sticks

You’ll need an adhesive or tape to attach your postcards and other mementos to your pages. Glue sticks are handy as you can place them into your bag and they don’t make a mess. You could always use plain or decorative tape to do the same job.

bringing travel supplies

Don’t Forget a Ruler and Scissors

You’ll probably want to trim down some of the materials you put in your journal. Bringing along a small pair of scissors is useful. If your book has no lines or you need to cut a straight edge, a ruler is a good tool.

You may wish to bring two pairs of scissors with you, one craft and one regular. Craft scissors that create a distinctive edge give your book a unique look.

Bring a Clear, Expandable Folder

You’ll collect all sorts of materials throughout your trip. You want to save these from potential damage and keep them in one place.

A clear, expandable folder keeps things organized and prevents any items from getting lost. You can also store your items in your folder to add to your book at a later date. Simply write your journal on your travels and leave space to add mementos afterward.

Print a Map of Your Destination

Find a map you like online. Print this out and cover your journal with it. If you visit multiple countries on your cruise, shrink the map to fit and add in the maps of all the countries you go to. You could also print out a black and white map and highlight your route with a colorful marker.

  1. Travel Apps

There are many travel apps on the market that can help you with your journal. Some notable ones include Tripcast, Exposure, and Bonjournal. Selecting the right travel apps can be almost as challenging as choosing from the many destinations you could visit. Focus on apps useful to you, whether that means an app that enables you to tag posts, drag and drop photos, or provide Instagram notifications to friends and family.

  1. Camera

You’ll need a quality camera to take images for your travel journal. Alternatively, you can use your smartphone if its camera specs meet your requirements. It probably does with today’s smartphones!

However, if you want professional results on the go, perhaps a more expensive camera or a GoPro versatile action camera/camcorder would suit you better. You can capture high-energy action shots with a GoPro and upload them to your travel blog if you have one.   

bring a copy of your map

  1. Vlog Site

If you aren’t interested in photography and writing, you can still keep a travel journal. Starting a vlog is a terrific alternative. You don’t need to worry about purchasing any new and fancy equipment. Just use the video camera on your phone along with free, simple programs such as Windows Movie Maker for basic editing.

Upload your videos to a platform, like Vimeo or YouTube, and grow your audience from there. Embed your vlog videos into your travel blog if you have one. Review existing travel vlogs to find inspiration.

Why Keep a Travel Journal?

We all travel for different reasons and pursue various types of travel. For instance, you might travel for work, since one in every eight jobs in the U.S. depend on travel and tourism. Or you might opt to travel internationally, say on a Mediterranean cruise, for pleasure, like the more than one billion people who travel abroad per year.

And just like everyone has their rationales to travel, everyone has their reasons to keep a travel journal.

Putting Your Memories in One Place

We’re all accustomed to taking selfies and photos on our phones nowadays. These are excellent ways to capture moments in time. But have you stopped to consider those conversations and events you experienced that you can’t catch on camera?

You’re likely to meet many new people sailing on your Windstar cruise or visiting new ports. Will you remember every one of their names — and their stories you listened to so attentively?

Rather than keeping a solely photographic record, a travel journal is a place where you can write down thoughts, events and opinions on what each day has brought into your life. Whether you’ve booked the Alaskan cruise of a lifetime or you’re looking to experience the intimacy and exclusivity of a small-ship cruise, you want to construct a record that you can look back on and enjoy.

No matter how unique and exciting your Windstar Cruises experiences are, you can’t rely on your memory alone. When you create a travel journal, your memories last forever — and you can bring them to life anytime you want.

Having a Keepsake of Your Travels

There’s arguably nothing nicer than getting out your journal when you feel like reminiscing about your travel experiences. You can virtually feel every moment of your trip, including the warm ocean breeze on the uncrowded deck of the 4-masted Wind Spirit sailing yacht, as you hold that travel notebook in your hands.

saving memories in a diaryYears after you’ve written it, your journal can transport you back to the sights, smells, and experiences of your trip. For example, if you wrote about the exquisite meal you had at Amphora on your Windstar yacht, you can recall the tastes of the world-class culinary experience you enjoyed. Or if you spent countless hours stargazing on an ocean crossing watching constellations drift by, you can remember the peace and tranquility on your leisurely, unscheduled days at sea.

Capturing the Little Things As They Happen

Travel is exhilarating. When you’re caught up in the moment, you might think your memory of it will last forever. You genuinely believe you won’t forget what your tour guide in Vietnam said to you or how utterly breathtaking the St. Lucia’s majestic twin Pitons looked emerging from the turquoise sea. In reality, these details are fleeting, particularly when you see so many new and beautiful places and people on a daily basis.

When you’re touring and cruising, in particular, you see a wide variety of places and immerse yourself in new cultures in a relatively short amount of time. You can forget little details if you don’t write them down soon after experiencing them. Journaling is an invaluable hobby if you want to preserve those amazing little moments in time forever.

Sharing With Your Friends and Family

Your friends and family will adore hearing all about your travels, but they might not want to sit through hours of photos and stories when you get home. When you collate your experiences in a journal or even in a blog, you can keep all of your travel highlights in one place so your loved ones will feel they’ve gone through every second of your extraordinary experiences with you.

One fascinating aspect of keeping your journal online is your family and friends can check in and see what you’re doing in real time. They see stories and photos together. A plus for you is that you don’t have to send out lots of personal emails every few days to let family and friends back home know you’re okay.

Fostering a Wonderful Creative Outlet

Many of us lose that childlike wonder about life as we grow up and gain the numerous responsibilities of everyday living. Getting away from it all is such a joy. We can feel back to our carefree selves again and once more see the world through the wide-eyed amazement of a child.

Think back to when you were young. What were your creative outlets? What did you do when you saw something new or amazing?

  • You drew it.
  • You wrote about it.
  • You took photos of it or at least asked your parents to.


Making a travel journal of your cruise inspires you to be creative — like you were in your younger days. Filling your notebook with photos and bits and pieces you’ve picked up along the way is akin to creating a travel scrapbook of happy emotions. You feel incredibly connected to these locations — almost that they’re now a part of you.

Enjoying the Ability to Share

When you travel with a spouse, partner or a friend, a shared travel journal can bring you closer and be such a joy to make.

traveling with a partner

Often, people set out with the best intentions when it comes to their journal. However, many just give up when they don’t feel like writing anymore. When you journal with a partner, on the other hand, you’re more likely to keep on top of it.

If you don’t feel like putting pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard, you always have someone there who may want to instead. Knowing you’re both sharing your journal will make you write more creatively, as there will be that added spark of friendly competition there.

Another huge bonus is you will not have to rely on just your memories. You’ll benefit from a fresh perspective from your travel mate of your shared experiences. You won’t see everything the same way, which makes co-journaling so special.

If you travel in a wider tour group, an open journal where everyone is free to write about their own and shared experiences at any time can be an excellent option. When the trip is over, photocopy it for everyone, so you all have a copy to reminisce with well after your cruise is over.

Handling Stress

Travel is exciting. From booking your cruise to the day you embark, everything is so new and intriguing. However, traveling isn’t always easy. We all like to think we have everything under control, but aspects beyond this, like missing a connecting flight due to weather, can sometimes completely derail you.

You might need to vent about it to someone or something. This is where your travel journal comes in. It’s your safe place and refuge.

Learning More About Yourself

One reason we travel is to discover more about who we are. Perhaps you hope to accomplish that by meeting new people, seeing new things and exploring more of the world that serves to open your mind in a whole new direction.

new experiences and perceptions

Travel makes you see life from a new perspective. An interesting and useful exercise to help you learn more about yourself is to capture the things that challenge your own opinions. Write down details of situations and events where you see something happening that you don’t understand or is different than what you experience in your country of residence.

Travel also broadens the mind. Your journal entries may be surprising to you in retrospect. They might make you wish to reconnect with that person you once were. Your travel journal is not just scribbles and thoughts. It’s your own personal artifact.

Journal Examples/Ideas

The most popular types of travel journals are book form, vlog and online. Let’s explore the steps you can apply to create each type of travel journal.

Example No.1: Paper Travel Journal

A travel journal in book form is the most traditional way of keeping a record of where you’ve been. Besides gathering the supplies and crafts you’ll need to create it, tips for building a paper travel journal include the following.

Write Entries As You Go

You want your journal to capture the mood of your trip. For this reason, you need to jot down things as they happen. It’s good practice to get your book out a few times a day and write down the experiences, activities and sights that come to mind. If you don’t have a chance to write at each port, consider writing about your port experiences every night in your cabin before going to bed.

Remember to get into the habit of dating every entry, so you have an accurate timeline of your trip. It’s also a good idea to add the time of day you wrote each post, too.

update your journal regularly

Set aside a specific time each day to write down your travel journaling ideas. That way, you won’t fall by the wayside. It can be helpful to write your journal while traveling from one location to the next.

On days you’re in a hurry, write down some notes on a scrap of paper that you can transcribe into your book when you get the chance. You then won’t miss out on any crucial details you might forget to put into your journal.

Decide Who You’re Writing the Journal For

A travel journal is usually something personal to remind you of your cruise. However, you may plan to share yours with your friends and family. Writing with your intended audience in mind helps you to come up with the desired tone and style. If you plan to share your journal with others, take the time to think of the details you want to add and leave out.

You might not even think of writing down the address of that great bar in Dublin you visited. However, friends and family might want to go too someday and will want to know its location. On the other hand, if you have personal details of your trip that you don’t wish to share, you need to leave these out if you plan to let others look at it.

Engage Your Senses

Don’t just write about what you’ve seen. You need to capture the full picture of everything you experience. Add in what you felt, heard, tasted and smelled on your cruise. Don’t worry about any details being too small. These written-down thoughts help you recall your trip in years to come. Add in details like the scent of the flowers on the table in a restaurant you visited or the revitalizing spray of the ocean on your face.

Think of a Theme

Journaling is easier when you can focus on a central idea. Consider everything you did or saw on any given day, and create a theme around this. Ask yourself basic questions such as, “What made me happy today?” Write down your answers and your travel journal ideas. A theme will likely begin to emerge.

travel journal theme

Write About the People You Saw and Met

Cruising involves meeting people from all walks of life. Make sure they’re part of your journal entries. Remember to add in details of how the encounter made you feel and how the person in question spoke and looked.

Example No. 2: Vlog Travel Journal

Vlogs are easy to create and can be a lot of fun. You can view vlog travel journal examples online to get a better idea of how to create one. The following steps will help you produce the best vlog possible.

Make Video Entries Concise and Focused

You should treat every video you make like a paper diary entry. Be short and to the point. Showcase the highlights of your adventures and journeys to better represent your trip.

Share Your Video With Family and Friends

While you might create your vlog for yourself, you may also want to share it with your loved ones. Sharing your vlog allows people to keep up with your travels and know you’re safe and having a great time.

Example No. 3: Blogging Your Online Travel Journal

You can build content for your online travel journal or blog by using your mobile phone, tablet or laptop computer, with or without Wi-Fi. You’ll need to do some or all of the following to create your online travel journal.

creating an online journal

Choose a Name for Your Blog

Come up with a catchy name for your blog. Pick one that best describes and conveys the vibe of your travels and blog. It should be memorable and short. Remember to choose a name that’s easy to spell so your friends and relatives can find it easily.

Write down words you feel will best describe your blog. Avoid numbers and hyphens as well as overused words. You want your blog name to stand out rather than get lost in a sea of similar ones.

Pick a Host for Your Blog

You need a place to store all your blog’s files, data, and photos so people from all over the globe can access your work. WordPress is an easy option for those who don’t know much about technology. You can also buy domains from providers and create websites on your own.

Create an “About Me” Page

Your travel blog visitors will want to know who you are when they stumble across your blog. You should write about who you are, your background and why someone should follow you. Keep things personable and light. Make visitors want to come back and find out more about your travels.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog

If you’re keen on building a successful online travel journal with a healthy readership, post regularly on social media. Use sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter to let others know about your project.

Create Your First Post

Writing your initial post may seem daunting, but once you get started, you might not want to stop. Your first post can be about anything you deem relevant to your travels. You could, for example, share with people the reasons why you’re starting your blog. You can discuss:

  • What to pack when traveling on a yacht
  • What to do on a cruise
  • Onboard activities
  • What you hope to achieve on your journey

Think About What You Should Write and When

When you first begin your blog, publish a new post once or twice weekly. Keep in mind that your focus should be on quality rather than quantity.

Take Time to Create Useful, Impactful and Insightful Posts

You want your blog to make people sit up and take notice and desire to go on the trips you take. Talk about the best things to do in each place you visit. Give hints and tips. Talk about food recommendations. Describe your experiences on your excursions. Try writing about different topics and see what ones you enjoy most.

choose when to publish posts

What to Put in a Travel Journal

Part of the fun of traveling is collecting your memories to create your travel journal. For example, you can write about:

  • The food
  • The people
  • Your excursions
  • Your thoughts
  • The beauty around you

Your journal enables you to relive your experiences over and over again.

From the minute you leave your home, be on the lookout for little keepsakes to add to your journal. You want to keep hold of things like receipts, business cards, labels and so on so your memories will be more all-encompassing. If you can’t add your mementos immediately into your journal, keep them aside for when you get back to your cruise cabin or home.

For inspiration on what to put into your scrapbook or journal, this list might help.


Remember to put your own photos in your journal. You can take pictures of foods you ate, activities you participated in and local landmarks you visited, among other things. Whether it’s the crystal-clear lagoons and lush rainforests of exotic destinations like Tahiti or the postcard-perfect beaches of the Philippines, no cruise is complete without the photos of the breathtaking places you’ve seen.

Take far more than you think you’ll need so you can choose the best ones to keep in your book. You can either print these out on-the-go or do it when you get home.

photos to create memories

Choose the best video clips and photos. It’s tempting to take videos and photos of everything you see and post these online. But does that tell the story you’re aiming to convey? Be sure to pick video clips and photos that make the most of your memorable moments. For example, if you ate the most divine dinner, create a record of it. As a general rule, the best videos for sharing are around two minutes long.


Try to pick up a postcard or two from every major place you visit.


Some restaurants and bars still provide matchbooks imprinted with their business details.


Again, these are often personalized and make a lovely keepsake of your travels.

Travel Tickets

It goes without saying that you should keep your metro, plane, bus and train tickets in your travel journal.

Tourist Brochures and Maps

These are usually free to pick up and contain lots of memorable tourist hotspot information.

Candy Wrappers

If you discovered any particularly tasty candies on your cruise ports, put the wrappers and the stories behind how you found the sweet treats into your journal.

Gift Bags

Did you visit a particularly nice gift shop or purchase a few souvenirs while you were away? If the experience was worth remembering, stick your gift bag from your purchase into your journal.

Business Cards

Did you visit any stores, businesses or restaurants that gave you their card? If you enjoyed the experience, put the card into your travelog.

Sea Glass and Flat Sea Shells

These look pretty in a journal and will draw your memory back to the day you found them.

Menus and Flyers

If you have a menu or flyer from a restaurant, you can add these to your book.

Art Gallery, Theater, Museum and Movie Tickets

Place any event tickets in your journal so you can always have a place to look back on them.

Flattened Bottle Caps

Did you particularly enjoy a certain drink you had on your cruise? If so, keep those memories alive and ensure you remember for the next time you’re away.

Luggage Tags From Your Airplane or Cruise

People often dispose of these in the garbage. But they can be a real reminder of how far you’ve traveled, where and when.

Watercolor Paintings

Street vendors often have little watercolor paintings of their location for sale.


If you’re the artistic type, add in some sketches, too. Consider creating maps of neighborhoods you visited or even draw a picturesque landscape that caught your attention. All these things help you to remember the details of your cruise and the ports you visited.

saving food menus


If your travel journal is in the form of a vlog, add a song to two that complements your video.  Your song should work well with the theme of your trip. Choose one that explains what you felt on your cruise. You could even select music from one of the countries you visited. For instance, if you’ve visited the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, attach reggae music to your video visit of that port.


Again, if you’re creating a vlog, don’t overlook adding text. Words can add depth and meaning to your videos. The text helps you explain a little more about what’s behind your photos and videos. Try using a caption to describe where you are, what’s happening or why a place holds significance for you. Text slides are ideal for transitioning and helping to create a narrative.

Wine or Beer Bottle Labels

These are a reminder of a drink on a particularly fun and interesting night.


Stick a few small coins from each country you visit on your cruise into your journal. This is a fun way to remember each currency.


Vacations can be expensive. Remember, you’ve saved up for a long time for this chance to enjoy yourself. Place receipts for special purchases into your journal as a reminder.

Beer Coasters

Beer mats and coasters are eye-catching and look great in a journal.

Why Cruises Are Especially Great to Have a Journal

Cruising with Windstar Cruises is a popular way to see the world while enjoying a luxurious trip. Your Windstar ship is your home away from home, and you avoid waiting at airports, taking exhausting flights to visit multiple places on one trip, and unpacking and packing at each place. Instead, you unpack once on a Windstar Cruise, while the yacht whisks you away to secluded harbors, breathtaking coastlines dotted with lush islands, and opulent modern city skylines. That frees you up to work on your journal.

You can commit all your new port and cruise experiences to paper or online in your travel journal to reflect and revisit at any time during or after your trip. You can write about your trip, what you learned from it, and everything that happened to you. You can write about the people you meet on your cruise, whether that includes fellow passengers or the Windstar Cruises staff.

Working on your travel journal while on your Windstar cruise provides you with one of many onboard activities to relax. It’s also great for times at a port when you may or may not have internet connectivity.

Now that you know more about creating a travel journal, take a look at these tips to make it as good as possible:

  • Document your itinerary. Do this at the start of your journal and before you even leave home. You’ll be able to keep a running scrapbook and memory of the ports you visited, activities you enjoyed, and foods that pleased your palate.
  • Take advantage of phone apps. Apps like Day One and the others mentioned earlier enable you to keep an online journal as you go. Use an app to capture the weather, time and location of your entry and make it easier to organize, capture and share your travel experiences.
  • Think about what to do without the internet. If you enjoy working on the computer or using the internet, a blog may suit you better than a book. But keep in mind that sometimes you may not have web access, which will interfere with your vlog uploads or blog posts.
  • Remember every entry doesn’t need to be perfect. Try to write every day, but keep in mind your writing doesn’t need to be Edgar Allan Poe quality all the time. It’s more important your journal feels right to you rather than having the correct punctuation.

Create Your Travel Journal During a Trip With Windstar Cruises

Packing a travel journal and creating new entries during your Windstar cruise is one of the best ways to capture the sights, sounds, smells and tastes you experience on your cruise and at ports. It’s an exciting activity you and your traveling partner can participate in together, and then share with friends and family when you’re back at home.

If you’re interested in creating a travel journal, you need to get out there and travel. Why not check out the list of destinations you can visit on a Windstar cruise? Whether you picture yourself viewing the vast glaciers and fjords of Alaska or experiencing the modern opulence of cities such as Singapore or Dubai, Windstar offers you excellent accommodations and incredible food.

In fact, a Windstar cruise and the ports you visit offer some of the best resources you can have to make a fabulous travel journal. For the cruise experience of a lifetime, contact Windstar Cruises today. Get started on creating memorable voyages to put into your travel journal today.

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3 years ago

I’m about to go on a trip to my hometown, and decided to make a travel journal/diary. Any other tips? These are all great btw!!!

Margot Bray
3 years ago

(Update the time period saying the year the article was written). But, the content is spot on for future travel.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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