20 inspirational writing tips for your travel journal

"Women have always yearned for faraway places. It was no accident that a woman financed the first package tour of the New World, and you can bet Isabella would have taken the trip herself, only Ferdinand wouldn't let her go." -Roslyn Friedman, 1924, American Writer.

Today, we no longer yearn for those faraway places, we just get up and go. And like Isabella, according to travel expert Marybeth Bond of the Gutsy Traveler, women are still "fueling an explosive growth in the travel industry." We make 80 percent of the travel decisions, regardless of who we are travelling with, and spend billions of dollars on travel each year.

So since we are powerful women travelers spending all that money, we absolutely want to get the most out of our travels. Photographs aside, keeping a travel journal is one of the best ways to do this. 

Whether it's a short weekend jaunt or long overseas voyage. Whether you're hiking or urbaning it, journaling along the way will help make you a savvy and active traveler. You'll pay more attention. Your curiosity will grow naturally. Your experience will become a downright adventure as you open to new things and unpredictability. You definitely will not be a ho-hum typical sight-seeing tourist who expects interesting things to just happen. Never! 

Start by buying a pretty journal perfect for your bag or pocket. You will want to carry it with you at all times to jot notes or sketches as prompters for later journaling. Many journals also have an interior pocket for mementos such as maps, tickets, menus and itineraries. And some even come with a gluestick for attaching keepsakes. You can find a variety of cool journals in local bookstores and online. 

Try to set aside time each day to put pen to paper. Approach it as fun, not a chore. Write for two minutes or 30 minutes. See what comes up. No worries about complete sentences. The more you do this, the more you will find yourself saying, Oh, I want to write about this, throughout your day.

Here are twenty useful journaling tips and prompts to help you get the most out of your travels.

  1. Write using your senses--note tastes, textures, colors, sounds and smells. Then get beyond the senses. What does the vibe feel like?   
  2. Details bring your writing to life. Note characteristics of interesting places and write enough so that when you read it later, you are transcended back to that very place.
  3. Capture your feelings each day. Are you letting loose or so overwhelmed that you barely venture out on your own. Are you amazed at all the newness, feeling more alive than ever?  
  4. Describe the people who live there. The women standing nearby talking in whispers. The three old toothless men sitting outside the local eatery. Note every detail. Their bright colored clothes, weathered skin, uncut hair, animated actions. This goes for animals and birds, too.
  5. Talk with the locals. Even if it's just asking for directions or help with something. Then write about the experience.  
  6. Look at the landscape. How is the weather? Is the heat shimmering in the night sky? Are trees heavy with ripe fruit? Are the ancient ruins covered with climbing vines? Is the sea glistening?
  7. Draw simple sketches of what you see. Maybe the architecture of your hotel, shape of your casita, or section of an ancient ruin.
  8. Interview your companions. If traveling with others, capture some of their thoughts and feelings.
  9. Write about your OMG that is unbelievable.
  10. Write for your grandchildren.
  11. Is your perspective shifting? Are you seeing things differently? What makes you say ah-ha!
  12. List three things you have never seen before.
  13. Write about an incident that you want to share with your family and friends back home.
  14. Describe what you love about this place. The charming buildings, the wine, the lush vegetation. 
  15. Describe what gets you out of your comfort zone. The howling monkeys in the rain forest. The guy who says to you, "too many Americans." The unable-to-identify cuisine.
  16. What is the most fascinating thing so far on your trip?
  17. What seems quirky or a little off-the-wall?
  18. What is the most awesome thing you saw today? Write about this everyday.
  19. What is the weirdest thing you saw today?
  20. What do you want to see next time?

In the end, keeping a travel journal is well worth the time. It deepens your travel experience and I have no doubt that Isabella would be proud.

Happy Travels Girls!

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