Travel Journals That Inspire

Jot down your adventures in inspiring travel journals, from recycled notebooks to fill-in-the-blank kids’ booklets.


Even in this era of the blog, there’s no substitute for a handy place to jot down notes and impressions—one that is guaranteed to work even if you are a hundred miles away from the nearest electrical outlet or Wi-Fi hotspot. Enter the explorer’s favorite sidekick (after the money belt): the travel journal.

You don’t have to be Marco Polo, Paul Theroux or Jack Kerouac to get a lot out of writing on the road. Journaling can offer a quiet space for reflection—a scarce commodity on any family trip—or a practical record of dos and don’ts to help you plan your next excursion. And journaling is not just for adults. Travel can touch off a literary spark in a tween or teen who wouldn’t be caught dead with a diary back home, and younger children usually have plenty to say about a new place, either in words or drawings. Parents may be surprised to discover what aspects of a trip most impress their kids—the Vatican might never get a mention, while eating gelato afterwards warrants a whole chapter.

Make It or Buy It?

If you have time before your departure, making a personalized journal can be a fun and budget-friendly activity. Check out this simple, printable template from Momready or, if you’re crafty, this do-it-yourself guide on how to turn a moleskine into a customized guidebook.

Even if you don’t have the chops for something so crafty, think about what kind of writer you are before grabbing the nearest notebook. A journal that you’re not comfortable writing in is merely dead weight in your carry-on. Also, remember that many journals come equipped with built-in pockets that can hold ticket stubs, stamps, flyers and other interesting bits picked up during the day, a boon for the scrapbooker.

Any $2 composition book from the back-to-school aisle will do, of course, but I confess that for travel I like having a notebook that raises the stakes a little, one that is every bit as enticing, exotic and open to adventure as I’m hoping the trip will be. That way, even if my vacation is a bust, I’ll look great writing about it. For those of you like me, here are a few companions to consider that are anything but uninspired.

Nomad Travel Journal

Perfect for field notes from anywhere, Nomad’s journals are spiral-bound, reporter-style and come in a weatherproof zip-up case that offers protection from the elements and a loop for securing your pencil. The company offers activity-specific notebooks on backpacking, birding, music festivals, wine tours and more, as well as blank, lined versions.
$27, $29 for leather case; 

Hardy Boys Rewrite

If you ever envied the adventures of teenage detectives Frank and Joe Hardy, you can chronicle your own in one of these notebooks from Ex Libris Anonymous, which use recycled covers from the classic series. Each journal is filled with 75 sheets of blank, unlined paper.

Scribble Press My Travel Journal

At its Los Angeles studio, Scribble Press helps kids write, illustrate and publish their very own books. This journal is from their “Cueprints” series: pre-bound booklets with fill-in-the-blank stories and spaces for illustration. The journal is ideal for authors ages 5 to 10.

Subu Recycled Notebooks

Each of these sweet, smart journals are filled with 50 sheets of reclaimed waste printer paper and are covered in cardstock made from 30 percent post-consumer fibers. If the saucy stamped designs don’t get your literary juices flowing (choices include a toaster and a headshot of Bill Clinton), maybe the random text and images on the backside of each page will do the trick.

Themes: Family Travel

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