Vacations and other trips away from home can be jam-packed with activities, making it difficult to recall all the finer moments that are worth remembering. But keeping a travel journal was incredibly helpful and useful during my latest trip, and I recommend giving it a try.
I’m sure you’ve been asked by friends and family how a recent vacation was and what all you did. I tend to answer in a boring fashion—usually with a generic “It was good!”—without providing any real detail. It’s not that I don’t want to tell people all about my awesome trip, but rather, so much happened that the whole vacation was just one long blur of enjoyment, with a couple of big highlights that were unforgettable. But so many awesome things can happen during a vacation that it’s easy to forget about the smaller moments that are also worth remembering, like that weird lady sitting next to you on the plane ride there, or snorkeling in the ocean and spotting a cool fish you’ve never seen.
We’ve written about keeping a travel journal before. It’s a fantastic way to recount memories of your trip and sort of “live” in that moment again whenever you go back and read it. And it’s great to have those memories written down for future reference. Sure, photos are great for that too, but I’d argue that photos also need context, and a travel journal can provide that.
Here’s where I like to do things a bit differently, though: travel journals don’t have to be written like a book—you don’t need to write full, fleshed-out paragraphs detailing the entire day’s events on the beach or at the theme park. Instead, I like to jot down some quick notes on my phone, providing just enough information to jog my memory and recall those finer moments throughout the week.
And when I say “quick notes,” I really mean it. I write down anywhere from 4-10 words about the event and maybe add a sub-note if it needs it, another 3-5 words. This literally takes 10 seconds per note, so it takes minimal effort, and it’s hardly cutting into my vacation time. If you can even call it journaling, it’s definitely “micro” journaling—just a little snapshot to jog my memory.
I recently moved to California, and this Christmas was the first time I flew back home to visit family. Unfortunately, my wife couldn’t come with me, and I knew she would ask me all about the trip once I got back. So I decided this would be the perfect time to start a travel journal and take quick notes throughout the long weekend, jotting down all the events that occurred and any anecdotes about specific things I wanted to remember and tell my wife about when I got home.
Here is a screenshot of my travel journal from that weekend, with names and some locations changed for privacy reasons:
It’s pretty barebones and super simple, but that’s okay. And as mentioned in our longer post about travel journals, it’s an entirely unfiltered version of my trip. I’m not only documenting the few highlights that I would post on social media, but I’m also jotting down the smaller events and, perhaps, the less exciting moments. My followers on social media probably wouldn’t care about all that stuff, but my wife certainly would.
Even if you don’t keep a daily diary or journal, at least do it during your travels, and feel free to make it as brief or as descriptive as you’d like. Vacations are times that can arguably be your most memorable and significant in your life, so take some time to document them in writing.