Make a better travel journal than you could buy

I’m new to bullet journaling but totally love it. So when I was planning my latest trip I wanted to take a dedicated travel notebook with me.

I also wanted to actively journal each day. I don’t normally journal but wanted to try to record more than a photograph can. What did I think of the food – what was it actually like going on the boat ride I have a nice picture of.

As well as just remembering what you did, journalling is said to be a great way to consider what you’re doing more intimately. By really thinking about every aspect of your trip you experience it more deeply.

So I browsed the shops for a specialist travel journal. I wanted something I could keep my pre-trip research in, notes on opening times, train schedules and important information I might need to hand. It needed to be;

  • Lightweight
  • Enough pages for me to journal every day
  • Pre-printed pages for different kinds of information

I ended up choosing this small hardback notebook from Paperchase.

It’s small enough to fit in my bag without being a burden, it had sections to write down various pieces of information as well as blank pages for journalling. Plus I just liked the cover.

I’d have been better buying a blank notebook


At first I liked all the different pre-printed sections and layouts. But most will remain blank. You might think ‘so what it’s a blank page’. But to me, and anyone who loves stationery, it’s a blot in my perfect book.

  • Vaccinations – I didn’t need any
  • Packing list – I keep a personalised packing spreadsheet. I’d never just write a list from scratch
  • Itinerary – This was pages and pages long. I only had two flights 
  • Contact details for new friends – Who is meeting 30 new people they like enough to want to keep in contact with?


What to consider when making your own travel notebook

Specialist notebooks look lovely but I recommend all stationery-loving travel geeks make their own journal for travelling. I’ll certainly do that myself on my next adventure.

Start with the notebook itself

  • One big one you take on every trip, or one small one for each trip? 
    • Do you want to note down all your adventures in one place?
    • Or take a new, more portable, one each time
    • The benefit of getting a new one each time is you get to shop for new notebooks!
    • Plus you won’t have to deal with all your research on Russia when planning your trip to Japan.
  • Size and weight 
    • It will need to be portable if you’re going to carry it around with you the whole time
    • Or do you plan on buying a big beautiful beast and leaving it at your accommodation
  • Dotted, lined, blank or squares
    • If you’re already a bullet journaller you’ll have strong opinions on this
    • If not just consider what kind of things you’ll be writing down. Will you be sketching in it too or just writing in straight lines? Grids or dots help you to draw neat lines and decorations around things
  • Storage
    • It’s really useful to have a pen loop, and a pocket for keeping tickets, receipts and even decorations like stickers and stencils
  • Durability
    • If it’s going to be in your rucksack for a month trekking in Laos it’ll need to be robust



You can use some creative flair or keep it purely functional. Take inspiration from the other books available and just adapt it to your needs.

Some pages you could include

  1. About you – contact details, home address
  2. Emergency information – credit card phone numbers, medication, next of kin, insurance details
  3. Itinerary – flight numbers, check-in times
  4. Accommodation information – Phone number, full address (you can show this to taxi drivers if there’s a language barrier)
  5. Useful information – Taxi numbers, key transit routes, exchange rates
  6. Packing list – One for the whole trip, one for your flight’s hand luggage
  7. Research – What do you want to see? What good restaurants are near the hotel? What time does the museum close?
  8. New friends contact details – If you’re very sociable leave lots of space. If, like me, the possibility of making 30 lifelong friends in a week is slim just leave one page
  9. Journalling –  Most importantly have plenty of pages for writing about what you’re doing, who you meet and what you see
  10. Plus anything else you want to create! A list of souvenirs to buy, addresses for your postcards, local delicacies you want to try. You can make a page for anything you want

Deorated travel journal by Elizabeth M
San Francisco by Elizabth M


You can be as artistic as your abilities allow. Pre-printed books look lovely on the inside but you can replicate the look with washi tape, stencils or your own artistic flair.

This is the part that really makes it visually appealing. Unless you prefer the utilitarian look. The joy of this project is it’s totally yours to do what you want with.


I’d love to know if you do this yourself and how you get on.