Not all trips are created equal. Some are quick excursions close by to enjoy the weekend, where you book a hotel room for just a few hours. Others are swashbuckling adventures, taking you to some of the most remote, rugged, or beautiful corners of the globe. A travel journal where you write down your thoughts, memories, and experiences should be a constant companion no matter the destination. Many of history’s most inspirational and interesting figures relied on (pocket) journals to record their thoughts, experiences, and reflections. 

Capturing the moment

Famous author Mark Twain jotted down notes in dozens of notebooks throughout his life. He usually began writing in a notebook before a trip. Then he would pen his thoughts about people he met along the way, sketch some of the things he saw while traveling, and fill in the gaps with what he did during the day and ideas for the future. The French diplomat and politician Alexis de Tocqueville used his notebooks in a similar manner. He wrote during his time traveling through North America. As he rode across the landscape on steamboats and in stagecoaches, he reflected on his travel experiences and his insights about the American people. Many of the notes he collected made it into his seminal work, Democracy In America.

Some of history’s most famous travel journals are arguably from the explorers Lewis and Clark and the other men who made up the Corps of Discovery. President Thomas Jefferson told the team to keep meticulous notes on all they saw and experienced as they explored the Louisiana Purchase. The entire Corps of Discovery Team wrote over a million words during their travels. Their insights later became an unparalleled look into the frontier of America. Writer Ernest Hemingway relied heavily on his journals when it came time to compose a short story or novel. The famous writer was a highly astute observer, and took lots of detailed notes while he ventured around the world. Many later became passages in some of his most legendary works.


The outward & inward journey

One of the great things about traveling is how it results in an outward journey (experiences, sightseeing), and an inward one (thoughts & perceptions). A travel journal is useful because it can mesh both of these together. Even if you are staying in a hotel room for a day, or just renting a room for a couple hours, there is always something to observe and reflect on. The flexibility of HotelsByDay to book day stays and dayuse hotels in a seamless manner is the perfect excuse to travel, explore, and begin cultivating a travel journal of your own.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but your thoughts, lessons and reflections about the world at large can be absolutely priceless. Some people even ask for others to leave short notes or inspirational thoughts in their notebook. Reading over a journal months or even years later can make it seem like you are right back on your adventure again.

Quick reflections

A journal does not have to be a long and meticulous affair. You can just plan to write down quick notes about what you did while traveling. You can also enclose pictures, or simply reflect on your adventures after your trip is over. To get your creativity flowing, you could write about why you are going on a particular trip. Or your expectations about an adventure, or reflect on the ups and downs of your experiences.

Write about your thoughts while standing at the top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai after checking into the Abidos Hotel Apartment Al Barsha Dubai. Get a day stay at the Hotel Zoo Berlin and write about the people you saw while strolling on Unter den Linden. Stop in at the Hotel Champ-de-Mars in Montreal. Then sit with your travel journal and plan out how to spend your daycation in Old Montreal.

Tools of the trade

Starting a travel journal from scratch could be a bit daunting. There are a variety of companies who produce travel journals and notebooks that are specifically designed to help you. Some include pre-printed questions to guide journal entries. Others include maps to plot out destinations and lines to write down a daily schedule. Many have pockets to keep track of ticket stubs and other small mementos. Some companies, like Moleskine, are resurrecting notebook designs and styles that were used in earlier centuries.

For the more digitally minded, a plethora of apps are on the market to help travelers document their adventures. Apps like Penzu allow you to write without wireless internet, and synchronize seamlessly across all platforms. No matter what medium you use, it is important to write every day. Try to find time during lulls in the day (waiting for a bus, waiting for food) to write, or head to park and just write down your surroundings. It can be amazing how much you can glean and remember from just a few minutes of journaling.

Find your inspiration

Once you’ve gotten inspired and are ready to start a travel journal, it is time to plan your next adventure. From India, to Germany, to Spain and all across the United States, HotelsByDay has you covered with cool destinations. Our innovative day stay and day use hotel booking system lets you book comfortable and cozy hotel accommodations at great prices. Use our system to find an affordable hotel room and place your reservation online. You don’t have to worry about payment until you check out. Even if your trip is a last-minute affair, we still have your back with our long list of affordable day stay hotels. Let HotelsByDay make travel planning easy so you can spend more time writing in your travel journal.

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Kevin O'Brien

Kevin is a native Texan who is currently on the east coast. He’s spent time living and working in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and in Africa, and enjoys playing a couple of musical instruments.