Journaling with Words and Images: travel and exploration

Download/print the travel and exploration journaling quotes and travel and exploration journaling prompts from this workshop.

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. ~Miriam Beard

Go as far as you can see; when you get there, 
you’ll be able to see farther. ~Thomas Carlyle

Travel journals
What are the benefits of keeping a travel journal? Do you normally re-read your personal journal entries? How is travel journaling different than daily writing for you?

Writing prompt
Write about a trip, a vacation, or a journey. What was important to you at the time? What is important or memorable as you look back on the experience?

Illustrated journey prompt
Choose a picture from the selection that reminds you of a travel anecdote of your own experience. Write the anecdote.

(Re)live the moment
Go through your own travel photos at home from previous trips and write down some of the stories and memories of those times. Consider sharing your reflections with the other people who were with you, and encourage them to reflect also.

List prompts
Make a list of 10 memorable travels in your life. Jot down a few notes about why each is memorable.
Make a list of 10 places you would like to travel to – either reality or fantasy.
Make a list of 10 things you learn about yourself or challenge yourself with while traveling.

Write the movie version
Travelogue movies or road trip stories are great for beautiful or exotic scenery, but they tell the story of character’s journey as well. Reflect on your past travels and write your own movie version—include where you went, the scenery, but also the story — what journey did you take?

Make a soundtrack
Use your library card to download free music (3 mp3 tracks a week). At, click on Find Stuff —Digital Downloads — Music Downloads to get started. Make a road trip sound track by choosing songs to suit your travel mood. Or look for more poetic songs with lyrics that inspire you.

Advice for travel journaling
Write every day. Or, write as you have time. Make time to write, even a few minutes.
Try to capture your memories, observations and emotions as you travel while they are still fresh.

Time savers and shortcuts
Save brochures and mementos in your journal. Snap photos now and add photos later. The tangible reminders of your journey, the physical evidence of where you have been, can bring back the sights , textures, and sometimes even the smells of your journey! Include your daily itinerary.

The Instagram effect
Take photos of your plate before you eat your meal in a special restaurant.
If you aren’t big on writing narrative, make lists, add sketches, or write down quotes from your days.
You could share your entire travel journal with others upon return, or use what you have written to add notes to pictures or make a scrapbook or caption your photos in your Facebook album.

Capturing the memories
Jot down the anecdotes and funny moments, or even the things that went wrong. Recording the unique details of your trip will help you relive it later.
Writing down your experiences in the moment is the best way to record them while they are fresh in your mind. Fleeting impressions, words or phrases can be captured along the way and used to remind you of the larger experience of your travels when you have returned home.

Pop culture memories
What is the soundtrack of your trip? What movie did you see? What book was everyone reading? What culturally marked the trip as significant for you or your traveling companions? What was going in the world, in the headlines of the free hotel newspaper?
If you are visiting somewhere new, pay attention to the details of daily life – how is it the same as home? How is it different? Describe where you are, what’s new, what’s familiar.
If you like meeting people while traveling, write about who you have met.

Shared journals
If you are traveling in a group, consider sharing your travel journal pages with others. Family journals on car trips for summer vacations can be added to each year as a growing memento for everyone to treasure.
A trip with family, or to visit relatives can be captured in a shared journal as well and presented as a gift to one family member to archive for the group.

The ultimate souvenir
Your own writing about your thoughts and feelings on a journey will capture your own personal experience so much better than store bought post cards and gift shop souvenirs (although those are nice too!).  Try travel journaling to expand your next journey!

Recommended Books

Find these books and more at

  • Ecuador: a travel journal by Henri Michaux
  • Carnet de voyage. Vol. 1: travel journal by Craig Thompson
  • A Texas cowboy’s journal: up the trail to Kansas in 1868 by Jack Bailey
  • The Oregon Trail is still alive: the 1995 photographic retracing of the 1853 trail by Ken Jones
  • Le road trip: a traveler’s journal of love and France by Vivian Swift
  • Antarctic journal: four months at the bottom of the world by Jennifer Dewey   
  • Making & keeping creative journals by Suzanne Tourtillott 
  • The journal of Brian Doyle: a greenhorn on an Alaskan whaling ship by Jim Murphy  
  • Telling travels: selected writings by nineteenth-century American women abroad  
  •  Amelia hits the road by Marissa Moss   
  • Irish journal by Henrich Boll, Heinrich
  • Celia’s island journal by Loretta Krupinski
  • The seasons of Rome: a journal by Paul Hofmann
  • At the water’s edge: a personal quest for wildness by John Lister-Kaye  
  • The flower hunter: William Bartram, America’s first naturalist by Deborah Kogan Ray
  • When wanderers cease to roam: a traveler’s journal of staying put by Vivian Swift
  • Across the wide and lonesome prairie: the Oregon Trail diary of Hattie Campbell by Kristiana Gregory
  • A life in hand: creating the illuminated journal by Hannah Hinchman
  • Travel writing by L. Peat O’Neil
  • The decorated journal: creating beautifully expressive journal pages by Gwen Diehn
  • Mixed-media nature journals: new techniques for exploring nature, life, and memories by L. K.   Ludwig

The monthly workshop “journaling with words and images” meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10 am at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

Photo credit

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.