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Roadtrip Journal: Tool Kit & Seven Tips For The Virgin Journalist

By Sarah Fisher


Journaling is the best way of recording the memories of your travel, both the ones you don't want to forget and the ones you wish you could forget. Relive your trip at any period of time and bring the experience to life for the second, third, or tenth time without the cost of going back.

Getting Started - The Toolkit

Buy a notebook. Leather-bound, spiral, mini-pad, or a cheap drugstore kind decorated with the latest boy band or pop punkstress -- doesn't matter. Keep it separate from any other journal you may own so that it remains a designated travel journal. If you're going to be carrying it around with you wherever you go, you'll want to get a teeny-tiny notebook, maybe even small enough to fit in your pocket.

If you're a frequent traveler, it may be more convenient to buy one journal for all your trips and work out a way to divide up the destinations.

An easy way is to do this is by indexing the sections with a title page or sticky-tape dividers and sorting the manuscript by where you're going and where you've been. For future reference, you can also include contact numbers and addresses, dates and times of arrivals and departures and perhaps and a picture or map to provide much-needed visual aid.

If you don't travel as often as you like, a separate notebook for each trip works best. That way, you can decorate the entire thing with a kind of theme, making it easily recognizable. If you have a travel destination you visit often, one notebook for all the separate times you've been will ultimately work out like chapters in a book.

The easiest way to keep things in order is to travel with a set of essential tools--glue stick and scissors--and stick the items next to your entry. If you hate the idea of 'cut & paste,' attach an envelope on the inside cover of your journal so the loose items have a place to live.

Seven Tips For the Virgin Journalist

In order to maintain your journal in a memorable way, it is best to have some sort of entry every day. Just 15 minutes before you go to bed or when you wake up.

1. One Quintessential Detail
If journaling every little thing seems like too much of task, focus on one detail rather than the entire scene around you. Pick something that grabs your attention, and focus on fine-tuning that aspect: the sound of people around you, the burning colors of the desert sky or the steamy glow of sewer water at dusk.

2. Manic Journaling - High's & Low's
Only It might be more worthwhile for you to keep a log of the day's highlights just before you turn in. Record the day's low-point of losing ten bucks to the sewer drainage or high-point of Scandinavian seafood.

3. Collapsible Collage
If you get bored of journaling but still want to maintain it, there are ways it can be done. Sketches, a list of address and new contacts, reviews for books and movies you've seen, snippets of conversations you've overheard and other little things can bring variety into a travel journal. You can even make your journal interactive. Get people you meet to sign in, leave messages, quotes, or sketches.

4. Pack It All In
Save things like receipts, travel tickets, brochures, admission tickets, entrance details, newspaper clippings, boarding passes etc. These provide back up for some of the greatest memories and may even jolt memories you'd forgotten about. You can always throw away if you want to get rid of them later. When you get home you'll have newfound fondess for the extensive drink menu you snagged at that little Egyptian cafe.

5. Use Someone Else's Art
Bringing along a camera to take photos seems like an obvious thing to do, but if you don't own one or simply hate the idea of snapping away like a typical tourist, just buy postcards--it can save you lots of time and photo-insecurity. You won't have to worry about your film getting exposed, your digital disk getting warped or the inevitable stray arm, thumb, or hair to ruin the picture.

6. Is This Thing On?
Journaling doesn't necessarily have to be a pen to paper exercise. Many people hate the idea of keeping up with the task of writing, or just simply don't have time. If you're one of those people, carry a hand-held recordable cassette machine and simply record your entries on tape, either reflectively or as you go on the road. Tapes can be easily catalogued.

7. Byte-Sized Journaling
A new way of journaling that is emerging is through online notekeeping. Many new web sites have surfaced that make keeping an online travel journal extremely simple. Most allow free and unlimited update access including publishing tools that allow you to post photos and share your travel by letting family and friends virtually see your journey. Check out these site for online journals:,, and

There's nothing more exhilarating than bouncing from city to city in a foreign country. You've got your backpack, your maps, and if you're lucky, enough money to take buses, trains, and maybe even planes to your exciting destinations.

But if you're skint like me your first class ticket is the same thing you used to suck on as a kid. That's right, take that thumb out of your mouth and stick out on the side of the road. Hitchhiking is not just for axe murderers and prostitutes anymore. If you go about it the right way, hitchhiking is a fun and cheap way to see a new country and meet the locals.


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