Before taking an international trip I am always busy preparing, planning, and researching. Part of my planning process is creating my travel journal. I use my travel notebook for writing my favorite moments, drawing a quick doodle and keeping a record of the places I’ve visited. Most importantly I use my travel notebook to organize all the vital information I need on my trip. So everything I need to know is at my fingertips. Over the years I have tweaked how it’s organized to make sure it’s as efficient as possible.
Keep reading to learn how I keep my travel journal organized.
- Notebook (5 x 4 inches, I get one small enough to fit in my purse, but big enough that it’s comfortable to write in. Make sure to choose a size that fits your needs)
- Post it tabs
- Different colored pens (to make my notebook pretty)
- Scrap paper
- Travel Folder (Twin-Pocket Portfolio) I make sure I have paper copies of any receipts, bookings, copies of passports, visas, and other important documents I might need to show in my travel Folder. I keep this in my carry on, so if I need to show it to immigration I have it on hand.
Planning the sections
Firstly, I write out the different sections of information onto the scrap paper. I divide the information into the following sections (add in sections as you see fit)
- Flight information
- Accommodation information
- Gifts List
- Geocaches (I always try to find at least one per trip. It’s a nice virtual souvenir. You can leave it out if you’re not familiar with what geocaching is. To learn more, click here)
- Favorite List
Collect all the information
Then I collect all my details, organizing into the sections for a rough draft. This way I can make mistakes or re-order things before I put it into my travel journal. This also helps me figure out if I am missing any information or need to add any sections.
Organize Section One – Flight Information
I make sure I have all the information I need for my flights;
- Booking reference number
- Departure: flight number, location, time & date
- Arrival: flight number, location, time & date
This ensures that while I am running through the airport trying to catch my connection, texting a friend my flight number, or filling out my immigration card for landing, all my information is in the same easy to find place (Unlike my flight ticket that normally ends up stuffed in some unknown location once I no longer need it and am boarding the plane).
Travel Folder: I always print off a copy of my full flight itinerary and keep it in my travel folder.
Organize Section Two – Accommodation Information
Whether I am staying at a hotel, an Airbnb, or a friend’s house I always make sure I have;
- The name of the place I am staying
- Phone number
This is perfect for when I am using a taxis, google maps, or filling out the immigration landing card.
Once, on a trip to Cuba while waiting in the immigration line I realized I didn’t know the address of where I was staying. The plan was for a friend to pick me up and take me to the Casa I was going to be staying.
No need for me to know the address – right?
Luckily she texted me the address before it was my turn to pass the card into immigration.
Travel Folder: I keep a copy of my booking receipts just in case proof of accommodation is needed.
Organizing Section Three – Budget
Here I list how much money I have for food and spending each day. This way I can easily control how much I spend along the way and have no empty wallet surprises. I plan on doing a future post about how I budget for my trips. – subscribe to my blog on the sidebar so you don’t miss future posts!
Organizing Section Four – Calendar
Firstly, I create a date calendar from the day I land to the day I leave. This gives me a quick visual of the days I am there.
Next, below that calendar, I list each date leaving blank spaces underneath. I then write in bullet point details of my trip’s itinerary under each date. I list anything I may have booked, including other flights, museum trips, etc. while still leaving space to make notes later. In these remaining blank spaces, I write in details like “visited _____ museum” throughout the trip. This way I can quickly look back at what I have planned and what I have actually done on my travels.
Arrive at LAX
Organizing Section Five – Gift List
Here, I compile a list of anyone I think I might want to buy presents for. I list them down the page leaving a space after each name. As I make purchases I note what I bought for them beside their name. At the top, I tally up how many men and women I am buying for. So when I find something like jewelry or scarves, I quickly know how many women I am shopping for.
Organizing Section Six – Sizes
Clothing and shoe sizes can be different depending on which country you are in. I always go online and research what size my shirt, pants, dress, and shoes will be in that country. This way when I spy that pair of shoes I can’t live without, I know what size to ask for.
Organizing Section Seven – Tips
Here I write any tips I need to know on my trip, things like;
- What plugins and voltage does the country use?
- Can I drink the water?
Organizing Section Eight – Geocaches
I list the names of the caches and the areas they are in. I always look for ones near where I am staying or near big tourist attractions. I only list ones that are easy to find and where activity has been noted recently. To learn more about geocaching click here.
Organizing Section Nine – Favorite List
This space is for listing anything I am hoping to visit or see while I am there. I use this list for days that I don’t have anything planned and need something to do. While I am traveling I add to this section when I meet other travelers. I record their travel suggestions on places to see, things to do, and places to eat.
Organizing Section Ten – Journal
This section is the one I use the most. Unlike the other ones where I placed them at the front, this one starts at the very back of my notebook. As I go along on my trip I draw and write in what I am doing, seeing, eating, and everything in between! I don’t always have time to keep my journal up to date each day. So I make sure I note one or two things in each day and leave lots of space that I can fill in later as I have time. I normally fill it in on long train rides or while people watching at a café.
Tip: Remember to keep it simple and be creative! Sometimes a quick sketch says more than a few paragraphs can manage.
The sections listed here are the standard ones I use. I used them in my Korea and India travel notebooks this year. As you make your travel journal, add in sections or remove ones as needed. Now you have everything you need in one little book, bring on the adventures!
How do you keep your Travel notebook organized? Tweet me any suggestions you have. I love hearing from you!
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