If you’ve been wanting to start up a bullet travel journal but haven’t really known where to start, then let me help! Here are some great ideas to fill those pages.
Bullet journals have been trending the past couple of years, and for good reason! From motivational quotes to habit trackers, experimental sketches and beautifully designed spreads, bullet journals help us get our lives in order.
I love looking at other people’s travel bullet journals. Not only are they practical – letting you plan out your packing list, budget, itineraries and more – they can also be fun and pretty to skim through. It’s amazing to see how many incredible adventures and plans can fit into the pages of a bullet travel journal, especially when the owners have been working on them for years.
I started my bullet travel journal a few years ago, but have really ramped it up the last few months, as I’ve missed the great travel experience.
I’ve put together 16 ideas for your travel bullet journal, if you’re just getting started, or you’ve come to a bit of a roadblock. Remember, they’re all about being creative and enjoying the process.
Ideas for Your Bullet Travel Journal
Your travelling bullet journal is an extension of you. It can help you keep the travel dream alive in between trips. Here are my best ideas for how to get started.
1. Travel wish list
Lists, lists, lists – bullet journals tend to have at least one list within their pages. How else do we know what to get done? Since travel bullet journals bring a lot more excitement than your regular to-do reminders, your bullet travel journal starter pack begins with a wish list, or a travel bucket list as they’re often called.
Make it as general and specific as you’d like. What countries or cities do you want to visit? What attractions are you hoping to see? What experiences are you planning to do? It’s great inspiration for future travels.
Bullet travel journal tip: don’t cross things out if you really loved them! Leave them on the list so you can go back and experience it again, and again, and again.
Also, get some photos printed to add in
2. List where you’ve been
Never mind where you want to go, how about celebrating where you’ve been!
I loved writing my lists of where I’ve been, and illustrating them with pictures from my travels. I’ve proudly been to 77 countries now, and plan to keep going to 100. It’s been sad these last two years, with the lack of destinations, but with 23 to go, and a lifetime to do it. I’m confident.
It’s good for me to see how many places I’ve been to, also emotional!
As you look for photos to help illustrate your adventures, you could also order personalised photo gifts for those extra special ones. You can get photo cards, calendars and cushions too!
3. Colour-in world map
No travel bullet journal is complete without a ‘colour as you go’ world map!
Not only can you remind yourself of the fantastic places you’ve been to, but the uncoloured spots will have you looking forward to future adventures. It’s also a more casual take on the bucket list idea.
The fun part is that you can scale your maps. If you’re road tripping through the country instead of flying overseas, trace out your route and add tiny sketches of attractions you’ll pass through.
4. Packing lists
Packing can be extremely stressful, especially if you waffle between bringing certain things and leaving them at home. One of the best travel journal ideas is to always consult your packing lists (with checkboxes next to each item) to make sure the essentials are covered.
To make it easier for yourself, separate items into categories! You might have a section for travel documents, clothing, sleepwear, toiletries, electronics, etc.
Indecisive packers can also draw a decision chart in their bullet travel journal. Do you REALLY need to bring it along?
Travel bullet journal tip: check off items with a pencil so you can reuse your packing list.
5. Countdown (if you’re SUPER excited)
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably counting down until your next holiday. Draw out a mini calendar and cross out the days, or be creative with color-in steps and shapes. Sometimes our future trips feel so long away – countdowns in your bullet travel journal are great at keeping us motivated.
Don’t limit yourself to traditional counters either. I’ve seen spreads of numbered quotes and reminders that lead up to the departure date.
6. Pre-planning planner
When you’re busy juggling work, family life and other social obligations, it’s easy to leave essential steps out of your trip planning. The best way to reduce mistakes (like forgetting to apply for a visa) is to jot down your must-do tasks.
What are the things you need to plan? Booking your flight, booking your accommodation, preparing travel documents, exchanging currency and so forth, are just few of many pre-trip tasks.
7. Collecting memorabilia
More travel journal ideas?
Save a few pages in your bullet travel journal for those ticket stubs, receipts, polaroids of your favourite stops and memories. It’s so lovely flipping through your travel bullet journal and being reminded of the things you saw and experienced.
Dedicate a page for each day of your trip, or mix it all up in a collage!
Remember that you can customise the bits and pieces. If there’s ever something that’s too big or can’t be folded (like a pamphlet for some performance show), you can always cut it smaller.
8. Themed collectibles
If you like your order and structure, why not collect themed objects along the way? They can be stamps, postcards, pressed coins or even grains of sand sealed in paper pockets. It’d be so cool to have multiples of a single object from all over the world – and a great method to compare cultures too.
9. Detailed itinerary
Stay true to a bullet journal’s spirit and use it to organise your travels. A detailed itinerary is extremely helpful, keeping you on time and on track. There are also so many ways for you to express it on paper. Draw maps and trace your routes; or list and colour code attractions. Sometimes, I draw daily calendars and block out the hours.
I find that it also helps to map out how to get from A to B to C. With all my travel routes written down, costs and duration included, there’s no need to consult my phone over and over again.
10. Trip playlist
Music is a great way to keep you company when you’re travelling. Craft the perfect mix tape and give it a loving title. For the artsier journal keeper, sketch out the music player!
Print your favourite lyrics below a self-designed album cover. Or draw it out. I
Or, for another travel journal idea, what are your favourite songs on the road? Music really whiles away the hours when you’re on a long-haul flight or long stretch of highway – what do you like to listen to.
Something else I enjoy thinking about, but don’t actually write down in my travel bullet journal, is who I’d have on my dream line up at my dream festival. You could write that down in your travel journal!
11. Fact check your favourite attractions
Dedicate a few pages of your bullet travel journal for the most-beloved spots – paste your prettiest photos and jot down interesting facts. So much of travelling is learning about another culture and its history; your travel bullet journal is the best place to hoard tidbits of information. It’ll also serve to remind you about the highlights of your trip, and places you may want to revisit.
If I was a better artist, I’d try to bring beautiful architecture to life!
As it is, I’m happy curating photo essays with interesting facts in the margins.
If you’re doubting your ability to get started on your travel bullet journal, read these affirmations for travel writers to boost your confidence, and drive.
12. Savings tracker
You might have to save up for your dream vacation; track your budgeting by setting easy bite-sized goals. I’ve seen some amazing spreads that make saving a fun activity, like colouring in a brick tower with tiers, or even a palm tree that represents $100.
Breaking down the trip budget you’re saving up makes the hustle easier to bear.
13. Also a spending tracker
That’s right, keeping an eye on your expenses can only make your trip smoother. While you don’t have to be writing down every single little expense, keep track of your bigger spends!
You don’t want to overspend on souvenirs, just as you wouldn’t want to forgo souvenirs either. In the worst case scenario, you may end up dipping into your emergency funds, only to come across an actual emergency.
Always keep track of how much you’re spending.
14. Useful phrases (if you’re visiting a foreign country)
A great idea for your travel bullet journal is a two-page spread of useful phrases. Learn how to greet and thank people in their own language (it always pays to be polite!), as well as helpful questions like:
- Where is the _________?
- Do you speak English?
- How much is this?
- Can I have (insert number) please?
Of course, try to prepare for their answers too! It helps to know direction words, number words, and the most basic ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘sorry’. You also want a list of important places and addresses to-go, such as the airport or your hotel.
15. Flight tracker
Why deal with last minute panic at all?
One thing you don’t want to happen is missing your flight!
I highly recommend jotting down information on any flights you’re taking, especially if you have travel documents to fill out.
Some useful information to have includes: the date of your flight, time of take-off, flight number, time of landing, departure date and which airport you’re flying from. Other notes may include any airline membership numbers you have.
16. List of restaurant recommendations
More travel journal ideas?
Have you ever had moments where you can’t decide where to eat? Sometimes you come across so many choices while travelling that you have no idea where to start.
I prepared restaurant recommendations according to cuisine, budget and location. Whenever you’re stuck on where to go, just consult your options. To make things more fun, don’t just stick to a list. You can even draw up restaurant profiles and design a rating system. Definitely give it the stars it deserves – or a big thumbs-down.
17. New people, old friends
Those backpacking their way through hostels and guest houses may very well build long-lasting friendships or stories of a funny person they bunked with.
Keep track of new friends you make on the way! Jot down their names, where they’re from, contact info and where you met. Imagine having a veritable trail of friends wherever you visit. Of course, save a spot for a photo or two to commemorate this happy occasion.
Your travel bullet journal
You can do whatever you want with your travel bullet journal. It’s your space to record your trips and adventures as you please. I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and ideas to get started with your traveling bullet journal – you’ll thank me in years to come when it’s time to look back on it!