This post is sponsored by HotelTonight (pretty much the best way to book nice hotels when you’re planning a trip). All views are my own.
I could take a trip every single week and stay happy – there are SO many places on my bucket list, and I’m insanely excited to cross them off year after year. This year, I want YOU to take the reins on your next trip and make it the best yet. All you need is a pen and paper and a little bit of preparation to get your plan in place.
I’ve been planning, tracking and reviewing trips in my journal for the past few years and I’ve learned some awesome ways to keep up with my travels. I love looking back at my travel memories, and I want to share a few tips to help you keep up with everything before, during, & after your trip.
My boyfriend and I went to Austin TX a few weeks ago, and I kept up with ALL of the important trip details in my journal. It’s amazing how much a simple blank notebook can help keep us organized! It’s a little idea book when I’m actually on the trip, and it’s a great spot to keep my favorite memories once the trip is over.
Research recommendations & make a plan
Before your trip even begins, make a plan. Whether you’re a down-to-the-minute planner or you like to be spontaneous, you need to have a clue of why you’re taking the trip in the first place.
The best way to do this is to do some research on things to do or things to see on your trip. Where do you typically see recommendations?
You can search Pinterest, Google or even Facebook for the things to do, but shouldn’t you have them all in one spot?
Research restaurants & dishes if you’re a foodie like me. Search your interests in that city – think shopping spots, hiking trails, nightlife, or family activities. Also, tons of bigger cities have local bloggers who blog only about the city. Check their blogs and Instagram feeds for what’s going on around town. Also, try searching tags and location tags on Instagram – you may see some fun spots that are otherwise hidden.
While you’re researching, make a Recommendation list of things you actually WANT to do. Once the master list is finished, you can go through it and start scheduling things you WILL do.
The Recommendation list I made for Austin is separated by:
- To Eat
- To Drink
- To Stay &
- To Do
I got a lot of recommendations from Facebook groups, word of mouth and Google searching. I only wrote down things that I’m genuinely interested in seeing.
The very first thing on my To-Do list is check out the shops on South Congress, so I couldn’t NOT take this picture when we were actually there!
Even if we don’t do everything on the list, we can save others for next time 🙂
Pre-plan with a Packing List
Another fun pre-trip spread is a Packing list. This is a great way to narrow down what you need to take on your trip. There are so many fun packing list spread ideas on Instagram – just search #packinglist, and you can see some examples.
Separate your list by carryon & big bag items, make a master list for all of your future trips OR make a list for each of your family members (kids especially). Once your list is finished, you can pull it out when you’re actually packing, and make sure you have everything.
You can see my Austin packing list below. I split it up into clothes, bathroom & etc. but you can get as specific as you’d like or keep it super simple.
Track your trip *during* your trip
During your trip, I encourage you to jot some of your highlights down. I don’t expect you to write in your journal every single day, but I do want you to keep up with your trip while you’re on it. You can always come back and expand on the details later!
If you have time on your trip to actually rest, grab your journal. Find a quiet spot in your hotel and write down your favorite things you’ve done on the trip. Think about your favorite meal and things YOU would recommend to others. Also, go through your recommended list and add anything you may have seen or heard about during your trip so far. There’s so many ideas of how to track your trip – it’s just a matter of sitting down and reflecting a little.
I found a spot in the South Congress Hotel and spent some of my downtime adding some of my favorite trip moments to my journal.
You can also keep up with everything digitally. If you have a smartphone, keep a log of your places visited. You can simply take notes in a notes app or you can use a check-in type app like Swarm, Facebook or Instagram.
I’ve always been a ticket keeper, and adding things like this to the journal doesn’t make me feel like a full-on hoarder. I like to add tickets and paper souvenirs/stickers in the journal itself. I not only keep my journal for planning, but I use it for tracking my life. It’s actually SO cool to come back and look at everything a year, two years or even five years down the road. It’s like frozen memories in a book – and I wish I had started doing it sooner, really!
Below, you’ll see how I added my boarding pass in my journal with some simple round colored labels I got from the dollar store. I also added some flair with washi tape down the edge of the ticket. I love how it turned out 🙂
Take pictures during your trip, and don’t just share them on Snapchat! Add your favorite pictures to your journal pages. This is the ultimate keepsake! Send your smartphone pictures to get them developed or print some out yourself with your computer or portable printer. I just got a Sprocket that prints pictures as stickers, so I can add pictures in my journal instantly!
Also, look through brochures and any print media you got on your trip and see if you can salvage any for your book. Cut-out logos from menus or receipts may take your journal to the next level and add a unique twist to your pages.
I went a little overboard when making my ‘Trip in Review’ spread below, but I wanted to see how it would turn out… I made stickers with my printer and Silhouette and added them to an ATX memories spread. I can see this becoming a new trend in my book! 🤓
Remember your trip
The spread above is a little review of my trip – including all the restaurants and spots we shopped. I love how it ended up turning out, but you can also make a sort of timeline spread that shows what you were doing and when. I made this spread to track all five days we were away.
You can add everything to this layout by reviewing your check-ins, notes, and pictures to see when they’re timestamped. I always go back through my phone to make sure I didn’t miss anything when rounding up my spread.
I love this recap spread below, but wish I wouldn’t have added the horizontal lines until AFTER I added the text – Oh well! 🤷♀️
Review your trip
After you get home and you’re ready to unpack, check your packing list and see if there’s anything that was completely unused on your trip. I’m world’s worst when it comes to overpacking, but a quick review of your packing list when you get home may help you NOT overpack for your next trip! You can even start your next trip’s list ASAP with your new insight.
Once you’re home, ask yourself the following:
- What did I not see that I wanted to?
- What was my favorite part of the trip?
- What was the weather like?
- Did I pack too little or too much?
- Would I like to revisit this place?
Look through your pictures and souvenirs and see if there’s anything else worth adding to your journal. Remember your trip however you’d like, it’s always fun looking back on the highlights of your life, and many of mine happen when traveling.
I hope you’re inspired to start planning your future trips on paper or in a new journal. You’ll have everything in one place PLUS an incredible souvenir and you’ll never forget your trip! When you’re ready to book your next trip, check out the HotelTonight app to find your hotel. They’ll book up to 100 nights out, but you can get quality hotel rooms at the last minute too!
Have you starting journaling in 2019? I am definitely beginning a new book, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my planning process evolves throughout the year. I have some big goals set for 2019, and I can’t wait to get started! I hope you’ll join me and get the year started right! 🙂
If you’re thinking about journaling in 2019, I hope you’ll join me in the #journalyou52 challenge. This is a fun, year-long journal challenge with a different prompt every week ~ subscribe to my newsletter to stay updated!
I use affiliate links throughout this blog to make a tiny compensation on some of the products listed ~ this doesn’t cost you more if you buy, but it definitely helps support the blog!