The Best Adventure and Travel Journals

Alejandro Medellin

Since the rise of the home computer, and before then, the rise of the typewriter, writing with a pen on paper has been on the decline. Word processors are efficient, accurate and able to save your work in multiple places and make edits whenever, but it lacks the feeling of a pen gliding through ruled lines on paper. Maybe I am old school or stuck in my ways, but I still prefer to write on paper when I get a chance. I keep journals for poems, my thoughts on certain games, to make gear shopping lists and so many other things. Honestly, I have more journals than I could ever hope to complete, but I an enamored with the idea that one day I will write all my thoughts down—for no particular reason. Some of the journals below are for note taking, list making, or traveling but they’re all great companions to remind you of something that people used to do.

“Do not worry. You have always written before, and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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Field Notes Expedition

Field Notes makes excellent notebooks of all different styles and page format. All field notes—except for a few exceptions like the planner—are 4 inches by 5 inches and are known as memo books. They are small and thin enough to fit in a pocket, but they can wear down easily, especially if used on a work site. For this reason, they created the Field Notes Expedition, a tough and almost indestructible memo pad that can withstand the elements and won’t tear no matter how hard you try. I own a few of these, and while I haven’t climbed Mount Everest, I am almost sure it wouldn’t be phased by those conditions. A three-pack sells for $12.95 and once they sell out Field Notes won’t make anymore. Lastly, only ballpoint pens will work on this type of paper and that's probably its only shortcoming. 

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Image via Rite in the Rain

Rite in the Rain Pocket Top-Spiral

Rite in the Rain has been around for a long, long time, and in that time they have perfected their patented paper. It’s not as durable as the Field Notes Expedition, but it’s still waterproof and affordable at $4.95 per notebook. The smallest size is 3 inches by 5 inches, but the one that’s slightly bigger is the better option—that bigger one is 4 inches by 6 inches. I’ve owned this top-spiral notebook and used it a lot during my time as a reporter for the university paper—it’s worth it. They recommend that you use their special ink for maximum effect—I will leave that up to you.

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Indestructible Field Book

Again, the Field Notes Expedition is a true freak of nature, so this indestructible Field Book may not be as tough, but it is still waterproof and tearproof. For just over $11 you can have four of these bad boys to do whatever you want, and they’re rated four and a half stars on Amazon. Personally, I haven’t used this notebook before, but the ratings don’t lie, and they’re so affordable that if you don’t like them, you could give them away. The 48-page memo books are 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches and perfect to write down quick thoughts or make a list.

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Image via Amazon

Moleskine Voyageur: First Class Journaling                  

For $20 you get a hardcover, cloth-bound journal made by one of the premier brands in the industry. Thee 4 inches by 7 inches voyager notebook has 200 pages made up of ruled, dotted, and blank pages. It also comes with a world map, colored tabs, planning pages, and to-do list style pages. This journal comes with everything you need to jot down your adventures. You can list items you need to bring, sketch local architecture and pen a review of one of your favorite eateries and it’s all in one affordable but luxurious notebook.

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Image via Amazon

Atlas Obscura Journal

Nothing about this particular journal is commonplace, but its different approach makes it an intriguing buy. The Atlas Obscura is a huge book full of facts from around the world, and they cover all the major cities, cultures and traditions and even ones you didn’t know about. The journal has pages for you to write in but unlike most standard journals, the Atlas Obscura Journal has 58 pages full of maps, trivia and need-to-know information like time zones, seasonal climate charts and weights and measures. Personally, I think it is a fun journal, and although it is made for writing, I would probably read the trivia pages while waiting for my next flight or in between train rides.

 

En Route and I was Here:

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Image via Amazon

The same person, Kate Procrass, makes both of these journals, but they are very different

I was Here is a $14 journal that is 128 pages long and 4.8 inches by 8.5 inches—it is very long but not very wide. Only 21 pages are blank and meant for open-ended journaling, and the rest are sections that ask you to observe and write what you see. There is also a section that tasks you with completing activities and is meant to slightly break you out of your comfort zone or get you to do something you would have never thought of. I prefer to journal whatever I feel like and have as many blank pages as possible, but I understand the appeal of this journal. Sometimes there are so many topics to write about that you end up not writing because you can’t decide, and this simplifies that process.

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Image via Amazon

En Route is more of a traditional journal, but the twist is that the creator has placed an illustration on every page. Most journal pages are just blank or lined with little to no style, and that’s okay, but the illustrations, apart from looking great, can also serve as inspiration. There are still a couple of pages for lists—don’t underestimate the power of a good list—and date pages to plan out specific days. This $14 journal has 144 total pages and is 5 inches by 7 inches.

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Image via Amazon

You are Here: A Mindful Travel Journal

Sort of like I was Here, this journal has no blank pages and asks the writer to observe their surroundings. Unlike the other journal, however, this one has a prompt on each page instead assorted sections on where to eat, what to do, and lists, among other things. Reviewers of this journal write that some of the prompts are silly and lighthearted, but many serious prompts will tasks writers to challenge themselves and dig deep for inspiration.