When we travel to a new place, a million thoughts rush through our heads.
“Wow, this is the best baguette I’ve ever tasted.”
“I should give this tour company a great online review.”
“I didn’t know Chinese people dance in parks!”
“Aunt Mavis would love this bed and breakfast.”
And as quickly as these thoughts pass through our minds… They’re gone.
After a trip, I forget the little details over time. How can we record these details so we don’t lose them as the years go by?
By using travel diary apps.
By downloading these apps, we can write down crucial details about our travels and, in many cases, add in other multimedia such as photos and videos. These features create a rich picture of our experiences.
But with so many apps out there, how do you figure out where to start?
Why Use a Travel Diary App?
Let’s face it, we tend to spend a lot of time glued to our devices. Instead of lugging around a heavy book, it makes a lot more sense to use a travel diary app specifically designed to keep track of your adventures.
While some people will always prefer to physically write down their thoughts and stories, I think travel diary apps are the way of the future. Here are a few reasons why.
You’ll remember the small details
As I mentioned earlier, some of our best travel memories aren’t the big things—they’re the little ones.
It’s the ice cream you ate, the local people you chatted with or the room with kooky decor you stayed in. Those are the things that make your day abroad unique.
Whether you’re working abroad, studying as part of an exchange program or just traveling for fun, a diary app helps you capture those crucial details. You’ll enjoy reflecting back on them over the years.
You can share your travel story
Whether you want to share your story with just a few people or the whole world, many travel diary apps are set up to help you tell others about your trip.
When I travel, my family and friends love following my adventures. Sharing with an app is such an easy way to let them know what a great time I’m having.
You can help other travelers
How many times have fellow travelers asked you for recommendations, only for you to forget the name of that perfect little cafe you visited in Florence or the name of the trail you hiked in Costa Rica?
When your Great Aunt Mavis visits and asks for the name of that bed and breakfast you loved in Tbilisi, you’ll be able to refer to your records for the answer.
Using a travel diary app helps you remember those important details. And your friends will thank you for it!
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How Do Travel Diary Apps Work?
Apps are downloadable programs that operate on your cell phone or tablet. That means they’re perfect for using on the go!
Enter information about where you are and what you’re doing, and these facts will usually be stored in the cloud—meaning you have a copy saved outside of your phone.
There are lots of different types of travel diary apps, so there’s something to suit everyone. Whether you would like a photo-rich digital journal with a beautiful aesthetic or something you can print out at home after your trip to review, there are several options you can try!
Things to Consider When Choosing a Travel Diary App
There are a few different things to consider when choosing the perfect app for your trip:
- Cost. While many travel diary apps are free, others charge you for downloading. Or in some cases, they require a monthly payment to keep using it. You can also use free versions of some apps but upgrade to premium versions for a fee. Be sure to check out all costs involved before you start using an app to avoid disappointment.
- Accessibility. Some travel diary apps allow you to create a feed so your family and friends can view your travels online. Others require your peers to download a specific app if they want to read your work.
- Ease of use. You’re on holiday. You should avoid anything complicated that will just make life harder! Make sure you choose an app that’s easy to use.
- Image and video integration. Many travel diary apps are specifically created to include these elements. Be sure your app lets you insert images and/or video if this is important to you.
- Reliability. The last thing you want is an app that crashes and deletes all your memories! Be sure to only use apps that are reliable and stable. It’s a good idea to read reviews to check what others have to say about the app. If they’re having issues, they’ll be sure to pass that information along.
How to Write Your Very Own Odyssey: The Best Travel Diary Apps
Now—down to the good stuff!
I’ve done my research so you don’t have to. I’ve identified the best travel diary apps available to download. You’ll also read about the pros and cons of each app so you can narrow down your choices.
Day One Journal
Website | iOS | Android
Day One Journal is created for the on-the-go generation—people who don’t have time to sit down and write huge blocks of text. Instead, with a Twitter-like interface, it lets you record those little tidbits of your holiday that you would otherwise forget.
By connecting with other functionalities on your phone, it can stamp your thoughts with a location, time, date and even how many steps you took that day.
Pros: Day One Journal has been created to encourage journaling and sharing, even if it’s just a quick thought every once in a while. You can even use voice commands if you’re too busy to type.
Cons: Some people might find the functionalities a little intrusive—does everyone really need to know that you only waddled 50 steps to the buffet on holiday? It’s also quite tricky to share with others, so this app is more suited to private journaling.
Cost: Free, but limited to one photo per day and stored locally, not in the cloud. If you want full functionality, it’s $34.99 USD per year.
Website | iOS | Android
Have you ever felt a little guilty posting 40 holiday photos in a row on Instagram?
With Tripcast, you can create a private feed on the app for your friends and family to view. Your trip photos are automatically uploaded to a map showing your travel route, and people can comment on your adventures.
If you’re traveling with a friend, you can generate combined albums and feeds to share with others. To view your photos and comments, your friends and family must able to download the Tripcast app. They can also sign up to be automatically notified when you post something new.
Pros: Being able to combine your efforts with fellow travelers will help create a memorable diary. And Tripcast creates a beautiful feed for you to share (privately) with others.
Cons: It’s a little challenging to share photos with friends using Tripcast, unless they also have the app. It’s really for you and your loved ones, as opposed to being used for social sharing.
Website | iOS
Bonjournal is perfect for people who love sharing photographs but are in an area with limited Wi-Fi.
The app lets you select and curate your photos while offline, then upload your photos when you have an internet connection. It offers the option to create private and locked posts, as well as to tag your photos or share directly to social media.
Like Tripcast, your friends and family need the app to view your stories but can be automatically notified of new entries. The main difference is that you can use the app to print up a copy of your diary when you arrive back home—great to share with your grandma who might not have an iPhone!
Pros: Offline usage and being able to share a printed version with friends or family are the two key benefits of Bonjournal.
Cons: The minimalist design isn’t for everyone. You essentially start with a blank page, and there isn’t much in the way of guidance or prompts to get you started.
Website | iOS | Android
Another app that’s ideal for offline users, Penzu offers a plethora of options, especially if you download the pro version.
For those who tend to journal a little bit after the fact, Penzu PRO allows you to backdate entries. Very handy.
You can arrange posts into categories, too. This feature is convenient when you’re trying to remember the names of your favorite trails in Switzerland or bars across South America.
Penzu is intended to be used as a private diary, which will be a benefit for some people but a disadvantage for others. However, you can choose to share specific posts by email or by publishing your entry and sharing that link with others.
Pros: Offline usage and post categorization are the key features of Penzu. It’s very private, and the pro version includes nifty features like handwritten fonts.
Cons: It’s not really made to share with others.
Cost: The price ranges from free to 49.99 USD per year for Penzu PRO.
Website | iOS
Esplorio is an easy and free way to share your travels with loved ones. For those of us who are extra lazy about journaling, Esplorio actually maps out the routes you travel, checks you in to various visited places and uses your photos to create a journal. Easy, right?
Esplorio is designed in such a way that it doesn’t run down your battery. And while your content is automatically private, it can be shared with others if you change your settings.
Best yet, if you’re a social media fiend, you can set Esplorio to integrate with your social media and create travel stories from there, too!
Pros: Offline usage is a huge plus. The app doesn’t run down your battery, even when it uses your GPS.
Cons: I think the social media integration is pretty neat, but it might feel a little big-brother-esque to some.
Website | iOS | Android
Want to keep things extra simple? Evernote is exactly what the name suggests: A note taking app.
Evernote is a well-known app that can be used across a wide variety of platforms. While it doesn’t exactly offer a beautiful interface, it’s clean and simple and very easy to get started with. It’s also a great trip planning tool and a useful spot to record your foreign language practice.
Pros: Its compatibility across platforms is useful, and it’s remarkably easy to use.
Cons: This isn’t the app for people who want to share their travels with others. It’s really created for your own use, as opposed to being used for social sharing. Just like a real diary!
So what’s your excuse? With so many different options available, even the laziest of us can create a travel journal—even if all we’re doing is tagging the local coffee shop on Instagram!
When you return home, you’ll treasure that you have memories you can reflect back on.
An experienced writer, traveler and communications professional, Samantha Wilson splits her time between New Zealand and Dubai, with a lot of travel packed in between—visiting 20 countries in 2017/2018. In her spare time, she blogs at The 58th Floor and shares photos of her travels on Instagram.
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