Last updated on May 25, 2023
As travel enthusiasts, we yearn to capture the essence of extraordinary travel moments and freeze them in time. We even want those mundane details preserved—what was the name of that hilarious taxi driver who shuttled you from the airport to your guesthouse? If you’ve logged those details in a travel journal, you don’t have to remember—that’s where travel journaling apps come in, offering a digital travel scrapbook that easily documents even the craziest travel adventures.
I’ve been traveling the world for 15 years, writing, photographing, and sharing my travel stories from the first day. That means I have pretty high expectations when it comes to using digital travel diaries meant to preserve the memories of your expeditions. Here’s what you need to know about the best online travel journal apps available.
What are Digital Travel Diaries?
While journaling about your travels via a paper notebook used to be called a travel log, the more modern equivalent is an online travel journaling app. That said, even diary app is just a new way to log the most important moments of your travels—and the mundane ones too. Travel journals essential just document your experiences, capturing your memories as you travel the world. By logging your travel memories in real time via a journaling app, you ensure the smaller details are captured.
Was it a torrential downpour on the day you had booked an “any-weather” tour of the Norwegian fjords? Log that and then share how you felt at that very moment, otherwise the details fade with time. That’s the real magic of keeping a travel log in any form, a beloved notebook, an app, or a blog. I’ve used all three over my 15+ years of travel. This travel blog was my primary travel log, but at times I’ve used these travel apps to capture moments more immediately.
And no matter my online travel journal app of choice, I always, always have a small physical journal. Even if you diligently record all of the best moments of your trip in your digital travel diary app, you should also carry a small travel journal that acts as your travel log—you use it to jot down funny off-the-cuff moments, or even just mundane details. Perhaps you press between the pages ticket stubs, a pretty flower from your world wanders, and other small memorabilia that can’t be captured in a journaling app. It becomes a place to log currency conversions you can surreptitiously glance at when haggling at a market, or jot down lists and travel plans.
I never travel without a pocket Field Notes waterproof notebook and this Moleskine travel journal—its these two things that have allowed me to share such rich details on this blog, my personal travel log that’s been running 15 years and counting.
How to Choose an Online Travel Journal App
Travel journal apps are not one-size-fits-all. The best apps offer the exact range of features you need and at a price point you can afford—which can mean free! Many journaling apps offer a free version that may just meet your needs. Often its the more sophisticated features that require a paid upgrade.
Given that you’re probably snowed under travel planning, don’t waste your time downloading every travel diary app here. To pick the right app for your travels, consider these things before you download it:
When choosing an online travel diary app, there are several factors to consider that can help you find the one that best fits your needs. Here are some tips to help you make a decision:
- Features: Review what the journaling app actually does—what are the key features these app developers believe are the hallmarks of their app? That will tell you a lot about functionality. Standard features of most digital travel diaries include: text entry, photo and video uploading, geotagging, and weather data. Decide which features are important to you and ensure that the app provides them. Maybe you want an awesome map interface because you’re hopscotching around the world for a year? Or you’re studying abroad you might want an app with more functionality around text and photo entries.
- Platform Compatibility: Check if the digital journaling app is available on your preferred platforms, such as iOS, Android, web-based, and desktop. If you’re bringing both a smartphone and laptop on your travels, you may wan a travel diary app that seamlessly switches between the two devices.
- Syncing and Backup: Consider whether the app offers syncing and backup options—and if those are free or paid features. You want access your travel diary across multiple devices, and you want it securely backed up to the cloud.
- Export and Sharing Options: If you plan to share your travel diary with others or would like to have a backup of your entries outside of the app, check if it offers export options, such as PDF or other file formats.
- Company Story: If the travel journaling app you’re considering using hasn’t been around for at least two-to-five years, run in the other direction. Companies, especially app makers, fold quickly. The last thing you want is an email saying you have a matter of days to download your cherished memories before they’re all deleted.
Best Travel Journaling Apps
1. Day One
Day One tops most of these lists because it’s actually that good—and it’s been around since 2011, so you know your travel memories are safe with this online diary app. The company has invested in a high-quality product, and updates over the years have responded to user reviews and feedback—which is enthusiastic across the board. Its clean interface and seamless integration with iOS (both iPhones and Macs) and Android make it a joy to use. You can effortlessly capture each destination through text and photos, while popping in location data too.
Best app features: The “On This Day” functionality is neat because it doesn’t pull in the best of anything, but rather that exact moment years ago when you were on an incredible adventure out there in the world—or maybe you had logged a tasty hot chocolate at a hipster spot near that landmark you were visiting. Either way, you’ll be transported back there in an instant and that app feature is maybe one of the strongest motivators to journal about all the big (and small) things that happen as you travel.
Cost: The free version is enough to see if you like it, but if you’re using this as your main digital travel journal then the one photo per entry restriction on free plans isn’t going to cut it. Premium is affordable though, at just under $3 per month, which buys you unlimited photos, videos, audio, drawings, and more.
If you go all in on Journey as your travel journal app, it will become your trusted companion. Rather than being a journaling app that’s great for travel, this travel-centric journaling app goes above and beyond with its extensive features. Geotagging allows you to pinpoint the exact location of you experiences, while the inclusion of weather data and “mood” status adds depth to entries. You can import photos from your camera roll directly into journal entires, creating vivid visual narratives of your travels.
This robust app works on iOS devices and Android phones, Mac or Windows computers, and there’s even a web app! Basically, it’s an accessible and essential tool for any travel writer seeking to document their adventures with style and precision. Not only because of the features, but also because it allows multi-media exports in PDF or doc format. It’s also a bit cheeky and has a handy guide to what Journey offers versus Day One or Daylio.
Best app features: Stand out for many will be the features that let you automatically sync and import social media content from Instagram and the like—what a time saver! And the full text editing screen is nice—you can bold, bullet, color, or link to anything you’d like right inside the text. Surprisingly, that’s not in every diary journaling app. But one of the neater travel-focused elements are the three views for your journal—media (where you scroll by photos), map (which shows your entries pinpointed on a map of the world) and calendar (journals organized by date).
Cost: Unlike essentially all competitors, Journey offers a one time purchase license—currently $18. You can buy a membership for ~$4.20.
Daylio, billed as a “simple micro-diary app,” adds an interesting twist to a travel journaling routine. As a mood and activity tracker, it enables you to record daily experiences and emotions with ease—and without writing anything. It’s an interesting way to to reflect on how your travel adventures have impacted your overall well-being. It’s not for the hardcore travel writer, but rather, Daylio captures the essence of the travel experiences in a uniquely personal way. It’s a good companion for those seeking to intertwine their emotional journey with their physical travels. And for those who want a more streamlined diary app with fewer features and just straight to the meat of what you want to do.
Best app features: This app is dead simple to use and can be updated in under a minute thanks to the tap interface. It’s certainly not going to be the only way you record you travels, but if you’re already planning to share extensively on a Facebook or Instagram page, then this ease of use may just ensure that you use it every day.
Cost: You could get pretty far with the free version, or upgrade for just $3 per month—only the premium version supports exporting to PDF.
Real talk: The digital travel journal of your dreams may be something you’re already using. When it comes to versatile note-taking, Evernote reigns supreme. Its functionality goes beyond simple journaling, allowing the creation of multimedia-rich entries. I’ve organized my entire life via Evernote—travel pans, stories, etc—and its robust features make a compelling case for this being one of the best journaling apps out there, period. Not just in travel, but in general. As one of the best digital diary apps, you can update it seamlessly across iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.
Best app features: Well, you could use Evernote to basically plan and execute your trip, in addition to using it as a digital journal. You can also stay ruthlessly organized.
Cost: The free version offers 60 MB monthly uploads, which is constraining for travelers looking for an online app where they could add photos and videos to Evernote itself—this would like be better if you’re embedding YouTube videos, for example, versus storing them in Evernote. The Personal version offers a more reasonable 10 GB in monthly uploads, but costs $11/month for that perk. If you’re already paying for Evernote for other reasons then this could be an excellent online travel journal, otherwise some of the other ones are likely better priced for a traveler.
5. Travel Diaries
For those seeking a dedicated travel journaling app, Travel Diaries hits the mark. It’s really a truly solid option. As a travel writer, I’m captivated by its interactive features. You can easily create immersive travelogues, complete with photos, maps, and annotations. It’s also a captivating way to showcase your journey to fellow travelers (and your family and friends back home, of course!). The ability to share your travel stories and explore others’ adventures on the platform adds a sense of community not available in the other digital travel journaling apps. It’s available as software for web, iOS and Android, but will only work with an internet connection (either cell data or wifi)—which means this might not be the best journaling app for those going far off-the-beaten path.
Best app features: A broad range of fonts and styles allow you to design your travel diary according to your own taste, and your travel log can include itineraries, travel photos, and a traveling map. The layout as an actual travel journal is a fun and personal touch that makes it feel like your digital diary is just as capable of creativity as a blank page in front of you.
Cost: There is no free version of Travel Diaries—it’ll be a subscription for as long as you want access to your travel journal. The basic plan costs $1 a month and includes unlimited storage and is really all most travelers will need for a robust travel journal. If you want to export your stories to PDF, you’ll have to upgrade to $3 per month.
Diaro App is a reliable companion for millions of people, not just globetrotters. This comprehensive diary app offers an array of features that elevate a travel journaling experience. Sometimes the best travel journal is, well, just a great online diary that you happen to use to document your travels. The ability to add text, photos, tags, and organize entries into folders keeps this app well-organized—you can effortlessly find specific memories or delve into specific themes from your trips. It has a map of entry locations, which is especially important for those using this as a travel journal diary. Diaro’s sleek interface and user-friendly design make the process of documenting adventures a true pleasure. Available on web, iOS or Android devices (with cross-device syncing via Dropbox) Diaro is a go-to app for travelers who want to capture the essence of their trip with elegance and efficiency.
Best app features: The multilingual UI (30+languages) may be a real boon for those for whom English is not their native language, but the shining standout features is just how easy it is to create a robust diary accounting for all of the key moments on your trip.
Cost: The free version has robust functionality. Upgrading to Diario Pro costs $10 per month and offers more customizability.
Polarsteps is a great travel journal app that offers automatic tracking of your journey, making it effortless to document and share your trips. With its GPS technology, the app traces your route in real-time, creating a visually appealing map of your adventure without requiring any manual input. This feature sets Polarsteps apart from other travel journal apps, as it eliminates the need for constant updates and allows you to focus on enjoying your trip while the app takes care of recording your route—and uses minimal data and power to do so.
What truly makes Polarsteps unique is its ability to create a beautifully presented travel log that showcases your journey. This app is made for the travel photographers out there also wanting a digital travel log of their journey. Along with the automatic tracking, the app allows you to add photos, captions, and personal insights to your entries. These elements are then combined to create a visually stunning travel journal that can be shared with friends, family, and fellow travelers. I think this is one of the prettier apps—the maps alone are just a step up from the others.
Best app features: The GPS tracking is easily the standout here. You’ll know the precise spot you took a photo, and can then include a quick note—an inside joke you shared with a friend while there, a tidbit about the day, and more. This kind of precise location data is invaluable in the months and years after you travel.
Cost: It’s free! Polarsteps offers you a printed travel journal of your trip, which is how it’s monetized.
BONUS: RIP: Bonjournal
Bonjournal captured my attention many years ago for its visually stunning approach to travel journaling. As you penned your travel stories, this app transformed them into beautifully presented narratives—and it made you choose just one photo to represent your day. Which was really quite neat.
This travel journal app is no longer available! Even though other websites are still recommending it as a travel diary app, the gorgeous app that debuted more than a decade ago is no longer up and running. Instead, a new app with the same name launched in 2021—it’s not a viable alternative. This new Bon Journal diary app is glitchy and poorly rated—storing your cherished travel memories there is not a good idea.
How to Safely Store Travel Photos and Videos
These travel journaling apps are a terrific way to document your journey for personal memories, and to share with others. Although some long-term travelers create a travel blog to record their trips, using a travel diary instead is a great alternative. You get amazing functionality and the ability to share your travel stories without the hassle of running a blog—which can get pricey and generally lacks the ability to share some stories privately with family, or keep other journal entries entirely private.
One thing all of these apps have are general constraints on how you upload, store, and present your travel photos and videos. Although some of these apps offer paid subscriptions with unlimited uploads, you’re likely safer if you store your actual travel photos elsewhere, too. Here’s a quick review of other places you can store travel photos, and the perks of using them in addition to, or instead of, a travel diary app.
- Facebook pages: Rather than use your personal profile, consider setting up a Facebook page for your trip—then you can share unlimited stories, photos, and videos. And you’re creating and sharing in a place where it’s likely your family and friends are already hanging out.
- Instagram: This is a great way to share photos, but videos and stories are a little more constrained on this platform. This might be a good option in addition to a digital travel diary.
- SmugMug: If you need a place to both store and display all of your travel photos, SmugMug is a great option. I’ve had an annual plan for more than a decade and it offers unlimited storage for all of my photos from all over the world for $88 per year. And it’s totally customizable—you can create gorgeous albums on a custom domain name if you own one.
- Google Drive: If you just need a backup solution without the need to share then Google Drive is a good option (I find Google Photos a chore to use). It’s just $2 a month for 100GB of cloud storage.
Ready for some travel inspiration? These are the best travel stories—both travelers to follow now, inspiring books from historic travels, and short reads, too.
Don’t forget to book travel insurance for your trip—a great policy provides coverage in case of medical emergencies, lost or stolen gear, adventure sports riders, and more. I’ve used IMG Global for more than a decade highly recommend it!