If you’re hitting the road you’ll want to document every moment. These are the best digital travel apps that just might replace your journal.
Asked your boss for well-deserved time off? Good! Depending on the reason for your break (and how long you'll be away from work), you might not want to spend every second documenting your travels ... and every travel photo you post might not be Insta-worthy. Even though there’s something to be said for packing your daypack with a pen and a paper journal and writing about your trip, it’s a lot easier to keep friends and family in the loop while you’re on the road if you do it digitally.
How to Choose an Online Travel Diary App
Every trip is different, and so is every traveler. If you're headed out for a short two-week trip, you may choose a travel diary app that offers features to integrate into your life as well—more of an online journal. But if you're traveling around the world on a one-year trip, perhaps a dedicated app that could transition into a blog is more your speed. Either way these are a few considerations before you sign up and start journaling.
- Easy of use: If the travel journaling platform is online but offers no app, that might be a deal breaker if you're only traveling with a smartphone! Look for apps that allow you to quickly open it up, upload photos, and jot quick notes.
- Company history: How long has this company been offering digital journaling services? The last thing you want to do is invest all of the time and work of journaling, only to discover the app has shut down and you need to export all of that hard work.
- Social features: Do you want an app that excels first and foremost at getting you right to the journaling, or are you interested in digital travel communities with a social element? If you love one of the travel diary apps on this list, but it doesn't feature a built-in community, consider how you could use Instagram or a Facebook page to fulfill that need.
- Cost: Some of these are completely free, while others offer some limited services on the free platform and require paid upgrades to make it full-featured.
Best Digital Travel Journaling Apps
Here are the best digital travel diary apps that will help you document your next journey.
Day One Journal
The best part about Day One journals? You don’t necessarily need to be taking a cross-country or international trip to use it; you can just make a habit of capturing things that inspire you. Journaling novices will likely be content with the free version, which allows you to write diary entries by hand, with Apple Pencil, or your finger. You can look back through entries via calendar, timeline, or photos, while also being reminded of specifics of that day, like temperature, weather, moon phase, and altitude. Upgrading to the premium version of this digital travel diary gives you even more incentive to make journaling a habit: It allows unlimited photo storage and journal entries, cloud-based storage, audio recording, and a 25 percent off book printing discount … perfect if you’d prefer to page through your memories in paper form after collecting all of your epic travel stories.
The free Travel Diaries app has everything a traveler could want in a digital diary: Customizable layouts that allow you to enhance your text with photos and maps marking all of the places you visited, with the option to keep entries private or share them with family and friends. Inspired to turn your diary into a travel blog? No problem: The app can convert your entries from diary to blog automatically, which you can share via social media or email. Need to see your entries in print? That’s an option, too. Choose to print all (or a portion of) your trip; books are available for printing in as few as 40 pages (or as many as 320), in hard or soft cover formats.
Tripcast markets itself as the place you "share your travel photos with the people who want to see everything, not just the highlights." It's designed as social network for those who live for spending time on the road. The app supports photos and videos, and encourages your friends and family to comment, like, and interact with your updates—perfect for solo travelers who will love knowing their loved ones back home are along for the ride. The iPhone app is highly rated, and users generally rave about the variety of features to journal through the website, or on iPhone or Android. You'll love the feature where it uploads all of your travel photos to a map, so you can see the world populated with your best memories.
Even though it’s currently only available for iPhone users, Bonjournal is ideal for travelers who want a simple interface for documenting their activities, whether that means road-tripping up the West Coast or chilling on a deserted island. Not sure if you want to share every moment of your trip? Its privacy settings allow you to keep some entries to yourself. Need inspiration for your next trip? Follow friends (or fellow travelers), curl up in your travel blanket, and be inspired by their entries.
Are you not traveling but want to live vicariously through someone who is? Polarsteps is a photo-lovers dream. Not only does it provide the capability to track your travel route automatically when on the road (while using minimal battery power while doing so), it also transforms each travel journal into a visually stunning coffee table book, complete with modern-looking layouts of the countries visited, miles and/or kilometers covered, and number of photos taken.
Even if you don’t have any life-changing trips planned, Momento is worth a download either way, thanks to its ability to organize your social network activity from up to 11 different platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Swarm, Flickr and YouTube) into one neat, cohesive package. And even though you can make it private if you choose—great if you’re using its pregnancy feature, which allows you to journal your experience of nine months of pregnancy and beyond—you can also explore people who have tagged themselves enjoying similar experiences. No vacations (or pregnancies) in your future? This travel diary also doubles as a work/project journal, allowing you to track project notes, milestones and meetings so you’re always prepared, whether you’re working in-office or in another time zone.
When you use a digital travel journal you need only slip your smartphone into your waistpack and let the travel adventures get under way.
By Alison Kotch
Alison Kotch is a freelance writer, managing editor and runner living in Brooklyn, New York. You can read more of her writing at alisonkotch.com.