20+ Journals To Record Your Travels, Dreams, and Everything In Between

Writing in a Diary

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Human beings feel a natural need to record emotions and events. It's why diaries and journals have existed for centuries in various forms. Reporting on the weather, political happenings, and business transactions was an important part of everyday life before computerization. Diaries evolved from this need for daily record keeping, but the human desire to process emotion was also served.

Read on to learn more about the history of journaling and the best diaries for recording your thoughts, dreams, and beyond.


A Brief History of Journaling

Leather Journal

Photo: Stock Photos from Stephen Orsillo/Shutterstock

Famous diarists have written on diverse topics. Often cited as the first truly modern diarist, Samuel Pepys filled many volumes detailing his emotions and everyday life in 17th-century London. But before he did that, there were other types of diaries already in existence.

Travel diaries became popular during the Renaissance, as a “Grand Tour” around Europe was a rite of passage for wealthy young people. Mystical diaries were also kept, although they may not appear immediately familiar to the modern reader. The Book of Margery Kempe records the autobiographical spiritual and temporal development of its writer, Margery Kempe, a 14th-century English mystic.

Writing in diaries, or journaling, kept the soldiers’ company during the two World Wars. Others during this time, such as Anne Frank, kept diaries that record a civilian vantage point. Works such as these are useful to historians, but they can also become enduring classics for their literary and emotional value. Some diary writers have been deeply aware of the historical moment and their place within a course of events. Others record the mundane details of meals, outings, and personal relationships. Each is a window into someone else's life.

Journaling in the modern sense—as relief, outlet, and process—is a recent idea. While historical diarists may have written for personal satisfaction or emotional release, in the 1960s the psychologist Dr. Ira Progoff pioneered his intensive journal method. The first prominent use of journaling as therapy, the relationship between journal and self began to be explored as a means of personal development. In the 1980s, journaling gained traction in primary education. Allowing students to explore their thoughts and reflect on the material they learned, the composition notebook became ubiquitous.

Journaling for personal growth naturally opened the door to tailor-made journals and diaries to suit anybody's needs. Despite the proliferation of online media, putting pen to paper has not lost its appeal. Whether you are searching for healing, discipline, amusement, or just a void into which to empty your thoughts, there is a journal for you. Check out our curated list of the best journals for any journey of self-discovery.


Want to try journaling for yourself? Here are 21 journals that will help you record your travels, observations, and everything in between.


The Travel Journal


The Wine Journal


The Dream Journal

Dream Journal

Gather Gifts | $10.99


The Funny Journal


The Leather Journal

Leather Journal Customizable

SanTanLeather | $24.99+


The Vegan Journal


The Gratitude Journal


The Personalized Journal


The Artist's Journal

Artists Leather Journal

ForestNine | $50.44+


The Kid's Journal


The Parent's Journal

Parent Journal

DaisyandDecor | $16.80


The Pregnancy & Baby Journal

Pregnancy And Baby Journal

Illustries | $26+


The Romantic Journal

Romantic Rose Journal

batoriii | $28.82+


The Prayer Journal


The Five Year Diary

Five Year Diary

KUULYS | $24.99


The Couple's Journal


The Recycled Journal


The Reading Journal


The Supportive Journal

Supportive Diary



The Music Journal


The Nerd Journal

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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