Best Journals and Web Platforms to Keep Your #TravelDiaries

Keeping a travel diary is a wonderful thing to do. It helps you record memories so you can fondly look back on your trip later, preserve photos and mementos, and even process your thoughts while you’re actively traveling.

Of course, you can do all this in any old notebook, but there are many travel journals and diaries out there – in traditional paper form and online – developed just for travelers. Here’s a round-up of some of the best:

Bonjournal

Available in both website form and an iOS app, Bonjournal allows you to create a free account where you can build clean, minimalist travel journal pages.  They let you save your diaries as PDFs to make them easy to print, export, or share. You can also send your journals links to friends so that they can follow along on your journey (there’s also a privacy lock for the moments you want to keep to yourself)>

Day One Journal

Day One Journal is a journaling app that you can use for any type of journal, but it works great for keeping a travel diary on the go since the app lives right on your phone. It lets you integrate pictures, drawings, and even audio files. Everything gets organized by date and it backs up automatically. This app has both a free version and Premium, which costs less than $3 per month.

Mixbook

If you’re looking for a way to preserve your travel memories after the fact, Mixbook is a web platform that lets you build beautiful photo books. They’re perfect for making memory books of your journey, and they have lots of free travel-themed templates that you can use to get started. You can get as creative as you like with different photo layouts, backgrounds, font colors, stickers, and even some basic photo editing features. There’s plenty of room for text so that you can fully explore the “diary” part of your travel diary, too.

Travel Planner

Need to get your travels organized ahead of time? This super cute Travel Planner from Ban.do helps you plan trips up to three years ahead with maps, packing lists, a calendar, and cute stickers. It’s perfect to take along with you on your trip to use as a diary, too, since it’s also full of lined note pages. It includes a pocket to hold travel mementos, travel tips, common phrases in other languages, and even postcards to send to folks back home.

50 States Traveled Journal

If you tend to take more domestic trips than journeys abroad, you might want a journal with a focus on travel within the United States. The 50 States Traveled Journal from Uncommon Goods has a sleek, vintage black-and-white style and is an easily portable size. Broken down into sections for each state, it contains prompts so that you can write down what cities you visited, how you got around, where you stayed, favorite memories, and more. It’s a great way to both track sites you want to revisit and memorialize your favorite travel memories.

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#TakeTheScenicRoute – Prettiest Drives around Boston

There’s nothing like the Great American Road Trip! And given continued travel restrictions preventing Americans from taking their vacations abroad in many countries, more and more people are turning to road trips when they need to get away from it all.

If you’ll be in Boston and are looking for scenic drives or road trips to take, the rocky coastline to the East and the Berkshire mountains to the West make for beautiful driving. Read on for some fun ideas the next time you feel the need to take the scenic route.

The Berkshires

Taking a trip over the Western side of Massachusetts will put you in the Berkshire mountain range, a lovely region of small towns, arts and cultural institutions, and farm-to-table cuisine. It’s a lovely trip to take any time of year, but scenic drives there are especially popular in Autumn when the fall foliage is peaking.

A road trip out to the Berkshires will take you just over two hours from Boston, and once you’re there, there are a couple of scenic routes you can take around the area. Visit this website for seven different drives you can take on your Berkshire trip to give you a scenic tour of the region.

Cape Cod

For a totally different kind of scenery, drive South to Cape Cod. There you’ll find Route 6A, also called Old King’s Highway, curling around the North side of the peninsula. This is the scenic route for you if you want rocky, rugged coastline, beaches, clam shacks, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, and historic fishing towns.

The road is designated as a National Scenic Byway and will take you all the way up to Provincetown. If you’re ready to cruise along 6A, check out this guide from the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. It lists stop-offs to turn your scenic route into a full road trip, including a historic glass company, eclectic cafes, a museum, a farm, a playhouse, a flea market, and more.

Once you reach the end of the route, spend some time in Provincetown. It’s a super vibrant, artsy, and LGBT-friendly community right at the tip of the Cape. It’s the perfect place to spend some time in the summer.

Lexington and Concord

If you have less time, a quicker route starts just 26 minutes away in the historic town of Lexington.

From Lexington, the trip to Concord need only be 15 minutes, but it’s a beautiful, forested route that includes Minuteman National Historical Park, which is worth a stop to learn more about the first battle of the Revolutionary War. There are multiple historic buildings at the park, including houses, a tavern, and a farm.

Once you’ve reached Concord, there’s plenty more to see and do, including Louisa May Alcott’s house, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house, the Concord Museum, and Walden Pond.

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How to Make a #Staycation Feel Like a Proper Vacation

Whether you need to opt for a staycation due to travel restrictions or a tight wallet, there’s no reason it can’t be just as fun and refreshing as a traditional vacation. Here’s some advice to make it special.

Stay True to Your Travel Style

There are two types of travelers in the world: those who like to fit everything in they possibly can and those who like to spend their vacation relaxing and pampering themselves. Whichever you are, it’s ok! Just make sure to design a staycation that suits your style. If you’re the former type, build a solid itinerary and push yourself to follow it with just as much energy as you have on your trips, even when it’s tempting to remember that you’re home and don’t need to cram things in. And if you’re the latter type, don’t let daily chores distract you from relaxation! Let it all go for a brief while, just like you do on vacay.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Chances are, there are a few tourist attractions in your city that you’ve never properly been to. Perhaps you assume that famous landmarks will be too touristy, so you avoid it all costs. Or it can be really easy to put off visiting a place knowing it will always be there, or to just get into a lazy pattern where you’d rather spend your Saturdays on the couch rather than exploring.

However, we have news for you – unless you actively try to visit all the places you’ve “always wanted to go,” you’re never going to get there. And when you live in a place, you have the advantage of visiting attractions off-peak when there will be fewer crowds.

So the first step of your staycation is making a list of all the “must-do” attractions, “must-see” viewpoints, and “must-try” restaurants around your home, just as if you were planning to visit somewhere completely new. How many have you not experienced yet? There’s your itinerary! This may seem better suited to the aforementioned style of traveler who likes to cram it all in, but even travelers who like to relax can think of experiences and places that fit their pace.

Pretend You’re at a Hotel

What’s your favorite part of staying in a hotel? If it’s room service, order breakfast in with an app like Seamless during your staycation. If it’s not having to worry about cleaning up, hire a cleaning service for a few days. If it’s access to a whirlpool tub, luxuriate in a bath with some special products. You get the picture. Whatever it is, you can find some ways to make home feel special for a time.

Prepare Accordingly

Just like you have to make preparations when you’re leaving town, make sure you have all the minutia of everyday life sorted out before your staycation starts. The last thing you want is to feel pressured to take care of business or household chores that you would never do on vacation just because you’re in your home.

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#Roadtrip Ideas from Phoenix, Arizona

There’s nothing like the Great American Road Trip! And given continued travel restrictions preventing Americans from taking their vacations abroad in many countries, more and more people are turning to road trips when they need to get away from it all.

If you’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona and are looking for scenic drives or road trips to take, read on for some fun ideas.

Sedona

Taking the two-hour drive up to Sedona is rewarding both in terms of the drive and the destination. Sedona is a beautiful desert city surrounded by red rock formations, canyons, buttes, and pine forests. It also has a vibrant arts community, which means there’s plenty to see and do once you get there.

As for the drive itself, the last part of your route from Phoenix will be on SR 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. After you turn left off of I-17 onto the byway, you’ll soon be in the Rd Rock Scenic Corridor within the Coconino National Forest. The drive is surrounded by towering, jaw-dropping rock formations with optional stop-offs at a visitors’ center (at the time of writing, it’s temporarily closed due to COVID-19), several trailheads, petroglyphs, a chapel, and a state park.

The Apache Trail

Ready to put your driving skills to the test? About two hours east of Phoenix lies the Apache Trail, an ancient route used by the native Apaches, which then became a stagecoach route. For a while, this mostly unpaved road was considered the most dangerous road in the US! Also known as Arizona State Route 88, the road is safer now, but you’ll still be facing tight turns and steep drop-offs (the speed limit remains 15 mph).

The drive will take you 40 miles through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. Stops include Goldfield Ghost Town, Theodore Roosevelt Dam, Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Lost Dutchman State Park, Tonto National Monument, and Fish Creek Hill Viewpoint.

Desert Foothills Scenic Drive

If you have less time to devote to your road trip but still want magical scenery, there’s a great drive near Scottsdale, Arizona, which is only half an hour from Phoenix. It’s called Desert Foothills Scenic Drive and is located on the stretch of Scottsdale Road between Carefree Highway and Happy Valley Road (don’t both of those names make it sound like a relaxing place to be?).

The drive is about 6 miles long and will only take you about an hour (at a maximum) to complete while doing the stops. There are around a dozen signs posted along the road that you can stop and read for information about native vegetation and other natural features. It’s kind of like a museum you can drive through! And you’ll have great views of nearby mountains from the road.

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Best Hikes Near #New York City

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise. While New York City is more readily known for Broadway and skyscrapers, its proximity to the Appalachian Mountains means there are some decent trail options around the city. Here is a list of awesome hikes you can do if you’re in the Greater New York City area.

Hudson River Greenway

This one is for beginner hikers or those who don’t have the time or means to travel outside the city. It’s a popular walking, jogging, and biking path along the Hudson River up the west side of Manhattan. It runs from Battery Park all the way to Riverside Park, nearly at the other end of the island. The trail is paved and flat, running about 5 miles. There are awesome views of the skyline, the river, and New Jersey beyond it.

If you want to get out of the city for better scenery and more challenging hikes, read on!

Breakneck Ridge

Located about an hour north of Grand Central Station by train, Breakneck Ridge is a hike that’s easily completed as a day trip from NYC, even for those without a car. You’ll get off the train in the town of Cold Spring, which is a quaint small town oriented around a single main street. It’s worth building some time into your day to have breakfast here at one of the cute cafes to fuel up before your hike.

To get to the trailhead from town, you can either take an Uber or walk towards Hudson Highlands State Park. There’s a marked path along the main road that will take you to the trailhead safely behind a guardrail (the trailhead is just past an underpass on a highway). Ignore Google Maps when it tries to tell you it will take you an hour and a half to get there! Just follow the signs.

As the name implies, Breakneck Ridge is for the brave at heart who aren’t afraid of a challenge. The trail starts off as a steep, unrelenting rock scramble. It goes up to several peaks with breathtaking views of the Hudson River before winding down through the woods, past some ruins, and back into town.

Anthony’s Nose

Another Hudson Valley Hike you can get to via the Metro North train is Anthony’s Nose (however, getting to the actual trailhead is much easier with a car). This hike is less exhilarating than Breakneck Ridge, but still has plenty of ups and downs and some rock scrambling. There are sweet views from the “nose” right above the bridge. You might even see a train go by on the tracks along the river while you’re taking a break above. Unless you want a short nature walk, make sure you take the Camp Smith Trail to get the full experience.

When you’re done, reward yourself with a craft brew and a snack at Peekskill Brewery.

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Best Hikes Near #Los Angeles

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise.

If you’re in Los Angeles, you’ve come to the right place. While it might not be the first place you’d think of for a hiking trip, LA is more than Hollywood, beaches, and Mexican food. So, if you find yourself there this summer you should definitely get out on the trails. We’ve got a list of awesome hikes you can do in the Greater Los Angeles area to get you started.

Hollywood Sign

Everyone wants to do this at least once, right? Hiking to the Hollywood Sign is a right of passage for Angelenos and a great bucket list item to check off for visitors.

There are three options for the trail that will take you up there depending on your ability and desire for challenge:

·   Mt. Hollywood Trail: If you want an easier hike, choose this very popular trail. There are a couple of starting points – if you want to take the one at Griffith Observatory, get there early since parking fills up.

·   Brush Canyon Trail: This is a moderate, out and back route. It gains 1,000 feet over 6 miles. Dogs are welcome, but know that there are also bobcats here. Bring plenty of water, the whole trail is exposed.

·   Cahuenga Peak: This route is challenging and the trail is rugged. The loop trail is just about 4 miles and you’ll gain about 1,400 feet in elevation. It winds through Griffith Park, going right past the park’s well-known wisdom tree.

Runyon Canyon Park

Located near West Hollywood, Runyon Canyon Park has a few short loop trails of varying lengths. They’re all fairly steep, so you’ll get both a decent workout and a view.

Like many local hikes, this one has great scenery. But what it also has is a great scene. The vibe on the trail is very Hollywood, so if you’re trying to get your steps in while “experiencing” LA culture, this one is for you!

Malibu Creek State Park

If you’re looking to head a bit further afield to feel like you “got out of town” then drive about an hour east toward Malibu. Malibu Creek State Park has lots of recreational activities, including miles of hiking trails.

There are lots of different trails of varying lengths (scroll to the bottom of this page to view them) including hikes to the M*A*S*H set and a swimming hole called Rock Pool.

Mount Lowe Railway Trail

For avid hikers looking for a more extreme trail, go about 35 minutes from downtown to the Mount Lowe Railway Trail. This strenuous loop trail is nearly ten miles and rated as hard due to the 2,400 feet in elevation it gains. The loop takes you along an old railway on saddles and ridges to an abandoned town. It combines great views with some exploring!

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#ItsAllAboutTheJourney – Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Next Road Trip

There’s nothing like the Great American Road Trip! And given continued travel restrictions preventing Americans from taking their vacations abroad in many countries, more and more people are turning to road trips when they need to get away from it all.

While road trips are a fantastic way to see offbeat sites and to truly appreciate the vastness of the country, they can also come with cranky kids, flat tires, and sore backs. Here are some tips to try to make your road trip the best it can be:

Plan Ahead

The last thing you want to do after a long day of driving is to show up in a town exhausted and see a bunch of “no vacancy” signs. Make sure you sit down before your trip and plot out a reasonable amount of distance to cover. 

However, make sure you leave some room for spontaneity in your trip. The whole point of a road trip is to be able to stop at unique landmarks, cute roadside stands, quaint towns, and scenic viewpoints that pop up along the way. So, build some buffer time into the number of miles you’re going to cover each day so that you’re not pressed for time trying to get to your next destination!

And if you want to feel more freedom of the open road, it’s wise to only plan your hotels one or two nights ahead so that you can go where the wind takes you.

Come Prepared

The beauty of a road trip is that you don’t have to pack light, so you might as well make sure you’ll have everything you need to be comfortable! Here are some things to include in your packing list:

Food: Bring a cooler and stock it up with healthy options like fruits, veggies, and sandwiches so you’re not relying on gas station junk food if you get really hungry.

Car Supplies: Make sure you have the basics like a spare tire and tools, and know how to use them!

Health: It probably goes without saying at this point that you’ll want masks, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. But make sure to also bring a basic first aid kit (with Dramamine for car sickness) and if you’re prone to back pain while driving long stretches, some painkillers and a heating pad for the hotel room.

Entertainment: There’s nothing worse than boredom on the road, and singing songs or playing “I Spy” can only get you so far. If you have kids, make sure they have plenty of games, books, and toys to keep them occupied. And for yourself, bring an aux cord so that you can plug your phone into the car stereo and listen to your favorite music or podcasts.

Have Fun with It

Now that you’re super prepared for the worst, remember, the whole point of a road trip is to have fun! And you can’t do that if you’re too anxious about potential issues that may come up. So, trust that you have prepared well and will be able to navigate any unexpected problems with grace.

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Best Hikes Near #Denver

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise.

If you’re in Denver, you’ve come to the right place. The Mile High City is located in the Rocky Mountains near many, many trails and the town has quite a hiking culture. So, if you find yourself there this summer you should definitely get out on the trails. We’ve got a list of awesome hikes you can do in the Greater Denver area to get you started.

Wild Basin

Not sure if you want to do a quick hike or a longer, challenging one? Wild Basin is the park for you. It has a mix of short trails to scenic points and treks up to 12 miles. There is an assortment of waterfalls and lakes to view, so the whole area is very photogenic.

Wild Basin is part of Rocky Mountain National Park, so if you’re a National Parks Passport holder, you can get that stamped!

Red Rocks Park

If you’re looking for an easy hike that’s pretty close to Denver, drive just half an hour to Red Rocks Park. The park has a couple of loop trail options where you can view cool, towering red rock formations.

This area is also the home of the outdoor concert venue, Red Rocks Amphitheater (and its accompanying restaurant) so you could follow up your hike with dinner and a show if you wanted to make a full day of it!

Comanche-Venable Loop

Looking for something more extreme? If you want to go backpacking on a long trail, try the Comanche-Venable Loop. It’s a little over 12 miles and makes for a great trail on which to camp overnight!

While it’s possible to complete the one in one day, we recommend you make a weekend of it since it’s located in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness about 4 hours from Denver. Plus, you’ll gain about 3,600 feet in elevation during the hike!

Bergen Peak

Don’t have a full weekend to make the trek all the way to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness but still want a challenge? Bergen Peak is for you. This hike is about 9 miles and rated difficult, but is only about a half-hour drive from Denver and can be more easily completed in a day.

The hike is located near the small town of Evergreen in the Colorado foothills. The trail will take you through prairie and pine forests up onto a ridge. You’ll gain about 2100 feet in elevation and enjoy panoramic views.

Garden of the Gods

For a hike in a famous park that many try to check off their bucket lists, drive south just under 90 minutes to Garden of the Gods.  The park, which also has a Nature Center, contains over 21 miles of trails winding through stunning landscapes of sandstone formations.

This is a great location for families and beginners, with trails ranging from easy to moderate and guided nature walks. Despite the hikes being on the easier side, the scenery is still beautiful enough that you get a great payoff!

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Best Hikes Near #Chicago

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise. While the lack of mountains in Northern Illinois may not make it a famous hiking destination, we’ve got a list of awesome hikes you can do if you’re in the Greater Chicago area.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

This one is for beginner hikers or those who don’t have the time or means to travel outside the city. It’s a popular walking, jogging, and biking path along Lake Michigan. You’ll enjoy stunning views of the lake and skyline while passing through various parks and beaches along the way.

While the trail is flat and paved, you can make it as strenuous as you want – there are over 18 miles of trail! Other great trails within the city of Chicago include:

·   Lincoln Park Trail: This 5+ mile loop trail is more wooded and includes a section of the Chicago Lake Trail.

·   The 606: This nearly 3 miles path is on a reclaimed elevated rail line.

If you want to get out of the city for better scenery and more challenging hikes, read on!

Waterfall Glen

Located about an hour outside the city in Darien, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a beautiful natural area that is home to over 700 native plant species in both prairie and woodland settings. There are 11 miles of trails here, which you can also cross-country ski on in the winter. And the slightly hilly terrain adds manageable challenge. In the spring and summer, the park is a perfect place to spot birds and wildflowers.

You can view the trail map to plan your route here. Make sure not to miss the cascading Rocky Glen Waterfall or the view from the Sawmill Creek bluff overlook.

Indiana Dunes State Park

For a different kind of scenery, drive across the state line to Indiana Dunes State Park (about one hour from Chicago). This wild and primitive landscape features rugged dunes towering 200 feet over Lake Michigan. Hiking trails wind through both the woods and the dune landscape, with overlooks towards the lake. And if you work up a sweat hiking, you can head down to the beach to cool off after!

Starved Rock State Park

You only need to drive an hour and a half outside of Chicago to feel like you’re a world away. Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County is a stunning wilderness area on the Illinois River. It has many steep bluff and canyons, which have breathtaking waterfalls pouring over their sides in the Spring or after a heavy rain.

Hiking along the bottom of the canyons will get you up close the waterfalls. If you want a view from on high, take the trail to the Lover’s Leap Overlook. This truly is one of Illinois’s most beautiful parks, so if you’re looking to snap some beautiful photos on your hike, this is your spot.

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Best Hikes Near #Atlanta

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise. While Atlanta might not be the first place people think to take a hiking trip, if you find yourself there and want to get out on the trails, we’ve got a list of awesome hikes you can do in the Greater Atlanta area.

Arabia Mountaintop Trail

This one is for beginner hikers or families with young kids who don’t yet have the stamina for long hikes. It’s only just over a mile long and makes for a great brief jaunt into nature. The trail is located in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area about 25 minutes from the city.

Despite the trail’s short length, you get stunning views on your way up and panoramic views at the summit. The summit also has a crater containing shallow pools of water seasonally, which adds some interest to your hiking photos.

East Palisades Trail

Does your dog like to hike with you? A great dog-friendly trail in the area is the East Palisades Trail, located on the Chattahoochee River less than a 20-minute drive north of downtown Atlanta. It’s also a perfect route for trail runners.

The trail is a perfect balance – at 4 miles it’s a solid hike but not a full day commitment. It’s rated moderate in terms of challenge, but still gives you great views from bluffs above the river. The river sections you’ll hike next to have rapids frequented by daring kayakers, which can be fun to watch. You’ll also get to hike through a bamboo forest!

Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain

If you’re able to go further afield, the Indian Seats Trail on Sawnee Mountain is worth the 45-minute drive from Atlanta. It’s a loop trail that runs just over 3 miles. It’s a perfect place to birdwatch and look for wildflowers.

The trail has a nice amount of challenge with some mild rock scrambling and lots of uphill and downhill sections. There’s a fantastic view from the top of Sawnee Mountain.

Hurricane Falls Trail

If you’re looking for something a bit more extreme, head about an hour and 40 minutes Northwest to Tallulah Gorge State Park. There, you’ll find the Hurricane Falls Trail which offers a fairly challenging hike. It’s still doable for most people and at just under 2 miles won’t take you the whole day, but the challenge comes from the hundreds of stairs!

The hike is stunning and will take you down into a 1,000-foot-deep gorge to view a waterfall. To get there, you’ll be climbing down lots of stairs along the side of the gorge. To complete the hike, head across a suspension bridge and then back up more stairs. Make sure to stretch out your calves before this one!

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