Create a travel diary to learn French: ideas and resources

French as a Foreign Language | French Teacher tips | learning French

Creating a language travel diary is the best exercise to keep in mind all the stages of a stay and to motivate pupils and learners of all ages to fully invest in this experience abroad.

Hemingway, Victor Hugo, and more recently Nicolas Vannier or Sylvain Tesson: The greatest artists and adventurers have travelled the world with their notebook in their pocket to note down their impressions, their peregrinations, their sketches of favourite landscapes… So much so that travel writing has become a literary genre. Perhaps this is the beginning of a vocation for our travellers?! 

So how do you write this travel journal? What content to add? What media to use: paper or digital?

Vacances Actives Linguistiques offers you its ideas and tools to carry out the creation of a language travel diary, for students as well as for adult learners, in class or alone.

Why create a language travel diary?

  • To keep the memory of a trip and memorable adventures, retraced with all the personality of its author: writings or drawings, it is unique.
  • To keep on paper the anecdotes, the unique encounters, friendly or professional contacts, which made this trip special. A valuable address book to keep for the long term. 
  • To jot down idiomatic expressions, original formulas, local language elements: a sort of particular vocabulary book, a very special personal dictionary.
  • To have an exchange support, compiling a multitude of resources to share with those around them, pupils, students or friends.

The travel diary is one of the activities offered by Vacances Actives Linguistiques to motivate learners, especially in the context of virtual stays: ideal for better capturing attention and sharing a common project from a distance!

A travel diary to practice writing

Mobilizing language resources

Pupils learning a foreign language will have to use this language to produce their travel diary. This exercise prompts the student to mobilize the language resources available to him immediately. He thinks and writes in the studied language: in this case French as a foreign language for Vacances Actives Linguistiques travellers. It is a complement to oral practice and French as a Foreign Language courses, and it contributes to language immersion as a learning accelerator.

Forget the mistakes

Of course, the notebook will be imperfect: mistakes have their place! Regardless of the errors, the exercise is formative, and can be used as a support for a later correction. An opportunity for the author of the notebook to judge his progress a posteriori!

Making a personalized French dictionary

Creating a linguistic travel diary is an excellent educational exercise because it requires regularity and attendance to keep it up to date. The idea is to write it “in the heat of the moment”, every evening after a good day of sightseeing, with the emotions of the moment. 

The diary enables to compile vocabulary words, idiomatic expressions, singular words encountered by the student during his trip. 

 Idea of layout: stage the dialogues, the expressions in the form of comic bubbles!  

For fans of the paper travel diary


Choose the diary, lined, white or squared, with spirals or not, with the colour of the cover you like. Choose the pen that suits your most beautiful handwriting. Use stickers, markers to draw, watercolours for the pros, charcoal or a simple ballpoint pen, images and photos to stick on… 

The “paper” notebook is undoubtedly the most authentic and personal version of the notebook of travel. Written by hand, enriched with drawings, little words, and attention, it reflects the emotions of the author and his vision of the world he is discovering.

Its downside?

Photos. In the digital age, printing photos is far from being a reflex! Of course, a language travel diary can remain without an image and consist only of words and sketches… but it will lack that extra snapshot provided by the photos taken on the spot!


You can configure your travel diary as you want, make collages, respect columns, mix keywords and drawings…. It’s up to everyone to find their favourite layout and insert the elements that are important to them! Between the bullet journal and the scrapbook journal, all styles and inspirations can be mixed in a travel diary!


To go further, we share with you this video tutorial by Cindy Barillet (in French), which explains in detail how to start your travel diary!

For fans of the online travel diary

Ease, lightness and automation, interconnection, etc.

Applications such as Polarsteps or MyAtlas allow you to create real travel diaries on smartphones. The traveller chooses to share it publicly, or to make it visible only to his “friends” connected to the application. They offer the possibility of printing the travel diary once it is completed, in order to obtain a paper version with beautiful finishes. They allow you to geolocate the route, add photos at each stage, and write comments and anecdotes for each place, like a real logbook.  

Admittedly, the digital travel journal does not have the authenticity or the level of personalization of a good old travel journal that can be crossed out and smells like paper.

But smartphone travel diary apps are an excellent alternative for digitized travellers who are very attached to the instagramable picture. It is also the way to publish your journey, your tips and to create a network of contacts sharing the same desires for destinations. 



Challenge your group of travellers: organize a competition for the best language travel diary!

An idea that is a hit and that will appeal to pupils and students, and that will awaken their inspiration and creativity! 

To be won: another trip to a new French destination? 😉 

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