Choosing a Travel Journal App

 Old-fashioned journals, but they worked like a charm.

Old-fashioned journals, but they worked like a charm.

I’ve kept a journal of some sort as long as I can remember. Ever since we began living aboard Nine of Cups, however, I was more conscientious about it. I’m in good company keeping a journal … Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln and Leonardo DaVinci were all diarists. Early on, I journalled manually in notebooks. Once we started a website, I continued to keep a journal mostly because I couldn’t update the website without internet access and on passage, we had no internet. Additionally, we always kept a passage log when we sailed. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve referred to these records to confirm dates, places we’ve been, people we’ve met, problems we’ve encountered and so much more.

As years and technology progressed, we began using SailBlogs, but still I kept a journal and the passage records were always meticulously maintained. Along the way, we updated the website, added the Just A Little Further blog and began using social media like FaceBook and Instagram. I shared lots, but not everything.

Now that we’re no longer sailing on Nine of Cups, SailBlogs obviously doesn’t fit our lifestyle and keeping a handwritten journal isn’t very appealing nor is an hourly passage log practical while driving in Blue. Yet, I want to keep some sort of record of places we visit, how I’m feeling, what we’re doing, the places we stay, expenses maybe and generally what’s going on in life. David is interested in keeping a maintenance log for Blue. We weren’t sure what apps were available, so I decided to do a little research. Turns out there are lots of apps. Now it was just figuring out which one met our needs.

I found several sites that recommended specific apps for diaries and journals. Zapier seemed to have the most current info on “Best Journal Apps for 2018”, although Travel & Leisure and Travel Hackz offered some insight, too. I read the reviews of each app which boggled my mind until it dawned on me that I had to figure out exactly what I wanted before I could determine which app best met my needs. So, I came up with a list of what was important to me.

 Journal features important to me

Journal features important to me

There were several apps that appeared on multiple website lists and I thought I’d start there. Unfortunately, many of the apps are geared towards people who want to share their journals on social media, need motivation to write or have inspirational themes. I don’t. We intend to maintain the JALF blog and website and post on FB regularly, so I don’t have any need for sharing my journal nor including photos though I guess I might use those features along the way. I certainly don't need motivational or inspirational thoughts. I narrowed down my choices to Day One, Journey and Penzu all of which appeared on several lists. After careful consideration, I finally chose Penzu as my journal app. It seemed to have everything I needed.

 I downloaded the Penzu app to my laptop, iPhone and iPad

I downloaded the Penzu app to my laptop, iPhone and iPad

I downloaded the app first on my laptop and after a couple of minutes required for set-up, I was creating journal entries. The basic version is free, but the pay version, Penzu Pro, offered several additional features that I liked, e.g. changing the entry date (so I could backdate our Chesapeake-Las Vegas trip), tagging for search purposes, mobile entry and the ability to create multiple journals. I downloaded the app on both my iPhone and iPad and it worked like a charm. David downloaded it on his iPad and started Blue’s Maintenance Log as a separate journal and needed no coaching. So far, we’re impressed. At $19.95/year with a 30-day refund policy, I think it’s definitely worth the investment … 5.5¢ a day doesn’t seem unreasonable even for us budget-minded nomads.