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Featured Journal

New Zealand by @valeriepeltier

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Born and raised in Ridgetown, Ontario, Valerie Peltier pursued a career in interior design before realizing that her true love lived outside in the mountains. After completing her diploma for the Outdoor Adventure Naturalist Program, she moved on to explore Australia and New Zealand for two and half months. Her latest adventure involves instructing outdoor education to students along the Pacific Coast.

In her journal, Valerie goes on a six-week hiking journey through the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Along the way, she connects with the most breathtaking beauty and dramatic diversity that Mother Nature has to offer. Read more here, and follow Valerie @valeriepeltier.

What was your most memorable experience during your trip?

The highlight of my trip was mountain biking in the redwoods through the mist and mud puddles.

Was there anything surprising or unexpected that you encountered on your journey?

At one point, we split up and I hiked a mountain alone — it was a very rewarding and empowering climb.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

My favorite place is Mount Cook. The magic of the mountains surrounding your every side make for a feeling that sits with you and that you can take wherever you go.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Take care of your feet; if they are happy, you are happy.

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Featured Journal

Norway by @savannahmius

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Savannah Ius was born in Vancouver to a Filipino mother and a father with an Italian last name -- so she’s been an international from the very beginning. Words and people inspire her, places intrigue her, and her love of trying just about any kind of food keeps her going. She firmly believes that you can tell a lot about people by how they react to a strange new food. Currently, she spends most of her free time reading, writing, and planning her upcoming wedding.

In this month’s feature, Savannah’s adventure begins and ends in Oslo, where she explores the city’s cultural, historic and culinary offerings. Her journey continues out west with hikes that bring us up close and personal with Norway’s majestic fjords. Read more here, and follow Savannah @savannahmius.

What led you to travel through Norway?

It was a pretty last minute decision. I had been looking at a few other destinations, and when the prices for a flight to Oslo dropped, the decision was made. The flight was booked and I left about a month later. I had been interested in visiting Norway for a while, and when the opportunity presented itself I was more than excited to take it.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

During my first day in Ålesund, the person I was staying with took me on a hike up one of the many mountains that surround the city. The weather was beautiful, and we arrived at the top just in time to watch the sunset over the water. It was breathtaking, but the nicest part was that this wasn’t a tourist spot at all. We were the only ones there, and it was so nice to break away from the beaten path and do something different.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

I truly love things about every place I’ve been to and would go back to any of them in a heartbeat, but my favorite city has always been London. It’s one of the few places I could see myself living someday. I love the history, culture, people, and variety found there. I also love the people, food, and culture of Italy and would love to spend more time there.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

One that has continued to prove true is to pack everything you think you need and then cut it in half. You’ll be surprised at how much space you’re wasting with things you’re really not every going to use. And I always think that you should be able to just go with the flow and not be set on sticking to a detailed plan. The best experiences and memories come from the unexpected.

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Featured Journal

Central America by @beginswithq

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When Quoc Doan was six, his family escaped from Vietnam by boat. During the turbulent stormy nights, the sight of monolithic ocean waves crashing on his tiny boat put fear into his heart. Yet his family survived the perilous journey and landed in a safe country. This instilled in him a sense of hope and fearlessness. From there on, Quoc has never been afraid to travel beyond his comfort zone. No chicken bus is too crowded, no hostel is too sketchy, and no country is off limits. A curiosity for new lands and culture pulls him forward. The ocean waves were conquerable after all.

In his journal, Quoc takes us on a chicken bus ride through eight Central American countries, where he gets up close and personal with the locals. Check out his stellar portraits and stories here, and follow Quoc @beginswithq.

What led you to travel through Central America?

I was slightly familiar with Central America. I learned some Spanish in high school (many decades ago). The countries themselves were small and the path was a simple north to south. Similar to my Southeast Asia trip, the small countries means short travel time and lots of cultures. So I bought a one way ticket and hopped on the next plane.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

In Granada, Nicaragua, I went out alone for a drink on New Years Eve at the town square. I ran into a bunch of fun travelers I had met before. A random parade passed by and we all jumped in and danced with them. That parade crawled out of the main square and into a local neighborhood where there was a big block party put on by the locals. We lit fireworks, played games, drank, and danced the night away. This would go down in my memory as the best New Years in my life. It’s these grand unexpected adventures that remind me of how much I love travel.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

I have two. Iceland and India are the two places on Earth where I feel like I am on another planet. Iceland has a wide range of environmental conditions. It has ice caves, deserts, glaciers, volcanos, sulfuric wastelands and lush forests. India has a diverse range of people and cultures. While they all speak English, there is a wide variety of religions, classes, languages, and architecture. Not to mention all the animals crossing the street at the traffic intersection.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Travel light and pack two chargers. Before every trip I lay out my gear and spend a lot of time thinking, planning, and minimizing how much I need. The most important thing was my mobile device. Calling it a phone doesn’t do it justice. It’s my phone, camera, GPS navigator, internet hub, translator, language teacher, travel advisor, photo editing studio, trip planner, newspaper, currency converter, and most importantly my travel journal. For that reason, I brought two chargers for it. I used it from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. But there was never a moment it was out of juice.

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Featured Journal

Expedition to South Georgia Island by @Maureen

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Maureen Mullen lives, works, and plays in California’s Bay Area. After earning a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology and working in research and education for several years, she finally found her dream job: Wildlife Safari Coordinator at Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, a small, family-run travel company that emphasizes respect for and conservation of the world’s greatest wildlife destinations.

Maureen’s first big adventure on a Cheesemans’ safari was heading down to South Georgia Island in the Antarctic region on a 100-passenger ship. She spent eight magical days exploring the 100-mile long, uninhabited island, gawking at the scenery and the fantastic wildlife. There were penguins everywhere! And such a cacophony produced at each landing site between trumpeting penguins and belching elephant seals. After disembarking the ship and returning to civilization, she spent several days exploring Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, Argentina, before heading home. Read about her adventure here, and follow her @Maureen.

What was your most memorable experience during your trip to South Georgia Island?

The last morning of the trip that we spent on the island at Salisbury Plain was my most memorable experience, not because it was any more spectacular in scenery or wildlife, but because I made a lot of good memories there. When I first arrived on the beach, I joined our bird experts and other trip participants in search of South Georgia’s endangered pipit, tromping through muddy bogs and tussock grass. We had amazing views of the thousands of king penguin adults and juveniles, some feeding, some running around, all making lots of noise. Some others and I stood on the beach and watched elephant seals while they made all those lovely elephant seal noises of hiccups and belches. I roamed away from the other participants and experienced a bit of solitude while being surrounded by rivers of king penguins, and again when I sat near a pipit nest while parents were foraging for food for the chicks. By the end of the morning, the sun was out and warming my face and it felt like the most perfect place to be.

Was there anything surprising or unexpected that you encountered on your expedition?

The daily feeling of awe and wonderment took my breath away! Every day we went somewhere new on the island, and every place was beautiful in its own way and presented different wildlife experiences. I had expected to experience amazing things on this adventure, but not to have that feeling of amazement ALL THE TIME!

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

Gold Harbour was my favorite place to visit because this was the landing site where I had my most memorable encounter with the juvenile king penguins, affectionately called “oakum boys”. These little guys and gals are almost as big as adult penguins, but instead of wearing their king penguin tuxedos, they are wearing big, super fluffy, brown fur coats (which are actually feathers). These particular Gold Harbour oakum boys were so rambunctious! They were noisy, flapping their wings and running around and bumping into each other, making me laugh out loud. And they were so curious, walking right up to people and cocking their heads, and I just had to wonder what was going on in their penguin brains.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Practical tip: Bring layers! Weather can be unpredictable and change within minutes.

Personal tip: Stay positive and go with the flow when traveling because you never know when some memorable experience will present itself. I had cancelled flights, late nights, and very little sleep on my route home. But during an unplanned layover, I also was unexpectedly able to see a city I’d never been to before and, albeit from a taxi and hotel, I’m glad I was able to add that experience to my life.

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Featured Journal

Everest by narlap

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Naras Lapsys lives in the seaside suburb of Coogee in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two young daughters. Known as The Body Doctor, Naras has his own business as a longevity and anti-aging specialist. To prepare for the hardships of his trip, Naras spent six months getting back into kickboxing training, a sport he had all but given up for dead 20 years ago.

Naras’s journal is a day-to-day account of his time spent on the road, motorbiking through Kathmandu Valley in Nepal to the high plains and mountain passes of Tibet. At times the going got tough, but with the promise of witnessing the world’s highest peak, he kept forging on. Read about his adventure here, and follow Naras @narlap.

What brought you to Nepal and Tibet?

When my wife asked me how I would like to celebrate my 50th birthday, I told her that I didn’t want a big party, I wanted a big adventure. Ever since I was a child I had wanted to see Mount Everest with my own two eyes so once I discovered that I could ride a motorbike to Basecamp Everest, the plan was set. However, with my tickets and the trip booked, Nepal experienced a catastrophic earthquake and there were subsequent devastating landslides in the Everest region that caused the mountain to be closed for many months. Fortunately, the roads opened in time and knowing that a true adventure requires an element of danger, I decided to continue with the journey.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

We were extremely fortunate to have clear blue skies and perfect weather whilst at Basecamp Everest. The locals told us that they had not seen the mountain so clear for many, many years. After having spent the whole day in the presence of the great mountain, we were treated to the most magnificent sunset that lit up Everest’s peak like an intense golden halo. It was a rare and unforgettable moment.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

Sun Valley, Idaho is still one of my most favourite places in the world. After a day of skiing Baldy Mountain, there is no better place to end the day than at one of the natural hot springs, 20 miles from nowhere, hearing the distant sounds of mountain lions and wolves out in the wilderness.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

After a freezing cold night at high altitude, sleeping fully clothed in my motorcycle gear and often struggling to catch my breath, our tour guide told us that hardship can only deepen the experience. I really took these words to heart, and think that it is a good way to view some of the more challenging aspects that occur to all of us when we travel.

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Featured Journal

Boys of Summer by zachely

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Zachery Ely is in his mid-twenties and is only recently coming to terms with that. He was born and raised in Seattle and thinks that there are few finer places to live. His actions and some friends or family may describe him as adventurous but he’d deny the claim. Zach simply says yes to some adventurous opportunities. This is something he believes everyone can do. He has said no to plenty of adventurous opportunities as well. Relations are important to him. A relationship with Christ and a relationship with people who like to laugh. He also values a good scone and a cup of coffee. Oh, and burritos.

This journal is an attempt at an honest travel blog, leaning away from too many exaggerations of how good of a time one is having. Instead it’s a focus on what happened, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it sucks. It documents Zach and two of his best friends on a three and a half month bicycle trip from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Maine.

The goal of this all is for someone to read it and think: “These guys have no idea what they’re doing but seem to be enjoying it, maybe I'll do something like that.” Read more here, and follow Zach @zachely.

What led you and your friends to bike across the country?

A lot led to this trip, but the main idea started as we wanted to take a motorcycle trip up the East Coast. Jeff, took that idea and suggested that the three of us do a bicycle trip up the East instead. We figured the easiest way to get our bikes to the East Coast would be to ride them there from Seattle. The trip was born.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

It’s hard to pick out one moment from three and a half months of experiences, but what comes to mind first is our last day on the C & O Canal trail. It was probably the wettest day of each of our lives. The trail was flooded, we were hauling ass and at times we couldn’t see because we had so much water in our eyes.

Was there anything surprising or unexpected that you encountered during your cross-country ride?

Yes. I learned how disconnected we have become from the land. Planes, trains and automobiles have made it incredibly easy to traverse country-sides that took people years to cross. We lost our appreciation and reverence for the landscape. It can be both beautiful and unforgiving.

As a Seattle native, what are your top three picks to see, eat and/or do in your hometown?

These are all incredibly biased suggestions but if I was visiting Seattle I would spend the day exploring the neighborhood of Ballard. Lots of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops. I’d go to Herkimer Coffee because it’s delicious and a bit stubborn when it comes to new coffee techniques, which I respect. Lastly, if it’s a Thursday night, go to Havana on Capitol Hill for Soul Night and funk your pants off.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

This tip came from my friends Trevor and Karly Borden, and I’ve found it to be incredibly true. Here it is: People are generally good. If you expect the best out of those you meet on the road, you will more often than not be met with good. We received an endless amount of help from strangers. I honestly believe people innately want to help and host you. At least that’s my experience on the road.

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Featured Journal

Westfjords, Iceland by adamandheather

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Adam and Heather’s first conversation was about travel: her journey to Italy to study classics, and his camping trip across the American west. They cemented their relationship with a weeklong fly-fishing trip to Montana. Using the summer vacations provided by Heather’s teaching career, they’ve taken on long backpacking journeys through Italy, Alaska, Hawaii, and now Iceland.

The Westfjords of Iceland are rugged and remote, far off of the typical tourist trail. The centerpiece of their time there was a week spent hiking across a nature reserve, which is only inhabited in summer and only accessible by boat. But half of the adventure was just getting that far.

Read more about Adam and Heather’s Icelandic journey here. Also, be sure to check out their other outdoor escapes @adamandheather.

What brought you to Iceland?

It was kind of a spontaneous idea. We were going back and forth with a few different options for our big annual trip when one of us blurted out “Iceland”, the other said “done”, and there was no debate. As we looked into it, we found a huge range of exciting outdoor adventures that were right up our alley. Diving into the rich history and mythology of the Icelanders was also exciting.

From your other Bonjournal stories, it seems that you’re both fond of backpacking and hiking. What destination is next on your list?

Other rugged, cold-weather places are calling to us. We talked with many Norwegians who persuaded us to visit their country. We’re also considering options in Nepal like the Annapurna Circuit or the Himalaya, although the recent disasters there are both concerning and heartbreaking. Luckily there are Bonjournals on both, so we’ll have to get in touch with @findingmomo and @anamiri to learn more!

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

Alaska touched a raw, primal feeling in us, and we’re always drawn back to those locations and memories. It’s the kind of place where you could realistically be standing on a boat watching a glacier spill into the sea at the foot of a 15,000 foot mountain while a whale surfaces nearby, a bear walks along the shore, and a bald eagle soars overhead. If you were hiking in a glacial valley and a dinosaur came lumbering around the corner, you would only be halfway surprised.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

It’s taken us a long time to learn that we need to build in downtime for recovery and stay flexible for those happy, accidental discoveries that sometimes become your best memories. Experience fewer things more deeply.

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Featured Journal

Forty Days by gazanson

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Gary (‘Gaz’) Anson lives in Canberra, Australia. He is a part-time writer and, as you will see from his journal, a keen and often comic observer of the world around him. He has written and published a children’s story on Amazon, Grindelwinde’s Wood, and published poetry in The Canberra Times.

He recently returned from a forty-day trip trip to the UK, Italy and, his favorite place of all –- his ‘second home’ as he describes it -- Ireland. He decided each day to ‘snap’ a remarkable incident or scene, using his pen rather than a camera.

What he has written here, in Bonjournal, is a travelogue in the Japanese haibun tradition of recording in brief form, descriptions of places and events in both verse and prose. Follow him @gazanson.

Where did you take the picture that’s displayed as your Forty Days journal cover? Tell us a little about it.

The photo displayed on the journal cover was taken in Devil’s Glen, a wooded area in the Wicklow mountains south of Dublin. I hesitate to describe it as beautiful; it was more mysterious, powerful -- vaguely threatening even. Certainly, we walked through the misted wood with hushed voices, as if in a cathedral. It had a strong pagan feel to it -- as if it were home to Druid ceremonies in times gone by perhaps.

Who, what or where do you find inspiration for your writing?

It’s hard to say. You’re driven to write or not I think. And then, not necessarily all the time. I studied the haibun form of travelogue as a student of Japanese language and culture many years ago, and had intended one day to write in this manner. I love prose and poetry and enjoy writing both. This seemed to be the ideal opportunity to marry the two together finally, and to write such a journal. The ease and elegance of using Bonjournal was the clincher.

What makes Ireland your favorite place to visit?

For me, Ireland is the country of magic and mischief, colour and character, in a world where these qualities are often no longer valued. We have gotten to prefer ‘sensation’ and lost our ‘sensitivity’. And Ireland is a sensitive place. It is as if the land sits slightly ‘off the horizontal plane’, tipping into other dimensions -- into the dark and the light aspects of nature, human and otherwise. You can see this in its troubled history, at the same time as it shines and sparkles through their eyes and in their speech.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Don’t overdo the planning, and give yourself time to ‘marinade’ in a place –- no matter how seemingly mundane. Also, pick less rather than more places to visit and stop, and let happenstance and the unknown into the spaces you leave; this is where the unexpected, the magic and the marvellous can occur.

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Featured Journal

San Francisco by janosilva

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Born and raised in Peru, Jano Silva moved to the Washington DC area when he was 12 and has lived there ever since. Jano got his first taste of “real” travel in high school when he went to Spain with his mother and sister. If the traveling bug was planted in high school, then it fully took roots in college while he was studying abroad in England and Italy. After that, traveling became one of the main goals and joys of his life. When he’s not planning or obsessing about where he’ll go next, he’s usually day dreaming of the day when he can quit his 9-to-5 to become a full time wedding or travel photographer.

In his journal, Jano covers a lot of ground during a short trip to San Francisco, exploring the city and beyond into Oakland and the North Bay. From street art to meat cones, he takes in all the vibrant sights and flavors that Fog City’s neighborhoods have to offer.

Read his journal here, and check out his other stories, including his travels to India, @janosilva.

Have growing up in Peru, and studying in England and Italy influenced your photography?

Living in a different country allows you the opportunity to experience life and culture in a way that is just not possible while simply traveling through a place; it’s just a totally different experience. I try to look for that authenticity as much as possible when I travel, however hard it might be to achieve. I’d like to think that my photography reflects that quest.

What’s the next destination that you are obsessing about, and why?

I have always been fascinated by Asian cultures, and Japanese culture in general. I’ve dreamed of traveling through Japan since I was in high school but for one reason or another I never got to make it all the way out there. I’m really hoping to change that soon and make it my main trip of 2016!

Which camera(s) do you shoot with?

I probably have too many cameras for my own good, but my main one is a Canon 5D Mark III. Despite my desire to pack light when traveling I still haven’t talked myself into leaving it behind on major trips. I’ve compromised by only using a Tamron 28-300mm as my travel lens though. It’s certainly not the best lens around but what it lacks in performance it makes up for in convenience. I usually also bring a Fuji X10 which my girlfriend will use unless I get tired of lugging around the 5D and commandeer it for myself. And if I feel the urge to bring a film camera I pack the super tiny and awesome Rollei 35. Of course I also always have my iPhone 6 with me -- all the photos for my Bonjounals are shot on my iPhone.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

Yikes.... I don’t think I could definitively answer this question, but I’ll say that right now my most memorable trip would have to be Morocco. Me and my whole family got to go there last year to celebrate my 30th birthday and it was an amazing trip. Obviously we had vacationed as a family many times before, but this was the first time everyone; my mom, dad, brother, sister, girlfriend, and I all went to a far off and exiting destination together. We traveled through Casa Blanca, Fes, Meknes, Marrakesh, the Sahara, and Essaouira. It was a truly wonderful experience and the beautiful memories it produced will remain with me forever.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Don’t be afraid to get lost and explore areas off the beaten tourist path. Doing this will often provide you with the best experiences! Also, don’t be afraid to eat where the locals eat! They eat there for a reason!

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Featured Journal

Nepal by findingmomo

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Based in Singapore, you’ll likely find Bridget Goh sharing a good laugh with friends, enjoying a gourmet feast, or sitting in a cafe with a book. Though her father is a chef, Bridget sticks to eating rather than baking and cooking, choosing instead to pursue a career in law. She’s really into writing and photography because they’re things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy. And though she loves traveling with close friends, she also appreciates the spontaneity that traveling alone affords her.

In her journal, Bridget goes on a two-week journey that begins and ends in Kathmandu. In between, she soaks up all the local culture, good eats and picturesque landscapes that the Annapurna region has to offer, and discovers an appetite for adventure that she never knew she had.

Read her journal here, and check out her other travel stories @findingmomo.

What brought you to Nepal?

The only things I knew about Nepal before last year were that it was next to India and was home to the Annapurna and Himalayan ranges. Then I came to a point in life when I felt like going on an adventure, and on one of my Wikipedia spirals I stumbled upon Nepal and was fascinated by how culturally and physically beautiful the country was. I spoke with two of my good friends who went on separate treks to the Annapurna foothills last year and before I knew it I’d booked my air tickets to Kathmandu.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

It’s a tie between Seoul and Hong Kong. I love that they are densely built modern metropolises which have somehow managed to retain a distinct cultural identity. You’ll find traditional buildings existing alongside modern skyscrapers, which makes for a really interesting skyline. There’s also an amazing food scene in both cities — I’m constantly chewing on something. It also doesn’t hurt that the transport networks are extensive and affordable, so navigating the cities is a breeze.

What are your top three must-see/do/eat places in Singapore?

I’m totally cheating on the numbers here, but one thing led to another...

See: There’s no better place to view the city than from the Marina Bay area. Take a walk along the banks of the Singapore River before heading to the sky park on the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands for a stunning view of the city. For a cheaper alternative you can walk to Marina Barrage via Gardens by the Bay. You won’t get an aerial view, but it’s still a pretty rad one - the Avatar-inspired skytrees at Gardens look amazing when lit up at night!

Do: Hop on a public bus and alight at cultural enclaves like Little India, Chinatown and Arab Street, or the colourful neighborhoods of Geylang and Katong. Have fun exploring!

Eat: Forget the Michelin-starred restaurants and hipster cafes - the true gems of the Singapore food scene are its hawker centers. These food centers can be found in any estate and are home to an eclectic mix of hawker stalls selling everything from fried kway teow (broad rice noodles) to Hainanese chicken rice. Some famous and more centrally-located hawker centers are at Old Airport Road, Maxwell Road, Tiong Bahru Market and Hong Lim Complex. I also love the dai pai dong style of eating - my favorite restaurants are JB Ah Meng in Geylang and Long Kee at Tiong Bahru. You can get your crab fix at these places!

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Be open-minded to trying out things and food outside of your comfort zone and you might just be surprised!

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Featured Journal

Taiwan by isabelle

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Isabelle Engler has called Taipei, Tokyo, Paris, and San Diego home, and is now living in San Francisco with her husband. She enjoys traveling, taking photos, and experimenting in the kitchen. You will likely find her carrying one too many cameras and trying new foods with her husband off the beaten path somewhere in the world. Visit her portfolio, Facebook, or Instagram, and say hello!

In her journal, Isabelle revisits her childhood hometown of Taipei, then explores the serene landscapes of Taiwan’s countryside, enjoying many gastronomic adventures along the way (warning: do not read this on an empty stomach!).

Read her journal here, and check out her other travel stories @isabelle.

Since you lived in Taipei before, how does it feel to return as a tourist?

It was familiar yet foreign at the same time. I recognize places from childhood, but a lot has changed in Taipei. It was great to show my husband where I grew up. We loved the people and food!

Which camera do you shoot with?

I brought two cameras with me to Taiwan, but a lot of my shots were shot with my iPhone 6 during this trip. Generally speaking, I shoot with a Leica M8 or Nikon FE. Lately, I’ve been using my iPhone 6 and Leica D-Lux 4 a lot too.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

That’s a difficult question. If I have to pick one, it would be Hoi An, Vietnam. I had traveled solo internationally quite a bit, and this was the first trip I took with my now husband. (Obviously things worked out!) Vietnam is a very beautiful and photogenic country, and Hoi An has amazing street food and friendly locals. I really enjoyed biking through this quaint city and trying all kinds of food.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Travel light with an open mind -- the best souvenirs are your experiences.

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Featured Journal

By trevorborden and laurenabe

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We’re kicking off our featured series in 2015 with one epic adventure shared in two beautiful journals. Last September, Trevor, Karly and Lauren set out on an amazing bike excursion through Europe. Their three-month adventure began just outside of Amsterdam, and continued through the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and finally ended in Lisbon, Portugal. Their journals capture the deep connections they made with the landscapes and people they encountered along the way.

Trevor and Karly Borden

Trevor and Karly Borden are newlyweds who have the audacity to think that the world is not as mean as the news would have you think, and that people are more good than bad. In their spare time they write and perform folk music, and arrange custom adventures and safaris to Tanzania, East Africa. If you would like to go on safari, visit Old Mountain (the photo gallery alone is worth a look!). You can also follow Trevor, who is now based in Austin, Texas, on Instagram.

What lead you to go on this bike trip?

We have been getting pretty excited about bikes over the last few years. We like camping and exploring and we liked the idea of getting to know the land by pedaling over it. I’m not sure when we decided we were going spend three months exploring Europe. It just kind of happened, and we started telling people we were going to do it. I think we looked at a map all together about one time before we set out.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

I think the most memorable experience was meeting so many incredibly generous strangers. We were hosted by all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, from French moms along the Rhone River to Syrian ballet dancers in Linz, Austria. Trusting people can be terrifying at times, and we had a few moments where we really questioned our own judgment, but we came away from our trip pretty confident that people are generally good and want to look out for each other.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

If you want to travel, travel. You don’t need anything to travel. Walk. Ride a bike. Roller blade. Hitch hike. Buy a yacht. It doesn’t matter. Just stop talking about it. Be open and generous. Travel is easy. It’s choosing to travel that people get hung up on.

Read their journal here, and follow Trevor at @trevorborden.

Lauren Abrahamian

Raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lauren Abrahamian moved to California to study Sociology. Great friends, family and year-round sunshine have kept her there for the past 8 years. About a year and a half ago, she fell in love with biking as a means of travel and went on her first trip down the California coast in 2013. Lauren feels that biking allows you to connect to a place unlike any other form of travel -- you intimately learn about every hill and turn of a landscape, you’re forced to rely on locals for help and guidance, and your comfort zones are stretched to the max. She also loves the feeling of an unplanned adventure, which she enjoys sharing on Instagram.

What led you to go on this bike trip?

For me, deciding to go on this trip was a natural next adventure. I had been on one bike trip that had whet my palate for more bike adventures and my desire to travel out of the country was growing to the spilling point. Also, a new life phase and perspective was needed in my life. Another clinching factor was that I had two amazing friends who also had the same desire to push the travel limits. So we set out to save some money, bought plane tickets and didn’t look back. The trip wasn’t without sacrifices, but it was beautifully woven into my life for a season and all my experiences from the trip will inform my next steps.

What was your most memorable experience during this trip?

Some of our most memorable experiences came from meeting locals and being hosted by them. We stayed with friends and friends of friends, as well as strangers we had met that day. These proved to be some of the most enriching and encouraging experiences and gave me a deeper sense of connection to humanity as a whole. Often we would set out for the day not knowing where we would end up or where we would sleep, but these days were some of the most exciting and gave some of the best gifts. My journal highlights a lot of these stories that I will not soon forget.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

There are as many ways to travel as there are people in this world. The possibilities are endless. If you even have the slightest desire to travel, answer that desire. You can make a lot happen with little money, and next to no experience. All you need is boldness and you’ll surprise yourself with the people and places you’ll see. Also, seek out local hosts. Experiences with locals are invaluable to knowing a place better. You won’t be sorry. Couchsurfing and Warm Showers (for cyclists) are great places to start.

Read Lauren’s journal here, and follow her at @laurenabe.

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Website Update

Export to HTML

Author’s Google+ Profile

Do you have a personal site or a travel blog? Our new Export to HTML feature makes it easier for you to create and transfer your Bonjournal content to your website. While you’re traveling, take advantage of our iOS app’s GPS and offline capabilities to capture your travel memories in real time. You can then effortlessly export your journal, and cut and paste the raw HTML into your existing Wordpress blog, etc. in a few, easy steps.

How to export a journal to HTML:

  1. Log into bonjourn.al.
  2. Select the relevant journal from your home page.
  3. On the Contents page, scroll to the bottom of the page list and select the EXPORT button.
  4. From the drop-down list, select EXPORT HTML.

Go ahead and give it a try! And if you’re enjoying Bonjournal, please show us some love. Thanks, y’all!

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Featured Journal

Shanghai: Beneath the Bund by emiliu74

Author’s Google+ Profile

Studying abroad is one of the most enriching opportunities students can experience during their academic careers. To give you a small glimpse into the life of a student overseas, we’re featuring Emily Liu’s journal about Shanghai.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Emily Liu is a junior at NYU double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication, and East Asian Studies. The funny thing is, she hasn’t been at NYU for a year now! When she was given the opportunity to study abroad for a year as a Global Media Scholar, Emily packed her bags, bid Manhattan adieu, and first headed to Prague for her sophomore spring semester. From riding a donkey along the coast of Santorini, to climbing 392 stairs to see Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing, Emily has done a fair amount of adventuring since she made the decision to study away. She’s now furthering her studies at NYU’s new portal campus in Shanghai for her fall semester.

In her journal, Emily starts off on the quieter side at Shanghai’s contemporary art museums, and slowly escalates to rowdier events, including crowded ancient streets and an electronic music festival.

Read her journal here, and follow her other journeys @emiliu74 via Bonjournal and Instagram.

What lead you to want to study abroad, and why Shanghai?

I’ve always wanted to study abroad, even before NYU. The idea of learning how to live in a foreign country where English wasn’t the dominant language appealed to me, and it also presented me with the chance to grow and become more independent and self-reliant. Shanghai appealed to me as a city filled with opportunity. The city is a healthy balance between international and local, and there are many events that allow foreigners to network with expats and locals. I also really love China, so that in itself was a huge pull factor.

Out of the many benefits of studying abroad, which one have you found the most rewarding?

I traveled to Xi’an during one of my weekends and had the pleasure of enjoying their local cuisine, exploring sites such as the Terracotta Warriors and the city walls, and watching a Tang Dynasty dance performance. However, the most interesting and enlightening part of the trip happened when I visited the Old Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque. Streets were lined with signs in both Chinese and Arabic, and most of the locals wore hijabs or taqiyahs. I always viewed China as a place that lacked religious diversity, but that experience opened my eyes and made me realize that diversity is more than just the differences in language and skin color. The picture that so many foreign media have painted of China as a single, unified culture is actually very false.

What advice would you give to help students get the most out of their experiences abroad?

Prepare yourself because I’ve got a mouthful: make an effort to become friends with locals, travel as much as you can, learn the language, and try to go out at least once a week, even if it’s the park next door. Each little step out of your comfort zone will culminate into a huge adventure, one that you will look back on with little to no regrets.

What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to when you return to NYU’s Manhattan campus?

I’m not sure if I want to go back just yet...

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Featured Journal

Fall Break 2014 by LilianaR106

Author’s Google+ Profile

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Fall Break Contest -- we were delighted and inspired by your adventures both near and far! Also, a special thanks to our contest partners Streetwise New York, Brazilia Cafe, Lomography, and The Moth.

Congratulations to Fall Break Contest winner Liliana Reynoso! Liliana, who was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California, is in her third year at New York University, studying Nutrition and Diabetics. She enjoys baking, cooking and traveling, and more recently, has taken an interest in photography. In her spare time, you’ll find Liliana trying out new recipes from Pinterest, and going on day adventures in New York City.

In her journal, Liliana experiences autumn in Vermont, including vibrant fall foliage, crisp walks around Montpelier, and a gigantic bucket of Ben & Jerry’s.

Check out her journal here, and follow her @LilianaR106.

What lead you to want to study in NYC?

I’m originally from California, and I wanted a change of pace for a while, so I chose NYC.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited and why?

My favorite place that I ever visited was a town in Germany called Sulzfeld because I originally traveled there to do a home stay on a People to People trip, but the family was wonderful, and they invited me to come back and stay longer, so I have since gone back to stay with them and explore the area. On both occasions, we went to the Saint Peter & Saint Paul Festival where people dress up like they’re from the Middle Ages, and it’s really cool how everyone gets so into it.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

My favorite travel tip is to take every opportunity you get to go somewhere or to do something.

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Featured Journal

Los Angeles by HelloJesso

Author’s Google+ Profile

Although born and raised in London, Jessamine Barnieh has still managed to find herself in an earthquake, a volcano eruption, and an airplane emergency landing. Her recent adventures have been less dramatic but just as exciting, including a move from London to Hong Kong in 2013. In an effort to get to know her new city, Jessamine started a Project 365 (#jess_a_day on Instagram), taking a photo-a-day of the things she saw and places she explored in her first year. As a freelance copywriter, Jessamine is equally skilled with words as she is at photography, and likes to document her adventures on her blog.

In this featured journal, Jessamine crossed the Pacific for her first ever visit to the West Coast. Her eight-day trip to Los Angeles is jam packed with awesome food, cultural, and architectural explorations, and of course, a day trip Disneyland.

Check out her journal here, and follow her @HelloJesso.

What brought you to Hong Kong?

My husband was offered a job here in Hong Kong, and so we packed up our bags, waved a sad but excited goodbye to friends and family in London and embarked on a new adventure, and so far it’s been a lot of fun!

Which camera do you shoot with?

I take all my photos with my iPhone. At first it was an iPhone 4s and now I use an iPhone 5s. I do own a Canon G7, but I rarely use it, as it’s just so easy and convenient to take photos with my phone. I do want to get better using a camera, and maybe even learn how to use a film camera.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited and why?

This is a toughie. I don’t have a favourite, as it’s too hard to choose. Everywhere I have been fortunate enough to visit has been great for different reasons. However, Iceland is a place I’ll always remember. I’ve been lucky enough to go twice - once in winter and once in the summer. There’s no place like it. You don’t just feel like you’re visiting another country, in some places, because of the landscape, it feels like you’re visiting another planet!

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Roll don’t fold. This will save you space when packing your luggage.

If you’re at a hotel and you run out of chargers, check the back of the TV; it usually has a USB port. This has helped me out on more than one occasion!

Apart from those practical tips, enjoy every moment and make memories. Make friends with locals to experience a different side of the place you’re visiting but don’t be afraid to be visit the tourist spots, some of them are attractions for a reason. Have fun and get lost, you may stumble across the best thing you’ll see on your trip. Oh and always check the weather report so you can dress comfortably for your travels and wear the right shoes. There’s nothing like being uncomfortable with sore feet to dampen your mood for exploring.

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Featured Journal

Sri Lanka: South Coast by gofargetlost

Author’s Google+ Profile

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Ildefonso Ogdoc grew up in the tropical town of Cebu, Philippines. He’s always been fond of going places, and wants to see as much as he can of this big world. When University didn’t work out for him, he went on to chase his dreams of getting out there. While he works mainly as a bartender, he’s also a huge foodie who enjoys taking photographs of people, places and things. In this Featured Journal, Doc explores the southern coast of Sri Lanka, through its culinary delights, local culture and ancient sites.

Read his journal here, and follow him @gofargetlost. His Sri Lanka: Highlands journal is also a delightful read.

What brought you to Sri Lanka?

The food mostly. I love the subtlety of spice and the big flavours. Despite the massive amounts of chili used on their dishes, you can never feel like your mouth is on fire.

Which camera do you shoot with?

Sony Rx100 II (which is busted right now).

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited and why?

Definitely Ella in the upcountry. The short hikes around the area are beautiful.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Stay hydrated, wherever you are.

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Fall Break Contest

Calling all NYU students

Author’s Google+ Profile

Fall Break is just two weeks away! For our inaugural contest, we’ve rounded up an exciting prize package, which we’ll award to an NYU student with the best Fall Break journal. We’ll also feature the winning journal on November 4, so check back for results. See contest details here.

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Featured Journal

Ireland by Cyrahc

Author’s Google+ Profile

Cyrah Franklin grew up in Texas, but has always had a passion for travel and adventure, which lead her to study Hospitality and Tourism at New York University. She even took her first airplane ride alone when she was just six years old. In her free time, Cyrah loves to try local restaurants, find new (and affordable) things to do around the city, and test out her cooking skills on her friends. She’s also one of Bonjournal’s fall interns, and we’re happy to have her on our team.

Read about her visit to Ireland, and follow her local explorations @Cyrahc.

What lead you to want to study in NYC?

I was born in California and grew up most of my life in Texas, so I guess I just wanted to cover all sides of the US. But really, since I grew up in a small town in Texas, I was ready for a new adventure. New York offers so many different opportunities and experiences from what I was used to, and what better place to study and experience the Tourism and Hospitality world than New York City?

Is there anything you miss from your homestate, Texas?

My life in Texas was completely different from how I live in New York. Besides my family, I definitely miss some of the food. Even with the variety of places to eat here, sometimes you just can’t beat Southern cooking. I also love the outdoors. Growing up, I did things like ride four wheelers through the mud, and go fishing with friends. My outdoor activities here are a bit different.

What are your plans after you graduate?

Having a career is very important to me, but I definitely want to maintain my traveling spirit. I already have a trip to Croatia planned for next year. My hope is to find a job that challenges me and is different from day to day. Events and hotels will give me that opportunity and allow me to help others create experiences for memorable occasions and their own travels.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

It’s really difficult to pick just one place, but if I have to choose, I absolutely love Germany. I have been two times so far and love the people, the food and the culture. It also holds a place near to my heart since I have a lot of family from all across Germany. I’m even learning German in hopes of one day living there.

What’s your favorite travel tip?

First, I’d say not to be afraid to ask the locals. It may help you avoid some of the tourist traps, and have a more authentic experience. Second, I think it’s important to make sure you enjoy your travels and aren’t experiencing everything solely through a lens. Put down your phone every once in a while. While you want to make sure to snap a few pictures for memory’s sake, and of course write blurbs on Bonjournal, I think it’s most important to actually experience the place in order to make the memories you are trying to capture.

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Featured Journal

Montreal by michelleberenst

Author’s Google+ Profile

Born and raised in The Netherlands, Michelle Berenst left the bikes and cheese behind to study hotel and tourism management at New York University. She is the new fall intern at Bonjournal, where she is putting her creativity and enthusiasm to good use. In between classes, Michelle loves to cook (and eat), learn new languages, and explore the city.

Check out her long weekend getaway to Montreal here, and read about her recommendations in and around New York City @michelleberenst.

What lead you to want to study in NYC?

Ever since I was ten years old, I have wanted to study hotel management so when the time came to pick a college, I at least knew what to major in. The travel industry is one I enjoy on a personal and professional level, so I wanted to make sure that my college career would not be boring. NYC has so much to offer for the hospitality industry that I get to do so much more than read in a book about hotels, restaurants, and event spaces; I actually get to see them. NYC is the best place to be for tourism and it is also a great time of my life to be here. Now that I am young and full of energy and enthusiasm, there is something to explore every day. I change up my studies by going to a free concert or exploring one of the many museums. It has given me the option to make me who I want to be and push my limits.

What’s it like to be an international student living in NYC?

This has always been considered a melting pot and although cliché, it is definitely true. There are so many different people and cultures here, it makes it fun being international. Every other student at NYU has a surprising background and all of them have been very interested in mine. It is cool to meet people from completely different worlds and here it all comes together as you walk from China Town to Little Italy to Little Ukraine. New York is a place where no one has to feel out of place and I feel that although I might not be an American, I am definitely a New Yorker, all my Dutchness included.

What are your plans after you graduate?

I would love to see the world and just wander around the most beautiful places on earth, but yet I also want to make a career for myself (and a living). I hope to stay in New York for maybe a year getting some hotel experience, as this market is completely different from the rest of the world, and then open myself up to the possibilities of where life can take me. I would love to stay in America and explore more areas, but I am also perfectly content going back to Europe and testing some of the Mediterranean countries for the good life.

Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?

Although I can’t really pick a favorite place (they are all so different), I have to say I loved Cape Town! I had never seen anything like it and it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. From helping out at a local school in Manenberg to going up the Table Mountain to visiting Khayelitsha, every day was a complete surprise. I would have to pick it as my favorite because it was so unlike what I know and am used to, that it was just a fantastic opportunity to go. But Bali makes a very close second!

What’s your favorite travel tip?

Get lost! There is no way like seeing a place than not having a purpose and not running from A to B. Look around you (and in New York, look up!) and see the little places where the locals go; where the moms meet for coffee, the students study, and the children play. Try to really immerse yourself into the culture and than you really find out what a place is made of.

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Featured Journal

Icelandic Adventure by alexkrook

Author’s Google+ Profile

Born and bred in London, Alex Krook is a student at Oxford University in the UK, where she’s attempting to fit in a history degree around her insatiable wanderlust. She enjoys learning a lot of languages, taking photographs on 35mm film, and writing about her travels on her blog.

Here, Alex shares with us the cultural and architectural highlights of Reykjavík, as well as the geographic wonders that surround the capital. Her engaging stories are sure to take you along for a lovely, Nordic ride!

Read her journal here, and follow her other journeys @alexkrook.

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Fotopedia Alternatives

A Short List

Author’s Google+ Profile

Fotopedia recently announced that they’re shutting down on August 10 (details here). While this is very unfortunate for the Fotopedia community, the good news is that there’s a growing number of great alternatives out there. With each platform offering slightly different features and experiences, there certainly will be something for everyone.

Disclaimer: I’m a co-founder at Bonjournal, which is not a direct replacement for Fotopedia. Howevever, since I’m knowledgeable about the space, I wanted to recommend a few alternatives. I’ve even tried out a couple of the platforms so that you can see a side-by-side comparison of the resulting photo narratives.

Let’s start with the two closest alternatives: Exposure and Storehouse.

Exposure

Exposure helps you create photo narratives using your desktop browser. Your first three posts are free; beyond that you can subscribe for additional posts and premium features. The posts support text formatting, links, photo collages and video clips, and look great on all mobile browsers.

https://doodilin.exposure.co/japan

My take: Like Fotopedia, Exposure provides an intuitive tool to beautifully showcase photo-centric stories. By offering its tools on the desktop browser only, Exposure seems to be targeting serious photographers, who are likely importing photos from their digital cameras.

Storehouse

Storehouse offers a parallel experience to Exposure’s through its iPad app. Storehouse posts also support text formatting, links, photo collages and video clips, and can be viewed on the web.

https://www.storehouse.co/stories/t7e6g-japan

My take: Since I don’t store photos on my iPad (they’re either on my iPhone or laptop), I personally did not find the Storehouse app as convenient to use. But for those who do, this is a great, easy-to-use alternative.

If you‘re looking for other tools to capture and share your travel narratives, below are a few suggestions:

Tumblr

While Tumblr is not photography or travel specific, this open-ended blogging platform boasts a huge audience for you to share you travel stories with.

Maptia

Maptia pairs your photographic stories with maps to give readers geographic context. Like Exposure, you can create and share your stories using the web.

Bonjournal

While Exposure, Storehouse and Maptia emphasize storytelling with images, Bonjournal shifts the focus to your words and stories. Through our own travels, we’ve often found that many memories were not captured in photos. With the Bonjournal iOS app and website, you can easily document these special moments on-the-go. Your travel journals, which are similar in format to the NYT 36-Hours travel series, can be shared or exported as PDFs.

https://bonjourn.al/journal/22-japan/view-all

I hope this helps you find a new home for your travel stories. We’re excited about being part of a community that’s working to bring your travel experiences and photographs to life. I’d love to keep in touch about new developments and platforms, so feel free to email me, or tweet us @TeamBonjournal.

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In the News

As featured in Macworld

Author’s Google+ Profile

Many thanks to Leah Yamshon, who recently reviewed our new iOS app:

“A travel diary, like Bonjournal, is a must. Bonjournal collects all the pieces of your travels and turns them into a simple, day-by-day narrative. It’s an intuitive tool that’s easy to update on the fly, and makes a beautiful digital keepsake for when your trip wraps up.”

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It’s finally here!

Introducing our iOS app

Author’s Google+ Profile

Yay, we made it just in time for summer! Download Bonjournal for iOS, and be sure to tell your friends about the good news.

Bonjournal Basics

Like the website, our app is a minimalist tool that is free of extraneous features and visual noise. It was carefully crafted to help you do three simple things: record, share, and explore travel experiences.

With the app, document your travels wherever you go, even without internet connection. To get started, add a new entry by selecting the + tab at the bottom of the screen. Don’t worry about perfecting your entry -- you can always save your drafts and edit them later. To edit an entry, simply tap on its entry header, and select EDIT ENTRY from the menu of options.

It’s easy to share your adventures with loved ones via Facebook, Twitter and email. To share a journal, or export it to PDF, select the MORE button on the upper right corner of a journal’s CONTENTS page. To share an entry, tap on its entry header, and select from the menu of options.

Follow your friends to keep up with their latest adventures, and use their journals to plan your own trips. To find friends, select the ADD FRIENDS icon on the upper right corner of your FOLLOWING page. For more inspiration, search the travel experiences of the Bonjournal community.

Coming Soon

As we’ve mentioned before, our app and site will always be a work in progress. We’re in the process of adding hashtag and mention support, so stay tuned!

Thank you all for your patience and support. Feel free to drop us an email, if you have any questions or feedback. We’re super excited to share this moment with you, and hope you enjoy our little labour of love!

Happy travels,
The Bonjournal Team

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Featured Journal

Coffices by Dorothy

Author’s Google+ Profile

To illustrate our new map feature, we present Coffices, a journal by Dorothy Lin. Since starting Bonjournal, the coffee-shop-as-office, or coffice, has become Dorothy’s second home. In her journal, she rates the caffeine-charged workplaces that she’s frequented in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Melbourne. New York City, you’re next!

Check out her Coffices map, or read her journal here.