Celebrating 10 years of Travel Diaries: this was our journey

It’s Travel Diaries’ 10-year anniversary this month. An incredible milestone, that makes me want to look back and share our story with you: our beloved community of travelers, writers, and memory makers. Thank you so much for joining us on this amazing ride!

Celebrating 10 years of Travel Diaries: this was our journey by Veerle Witte

Veerle Witte

Photographer:Travel Diaries

Although the web application of Travel Diaries launched exactly 10 years ago this month, the adventure quite literally started about 3 years before that. In April 2011, I embarked on a four-month solo backpacking trip through South America. I started looking for a tool where I could capture my journey in a digital travel journal by adding long texts, combined with photos and route maps maps. I wanted to be able to share my stories as a blog with friends and family and order the journal as a printed book when I got back home. But I couldn’t find any app that came close to what I was looking for. This is when the idea for Travel Diaries was born – a platform that would combine the best of photo book software and blogging tools with a focus on storytelling.

Laying the foundation (September 2011 - October 2013)

Upon returning to The Netherlands in September 2011, I began my two-year master’s program and started working on a business plan for Travel Diaries. In October 2013, shortly after graduating, I secured a loan and hired a team of four developers to bring this dream to life, while I also just started my career as a freelance (travel) writer. The development of the application was more difficult than expected but eight months later it was finally completed.

Our first steps (June 2014)

In June 2014, we launched the first version of the web application of Travel Diaries. That same month, after our first publication in the weekend magazine of a big Dutch newspaper, we celebrated our first 500 users and our very first book order. In that same month I left on my very first assignment for National Geographic Traveler as a freelance travel journalist, traveling past Unesco World Heritage sites in Germany to create stories for their website.

travel-diaries-web-app-old

For the next five years, Travel Diaries was my side project as I continued to travel all over the world as a travel journalist, investing every free moment and dollar back into the app. During this period, our user base grew organically by about 1,000 new users each month.

A new chapter (November 2017 - October 2019)

In November 2017, I embarked on a world trip with my partner Robin, who is a professional photographer, to create stories for multiple outlets, like National Geographic and Lonely Planet. But life had a beautiful surprise in store – I found out I was pregnant with our first child, Maeve. We continued traveling for a few more months, through South Africa and New Zealand, before returning home to the Netherlands.

This was the turning point when I decided to go full focus on growing Travel Diaries. After Maeve's birth in October 2018, I began talking to investors, and in October 2019, Transavia Ventures invested in Travel Diaries. With about 90,000 users but still running on a single server, it was time to scale up. We built a small team and started to rebuild our application in the newest cloud techniques for growth, speed and scalability and started developing our most requested feature – the mobile app!

Transavia-ventures-invested-Travel-Diaries

Rising to the challenge (March 2020 - November 2020)

We were on the rise when the pandemic hit in March 2020, putting travel worldwide to a stop. We decided to use this time to further improve our software, launching our renewed application in May 2020 and our long awaited mobile apps for iOS and Android by November 2020, making journaling on the go easier than ever.

app mobile travel diaries, ios, android

Expanding horizons (March 2021 - June 2024)

As the pandemic turned out to last longer than expected, we decided to expand into new markets. We received a second investment in March 2021 and 3 months later we launched Baby Diaries, our first new label, focussed on parents and families.

Baby Diaries

In September 2022, we pivoted our business model and introduced our premium memberships, offering users benefits like discounts on printed books and unlimited PDF downloads.

This turned out to be the scalable business model we had been searching for. November 2023 marked a significant milestone as we secured a €1.2M investment to help us grow into the best and biggest journaling software in the world, across different labels. Travel Diaries became Journal Lab, and we started to build a dedicated team.

Journal Lab investment

2024 has been a year of exciting developments. We launched new features like private sharing and maps on mobile in January, rolled out a complete redesign of our applications in April, and introduced 43 new layouts in May, thanks to your feedback.

And there is more to come. Next up are new cover designs, Unsplash integration, AI text writing, a renewed photo upload tool with captioning options, voice to text, collaborative travel diaries, and much more! I am extremely excited to finally bring the app to a new level, to bring more value to you: our valued user or member.

A decade of memories (June 2024)

Today, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary with a team of 15 members from around the globe, I look back with a huge smile at where we started and how we’ve grown. There were many challenges, tears, happy moments and celebrations along the way and I’ve learned so incredibly much.

Thank you for being part of this journey. Your stories, your adventures, and your memories are what make Travel Diaries so special, and we couldn’t have get here without you. Here’s to many more years of capturing, sharing, and immortalizing the moments that matter most.

Happy travels and happy journaling!

Veerle Witte

CEO, Travel Diaries

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Last updated on: 18.07.2024

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