Well, how to keep a Travel Journal?
I want to talk a bit about my first experience of having a Travel Journal, and how you could use it on a trip. Or rather, how I used mine on my trip. Maybe you will get some ideas for your next travel adventure. A Travel Journal for me is a journal specifically made for that particular trip. A Travel Journal is a journal that you bring with you when you travel somewhere. What you do in it is up to you, I used mine for writing and gluing down ephemera, postcards and tourist brochure information. You could use yours for sketching, lists, adding holiday photos or all of the above.
I have always documented all my trips with both photos and writing, but I have never brought a notebook dedicated especially to that trip. This Travel Journal is a new concept to me altogether, with its sewn pages and odd areas for writing in between decorative papers and themed images chosen to go with the “feel” of the trip!
It was a really cool experience having one, and I recommend that you try it out. I think I wrote extra much because of its look and feel. I just wanted to spend time with it. A diary always is a great company, but especially when away from home.
Or as Oscar Wilde said:
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
I did not get to read as much in the novel I brought though (The Elegance of the Hedgehog) because I wrote instead, one can’t do it all. I finished that one book on the way home. A nice read I might add.
Check out previous posts Preparing a Travel Journal (Oh I was so inspired!) and Sewing Paper (the Travel Journal is evolving) that I did before leaving. This post is late because of the unplanned work with the Postcard Swap… Anyways.
Loose pages and freedom
I did not bring my diary (right now a magenta colored notebook), which felt a bit odd. Instead I brought a “travel journal”, but really just a bunch of loose pages sewn together decorated with magazine images, scrapbook papers, decorative tape, stickers and stamps… A yummy pile of papers to write on.
I decided not to bind all of it together before leaving, because I didn’t know how many pages I would need/use during the trip. I just didn’t want to leave a whole bunch of blank pages at the end of a bound book. If you do bind your book pre-trip you can add in photos or after-home-coming-thoughts at the end if there is room left. I quite liked having just the loose pages, carefully tucked in a protective plastic folder and carried around in my bag. I later created covers and bound it all together when I came back home, there will be more Travel Journal Posts! ;-)
Travel Journaling Kit
What to bring? You need to sit down for a while and think about what to bring on your trip. What do You think you will absolutely need? What would you miss terribly if you didn’t have it packed? Try to minimize but not be to cheap about the space in your bag. You will curse too much when you find out you didn’t even pack “that thing” you must have right then and there!
What you should bring depends on what you want to do in your journal, where you are traveling and in what way. Traveling by car or going camping makes it much easier to bring a big load of art materials to use or not to use. Airplanes have lots of stupid restrictions for brining too much stuff, or packing sharp scissors in your hand bag… Go figure!
I did not bring much material or stuff this time, as you can see. I knew I would not have time to sit and paint or create big collages etc. No time for “real juicy” art journaling play, and not enough interest to paint the scenery in watercolors either. I just know myself so I didn’t pack any paints or sketchbooks. For another trip maybe, but this time I went by plane. I was actually gone just one week (!), spent in the sun, with lots of sight seeing to do. I did bring a couple of pens, a roll of tape, a black stamp pad and date stamp, my beloved glue stick, scissors and some sticker labels I made in InDesign pre-travel. That’s it!
Important to remember
1. A travel journal should always be big enough for you to comfortably write in, but small enough so that you don’t feel it’s too heavy to carry around – everywhere! I brought mine to the beach, on excursions and to the restaurants where we ate. You never know when you will have some extra time to write.
2. Always carry with you two or three pens, you never know when the first one will run out of ink or when you’ll encounter a page with paper where ball point pen won’t write smoothly.
Using a Travel Journal
For me, writing is the most important thing, so I did add a lot of pages in that were almost white or very bare. This is what I like to do when I travel. Document everything. Just sit down and empty my head onto a page. I write down what I had for breakfast, where I’ve been, what I saw, what I ate for lunch, what I bought and how much it cost and how I feel about this and that etc.
My favorite pages to write were these white pages stamped with my Traci Bunker stamp “writing lines” in bright pink (new color pad that I adore). Yummy, and easy to fill with a stream of consciousness writing! I’ve had this stamp for a few years but never really tried it. A new kind of journal calls for new methods. Traci has lots of fun letter stamps, but I don’t think she keeps the “writing lines” right now.
In the evenings I sat in bed and cut out quotes and images from information leaflets and brochures about the resort. Business cards and postcards I bought were taped in so that I can flip them over and read both sides. For tickets and other ephemera I used the glue stick. The pre-made labels for excursions was fun to use and fill in too!
Color themed Travel Journal
A Color theme is a nice idea for a Travel Journal if you know where you are going when you create it. Desert, camels and sand was what I saw in my imagination, and the thoughts led to a yellow and brown theme with tints of orange. It was as I automatically picked those papers when putting the journal together.
And there were a lot of sand – everywhere! I was right to chose sand to be my color theme in this journal. Sand on the beach, sand in my bag, sand dunes in the desert, sand blowing around on the streets of our little town. Sand in my bag when I came home…
What do you bring when you travel? Where do you plan to go next?
What a great post! I love reading your thoughts about new experiences and finding out what works and what doesn’t for you. I wish I could go on a trip so I could have a travel journal of my own. Maybe I’ll make an imaginary trip!
Ok, now I want to go on a trip. I’d really love to see the sun again! :-)
I bring a small book and almost the same pack as you, with the addition of a few plain old #2 Ticonderoga pencils. Somehow, I always find myself needing those.
Every summer, we go to nearby Seabrook at the beach in Washington State and this year, hopefully also to Big Sur, one of my favorite spots on the planet – so far.
One day, I will make it to Europe!
travel journal huh. this is a great idea, though i don’t travel alot, i think i’ll still try to make one.
Thansk for your comment!
Sophie, I think April is the Fake Journal month? Maybe that’s a month to do a fake trip journal! :-)
Genevieve, yes come to Sweden and visit me! :-)
This is a really cool idea! I always try to make a travel journal but it usually sadly falls by the wayside. Just means I’m having too much fun, I suppose! But thanks for the really in-depth look at your creative process.
I really love this post! I may be going somewhere in western Europe this summer, so I need to think about what I am going to pack in terms of art journaling supplies. This post definitely helped. Thank you!
[…] I wrote extensively about how to keep a travel journal […]
[…] Each signature consists of a few envelope pages (that I decorated before sewing the book together) and a bunch of folded water colour papers like these, for painting, drawing, sketching and playing on! The envelopes are slit open top and bottom to create a folded paper, then decorated with pretty papers and magazine images using the sewing machine. This book is similar to my Travel Journal but the travel journal was just for writing and had no watercolour papers in it. […]