One of my most requested posts to this date and one I’ve coincidentally procrastinated on for just over a year now. Oops! Here is my long awaited post; a peak at my travel journal and how to begin one.
Some of my travel journal evolution 2015 > now
My Travel Journal History
When I began travelling at 19 and falling in love with it, I was desperate to find a unique way to me, on how to document my time in each country. Around this time, a lot of people had turned to Facebook photo albums for their holiday shots and uploading 1000’s of photos (even the dodgy ones where their camera has fallen out their hand and taken a photo of the grass). For some reason though, this just didn’t appeal to me at all. I had already begun art journaling as part of my Photography Diploma in college, and seen snippets of peoples journals over on Tumblr (god, do you remember that phase?) so I thought I would give it a shot myself.
Snippets from my first journal/scrapbook & the back of one of the others.
Finding My Style
Over the years, my style has drastically changed and I can happily say that my style is…Doing whatever the hell I want! Yay! In all seriousness, it did take me a long time to get to this point. Everyone who enjoys some form of art is their own harshest critic.
For too long I tried to fit in to a certain type of category of journaling. Whether that was “proper scrap booking” with Polaroid cameras, ribbons and buttons (photo above), to getting my photos developed from film cameras and not writing anything , to perfectly curated and planned layouts, to having just written journals, to giving up and get to this point. It has truly been a ride, a ride I wasn’t happy with. I found myself leaving notebooks blank and documented trips missed. Now, thankfully, I can say I am happy and that I would be lost without my travel journal.
The photos throughout are all my travel journals, so please enjoy!
My current travel journal
So Where To Begin On Your Travel Journal?
I won’t lie to you, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, your journal could take up some time but it easily doable if it’s what you want.
The first step:
You’ll need to decide what sort of route you are going down with your journal. Do you want to write? Do you want it photo heavy (like mine?) or combining writing with souvenirs? You can change it up any time (it is your journal after all) but just have an idea to get you started. I never actually take my travel journal travelling with me, as it is too precious, but I know some people do. So decide that part first, I think it is important.
The List Of Supplies
What you’ll need:
– A good notebook
– Pen (several, if you are taking it travelling)
– Washi Tape
– Pretty Paper
– Glue Stick
– Pinterest (for info, graphics and patterns)
– Coloured Pens/Pencils or Watercolours
*Tip* Collect everything when you travel and keep it. Usually I keep any leaflets from any attractions I visit, tickets too. I also buy arty postcards and sometimes the stamps of the country I’m visiting. I stick these in or photocopy the maps with my printer and have it as part of a background.
The photo on the left is a postcard that I grabbed from Murren and photocopied to stick in the journal! It then doesn’t make the book bulky or hard to write on in the future.
This is actually a controversial subject if any other journaling folk are reading this. Personally, I believe the notebook matters. I think it really does… I also think in some cases, that the brand matters too. What I look for in a notebook (for my travel journal) is typically pages higher than 90 GSM. This term means the thickness of the page and if my pen will leak through the other side. This is called ghosting and it can really impact your journaling experience sometimes. The higher the number, the better quality paper your journal will be made with and less ghosting.
I’ve tried several notebooks over the years, which has lead me to paying a little more than expected to get the full quality I desire. Was it worth it? To me, yes! I’ve inserted links to the ones I’ve tried below, just hover over the name of the shop. Not an advertisement, just trying to be helpful.
My first journals were the £3 black notebooks from The Works art shop here in the UK. These were typically designed for watercolour paints or sketching, but I also used this notebook for my college course work so it was what I was familiar with. I am currently using an Archer and Olive notebook (160 GSM) which I paid out a lot of money for, as it was imported from America. I also use Compoco (100 GSM) for my daily journal. Both of these are the best ones I’ve had so far and I really enjoy them. Compoco ghosts a little, but it doesn’t bother me too much, as my travel journal is more important to me.
Other Journal Suggestions
I’ve heard Moleskine Journals (70 GSM – not actually made with moles) are the best if you are just writing in them. I personally haven’t tried this, but the reviews are favourable. If you’re heading down the scrapbook route, I would look at The Works or Paperchase plain square books. (link for the Works & Link for Paperchase) both of these I’ve had and recommend.
For the past few years, I was using a Yellow Leuchttrum 1917 journal (80 GSM) and I found myself adding plain paper to every single page as a background because it ghosts A LOT! This made it so bulky and uncomfortable to work with and in the end, I really couldn’t wait to be done with it. I’m not going to personally recommend you a journal, but I will encourage you search for a high numbered GSM within your budget. I also personally go for an A5 size, which is what I would recommend. Otherwise you might have too much space to fill, but that is down to preference. A6 pocket notebooks are popular with people who travel and just write in them.
Another Way To Journal
You could also go down the insert route (Midori’s) where it’s an file type of book but a collective of other individual journal books placed in to one folder. As well as books where it’s just one page dedicated to each country you visit as an option too. (The Adventure Book)
The Greatest Resource… Pinterest
I use Pinterest a lot for my travel journal. Typically I search for patterned backgrounds, free graphics, and colour themes. I would also recommend you have a look around on there for journal inspiration. There are even some aesthetically pleasing photos of written journals. (Click here for my Journal inspiration board)
Now this is a dark rabbit hole that I have fallen deep into and you may as well, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I am addicted to Washi Tape. I definitely have over 40. Washi tape is patterned paper tape that can really vamp up your journal layouts with or add a pop of colour to. It’s also great for sticking down some photos if you’re on the go and don’t want to commit to a layout. If you imagine a pattern, you could probably get a tape for it. The best part is, they’re usually sold around the world in stationery shops, so you can grab one even specific for your trip. These are priced anywhere between 80p and £3.50. I grab mine from Ebay, Etsy, AliExpress or Hobbycraft.
Most of my journal consists of photos that I’ve taken from the trip. I try not to think too much about if they fit with a colour scheme or anything, they’re just my favourites. These days I just print on regular office paper. Typically, I don’t put too much effort into them, they come out good anyway! (I’m that person that would wait 20 mins for the perfect shot) I also have a Fujifilm Instax camera that I sometimes take with me too. I know some people who just stick in their leaflets and tickets and write, so photos are always optional!
*Note* For big trips, like my Vietnam one, I usually have a page dedicated to everything that I did while there, but only cover the highlights in my journal. Otherwise this would take up too much time and too many pages!
The On The Road Pencil Case
If you’re thinking of taking your journal with you, I would recommend the following:
Biro and/or Fine Liner
x2 Washi Tapes
*Reminder* you cannot take scissors on a plane if the blades exceed 4 inches.
My final note to you would be journal about what you want, however you want. It’s very easy to get caught up in perfectionism and comparing yourself to others. But this is your journal. No one else has to look at it if you don’t want them to. I’ve seen some people even create their own language just for their journals so no one reads it!
The most important part is, your journal can be whatever you want it to be.
That’s all for my post! Let me know your thoughts. Will you be starting your own travel journal? Do you have one already?