If you know me, you know that I am a massive stationery fan. So, a few years ago, when I started to travel “for real”, having a travel journal seemed like an amazing idea to have yet another notebook. I have been keeping a travel journal ever since and it is one of the belongings that I cherish the most in my life, so I thought I would describe how I do it, maybe to help you create your own travel journal!
First of all, I would like to point out that it is not the only way to keep a travel journal. If this feels too much or not enough for you, it’s perfectly fine, and you should do it your own way, in order to be able to keep it for a long time. The ideas that I will write down here are just for inspiration but each step is absolutely not mandatory!
What I use:
As I said, I’m a bit of a stationery nerd, so I do have a lot of stuff. I don’t always use everything, especially when I travel, as I can’t bring everything. So, here is a small list of the things that I use either all the time or just sometimes, when I feel like it.
- A NOTEBOOK: I use a Moleskine notebook with a soft cover. I tend to prefer soft covers as my notebook gets pretty chunky, but the type of notebook is entirely up to you!
- PENS: Just one is necessary but I like to have different pens, especially with a lot of colours as I draw and doodle a bit in my notebook.
- SCISSORS AND GLUE STICK: Basically, to cut out some pictures from leaflets and stick them in the notebook.
- STICKERS, WASHI TAPE, STICKY NOTES…: Everything “sticky” you can put on your notebook to add some colour and personalise it a bit. I try to have “thematic” stickers (e.g. Russian dolls for Russia) if I can. Washi tape is great to add a nice touch even if you just stick it on the side of the page, and sticky notes can add texture or make some things stand out like names of restaurants, addresses or tips.
- A SMALL PRINTER: I have a portable printer (HP Sprocket) that I adore. You can print a picture directly from your phone in a few seconds, and it’s amazing!
What I do every day
Step one: Before the trip
Before I leave home or start exploring the new place, I use a double page to draw, on one side, a rough itinerary of the trip with the means of transport and, most importantly, departure and arrival times. I usually don’t plan the whole trip out, but it is definitely something that you can do! This helps me to feel a bit more organized, but still gives me some flexibility.
On the other page, I just doodle a sign and write down the name of the place where I’m going. If I go to different places on a single trip, I add more signs. I always do the same thing as I want to keep it easy and consistent, but that’s entirely up to you. It is also possible to stick a label and write down the destination, draw landmarks, add quotes, etc.
Step two: A day of exploring
During the day, I like to see a lot of things, walk around, explore and stay in the moment. For this reason, I don’t bring my notebook with me – except in Japan where you have stamps in some metro stations that are a great decoration.
Instead, I take a lot of pictures and whenever I see some, take leaflets and brochures from museums or tourist information centres, keep the receipts or business cards of cafés and restaurants I eat at, as well as metro, train or bus tickets. If I am surrounded by nature, I might also pick up a cute leaf or flower and keep it for later.
Step three: Getting creative at night
That’s when everything comes together: I gather everything that I’ve collected during the day, select the things that I want, cut them out, arrange them on the page and stick them to create a layout that I like. If I haven’t used some leaflets, I usually save them for later and recycle them when I’m sure I won’t need them.
I then write down what I did during that day, occasionally changing colours when I feel like it, especially to highlight some names. I try to keep it quite short, so one day usually fits in a double page with me, but sometimes more if a do a lot of things.
This whole process takes from 15-20 minutes to an hour, depending on what I want to write, the amount of stuff that I’ve gathered and how much I chat with whoever’s next to me, so it sounds like a lot, but you get used to it and things go quite quickly in the end!
At the end of the trip:
If I have kept a day-to-day travel journal
When I go back home, I look at the things that I have left and if I feel inspired, I stick them in a new page. I sometimes write down some highlights of the trip as well.
If I haven’t
I always keep a day-to-day travel journal when I travel, but when I went to Russia for a month, it wasn’t really necessary as on some days all I did was studying. So, when I came back, I did some sort of recap of my month.
What I did was like a “thematic” travel journal in a scrap-booking style. I used newspaper pages and sticky notes to write a few lines for each experience (for instance: The Hermitage museum, the visit of a cathedral…), then stuck some pictures or tickets around it.
It did take me some time and it was the first time I did something like that, but I’m really happy with how it ended up like and I will try to do it again for longer trips!
I hope that this gave you some inspiration for your own travel journals. When I started mine I didn’t think I would be able to keep doing it so consistently but now I’m on my second notebook already! There are some pages that look very pretty and that I’m really proud of, and others that are not that well curated, but it’s fine, as long as it helps me remember all these amazing travel-related memories, which is its main purpose in the end!
Do you have a travel journal?