To travel journal or not to travel journal… that is the question! I get a lot of opinions that split down the middle when it comes to this one. I understand the people who just don’t like doing that sort of thing, and that is just fine. Everyone is different! Then I get people who absolutely must do it and I feel them spiritually because I am one of those people.
There’s also another type, those who are curious, but have never taken the plunge. Maybe they want more ideas or insight, or even where to start. Well my friends, this post is for you because I’m going to share some of my travel journaling, additional tips and ideas, and even some freebies you can snag for making your own, if you’d like.
I’m going to share a lot of my Thailand travel journal because I was bored as hell, stuck in the hospital after getting home from that one, and was able to get my sister to bring my journal and polaroids so I could get to work. It’s definitely the one that got the most attention on my travels.
This is the travel journal I use and I highly recommend this shop! (EDIT June 2021, the shop appears to be closed now 😦 )The reason I originally decided on them is because they had the eco (vegan) leather, and I kept either finding animal flesh or foam, it was like there was no good balance in between. This shop fulfilled my needs and were so easy to work with! They also sell inserts if you’re not into making your own. They sell all sorts of inserts, so you should check them out! (Not sponsored, just want to share my good experiences with y’all.)
If you’re on a budget or like DIY projects, you can really easily make your own inserts with a few sheets of paper and a stapler. If you want your signatures (each group of paper) to hold a little better than it might with a staple, all it takes is a sewing needle and thread to sew a few stitches along the center. If you own a sewing machine, you can set a wide stitch and go right up the center, a very fast process!
There are a few things that might be helpful to you, as they were to me. If you order from the above shop I linked, you get some great accessories included in your travel journal which I highly recommend. One is a small metal binder clip, which can hold things in place in a pinch.
The second is a matte see through zipper file to chuck in any loose tickets or papers, before you get the chance to properly sort through them or journal them in.
The last is a clear card slot. I always write down or print the addresses of the places I’ll be staying in the native language, so if I get lost and need a taxi in a pinch, I can show them the address card. It’s also helpful for customs papers when flying in. At the end of the trip, you can toss those address cards in your trip log to remember for next time, or just as another piece to your journaling.
What types of things should you journal? Well that is the beauty of it. You can do whatever you like. I like… everything? Ha… no, but really, I even save some receipts.
Usually my very first receipt I get in a country. If there’s a store I really liked, I might save that receipt, too. Or a meal receipt with a dish that I loved, complete with a snap of the dish and/or restaurant from outside. Some restaurants have paper coasters/stickers/business cards that I’ll grab to toss in.
Speaking of business cards, if you collect a number of those or company stickers, might as well add those to your pages!
Tickets are a big one! I love tickets, I have a strange fascination with them and have since my conscious memory. I love to save every single ticket that I get, whether a train or bus, museum or amusement park. It’s so fun to keep these all in one place that I can go back and admire.
Polaroids are something I love to use! Sometimes the equipment can be a bit in the way, so I end up not taking it. But if I do take it, it’s a great way to snap a picture, print, and journal all within a few minutes. I love the nostalgic sort of quality I get with my polaroid, too.
If I don’t take my polaroid, I use an app called groovebook and I’ll collage my photos into four a sheet, then cut them out and journal them in, post trip. Sometimes life gets busy and it takes a bit longer to catch up that way, which is why I do try to take the polaroid when possible. I’ve been looking into the portable mini printers, like the HP Sprocket. It’s a little less bulky than my current polaroid gear and you can just use your phone for all photos, not having to change cameras.
It’s also good to jot down little excerpts from experiences that stood out, things that you might forget if you don’t write them down, but would love to remember. Even something as simple as a funny thing you or a travel partner said that really made you laugh.
If you’re an artist, it’s fun to doodle or draw things that you see and enjoy on your travels. I’ve seen pages where a basic city map is drawn, which is a pretty fun addition. You should look up ideas for travel art kits, including fun DIY ones, if you are the artistic type and would like to add a little or a lot of color to your travel journal.
An example below has a bunch of little papers that I got in some of my gatchapon eggs. Gatchapon are those fun coin machines that you get little toys etc. out of. Most of them have mini pamphlets inside of them that show all of the toys in that specific collection.
There are so many fun (and a lot of free) PDF printouts you can download. Pinterest is sure to have tons of them! They’re fun to throw in on some of your pages, liven things up or make it look more organized, if that’s your thing. I’ve spent some time designing quite a few that I want to have available for free, since I was relieved I had so many opportunities to download free ones in the past! I hope you can find use out of these I’ve put together.
The download links will be in the same order as above, images 3&4 and 14&15 are in the same PDF! Or you can save as a PNG file by clicking each image above.
Happy travels! And happy travel journaling!