Travel Journals Make the Best Souvenirs

Do y’all keep a travel journal? Or any kind of journal?

I’m definitely a journal person. Like, DEFINITELY a journal person. I’ve been keeping them since I was 6 years old…

Pressed flowers in a travel journal
[Normally I don’t like to touch the landscape (and try to practice Leave No Trace as best I can), but I do really enjoy pressing flowers. I think it’s fine as long as you don’t pick a bunch of them, and make sure it’s not an environmentally sensitive area]

My first entry was just one sentence about going to the “beatch”. I was so excited I even put an exclamation mark at the end of it, complete with a very enthusiastic heart.

That was pretty much the peak of my journaling journey.

It’s definitely entertaining to go back and read them, though. I do this periodically. They are hilarious in the most cringe-worthy way (especially those middle and high school entries…). But also a very fun place for me to make art etc. and shut my brain off/brain dump, which was always nice.

BUT! Today we are specifically talking TRAVEL JOURNALS!

Get creative with your travel journal and make a collage!
[Pages from my college “visual journal” that I made while studying abroad]
I LOVE keeping a travel journal. I’ve dedicated portions of my journals to just about every place I’ve gone. It’s so fun to look back and remember all the fun stuff (and the shitty stuff).

When I studied abroad in college, my professor had us each complete a “visual journal”. I basically got graded on something I already loved to do!

Travel journal pages
[A page I made on the David Bowie (RIP) exhibit at the V&A museum in London]
Which was awesome, but unfortunately ya girl’s greatness was not recognized and I got a B. A B!!!! I was def lightweight pissed because I put SO much work into mine. But whatevs. He wanted us to really capture the essence of the places we were visiting. He suggested rubbing dirt on the pages. One girl finger painted images with her soup.

I was not about to do either of those things. But that’s also probably why I didn’t earn an A.

But anyways, you probably don’t care about any of that at all. Without further ado, here are my tips and ideas for a creative and unique travel journal:

GET A JOURNAL YOU LIKE

Marble and mushroom travel journals
[A few of my favorite journal covers]
You’ll be a lot more likely to actually write in and use your travel journal if it’s something you like to look at! That’s the case for me, anyway. If plain notebooks are more your jam, then by all means go for it! Or, if you can’t find a notebook you like, get a plain one and make a collage for your own cover!

Sometimes it can be tough to find journals I do like, so I snatch them up immediately when I see them. I got the journals in this photo from Urban Outfitters, Paper Source (similar to Papyrus), and Modcloth; I’ve also had good luck on Etsy, or random shops I find while traveling.

INCLUDE 3-D ITEMS

Travel journal pages
[More “visual journal” pages – I used feathers, twine, pressed flowers, and sheep wool that I found around the park]
I love adding different textures etc. to make the pages really come to life! It helps take me back to the place, too.

TREAT YOUR TRAVEL JOURNAL AS A

GIANT SOUVENIR

Use 3-D, tangible items, like parts of shells, in your travel journal to make it pop!
[I glued shells and a plastic spoon from my ice cream into my journal #extraAF]
I’m not a huge souvenir person (like do I really need another keychain?), but I love having SOMETHING to remind me of my trip. So, this is a way for me to remember it without buying things I don’t need. Not knocking if you do like souvenirs – it’s just my personal preference! It’s also great for budget travelers, because you don’t really spend any money if you don’t want to (except on the journal itself, along with glue, and pens – but those can last through multiple trips!).

I basically just stick in anything I can from my trip – tickets, receipts, brochures, etc. I am also just a closet hoarder trying to be a minimalist, so sticking all my things in my travel journal helps alleviate that need to keep EVERYTHING IN MY PATH.

SAVE NEWSPAPERS/MAGAZINES FOR PAGE BACKGROUNDS

Travel Journal page
[A journal entry fromΒ my road trip to Oregon]
Travel journal pages
[Another Oregon page]
I really like doing this! I think it adds a local feel, and also adds another element to your journal and makes all your random tickets etc. really pop! Using solid craft paper also works. I have lots of this from when I worked at Michael’s and became a craft hoarder. My newly wanna-be minimalist self is still recovering from the repercussions of this lol.

KEEP LISTS OF YOUR ACTIVITIES

Make lists in your travel journal to remember your experiences!
[I made a list of all the museums we went to during the month I studied abroad – there were SO MANY]
In addition to being a journal person, I’m also a list person. If you’re not, this might not be for you, but I love having a record of things I’ve done each day. It’s also super helpful when I go to a restaurant I really like and want to record it for my blog, have it handy for recommendations to other people, or to refer to in the future if I go back.

Travel journal pages - bullet journal
[I like to create bullets points of my activities so I can easily look back and remember what I did – sometimes very helpful in planning future trips if I went to a restaurant I really liked, etc.]
Sometimes I even get real crazy and color code the things I do, like in the above photo. I created different categories for each color – restaurants are written in blue, activities in grey, memorable interactions with people in black, etc.

Is this normal? Am I just a weird journal addict hoarder? Instead of cats, will I just have millions of journals when I’m older?

Time will tell.

USE PRETTY PENS

I keep a few different fun pens and markers with me to make each page look a little more exciting lol. Plus I’m just pen-obsessed. Gelly Rolls anyone????

PLAY & HAVE FUN WITH IT

In my first design course in college, my professor really emphasized ‘play’. Basically – it ain’t that serious, bro! Just have fun with it. Shut off your brain, enjoy getting creative, and go create some fun pages!

My travel journal is definitely not always this elaborate (I mean they’re elaborate to me anyways, ha), sometimes I just slap some tickets down and write a few words and call it a day. But I’m always on the lookout for cool (free) magazines, brochures, business cards, tickets, etc.

TIPS FOR KEEPING A TRAVEL JOURNAL ON THE GO

Ideas for Keeping a Travel Journal on the Go - Journal on a train, plane, or car ride!
[I love adding to my journal on a plane, train, etc. – that way I can keep up with it while still maximizing travel time!]
I always have some pens and a glue stick with me AT ALL TIMES. You can’t really take scissors with you if you’re taking carry on (sometimes I check a bag and take small scissors), so I often just find some at my accommodation to borrow. Or, I make do with folding/tearing things.

It can be hard to keep up with everything as you’re traveling, so I usually just designate a spot where I keep all the things I want to stick in it. Usually I’ll just put it in the small zippered area of a handbag or suitcase and stick it in when I have time (my favorite is while I’m on a plane watching a movie).

Creative Travel Journal Page
[Some may call me creative, others might just call me a hoarder LOL; on this page you’ll see wine labels, parking tags, random foil pieces I kept from friends’ candy wrappers, and leftover craft paper from my time working at Michael’s]
As far as pressing flowers goes, I usually have some sort of book with me. So, I just line the pages that have flowers in them with random pieces of paper (from brochures, newspapers, or magazines) so as not to stain the book. Then I try to remember to sit on it (I’ve done this on a road trip lol), or keep something heavy on top of it. It usually works out decently well πŸ™‚

So what do you think? Do you keep a travel journal? Or do you say to heck with it and just travel?

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