Happy Wednesday! Long time no post (I feel like I start every blog with that lol)... but, L I F E.
Anyways, I recieved a lot of questions and comments on my travel journal from our past adventure, so I wanted to share my process with you all and how I go about making one of these CRAZY things!
If you are planning an upcoming trip abroad, or about to hit the beach for a week, or even if you just want to document life, I will tell you everything you need to know! I used to keep a collaged journal for each year of high school, college, and then my first couple years teaching... but I've since stopped because it just got too hectic. Now I keep them on mine and John's excursions that we take every summer. So here goes nothing!
What You Will Need:
- A sturdy journal
- Elmer's extreme glue sticks
- Small kid scissors . . . . (I'm such an elementary art teacher)
Picking the Right Journal
When I go about searching for "the one" I keep a couple things in mind. I want it to fit in my purse/backpack easily, but I don't want it to be too small that I can't fit all of my post cards, maps, etc. I have had great luck with journals at TJ Maxx, Wal Mart, Marshall's, etc. I am honestly always on the lookout for a good one throughout the year, and I may or may not have a stash in a box, just waiting to be used. Finding the perfect one is the fun part for me!
In my opinion, the perfect size is 7 inches by 9.5 inches or 6 inches x 8.5 inches. If you are only going somewhere for a week, you can get a smaller one, but for each of our trips ranging from 2.5 weeks to a month those sizes have been perfect! I always try to find one that has at least 175-200 pages. The black journal is the one I took for our past 3 week Southeast Asia trip linked here and it was the perfect size and amount of pages. I actually used every page exactly without one to spare. And BONUS-- it's only $7!
When I studied in Florence for a semester I got the same brand of journal from Wal Mart (Shown above-- the pink one) and wrote all 100 days I was there. I didn't have as much collage material because I couldn't afford to eat out/do activities every day, but it ended up being the perfect size for the 3.5 months! It's dimensions were 7inches by 9.5 inches. IT IS A MONSTER.
I prefer leather journals like the ones above, but for our month long trip to Europe I used the first tan and pink one with the spiral and it worked great. Just make sure it is substantial and won't fall apart if you are lugging it around everywhere! For the month long trip I actually ran out of room and had to start writing on top of receipts and other memorabilia like shown below-- definitely should have gotten a bigger one for that trip!
What to Collect
This is the fun part! As you are traveling or just living life, save everything! John and I both go into MAJOR HOARDER STATUS while traveling and literally take and save everything. Any brochures I find in restaurants, pamphlets, tickets, receipts, boarding passes, beer labels, wine labels, business cards, post cards, sugar packets (weird I know-- obviously empty them), but basically anything that is flat that we use/run across. The more you save the more interesting your journal will be! If you are in a different country it is so awesome to keep anything with the language on it or anything that will spark memories from being there.
Seriously, save it all. People will look at you...they WILL stare... especially when you are aggressively trying to get that wine label off the bottle-- but don't let that deter you! LOL it happens to us A LOT.
How to Collage Your Pages
This part comes easily to me (duh-- I collage with kids for a living), but I will try to break it down as much as possible! The first few pages are always a little rough because we haven't gotten there yet and don't have much to collage. I always start with boarding passes and stupid stuff from the plane/any receipts from the airport (you know I gotta hit up the Burger King before we leave lol).
I start by laying out everything I have (this gets tricky on the plane, but is still doable) and arrange it on the page to make it look aesthetically pleasing. I almost always go in order (or try) of what we did, so that for the most part the things on the page correspond with what I am writing about-- doesn't always happen, but I have gotten pretty good at getting close enough.
I usually try to keep it interesting (not all white receipts on the same page) but still keep the colors all in the same family as much as possible-- it just looks better this way and as a perfectionist it bugs me if they don't somewhat match. When you like how it looks, start gluing! I use the Elmer's Xtreme because they last a long time and keep everything glued well. For SE Asia (3 weeks) I took 2 big ones and had just a little bit left.
Brochures are great to snag if you do an activity or go to a museum. We always get 2 of them so that we don't have to choose between pictures on the front or back and can cut out everything that we want to put in the journal. This is where the scissors come in handy. I'm not proud of it, but I usually try to sneak the kid scissors on the plane and sometimes (actually a lot of the time) I get away with it! They are dull, so not dangerous or anything-- but then the other half of the time they get thrown away. When you are flying between every country and city like we were in Asia, this gets really annoying to keep having to find scissors and buy them. We finally just started asking our hotel staff if we could borrow a pair, which worked out much better.
Here are some pictures of brochures that I have cut and collaged, but still kept the pages interesting by adding receipts, beer labels and other items.
Keeping Up With the Journal
This part is NOT EASY. There were many days I was so exhausted from going all day, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and collage everything, try and remember the details, and then actually write in story-form. There were days I wouldn't work on it at all and therefore would get really behind.
Luckily, John has an elephant brain, so I always have him jot down in my phone each day and date and little bullets of what we did, funny things that happened, where we ate, what we ate, etc. Having this outline helps SO MUCH when having to go back and remember in sequence what you did. I highly recommend doing this at the end of each day, so that you don't forget important details.
It's definitely a struggle, but it's nice to have something to do in the evenings when we get back to the room. I always tried to at least get everything collaged in the journal before traveling to the next place, that way all of the stuff isn't falling out everywhere and I can at least start writing on the plane/train/bus/etc.
I hope this helps and inspires you all to keep your own! They are definitely not easy, but so rewarding to have down the road! I am constantly going back and looking at ours. I put a lot of detail into them, and its amazing the things you forget if you don't write them down! Drop me a comment if you have any questions or enjoyed this post!! I would LOVE to see your version of travel journaling or if you make one because of this! Thanks for reading! Happy journaling!