I brought a travel journaling art kit with me on my recent road trip; a tote bag with journal, watercolour paper, a few paints, watercolour pencils, pen and ink, scissors, glue, and washi tape. With the exception of one leisurely afternoon in the garden at our Venice Beach B&B, I didn’t have time to use it! I was too busy enjoying the company of my daughter and her beau, seeing the sights, riding around on my beach cruiser, and thoroughly enjoying an amazing array of great food and wine. It was a little disappointing to come home with a journal which was blank but for the page above – but I wouldn’t have wished for my holiday to be any different. Does this happen to you?
Some travels lend themselves well to travel journaling time – for instance, if we are traveling solo, or if we are settled in one place for a leisurely stretch of beaching or sitting in an adirondack chair. Other holidays and travels are like mine was – full of activities and family and being out and about. But don’t despair! You can still make a fabulous travel journal. Just do a few simple things to document your days as they happen, then carve out the time (best to do it in the first week while things are fresh) when you get home. It gives you a chance to savor your experiences once again.
Here’s how I set myself up for successful travel journaling when I got home: I documented everything with my camera (I shared a lot on Instagram if you’d like to see.) Some of my photos I took with the intention of turning them into little pen and ink sketches later. And every day, I made a few notes in pencil on my blank watercolour journal pages – maybe a few shapes to indicate the scenes I wanted to remember, and a few words so I would remember the highlights of that day.
Since returning home, I have set aside some time every evening to work on my little sketches. I’m a poor draftsman when it comes to this kind of sketching, but I trust the emotion and spontaneity of my line, so I usually end up with something that is whimsical and entertaining to look at, and which brings me right back to the scene. I don’t let the fact that I can’t really draw very well stop me, and neither should you!
My formula for a fun travel journal is simple. I use a full page spread for each day. I choose one or two of the highlights of the day, and create quick, spontaneous pencil sketches (from life, from memory, or from photos). Then I go back in and ink in the best lines with technical pen, add a few words to each page to trigger memories, and finish each page with watercolour pencil to capture colour. I like using watercolour pencil for travel because they’re less messy than actual paints, and you can get still get beautiful washes and blends, and you only need one brush!
Here are a couple more pages, still in progress:
Do you keep travel journals?