Keeping a Creative Travel Journal

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

I couldn’t have written my recently posted overland Istanbul to Cairo memoirs without my travel journal, I simply would not have remembered many of the details. This is especially true for long-term travel adventures, where the extraordinary and exotic are daily occurrences and your brain can only easily remember the most remarkable.

I’m not, and have never been, a diary writer. When we set off on our year-long round the world trip a few years ago I felt it was the time to start. Initially I was just going to make notes but after seeing the detailed and decorated travel journal of a French backpacker staying in the first hostel of our trip I was inspired. She had doodled cute little drawings to illustrate her musings and kept ticket stubs.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

I had been given a notebook as a leaving present, it was a gorgeous Paperblanks magnetic fold book and I have continued to use them ever since. Ok, so they are a little bulkier than some notebooks and journals but they respond well to being slung into a backpack and carried around where ever you go. At the end of the day, a creative travel journal will become a treasure, so why not start with a great notebook to begin with! I love the designs and the little pocket on the inside back cover to stash tickets and such. They are also quite easy to find in many corners of the world.

So what do I write? Some of it is rather mundane, what I ate, where we stayed etc, but these details are the stuff that I soon forget {unless the food/place in amazing!}. I describe my day, my feelings too. I jot down the names of people we meet, the names of trains and boats, hotels and restaurants. I note recipes sometimes and describe new dishes and drinks. The scenery passing by the train window, the atmosphere of a temple, the smells of the markets.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

I had packed a small pack of colouring pencils with every intention of sketching on the trip, and these were perfect for adding colour to my maps and illustrations. I trace a map, usually out of the guidebook, so that I can mark our journey {not sure how easy this will be with an eBook and a Kindle!}.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

A glue stick, such as Pritt stick, takes up very little space and is excellent for sticking in objects. Sticking them in as you go means they never get lost or damaged and you can write around them.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

Of the things I love to decorate my travel journals, these include:

  • Train/bus/cable car tickets
  • Entrance tickets
  • Beer bottle labels
  • Food wrappers
  • Stickers
  • Pictures cut from brochures

Some of the more obscure things have been a sandfly {that had become squashed on the page so I taped him there for eternity}, numerous feathers naturally shed by our little sparrow Jack, and a kiwi feather we found.

Japan was particularly fun as it had an abundance of ink stamps. There were stamps at many of the branch-line train stations as well as at some of the Youth Hostels and tourist sites. I always carried my journal so I was able to decorate my pages with the stamps.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

I tend to write every evening, sometimes I add to the daily entry throughout the day if I have some spare moments. Of all the travel journals I’ve written, they definitely look better written in black ink. I write pretty small, fitting in two lines of script between the lines. Travel light, write light!

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

I hope I’ve inspired you to write wonderful, creative travel journals, filled with memories. They really will become objects you will treasure.

Keeping a creative travel journal | Vagabond Baking

Little Jack Sparrow helps me write my journal.

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Keeping a Creative Travel Journal

Try these posts:

Is The Osprey Ozone 36 The Best Wheeled Carry On Pack? I’ve road tested it, it sure is!

Keeping a Creative Travel Journal something to really treasure, full of memories, labels and doodles.

Going Home, Post Travel Depression returning home after an epic trip can totally suck, I’ve done it a few times now. Here are some tips to help you through it.

Moments of Clarity Have you ever found yourself acutely aware of the moment when you’re travelling?

Around New Zealand With a Sparrow We became known as the people with a bird!

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

30 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I love your travel journal. I’ve always kept a diary but never a travel journal, and am pretty excited about starting one next year.

    Been looking for the perfect journal and I keep going back to Paperblanks. One question tho… how difficult do you find closing the magnetic flap after you’ve stuck things in the books? Also, what do you think of the midi sizes, good size for a travel journal?

    Thank you!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      It still magnets quite well when the journals are crammed with stuff, they tend to pop open a little easier but it’s never been a problem, I guess I refrain from any additions that are too bulky. I’ve only ever used the Midi size and I can totally recommend it. Midi is just big enough for good detail and sticking stuff in without being too big and cumbersome.
      I used a non Paperblanks journal for my last trip and I completely regret it! It got tatty really quickly and I missed the overall quality of Paperblanks.
      I hope you treasure your travels! Happy journalling 🙂

  2. Oh I found this post! Hey you’ve got an amazing handwriting (it looks like the typical diary is supposed to look like!) and your doodling skills… I cannot draw anything, maybe a snowman without hat and face… 😉 I love your travel journal, those will be beautiful memories to look back to when you get old. How I wish I would have done something like this during my exchange semesters and internships abroad! I guess it’s not too late to start.

    Looking forward to follow your adventures around the world Rachel – so happy I met you, you’re such an inspiring person 🙂

    • Rachel Davis says:

      I’m so thrilled to have met you on the boat! You made my journey and it was lovely to have a coffee and pulla today, I got completely soaked walking back!

      My latest diary is lacking in doodles and the writing a bit more scribbly, but full of tickets etc: even a certain Finnish chocolate wrapper 😉 and the memories will be there forever. I love reading my old ones, it’s amazing the stuff you forget!

      Always glad to inspire! Hej hej xxxxxx Rachel

  3. brian says:

    great post. im leaving for my own rtw trip next year and m considering to write some journal as well. Thx for inspiring

    • Rachel Davis says:

      You are most welcome! Even if you just write a few notes and stick in some tickets and labels, you will end up with something to treasure. Have an amazing RTW!

  4. Ahmed says:

    Love the idea of documenting your travels. Having it handwritten, plus illustrations and colours are all amazing.

  5. Shamil says:

    This is simply awesome 🙂

  6. mmmarzipan says:

    what a gorgeous, gorgeous way to keep a journal! my pregnancy journals are handwritten, as are all of mine composed pre-computer and some of my old travel ones… seems a shame that digital journal writing has taken over now!

    • aw, that sounds cute. I still go by hand then use the hand written stuff to make digital, blogworthy posts! I much prefer to hand write and take my time, notes as I go along 🙂

  7. ochwey says:

    Beautifull! When I was little, I used to write travel diaries like this. Now I only write, without pictures, witnout stamps and so on… Now I can see it’s a pitty! My next travel diary would be creative! 🙂

  8. Ayla says:

    That looks so good! I tried doing something like this but it didn’t work. Now I’ve just got it all in a memory box at home! Great idea!

  9. Wow, they are so pretty! I’m jealous, I wish I could be that organised. I always start out with the intention of keeping a diary but always seem to get distracted along the way! Maybe I’ll try again on my next trip though…

  10. Holly says:

    beautiful! i always diarise… but more bullet-point notes and nothing creative!

  11. margaret hodgson says:

    Just love reading your journals Rachel and can’t wait to hear about your next journey – how I envy you setting off on the 10th – sending you both lots of love and just wish you both an exciting wonderful trip. xx

  12. davegct says:

    Loving the photo of Jack Sparrow helping you write! I keep a journal too, though mine is not so beautiful as yours. I write on my iPhone as we go, getting down those details as you mentioned. Looking back then I am reminded of the vibe of the place, and the feelings I had at the time. My favorite times to write are on buses and trains, jotting down quickly what we’ve done.

    • I love the Jack pic too, had to share it! I’ve got a tiny video of it too, she tried to have a dust bath in the book!
      I’ve concidered digitally journaling but think I adore the paper books better, I’m old school!

  13. Love keeping a travel journal! Yours look particularly neat, organised and inspiring! Must take note!

  14. This is a great idea! I’ve keep many of my travel ticket stubs but for some of them the ink fades quickly 🙁

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