📌 MY STORY: HOW I STARTED MAKING TRAVEL JOURNALS
When I was 11 years old, my mother suggested that I make my first travel journal . I asked him the other day what made him do it, and this was his answer:
Then I realized that since I was little I have loved documenting everything, writing down what I observed and making it beautiful with drawings and colors. This applied to everything: my schedules and folders, school notes... I did it for pleasure, not to get a better grade or to get compliments from anyone. And my mother, very wise, decided that a diary could be a great summer hobby (besides, I couldn't bear to be bored) to create a memory of our family trips.
From then until today (2008-2022) I have been making diaries almost every summer. I decided to reserve this activity only for family trips that lasted more than a week , although in reality it is something that can be done on any type of trip.
My journals have been growing and evolving in style with me . The first ones were much more concise, with many colors, highlighted words like in Geronimo Stilton's books... and then they changed, the texts began to be longer and more detailed and I began to put more photos and stickers. Here you can see several of them!
🍄 WHAT EXACTLY DOES A TRAVEL JOURNAL CONSIST OF?
It basically consists of spending a little time (usually in the afternoon/evening) each day of the trip to write down what happened during the day in a notebook, and decorate it so that it is also beautiful and visual.
As you can imagine, it would not make much sense to write it as a "shopping list" ( example: we got up, went to the Trevi Fountain and some parks, ate and went home to rest. End. ). A diary is something more personal, in which it is convenient to write down the things that we are thinking, feeling, funny anecdotes that have happened during the day, where we have eaten, the unforeseen events that made the trip an adventure, the good and the bad. Life is not a succession of events, but rather circumstances that pass through us, leaving their traces and memories.
And by "decorating it to make it nice and visual" I don't necessarily mean making incredible drawings. It is enough, for example, to paste the ticket of that pizzeria where you had dinner, the pamphlet of the museum that you visited or a flower that you found on the way . Pieces of paper, cards, flat objects or magazine clippings... Everything that can be a visual support and that in the end will give your diary a much deeper and sensory touch than if there are only lines of text. Do you understand where I'm going?
You can do it alone or in company. Some I have done alone, although in my childhood and adolescence I have always done them with my little sisters and my cousin (the best travel company!). Every night, before or after dinner, we would have our "little sacred time" and we would all sit at a table or bed, to write our diaries together . All my life I will remember being with them, with all the markers scattered around us, remembering exactly what we had done during the day and in what order, laughing at the anecdotes or at how gooey the letter had become, passing us the scissors and the glue or waiting for the last one to finish writing to turn off the lights.
🪐 WHAT IT WILL BRING YOU TO CREATE YOUR DIARY
Obviously, what doing an activity like this will bring you the most is that you will greatly develop your creativity, your power of observation and you will notice that your mind is more agile and fresh . I'll tell you more: you don't need to draw well, you don't need any super special skills or write wonderfully. This is a creative activity in which there are no rules; you can do it as you really want, because it is a gift that you give yourself FOR AND FOR YOU.
But there is something especially magical in the act of writing a Travel Diary: all the experiences you live stay with you with intensity and detail for YEARS. I suppose that writing a diary makes you more aware during the day of everything you see (because then you have to write it), and at the same time, the mere fact of writing makes it stay in your memory in a deep way.
I promise you that I remember a thousand times more details of the trips than the rest of the people who accompanied me , although they lived the same experiences as me. In my family it is almost a joke; when the question arises about which ferry company we took on such a trip or where we ate in such a city... they come to me as if I were some kind of walking file, hahaha.
That's why I say journaling is like giving your "future self" the chance to relive that trip as many times as they want. Reading it, years later, you travel again with the 5 senses.
🎨 MATERIALS YOU NEED
This is what, according to my experience, you should put in your suitcase to be able to make a proper travel journal:
- Notebook. Any notebook will do. However, to guide you a bit I would recommend that you buy an A5 size notebook, the thicker the better, with white/raw pages. My favorites, by the way, are the ones with dotted backgrounds, since they help me to write straight but are more design than lines. The most comfortable format is the ring binder or sewn spine and hard cover. The recommended thickness of the pages is from 100g to 200g, especially if you are going to use watercolor or markers at some point, so that it does not go through too much. If you don't know where to get one, my essential basic is the Moleskine Art Collection notebook , which they have in several colors (red, black and navy blue) and that you can find on Amazon or Fnac without going crazy. Besides, I love that at the end of the notebook it has a very practical pocket to keep the photos, stickers, tickets and postcards that you are going to paste later.
- ballpoint pen I recommend you take two, to have a spare if the first one runs out (it's bad luck, but it has happened to me).
- Non-bleeding markers or colored pencils . To write beautiful titles, highlight relevant phrases or draw pictures.
- Stick glue . Essential! To be able to paste the tickets, photos and others. Better if it is not very soft, so that it "dirties" as little as possible.
- Celo and/or washi tape .
- Photos/magazine clippings. I am referring to things to paste in the diary to make it more beautiful and that go according to the theme of the trip. I usually carry some photos of inspiration or the places I'm going to visit already printed (Pinterest is the best place to find beautiful photos), although other years my cousins and I simply buy a Telva/Elle magazine to share and cut it out! It is fun. Think that in the summer issues these magazines always come loaded with texts about travel, beach photos, summer clothes, food... It's a fantastic assortment of visual elements to place on your diary pages.
- Stickers (optional). I use them a lot, because they are super striking to decorate the pages and that the story is accompanied by drawings without you having to spend time doing them yourself. Here you can see many lovely stickers that could help you make a very artistic and special diary.
- Postcards (optional). Sometimes I use them to stick them in the notebook or put them between the pages with something written on the back. Here you can see some illustrated cards to use in your journal.
Remember that, once there, you will also get material to stick in your notebook: event tickets, place brochures, restaurant business cards, etc. You will have to be careful so that you do not miss taking them (or asking for them) when you visit the sites!
🔮 IDEAS OF EXTRA SECTIONS FOR YOUR JOURNAL
As I was telling you, at first I kept my diaries very simple and concise. But over the years (professional deformation, hahaha) I have been complicating them and adding some extra sections to "curl the loop", just because I like it. So I will tell you the extra pages that I usually add, in case you want to include them in yours:
What do I carry in my suitcase? I have a 25-page packing list pad in my store that will serve you well on many trips. I usually tear out one of the pages, fill it out to pack my suitcase, and then stick it in my notebook. In addition to being practical then it is beautiful, as a souvenir.
- Epic phrases of our trip and playlist . Without a doubt the funniest bullshit you can add to your diary. All those funny phrases and anecdotes that have made you laugh on the trip will be recorded forever and, believe me, you will be excited to reread them in a few years. Think that, otherwise, those little details would fall into oblivion... You can also write down the songs that made your trip unforgettable.
What did we like the most about the trip and what did we like the least ? I usually do this section on the way back (it's the best thing I can do on the plane or train apart from sleeping), and it helps me to make a general review of the trip and take stock of all the experiences I've had. I feel that if I don't do some section of this type, I don't finish accepting that it is the end of the trip and I feel that everything ends too, I don't know, "abrupt".
- Map of our trip, with the route marked. You can get the map at any tourist office in the city you visit, or there may even be free guides and maps at the Airbnb or country house where you stay.
- Mini photo album . Perhaps the most complex, since it is done at the end of the trip, back home. It is about leaving a blank page and, later, printing some cool photos of the trip as a child and pasting them there.
💌 THREE PERSONAL TIPS FOR YOUR JOURNAL
- Commit. Any creative task requires a little perseverance and effort. And yes, there will be some days when you are tempted to give up, because you will feel more like lying in bed and looking at your cell phone than recapping the day. At that moment, remember that this is not a job, it is something you do for yourself and that you will not regret doing. On the day it happens to you, simply summarize the day in a few lines and write how tired you were. Better that than leaving the sheet blank as if that day had never existed, right?
Don't skip the little everyday pleasures . In your head they may seem "uninteresting" or boring. Believe me, it is not. We do not live in a movie, the everyday and routine also has its charm. Write down when you prepared the sandwiches with your mother, when you took that bath after the beach or when you had to run to catch a train on time.
Try to always do your diary at the same time of the day , the one that suits you best (e.g. always before bed, or at nap time, or always on train journeys), and make sure that the rest of the people you travel with (family/friends) know that this is your moment of the day. Why do I say this? Well, to prevent your creative work from interfering with the general plans of the group (imagine that you start, very opportunely, to write the diary at the time it's time to get ready and go... not cool) and to avoid being interrupted. As I was saying, I did it after dinner with my sisters and it was wonderful, because we didn't bother anyone, there was no rush and no one bothered us.
🎪 NOTE FROM CARI:
In the next post I would love to show you in detail the Travel Diary that I have made for my last adventure this summer . Gabri and I went to Scotland; we rented a car and traveled the country sleeping in different Bed&Breakfasts throughout the tartan paradise. It has been a really special trip, since it was the honeymoon trip that we couldn't do last year (due to Covid restrictions).
To honor the truth, at first I thought not to do a diary and totally disconnect. But then I said to myself "Cari, precisely because it is so special, you should do it. So that you can always remember it, and not just with photos" . It was practically like creating an inspirational gift for the two of them . My favorite place on Earth, with my favorite person... I couldn't stop documenting that!
So nothing, I did it!, and I put special affection on it. It has fewer drawings than other editions, but it is still full of anecdotes, tickets, photos, sketches, pamphlets and stickers, as well as high doses of narrative (I always try to synthesize when I write so as not to make it eternal, but I am a hopeless case in this, LOL).
I'll leave you here the link to part II when I have it ready, so you can gossip and get inspired :)
Lots of kisses and see you soon!
Don't forget to tell me in the comments (or on Instagram) what you thought of it, and share this post with other people to make your life more beautiful than it was!