Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making Travel Journals

I belong to a couple of online art groups and have been asked many times how I make my journals, what my documenting process is and what supplies I take with me - so, with some photos, I hope to explain, and hopefully, encourage you to make one too!

I've been documenting my important travels for  nearly thirty years and I myself am in awe of the changes over the years -
from tidy and neat and text only like this 
.. .gradually adding collage to writing pages 

... to creating whole collage pages
and ...
to the now preferred style of hand made junk journal style brimming over with flaps, envelopes, tickets and brochures, and completed with writing, doodling, collage and washi tapes.

My essential supplies are the journal, and a tin or pencil case containing scissors (if traveling by plane they'll be in my checked luggage or if I have only 'carry on' then I'll buy a pair of scissors at a discount store when I arrive.  I have also just used torn images). A couple of favourite writing pens, a few Pitt and/or Posca pens in favourite colours, or one or two black fine liners, a white pen (love Signo) and a glue stick and a small ruler all in a small carry bag.
My preferred size is made by using A4 pages or smaller, with a cover of heavy card a little larger. This is a nice size to carry around and easy to work in.
I collect found papers or junk papers, travel brochures of the destination, scrapbook papers I like, hand painted pages, hand decorated and/or painted or Gelli printed or the papers that I have underneath other projects - all sizes - small and  large are used then assemble them in an order pleasing to me with a mixture of sizes, weights to give me interest when opening a new page.
 Various papers, envelopes, words and last picture above is of assembled pages for a signature.
Pages and cards are added with washi tape or glued on a narrow page as I assemble the journal.
Envelopes make pockets or pages.
15 pages make 30 pages when folded. (This is a good size to work with - but my recent one had two signatures for a 6 week trip).
I then sew this signature using the basic pamphlet stitch (lots of tutorials online - I like the 5 hole version for stability) into a cardboard cover measuring about 1 - 2 cm larger all around than the A4 pages the book is made from. I usually collage the cover with travel words or maps as I go.

I prepare the pages before I travel by decorating them with washi tape edges, random words, gesso some pages, use left over paint on some,  rubber stamp some, collage postage stamps or scraps of paper or brochure words and pictures eg 'holiday adventures", "take time", "enjoy". Some words and pictures I keep in an envelope stuck inside the back cover to use later.
I attach pages 'on the go' too with washi tape or even strips of paper. Envelopes can be added and are glued in - glue stick is perfect!

I sometimes create an arty piece - like this collaged and drawn postcard - that I add or have a page for doodling in the journal eg these flowers on the inside of an envelope page.
Pitt pen flowers.

When on my travels I can work in the journal on a plane or train or during the day/ night in accommodation ranging from a tent to a caravan to a ship and of course a hotel or house.

I range from just jotting down words of impressions to historical information to documenting my daily thoughts, activities or  ponderings,  depending on the time available.
I add pages creating a flap or a fold out of zig zag pages. I add pages or postcards next  to the spine or sometimes I'll glue a postcard on to a narrow page.

I try to work in my journal daily and for at least an hour but that is not always possible so I'll adjust my expectations according to the time available - or get up early - or stay up late! I often travel with my husband and I need less sleep than he does. I thoroughly enjoy this process. I delight in recycling and reusing and finding a place for souvenir brochures, postcards and bookmarks. Questions very welcome - and you might like to check out other previous posts with my journals too. I'd even love to make you one so just email me re postage costs etc.


  1. Incredible! Thanks for sharing. I'm not sure I understand what a signature is - is that a type of page? Well I thought it was when you sign your name but looking at your picture it seems no. Thanks for sharing. Definitely going to check out pamphlet stitch!

    1. ...a 'signature' in book making is a group of pages folded together. Thanks for your comment on my blog - really wish I could show you in person!

  2. Oh this makes me wish I had a long trip planned so I could make a book too. Beautiful pages, Sue!

  3. I just went on my first cruise this year. I made a travel journal and worked in it almost everyday. I loved sea days working in my journal. I tried to put everything in order day by day do you do that or do you work just anywhere in it? I put a lot of snapshots in it along with ephemera from all our stops. I was actually thinking about not putting the next one together until after I'm back and only taking blank pages. It was fun and I loved it but when people look at it with the flaps and such they are so rough so that kind of bothers me. Sorry about the long post but looking at your blog has me excited for my next trip.

    1. Yes Rainy, I do work in consecutive days ... Leave pages if I need to catch up!
      Working on blank pages and putting the book together later is a good idea if that works for you. For me - making the journal is part of my holiday preparations. Thanks for you comments and happy travelling!

  4. I really like your journals, they are awesome.

  5. Thank you lilotte ... Wish we lived closer and we could make one together!

  6. Hi Sue, your blog may be sparse as you put it but you sure make up for the infrequent posts when you do! I love the development of your travel journals . . . I've done quite a bit of travelling and didn't keep a journal but I do have loads of photos and other bits and pieces! And like you I loved the Yu Gradens!

    1. Thank you - never too late to put all those bits into a journal now you're home!

  7. Gorgeous journal! Wish I could see it in person. Oh, how I'd love to flip through the pages!

  8. Thank you - wish you could see it too - it would be fun!

  9. Beautiful travel journals Sue. Wonderful keepsakes. For some reason I don’t always get your posts in my blogger feed. I am doing some catching up.

    1. Thanks Sylvia - I appreciate your comments - seeing as you were the one who held my hand while I made the blog!