New Handmade Travel Journal

Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

Sometimes the travel journal is the first thing checked off my prep list.  Sometimes it’s closer to the last.

We’ve got a big trip up our sleeve and I wasn’t sure how many pages I’d need to fit it all, or what paper would do it justice on the cover.  Due to lots of crazy life events, I didn’t have time to buy and had to use my stash.

Then I stalked around the house looking at every piece of paper I could get my hands on (insert moment when I thought I’d lost the paper from Italy in the move, then realized I didn’t want to use it for a journal once I’d found it).

I settled on something bright, cheery, and orange.  I added more pages to it than I ever have in a journal before.  Usually I use 10 sheets of paper, which when folded in half gives me 40 pages to write on.  I went with 25 sheets this time.  I hope it’s enough!

I sometimes find taking time out to write in my journal a chore and find myself envying Mr. P reading a book.  But I’m always glad to have it when I get home.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t scrapbook while traveling.  It’s just me and this little journal.  I can’t wait to use it!

Click here for step by step directions on making your own travel journal.  Click here and here to learn how and why I keep a travel journal.


A Christmas Travel Journal

Christmas Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

What’s this?  What’s this?  A new travel journal?  I know, I’ve never made two in a year before.  But here she is.

Travel over Christmas = festive required (it’s a rule).  I went for festive rather than something that screamed holiday.  In the past, I’ve shopped for paper with the trip in mind.  For our big trip back in September, I used some paper from my stash.

I used my stash again here.  I had a bunch of great stuff with metallic accents that I hadn’t used yet due to my creativity problem.  I went with Shimmer by My Mind’s Eye.  Actually I had two finalist choices and let Mr. P choose.  He has to earn his keep around here somehow.

What do you think?  I love that it totally fits with a holiday theme but not stereotypically so.

A little secret: by the time this post goes live, I’ll already be well into my trip.  Want to know where I am and see some live shots?  Follow along on Instagram!  If you’d like to stay surprised, I’ll have some photos ready to share in January.

To learn how to make your own travel journal, check out my travel journal tutorial here.  To understand why I keep a travel journal, check out this post.

Europe Travel Journal

Europe Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

Above, my Europe travel journal pictured at the top of the Marriott Istanbul Şişli.  That is, before I spilled water on it by placing an unsealed bottle in my purse while rushing to get downstairs and into a cab when we realized we left Mr. P’s credit card at a restaurant in the Old City.  It held together though and I finished recording the rest of the trip without a problem.

I don’t keep travel journals for every trip.  I certainly don’t make them for business trips.  This trip was a grey area — business plus fun.  I decided it was so epic that I had to make an exception.  Being gone for 25 days, I’m sure I wouldn’t remember all the details.  I didn’t document everything that happened on workdays, just that I worked and what we did in the evenings.

Documenting takes so much time and honestly, there are points in the trip where I’d rather be relaxing, reading, or something else.  We had such little downtime that anytime I could get a few minutes, I started writing.

Will all of this matter later?  Why do I do this?  Should I keep doing this?  Then I get home and have this tiny little booklet full of all the details and I’m so glad I did.

More: How to make your own travel journal.  Read more about why I keep a travel journal. For this journal, I used this paper by Fancy Pants Designs.

My Antarctica Journal

Antarctica Travel Journal by Natalie ParkerAntarctica Travel Journal by Natalie ParkerAntarctica Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

At sea.  We crossed the Antarctic Convergence overnight and are now in the Southern Ocean.  The temperature outside has dropped below freezing.  See some whale spouts in the distance.

Every single night.  Sometimes during bits of time the next day.  Our boat would chug along in the Antarctic waters and I would write in my journal.

After breakfast, rest up and get into our gear.  Zodiac to Brown Station on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Officially step on our seventh continent for the first time.

This was the trip I want to remember most.  But it was the most challenging journal I’ve ever kept.  Snow.  Ice.  Penguins.  Icebergs.  Run up to the bridge.  Head out to the bow.  Watch the sun not actually set.  Share a meal.  Gear up.  Launch the zodiacs.  Down the gangway.  Repeat.

We walk up the beach and follow John to the top of the mountain.  We have to help forge the path because there isn’t one.  Hike has amazing views of iceberg central.  We sit up there and watch the penguins down below.

It was all wonderful but such a blur that if I did not capture what we did by the next day, it would run together.  How many times did we go outside on the top deck to watch the birds?  Checking the map on the wall to get the name of the landing site spelled correctly.  Was it the safety briefing or the itinerary talk that was delayed because we were busy chasing whales?  Don’t even bother trying to remember how many whales we saw.  This was the first time I almost ran out of pages.

We descend and sit watching the penguins for a while, one in particular that keeps stealing rocks from others’ nests for his mate.  An elephant seal lies close to the nests but doesn’t disturb them — he belches and then goes back to sleep.

I would often sit in the ship’s bar with Mr. P and our friend who came with us.  We’d sip happy hour drinks and I’d jot in my journal.  Our friend kept remarking how she would need to photocopy my pages someday.  There was no way she was going to remember it all.  Just one long stretch of awesome.

Back to the bridge for rounding Cape Horn.  John reads a poem as we round it.  “I, the albatross that awaits for you at the end of the world / I, the forgotten soul of the sailors lost that crossed Cape Horn from all the seas of the world . . .”

Being diligent enough to keep a travel journal is challenging.  I have no idea how people travel blog. I have no desire to travel scrapbook.  Experiencing something wonderful.  Getting it all down in order to relive it.  It’s a clever balancing act.

Christmas Day.  Our first white Christmas.  The snow is coming down sideways.  Chad delivers a Christmas message from one of the 1911 Scott diaries.

Sometimes I’d rather have been napping but I kept at it.  It’s challenging but so gratifying.
I made my travel journal for this trip using the Sapphire Geometric design from Echo Park (I wanted something nice and blue that would remind me of the ocean and ice).  Visit here to learn about my travel journal tradition and here for how I make my own travel journals.  See pictures from our Antarctica trip here.

Minibook: Everything We Ate in China

China Food Travel MinibookI’ve never made a mini-book before.  Funny, right?

I wanted to do some sort of fun project about all the food we ate on our trip to China.  I started by taking a picture of everything we ate, beginning on the plane ride.  Mr. P and our friends were gracious in not touching anything on the table until I got a shot of it – they even reminded me to take photos!

Shopping in Beijing, I found this awesome little book.

China Food Travel MinibookI printed the food pictures as 2-inch squares when I got home, and then left a 1/8-inch white border when I cut them out.

China Food Travel MinibookI was a little concerned that the thickness of all the photos was going to mess with the binding of the book, but the finished product is actually pretty cool!

China Food Travel MinibookI sat in front of the TV with these supplies and went to work.

China Food Travel MinibookI used a date stamp to stamp each page with the date the meal corresponded to.

China Food Travel MinibookThen I taped in each picture and wrote a few words.

I also wrote divider pages for each city we were in.

China Food Travel MinibookNot bad for a first attempt?  I like how minibooks have an effortless look, so I hope I succeeded.

I’ve included a bunch of pages below so you can look at them.  I used over 80 photos, so this is just a sample!

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My New Travel Journal

Homemade Travel JournalSomebody has a vacation coming up.  *Wink wink*

Last year I posted about how and why I keep a travel journal.  It is a very simple low-impact way of keeping a record.  I haven’t scrapbooked that vacation yet but I’ve consulted the journal more than once to remember what we ate.

For a complete tutorial on how to make your own travel journal, visit my travel journal tutorial.

This year I was super pressed for time and cut corners by getting heavy patterned cardstock.  This means I skipped the step of gluing the patterned paper to plain cardstock.

Homemade Travel JournalThe cardstock is Perfect Posies from the 29th Street Market Line from My Mind’s Eye.  I picked it up at Michaels on Sunday.  I’m not much for distressing and cut the journal cover from an un-distressed area.

Homemade Travel JournalUsing patterned stock made this super quick.  I was running out of time to make this and threw it together.  It only took 15 minutes!  Okay, it was probably around 20 because Mr. P made me a margarita and I was enjoying that while finishing it.

Homemade Travel JournalDon’t forget to visit my travel journal tutorial for complete instructions on how to make a travel journal!

Make Your Own Travel Journal

Earlier, I talked about how I learned to keep a no-frills travel journal and how I found the perfect little notebook while I was in Paris.

Now I want one exactly like it for every trip I take!

Instead of scouring the stores, I realized I could make my own for next to nothing!

Supplies & Specs

This little notebook measures 4 7/8 inches wide by 5 7/8 inches tall. It contains 24 lined pages (or 48 back to back).

You will need:

  • 1 sheet patterned paper
  • 1 sheet cardstock
  • 12 sheets notebook paper
  • glue
  • stapler
  • corner rounder, optional

I used the travel journal I bought in Paris as a pattern to make this new one, but you can make yours any size you like. If you are planning on using standard binder paper, don’t make it more than 5 inches wide.

Supplies, using old travel journal as a pattern.

Travel Journal Tutorial

First, cut your patterned paper and sheet of cardstock out into rectangles. Make the rectangles slightly larger than you need. For example, I needed something 9 3/4 inches wide, so I cut a rectangle that was 10 inches.

The two sheets do not have to match up perfectly! You will correct that later.

Rough cut of cardstock and patterned paper.

The cardstock is used to give the patterned paper some heft so the cover isn’t flimsy. If your patterned paper is heavy on it’s own, you can skip this part.

Glue the patterned paper to the cardstock. I used Mod Podge for this.

Gluing the patterned paper to the cardstock with Mod Podge.

I didn’t want this to ripple at all. I smoothed the layers out with a ruler as I glued.

Then, I set the glued pages in between 2 sheets of newspaper and several heavy books to dry. I figured this would prevent ripples from forming while it dried.

To keep ripples from forming, dry between newspaper and very heavy books.

Next, take the dried piece and trace out how big you want your journal to be. Again, I used my old one as a guide.

Now that it’s dry, trace out how big you want the journal to be.

Cut it out and you should have nice clean edges. If anything comes unglued, touch it up with a glue stick. Fold the cover carefully. If the ends don’t match up exactly, they can be trimmed later.

Fold it over carefully. If the sides don’t match up, they can be trimmed later.

Now, cut your notebook paper. Use the cover of your notebook as a guide. I cut 4 sheets at a time to make sure the cuts were precise.

Use the cover as a guide to measure and cut the binder paper.

Stack the sheets neatly and paper clip them to the cover.

Paper clip the sheets to the cover.

Now to staple: you could take this to an office supply store or copy center and borrow one of their large staplers. I was impatient but my stapler wasn’t long enough to staple the binding.

Solution? I used my bulletin board! I placed the book onto the bulletin board and stapled through the book and into the board.

Stapling through the book into the bulletin board (I was too impatient to wait a day and get a bigger stapler).

Remove the book from the bulletin board and press the staples closed.

Press the staples closed.

Fold the book closed and trim off the excess paper sticking out.

Fold and trim!

Finally, I used a corner-rounder to round all of the corners. This step is optional.

Round the corners (optional).

It’s that simple!

My new little notebook is finished and ready for it’s adventure.

Tips & Ideas

  • Use any patterned paper you have on hand.
  • If the paper is heavy enough, skip the step about gluing it to cardstock.
  • Use whatever lined paper you have around the house to fill the book.
  • Consider using plain paper to make this into a sketchbook!
  • Make several of these and give one to each of your kids for a family trip.

Keeping a Travel Journal

How do you keep track of your travel memories?

The husband and I took a two week vacation to France last year. Friends asked if I was going to write a travel blog during the vacation. Nope, I didn’t want to spend any time writing when I could be eating baguettes.

Still, how am I going to remember everything?

I will always remember what it felt like to stand on Omaha Beach in Normandy. But how will I remember what we did each day? Will I remember the names of the places we ate?

This is especially a problem if you don’t scrapbook the vacation immediately.

My French Travel Journal

Our second day in Paris, I saw this little thing at a shop. It was perfect!

It was barely larger than my hand and fit neatly in my purse.

This is small and fit in my purse.

Whenever we had a free moment, I jotted down very basic things:

  • The date and what we did on each day.
  • Names of places we ate at.
  • What we ate.

So when I look back at my travel journal and read about sitting in a cafe near the Louvre and writing postcards to our family –

Writing postcards in a cafe near the Louvre.

I will remember this:

What are my plans for this little book now? You mean other than wistfully dreaming of Paris?

I’ll use the information in the book as prompts to help scrapbook later down the road. If I want to, the book is small enough to fit in my scrapbook itself!

Tips & Ideas

  • Keep a small travel journal to keep track of basic vacation things.
  • Make the journal compact and easy to carry.
  • Keep it simple! Write down the basics so you won’t take up too much time.
  • Use the journal to guide your scrapbooking later.
  • Consider gluing the book itself into your scrapbook!