When I turned twelve years old, my parents gave me a beautiful, hardbound journal for my birthday. It was a light shade of pink with dainty, watercolored illustrations of flowers, a cafe, a plate of food, and a bottle of wine on the cover. It also came with a matching box that had a lock and key. Since then, I began writing pages and pages of words about my life.
In high school, I started scrapbooking. I became obsessed with lettering and calligraphy (back when it wasn’t all the rage yet and all I had to guide me was an old textbook from art class). I started sorting through my photos and old magazines, and cutting and pasting them onto this huge scrapbook. Every time we went to a movie or a trip, I would save all the ticket stubs, the maps, the souvenirs. My friends entrusted me as the memory keeper—the person who had a record of all the photos from all the memorable events in our young lives. By the time I graduated from college, I had more than a dozen thick scrapbooks and albums.
But as the world moved into the digital age, these hobbies fell by the wayside. It became too tedious to print and sort through hundreds of photos on my digicam. Once I started working, I became too busy to sit down and work on a scrapbook. Whereas before, I would write on my journal almost daily, now my handwritten entries are few and far between.
When artist Abbey Sy came out with her book, The ABCs of Hand Lettering, and later, The ABCs of Journaling, I was transported back to my high school days. I immediately got a copy of both books because they reminded me of a simpler time—a time when I was able to diligently record and reflect on my experiences. To me, journaling and scrapbooking weren’t just about preserving memories, they were also about helping me figure out who I was and my place in the world.
Fangirl moment: I’m such a huge fan of Abbey’s work!
Last Saturday, August 19, I attended a travel journaling workshop at Common Folk Coffee Bar with Abbey and Christine Herrin, another talented artist who also happens to be my former officemate. It was such a fun gathering with fellow creatives and journaling enthusiasts, and it inspired me to start scrapbooking again, especially since I have two big trips coming up!
With Abbey, Christine, and my fellow travelers at Common Folk Coffee Bar. (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)
If you’d like to go back to journaling and scrapbooking (like me) or if this is a hobby you want to start, here are a few of Abbey and Christine’s travel journaling tips:
BEFORE THE TRIP:
1. Do your research. Find inspiration online. Look for places that are not only Instagram-worthy, but that you and your travel buddies will also find interesting.
2. Decide on what journal you will use. It can be any old notebook you have lying around, but of course, I would recommend journals from either Abbey or Christine!
Enjoy the Journey travel journal, P350, available at Abbey-Sy.com (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)
DURING THE TRIP:
3. Remember that there are many ways to journal. For instance, Christine collects ephemera (memorabilia and souvenirs) and sticks them on her journal along with her photos. Abbey does this as well, but she also draws and paints interesting places on her journey. So there is really no right or wrong way to do it. The important thing is to find what works for you.
4. When laying out the pages in your journal, draw or stick the ephemera first before you start writing. You can also use stickers, stamps, and washi tape to decorate it.
5. Do your journaling before breakfast or after dinner to free up headspace. It’s a nice way to remember and appreciate what happened the previous day, while also getting ready to face the day ahead. But don’t spend too much time documenting. Enjoy the place!
6. If you don’t have time to journal during the trip, just use ziplocks to store your ephemera and then work on your journal when you get home. You can also do random stuff like take a screenshot of the weather for the day. I love Christine’s Everyday Explorers journal because it’s filled with a list of prompts that can help you document your trip in a unique and interesting way. It also comes with a box where you can store your souvenirs.
Everyday Explorers journal kit, available at EverydayExplorers.co. (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)
AFTER THE TRIP:
7. If you’re fixing your journal after the trip, decide whether you will arrange everything chronologically, by place, or by theme.
8. Collect and select. You don’t have to put ALL the details of your trip. Choose the best photos and ephemera, and just write the things you want to remember the most.
9. Set aside time to do it soon after your trip—otherwise, you’ll never get around to finishing it!
10. “Don’t be too precious.” As Christine said, don’t be afraid to write on that blank page, to mess it up, and to stick things on it. It’s your journal after all.
My travel journaling loot. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to get started!