As many of you may know, art journaling is a passion of mine. Rather conveniently, it often ties in well with another thing I love: travelling. Keeping a creative travel journal is a way to record precious travel memories and memorabilia in a unique, expressive way.

I’ve been creating travel-inspired journal art for many years now. Almost without realising it, it seems I have built up my very own set of art journaling techniques! In case you’re wondering how to travel journal, I thought it’d be fun to share my top tips with you.

What’s an art journal? What’s a creative travel journal? And what’s the difference?

As these questions often come up, I thought it might be appropriate to start by talking a little about definitions. Or rather, a lack of them…

‘Art Journal’

Similar to a sketchbook. Filled with pages that represent feelings you’ve had on a certain day. Basically a diary but expressed by art rather than words (almost like an art therapy journal).

‘Mixed Media Art Journal’

Something very similar to an art journal. But also including collage and other forms of media that give the journal more texture.

‘Travel Journal’ or ‘Travel Scrapbook’

A diary recording what happens on each day of a trip or adventure. This includes keepsakes or souvenirs collected along the way.

‘Creative Travel Journal’

And this would be an amalgamation of all the others put together. A journal containing art, mixed media, memories, and keepsakes. All inspired by the adventures you’ve had, and recorded in a very free and expressive way.

HOWEVER, the beauty of art is its subjectivity, and just because those are my definitions, it doesn’t mean they should be yours! If you consider something a ‘journal’, and you consider what you have created to be ‘art’, then voila, you have started an art journal my friend! Just because your art journal pages aren’t like the picture-perfect, statement-making spreads you see on Instagram, it doesn’t mean they don’t fit the definition!

I wanted to get that out there before we go on to me showing you ‘how to create a travel journal’, just because I think it’s important for you to know that there isn’t just one way. This is the way I like to do it, and if you like it too, that’s great. Even if you just take away a few art journal techniques from this article, or simply some creative journal ideas, I will be so happy to have inspired you! But you should always remember that everyone is on their own creative journey and the art you make, first and foremost, should be for you, and in your special way.

1.      How to start a creative journal: Collect memories and inspiration.

If I were to give an art journaling 101, ‘collecting’ would be the first lesson.

After deciding I want to make a travel journal for an upcoming trip, the first thing I do is make sure I’ve got a travel journal with pockets. I then get my ‘collection goggles’ on. By this, I mean that while travelling, I’m constantly on the lookout for anything inspiring, or with a memory attached to it. Leaflets, magazines, postcards, stickers, photographs, maps, you name it! If it has a nice papery texture, reminds me of a certain place or moment, or inspires me to make something, it is going into that journal pocket!

On some trips I collect so much that my journal’s pocket is overflowing. In which case, I’ll carry around a big folder just to make sure I don’t have to sacrifice any material.

Photo gallery: Photos and travel journaling examples from my Iceland Adventure travel journal. (Scroll down for more travel journaling techniques and top tips!)

2.       Art journaling on the go vs. Recording now and creating later.

Collecting materials is such a fun part of the process, but what’s even more fun is when you get to sit down and start using those collected inspirations to make something amazing!

A frequent topic up for debate when it comes to beginning art-journaling is whether to journal as you travel, or to wait until the trip is over and create when you arrive home. Honestly, there are pros and cons to each option, and I personally like to do a little of each. So, let’s break down the positives and negatives of both, and then I’ll tell you how I like to combine them…

Journaling while travelling

The positives: travel memories are fresher in your mind, making your travel journal pages more vividly detailed. The negatives: while you’re on the move you might not have the time to create everything you plan to, or in the way that you’d like (you can’t fit that many art journal supplies into your suitcase!)

Journaling at home

The positives: You’ve experienced your full trip, you can look back on it as a whole and pick out highlights. You can use all the creative supplies you have access to. Your journaling process will be a nice way of reliving the memories – extending the trip that little bit longer! The negatives: once daily life resumes, you might not get as much time as you’d hoped to create your journal. There’s a risk you might forget some things.

A combined solution

To combine the positives of both methods I usually do this:

  • I plan out my travel journaling supply kit very carefully, taking a lot of things I’d like to use in the most compact way possible. (I’m thinking of making a separate article about this, let me know if that’s something you’d like!)
  • Then, I try to journal at least a little bit every day while I’m travelling. Even if it’s just creating a drawing or painting on loose paper that I can stick in another day.
  • This, I feel, is the key though – I keep a list of everything I do each day. Every activity, every funny moment, everything that has inspired me, everything I’d like to draw, every detail I want to remember. I’m very thorough about this!
  • Then, when I get home, I’m able to combine the bits I’ve collected while on the trip, with new parts I create. Never missing anything out thanks to my trusty list.
  • I also try to dedicate one double-page spread to each day of the adventure. As I know I tend to go over the top and if I make too much I might never complete the journal!

3.      Experiment until you find your favourite art journaling supplies

Obviously, we can’t discuss how to keep a travel journal without talking about one of my favourite topics. Stationery and art journal supplies!

I think it’s really important to remember to experiment with different materials until you find the supplies that you love. Because having the perfect stationery or artist supplies can make all the difference in how excited and encouraged you are to create. Of course, experimenting is always fun and a great process for finding your style anyway. So, even after you’ve discovered your favourites, I’d still advise switching it up every so often to try something new.

It’s a bit cheeky I know, but here is where I’d recommend browsing my shop. I hand-design and lovingly handmake lots of stickers and stationery that would be perfectly at home in your wonderful travel journal!

Take a look at the supplies I pack in my travel journaling kit / pencil case when I go on holiday:

4.      Creative journal prompts, tips, ideas, and free resources!

Here’s a bunch of tips and resource ideas you may find useful if you’re looking to start your own journal:

Some sneaky ways to get your hands on free art materials…

The best things in life are free! And sometimes that certainly feels true when it comes to creative resources. Over time I have gathered a few tricks for getting my hands on artsy ‘freebies’. For example, go to your local hardware store! If you have a B&Q nearby or something similar, just pop in and pick up some free wallpaper samples and paint colour swatches. Perfect for collaging!

Another good tip is to look online for paper, wallpaper, and fabric manufacturers and printing companies that give away free sample packs for you to test their products. Often you only have to pay postage, and you receive a little bundle of free paper goodies you can use for cutting and sticking! There are plenty of sources of free resources out there, you just have to be on the look out for them. (Please don’t exploit them, these businesses are people’s livelihoods, to take a little is fine but a lot could be damaging).

For more travel-related free art materials be sure to look for maps and leaflets on your journeys. As well as business cards and other paper freebies.

Take advantage of the freedom of the internet

If you’re looking for inspiration, never underestimate the power of the internet! As well as reading articles like this one, you can also search YouTube for travel journaling tutorials. And if you’re not great at drawing or you need a place to start, a lot of websites, especially Pinterest, have printable art journaling stencils. There are many other free art journaling downloads and printables out there for inspiration.

The best art journaling magazines and books

Art journaling books and magazines are also a great place to look for inspiration! Some of my favourite artsy magazines are: Flow, Breathe, and In The Moment. (They are great for mindfulness, creativity, and beautiful collage material).

I hope you enjoyed this guide to travel journaling! I love to hear what you think so please leave a comment 🙂