As I was getting ready to fly to Maryland to visit my parents, I decided to make myself a travel journal to document the trip. I wanted an art project to play with while I was away from home, and I thought working in an art/junk/travel journal would be fun. The trick was limiting my supplies to essentials.

My tiny travel journal. The closure is the elastic from one of the masks I wore.

I challenged myself to fit everything, even the journal, into a small pouch. I made the journal from card stock off-cuts and a piece of double-sided scrapbooking paper that I adore. I put bits of washi tape on some pages, as well as building in a few pockets and fold-outs, so I wouldn’t be starting with an entirely blank slate.

It all fit in this bag (except for the notebook I journaled in.)

In my kit, I included the basics: a glue stick, a tiny pair of TSA-approved scissors, five markers, two black pens, a white Posca paint pen, a collection of washi tape, and a small baggie of generic paper scraps. The only thing I was forgot was something to sand with, but I got a tiny nail file from Mom. I also used a notebook to record daily events that I could extract my travel journal entries from, but I didn’t worry about making that fit in my kit. I always travel with a notebook.

My traveling journaling kit.

It turned out to be a great project to take on the road. I added pockets and belly bands and collages the first few days of the trip, then put in stories of what was happening on various days. The journal has twenty pages; the trip was seven days long. Because it’s so small, I was worried I would run out of room for the things I wanted to include. It turned out to be the perfect length — roomy enough for me to play around and yet small enough that I didn’t have any trouble filling it.

One of the challenges of the trip was actually collecting ephemera for my journal. Early on, I was struggling. If we hadn’t needed to get our seats changed, we wouldn’t have had any paper boarding passes. The first day in Maryland, I was on constant alert at the grocery store, but there wasn’t any free ephemera to be found. Our two days in Virginia yielded a lot more material because we were staying at a hotel and eating out.

One of my spread from early in the trip.

My art journaling definitely fell off during the course of the trip. Towards the end, my main focus was on collecting bits of paper and keeping up with my notebook entries. As soon as I got home, I laid out my journal, my kit supplies, and the ephemera I wanted to use, determined to finish it.

Fun with paint chips from the hardware store. Made while I was in Maryland.

The advantage of doing some of the journaling at home is that I had access to more and better glues as well as my sewing machine. The disadvantage of working at home was that the trip was over and I was getting distracted by other projects (like quilting… lots of quilting!). I made a point of finishing up the journal within a week of returning home so that it would be done before my interest had faded.

I kept to materials I had in the kit or collected on the road, mainly to keep the entries consistent in their style and content. I skimmed my notebook and made a list of all the stories I wanted to include, then went through the journal to see which ones were already there. A lot of the trip was already entered, more than I realized, and the things I still wanted to add fit perfectly in the space that was left.

A flip-out spread with two pockets and a collage.

I’ve always admired the travel journals I see from exotic trips people take to other countries. Making a travel journal for this low-key, short trip was a great way to try it out without lots of pressure. Now that I have a tested travel journal kit, I’ll be more confident in the future about taking my art/junk journaling on the road.

6 thoughts on “Art/Junk Journaling On The Road”

  1. Thank you! This is brilliant. I also admire travel journals and keep buying expensive ones and labeling them with a travel sticker. Then I have so much anxiety about actually starting: is this trip is actually journal worthy? Is this activity something worth documenting? Why is my handwriting so terrible?

    I travel from Denver to Virginia at least once a year, I bet I could fill 20 pages or so on each trip. The pouch of journal supplies is a great idea, and also giving yourself a limited amount of time to finish it before moving on.

    I may adapt this to my un-started nature journal.

    1. I’m glad you found this interesting. I also get hung up on worrying about journal-worthy material. I see journals from trips to Europe (for example) and get intimidated. And I also wonder how, on an insanely busy trip, anyone gets anything done! So this was a nice, low-pressure test-run for me.

      Good luck with your journaling! I recommend doing whatever you want to (instead of what you’re supposed to) and having fun.

  2. This looks like so much fun. If I didn’t already have too many hobbies, I’d try this one for sure. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying looking at your accomplishments and your great ideas, Kit.

    1. I can relate to having too many hobbies. I tell myself I will never take up weaving with a loom (I have done some card or tablet weaving). Then I make some journals, start three quilts, and knit some socks … Life’s too short to make all the things, but I try anyway…😁

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