Keeping an illustrated travel journal of your journey can be incredibly rewarding and romantic. It is an amazing souvenir and the process of creating will help you be more attentive to the little things and big sights you'll see on your trip. You'll remember and appreciate everything around you that much more.
It can also be hard and annoying. Why would you spend all this time drawing and sitting around when there's so much to do and see? Why carry around a notebook and paints and pens, when you can just bring your phone and take a quick snapshot?
Good point and this is why I believe in having a good travel-ready journal kit with you wherever you go.
My Travel Journal Kit
- a set of Caran d'Ache gouaches
- a small box of Winsor & Newton watercolors with a small brush
- my journal (I currently use an A5 cloth-bound hardcover journal from Seawhite of Brighton)
- some watercolor postcards (most brilliant invention ever) from CASS art
- a few Bic mechanical pencils (those cheap, plastic ones)
- Micron pens (I prefer the 0.5 width)
- a tiny plastic bottle of water (33 cl). We got this one from an airline, I drank the fancy water and refilled it.
The kit fitted comfortably in my small backpack and weighed next to nothing.
Top Travel Journal Tips
- Draw a little every day - and don't forget to bring your kit! It'll help you to quickly get into a habit of observing the world around you more closely.
- Take your time and make sure your travel companion knows what he or she is in for! Nothing is worse than feeling rushed when you feel like drawing, so discuss this in advance. Jochem usually brings a book to read (or occasionally joins me by doing some drawing or writing of his own!), but you can also just agree to meet each other again in an hour or so. Finding a comfortable drawing spot on a terrace of a wine bar usually helps, too.
- Just pick something to draw, anything. In the picture above I'm drawing one small part of a gorgeous old Roman ruin. It had much better parts and the view of the ocean on the other side was no doubt better as well, but I picked this bit of wall because, well, there was a bench in front of it and there weren't a million tourists around taking selfies. Looking back at the postcard I drew there, I remember the whole place, not just the wall, so mission accomplished, I think.
- Write down in your journal what you did that day if you really didn't have time to draw (or just didn't feel like it). It'll help you remember - plus it'll make your trip seem that much longer.
- Be flexible. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. And always bring along a headlamp when you go camping in a tiny dark little tent and you want to be artistic after sundown. You sexy thang!
I made a little zine about how to keep a journal on the road. It's not huge, but it's got some good tips and fun illustrations! You can buy it here, in my Etsy shop.