Travel journals – artists tips and tricks

Do you want to be able to create beautiful travel journals but you just don’t have a creative bone in your body?

Then keep reading as I am about to share with you some practical tips and tricks on how to create a beautiful travel journal to save your memories from fading with time.

By following my tips, when you look back on your journal in years to come it will evoke your most fondest memories along with the people and places that changed your life forever.

Today, I am going to cover two areas:

1. Before you travel – Supplies you need – What supplies you need to carry with you (all travel light options ranging from 75grams to 300grams max)

2. While you are travelling – The process – How to approach writing in your journal from the thought process through to the final layout.

Before you travel – Supplies you need

Kit 1. Pen and pencil kit

Best for: People who want to write lots of words and travel super light! Even though this kit is light it still allows you to do some pretty fancy text work and only weighs 75 grams! It is best if you want to just write headings and notes about your adventures. Your journal will be mostly words with a few coloured headings.


  • 2 coloured double ended calligraphy pens
  • 1 super thick black calligraphy pen (4mm)
  • 3 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.5 and 0.8mm)
  • 1 double ended black calligraphy pen
  • 1 push pencil with lots of lead sticks in the stem and an eraser on the end
  • 1 zip lock bag

Artist tips:

  • Get pens with two ends so you can easily create thick and thin letters and save on carrying extra pens.
  • Getting push pencils with lead sticks and inbuilt erasers saves you carrying separate sharpeners and erasers.
  • Use zip lock bags as they are super light.

Weight: 75 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

Kit 2 – Pen, pencil and paper kit

Best for: Creative thinkers who wants to add lots of colour to their travel journal. It has the pens to do fancy text but also has some watercolour pencils so you can add colour to your pages and glue to you can add momentos as your travel. Because of the glue I recommend carrying in a pencil case but still this handy kit only weighs 200gms.


  • 1 coloured double ended calligraphy pen
  • 1 push pencil with lots of lead sticks in the stem and an eraser on the end
  • 3 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.8mm)
  • Small glue stick
  • Water brush for brushing over the watercolour pencil work
  • 5 watercolour pencils (the ones that dissolve into paint when brushed with eater)
  • 1 pencil case

Artist tips:

  • Taking a glue stick lets you stick momentos into your journal next to your words or just as they are.
  • Just use part of a postcard to save space in your journal. Most places that sell postcards sell the ones with 5 or 6 pictures of local scenery, hopefully places that mean something to you, so great for using in a journal when you don’t want a whole page to be just one postcard.
  • Watercolour pencils are great for those who want the paint effect but aren’t confident with painting or don’t want to carry paints on their trip. You just draw and colour in what you want then lightly brush over with water to get the paint effect.

Weight: 200 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

Kit 3 (My travel kit) – The artist kit

Best for: People who want to paint pictures in their journal or use paints to create beautiful colours or washes across pages. I wouldn’t travel without my whole kit. As an artist I have spent years traveling around countries with various paints, pencils, books, paintbrushes and have gradually reduced my supplies to the bare necessities. With these supplies I can create a while painting of just write some text. The weight is only 300 grams so I can still carry it in my backpack/handbag and not be bothered.


  • 1 thick black calligraphy pen
  • 6 fine line pens of different width (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.8mm and BS)
  • 1 pencil, sharpener and eraser
  • Small glue stick
  • Small scissors (note: remember to put in luggage when jumping aboard an international flight)
  • Watercolour box paint
  • 3 mini brushes that fit inside the watercolour paint box
  • 1 black permanent marker – sharpie
  • Small Ruler
  • 1 pencil case

Artist tips:

  • If you plan to do a lot of drawing the pencils with the lead sticks will not cut it as the leads break easily if you are planning to use pencils for shading or pressing hard and soft to create different effects.
  • I always take a separate eraser as the erasers at the end of the push pencisl often come loose or run out quickly if you do a lot of drawing.
  • Scissors allows me to cut the perfect shape from a postcard or momento and place exactly where I want which gives you better effect and much better use of space.

Weight: 300 grams (excluding the actual travel journal)

My kit looks like this and thanks to the lovely Axel and Ash also includes their wonderful Wanderlust travel journal.

While you are travelling – The process

End of day reflection – Travel journals allow you to contemplate the experiences you have had at the end of the day and jot down the places, people and events you don’t ever want to forget.

So, find a cosy spot, preferably with a margarita and reflect! Ask yourself “what did I love the most about today?”, “what did I learn about the world?”, “who did I meet that was amazing and why are they amazing?”

If your travelling experience is 100% perfect and rosy and beautiful then you would be…ummm an alien! Things sometimes go sideways. Reflect on these things too and ask yourself “what annoyed me so much?” “is there a funny side to this after all?” Maybe you want to whinge about your travel buddy which would be funny to look back on later and is most likely a good way of dealing with some of the confinements of extended travelling groups.

Reflection allows you to gather your thoughts and decide what the key things are you want to journal. Free yourself from writing pages and pages of content by using reflection as a tool to uncover the top three things you want to say. As Mark Twain once said “I would have written less if I had more time”. Fill the time with cocktails at the bar, sunbaking by the pool or drinking hot chocolate by a fireplace in your remote Norwegian log cabin and then….by the end of your reflection what you write will be worth reading in years to come.

Step by step …

  1. Decide what you want to remember about today and what you want to say about it.
  2. Decide if you will use a whole page of your journal or just a part of it.
  3. If you only want to use part of a page use your pencil and draw a light line around the area you will fill.
  4. Lightly pencil in your heading making it as big as you think you will need for big fancy letters or small fine letters.
  5. Write what you want say.
  6. Stick in any momentos.
  7. If your experience was super special and you know you have some amazing photos leave some small 2 inch x 2inch empty boxes so you can paste them in when you return home.
  8. Go back to your heading – by then you may wish to change your heading text to something more memorable and easier to find in years to come.
  9. Making your headings pop by changing the height or width or direction.

I hope this article helps you get your creative juices flowing and the journal you create is as unique and beautiful as you

The History of a Church Pew

My grandparents went to the same church for over 60 years, sitting and listening to sermons, being present for funerals for people they love and for people in love as they promised their lives to the human being they chose to marry. Singing the ritual songs of people with faith in something other than themselves this seat has listened to their voices. After my Nanna and Poppa passed away the church closed down and my Dad picked up this church pew in a fire sale for $100. It has been in my possession for over a decade. During this time it sat in storage for a few years then for 5 years sitting idly filling every inch of my little balcony overseeing the coming and going of Careening Cove in Sydney Harbour. During this time it had the company of many of my friends bums while we sat and drank wine and mulled over so much of our lives, cried over losses, laughed about life events and pondered our futures. This seat has heard many stories and been present, staying quiet and still, as people leant in towards the curved corners and slumped in sadness or sat up with joy. As the time has past the paint wore down, the chewing gum placed under the seat probably 30 years ago hardened…but the wood has stayed strong.

I am half way through renovating this beautiful seat and as I sand back the layers of paint I can’t help but think about all the people who have sat on this shallow, long wooden church pew. Each deep scratch in the wood is a story which holds someone’s thoughts and prayers. Oh I wish it could talk …..Imagine the secrets it holds!

Growth Ruler for my son

Nailed it! If you want to Make your own growth ruler keep reading….

Growth ruler
Final growth ruler


  • Wood – big plank of pine (mine was 180cm x 24cm)
  • Painters tape (18mm width)
  • Black Spray paint or chalkboard spray paint
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Carbon paper
  • Black paint
  • Fine paintbrush
  • Steel wool (000 grade or finer)
  • WhiteVinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Big paintbrush
  • Burnt umber acrylic paint
  • Computer, Microsoft word, paper and printer

Step 1.

Place steel wool in jar with vinegar and let stand overnight with no lid on. You can let stand for days or weeks. I just let stand overnight and it did the trick.

Step 2.

Mark out your wood using pencil and ruler then place painters tape in places you don’t want the paint to show.

Step 3.

Spray paint over painters tape, wait to dry.

Step 4.

carefully remove tape.

Step 5.

Strain the steel wool from vinegar and Using big brush wash liquid over ruler. It can dry looking a bit grey depending on the wood and vinegar you use which is where the burnt umber paint comes to play. While you are applying the vinegar solution to wood use tiny bits of burnt umber paint and brush into wood with big sweeping strokes. Keep applying wash and paint until you get the weathered wood look you are happy with.

Step 6.

Create your numbers and any lettering/words on your computer and print on plan paper. This can take a couple of attempts as you get the right fonts and size.

Step 7.

Cut the numbers and words into small pieces and match with same size cut carbon paper. Place carbon paper carefully where you want numbers and words to go and place printed numbers and words on top. Trace carefully so a mark is left on the ruler.

Step 8.

Carefully paint over the traced out numbers and words.

Step 9.

Use 3m Velcro tags to hang on wall.

Ta Da!

Jousting for a PHD

Pencil on paper, 10 x 10 inch – Fiona Mearon Copyright 2018

A friend asked me to draw this for the cover of her PhD. It was a pleasure to help her after her amazing support in editing my first children’s book, “Dragon Brothers – Let The Adventure Begin” (out by Jan 2019). After years of painting I forgot how wonderful pencil drawing can be when you use a few shades and a light touch. I might even be inspired now to go back to drawing for a while and fill up yet another sketchbook.

Artist note: Eraser’s that look great that you can pump out of a pencil stick don’t work nearly as well as your favorite chunky cheap eraser.

Sydney Skyline

Acrylic on canvas – 60” (152cm) x 40” (101cm)

This artwork was painted for a good friend of mine, Carlo. He had requested a red sunset for his lounge room and after a year I finally got some time and motivation to put paint to canvas. This took me 10 hours including sketches and layout. The key to this painting was picking the contrasting color. I put the color choose to a vote with some of my friends who chose teal. Apart from the bridge and opera house, which I added to cement the idea of it being the sydney skyline, the buildings match the view from my friends balcony. He had a shit week the week I painted it so I was happy to brighten it up with this painting.