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