Photo Contest Insider Blog


Tips for Documenting Your Travels in a Photo Journal

August 22, 2017

As a photographer, there’s no doubt you like to take a lot of photos in your everyday life, particularly when you travel. After all, who doesn’t like to document the fun times in life and make them more memorable?

One of the best ways to remember a special holiday or trip is to create a travel journal and fill it with things such as maps, tickets, written memories, and of course – photos!

If you’ve never created a travel photo journal before though, you might be a little lost about where to start. Or perhaps you have made one before, but want some actionable advice as to how you can make your next photo journal even better?

Either way, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out our top tips for documenting your travels in a photo journal!

Why Should You Document Your Travels in a Photo Journal?

Firstly, why should you create a photo journal of your travels, rather than a photo album? While there’s nothing wrong with albums, a photo journal allows you to get more creative and add other elements to each page.

Starting every new page in a blank travel journal is like starting with a fresh canvas – you can allow your imagination and creativity to reach new heights!

It’s also incredibly fun to look back through the photo travel journal once you’ve completed it and to have an abundance of collages, trinkets, notes, and photos to look at. All of these elements join together to evoke your travel memories even more than photographs alone can.

How to Choose the Perfect Journal

When it comes to creating a photo journal, you’d be forgiven for thinking that any notebook will do.

Firstly, you probably don’t want one with lines marked on the pages, as these can visually detract from your photos. Secondly, you’ll want a notebook that has room to grow in thickness without buckling or not being able to close. By this, we mean that when you glue things into a notebook (such as your photos or maps, tickets, etc.) the pages can double in thickness. Spiral-bound notebooks usually have more room to ‘grow’, and make great choices for travel journals.

You’ll also want to think about the cover of your journal, as no one wants something that is unsightly to look at on the outside (even though we shouldn’t judge a book – or a notebook for this matter – by its cover!). If you can’t find a notebook with cover artwork or a design that you like, the next best option is to buy one with a plain cover that can easily be decorated. Then, you can let your imagination run wild with it!

Gather Inspiration

One of the very first steps to starting any creative project is to gather inspiration, whether it’s in the form of magazine clippings, online images, song lyrics, color palettes, or anything else that peaks your interest.

You want your travel photo journal to be so much more than just a two-dimensional-looking notebook filled with photos and not much else. That’s what photo albums are for! Instead, research travel journals on platforms such as Pinterest to see just how creative others are getting with this project. You’ll notice everything from collages and sketches, to written diary entries, calligraphy, and adornments such as pressed flowers, stickers, stamps, and more. The sky is certainly your limit when it comes to your creativity.

The next step in gathering inspiration is to save these pictures / ideas somewhere where you can easily access them. It might be a folder on your computer or a Pinterest board – whatever is easiest for you!

Then, when you’re stuck for ideas or simply need to get those creative juices flowing again, you can look over these pictures to gain inspiration. Too easy!

Keep Written Records

When you go on a trip or holiday, taking photos is probably the easy part (especially if you’re a photographer!). However, have you ever thought about keeping written journal entries or notes to later use in your travel journal?

Some people like to write short excerpts of prose or poetry to accompany their images, or even longer notes to help add context to the corresponding photos. Writing down what you did each day or what interesting things happened to you throughout your trip is a great way to keep those events memorable. You can keep coming back to them whenever you read your travel journal!

Your travel journal doesn’t have to be a standard diary-type document, however, as the key is to make it as visually pleasing as possible. Think of it as your masterpiece! Therefore, you might want to also play around with lettering or anything else when you make your written records. You want to keep it as unique and interesting as possible.

Collect Additional Materials

While travelling, don’t forget to keep the little things that come into your possession each day, whether it be a train ticket, attraction brochure, interesting food wrapper, or map. Study the material hard and work out whether it would add an interesting element to your journal or even provide you with another fun memory.

You can then use these as decorations to glue within your journal. They’ll add quirkiness, a boost of color, and intrigue, so don’t underestimate that half-crinkled ticket you shove into your pocket!

Another great piece of equipment to bring along on holidays (providing you have one) is a Polaroid camera, such as something affordable and popular like the Fuji Instax. Not only can you easily buy the film on eBay and Amazon, but it’s a great supplement to your usual camera as you get to instantly print-out these fun, little Polaroid photos, all ready to glue straight into your journal.

Along with the bits and pieces you pick up on your travels, you’ll also want to collect or buy other craft materials such as pretty paper, colored cardboard, stickers, or anything else your heart desires. These are going to bring your travel journal to a whole new and creative level!

Arrange Your Page

Once you have your printed photos, memorabilia / materials, and other craft pieces, you’re up to the fun part – arranging them all onto your journal pages!

The trick here is to experiment and play around with different layouts, color schemes, etc. Sample how things look on the page by laying them out before you reach for the glue stick. This ensures that your pages will look exactly how you want them to and you won’t be jumping in too quickly, only to produce something you’re not proud to show others.

Some elements will look great when paired together, while others won’t, so now is the time to see what works! Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer. It simply comes down to your own creative eye and preferences.

Keep It Fun

In order to keep your journal a surprise page after page, it’s best to mix things up, particularly in unexpected ways.

One way you can keep things fun is to glue envelopes of different sizes onto a few pages and fill them with your quirky mementos or notes. It turns your journal into more of an interactive and exciting experience, as you or anyone else who looks through it must take that extra little step to view certain content.

You can also fold things before you glue them, making sure that they can be unfolded to be viewed of course! Additionally, you can fold a small seam down one edge of a photo or piece of paper so that when glued, it swings back and forth like a door, allowing the viewer to see content on both the front and back.

Think of other fun ways that you can keep your journal interactive and unexpected. Remember, if you need ideas, just consult your inspiration folder or moodboard!

Get Artistic

Don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil, paint brush, or pen and to get artistic either! Did you just eat an amazing meal and want to document it for your travel journal? Sure, snapping a photo of it would be the easy thing to do, but why not grab some paper and sketch a little drawing of your meal instead? Now that’s interesting!

Additionally, drawing or painting images in your journal helps you to visually explain things you many have written about, but not have photographed. It’s a cute touch that makes your travel photo journal even more personal and unique.

Where to Buy Craft Materials

To get crafty and creative with your photo travel journal, you’ll need fun materials like those mentioned previously, whether it’s paint, colored cardboard, printed paper, stickers, or any other bits and bobs.

Some of these things can be found and kept in a little box to come back to, such as wrapping paper from a gift you opened, a pretty card you received, or a fun postcard you picked up on your travels.

Additionally, you can also buy these things of course, and there are plenty of shops – whether online or in-person – that you can get them from.

Etsy is a great online destination for all things craft-related, as is other online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon. Shop around to find the best price for particular items and you just can’t go wrong!

It’s also fun to look through items in craft stores, as you can never really have too much colorful or printed paper when it comes to creating a travel journal. Places that specialize in scrapbooking materials are also perfect for gaining adornments for your journal’s pages. Be warned though: if you’re a stationary or craft lover, you may have to refrain yourself from buying everything!

For those wanting to buy craft / scrapbooking materials on a budget, why not check out your local thrift or charity stores? They often have a section dedicated to craft materials and even things such as yarn, illustrated book pages, and old cards serve as the perfect page decorations to make your photo journal ‘pop’.

Other Photo Journal Alternatives

For those who aren’t big fans of using scissors and glue to get super creative with their travel journal, there are other options available.

One popular travel journal idea is to use a photo book service online and arrange everything digitally onto your pages, before ordering it to get printed and shipped to you. It means you miss out on the fun elements we mentioned above, but providing you include things such as notes or writing among the page, you’ll still have a photo journal (as opposed to a photo album).

There you have it – our top tips for documenting your travels in a photo journal! Will you be creating your very own travel journal anytime soon? If so, we hope this advice has proven to be helpful!


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