Sunday, April 15, 2012

confessions of a travel journal "drop-out" by lauren bergold

Pixie Dust Paperie


"Just Enough Stuff"
by Lauren Bergold


do you *PLAN* excitedly to journal each vacation adventure, gleefully pack a blank book for notes, spend ages choosing the perfect pens and art supplies... only to come home time after time with a pristine journal, and a handful of brochures which get thrown into a shoebox and forgotten??! do your thoughts of "saving the day" by making layouts after you return home, kind of fade into nothing as you realize you just don't *remember* all the details weeks or months later?

i ask because that was my "process" in such matters for a lot more years than i'd care to admit!!! :(  until one day on a (sadly now defunct) crafty website, i saw a journal in which the creator had actually taken the brochures and other ephemera gathered on vacation, punched holes in them, wrote notes on 'em, and made them pages in her store-bought notebook! and i thought, "well HECK, even i could do THAT!!!"

(the "before" shot of my very first hand-made travel journal: kraft cardstock pages and blank chipboard covers on a book ring!)

the only thing i didn't like was that she'd had to trim or fold her brochures to fit them in, so i started looking around for a book that was the "right" size... and couldn't find anything... so i made my own. since 90% of the "souvenir" travel brochures we collect are 9x4", that's what size i made my fledgling journal. i cut a piece of "scrap" chipboard from a paper order into "covers" just slightly larger than that, and used a graphics program to print 8.5x4" pages labeled with the days of the week, plus the names of the attractions we were expecting to visit on our trip to asheville north carolina. then i punched a hole in the top left-hand corner of each page, slipped everything onto a notebook ring, and packed it in my suitcase, along with a couple of pens, a hole punch, a tiny stapler, a mini label maker... and frankly, not alllllllllll that much confidence; but figuring that if i abandoned it after the second day (like usual!) at least i'd've saved some money!

(the "journaling" and i use the term loosely--it's really just a list of the things we did each day!)

somewhat to my surprise, i actually sat down at 10pm on the first night of vacation, and on the page labeled "sunday" i stamped the date, and wrote a list of everything we did that day; nothing fancy, it was literally a list, in my handwriting. then i punched holes in the brochures, the mini-map, and the postcards i'd collected that day, added a couple of explanatory labels, put them in the book, and called it done. lovely husband jeff came in at the tail end of this, and said, "hey that's cool--it kind of looks like a book already!" and i realized it DID... which was sort of weirdly exciting. the next day, on the way out of the restaurant where we had lunch, jeff saw a stack of takeaway menus near the cash register and asked, "want one of these for the book?" SURE! "want me to circle the things we ate?" he asked. DEFINITELY!!! and thus a tradition was born, by which we have assembled a fun collection of memories and "stuff" from every trip we've taken since then.

  (what i had when i got home--YEAH--it's practically FINISHED!)

because whereas my emphatically-non-crafty husband has no interest in scrapbooking, he seems to really enjoy finding the "cool things" to put in the books, and he will go so far as to be in charge of punching holes and even making dymo labels upon request! and while i would never even consider asking him to "journal" anything, if, at the end of the day, i ask him, "what was your favorite thing about today?" he'll usually tell me, and the answer is often surprising... and always worth recording!

(the chipboard covers, naked no more, thanks to a bit of souvenir map and some classifieds from the asheville newspaper!)

by the time we got home from that vacation, i had a nearly full book ring, and was so excited about that fact, it was really easy--and fun!--to sit down and decorate the covers, using a few more "souvenirs" from the trip and basic craft supplies. last of all, i chose a few of my favorite photographs from the trip, and printed them onto heavy glossy photo at the same size as my written pages, (8.5x4") punched 'em, and added them right into the book. at which time i suddenly realize i was looking at a COMPLETED TRAVEL JOURNAL!!! 

(the finished product, still quite beloved after all these years!)

had i done any amazing, creative, heartfelt writing? nope. had i made layouts that would stun my peers with their astonishingly fine composition and brilliant use of supplies? nuh-uh. do i remember more about that trip, and find it easy to access information about where we stayed, what we did, where we ate, etc? definitely! do i love the finished product? YES!!!!! am i completely cured of being a "travel journal drop-out"? you betcha!

these books *WORK* for me--both in terms of logistics and memory keeping-- and fill 100% of my needs as "scrapbooks" of my travels. now, i can imagine, if you happen to be a more traditional scrapper, you might be thinking, "well yes, but that won't work for me, i'd rather make proper LAYOUTS"... but here's the thing: you can still DO THAT! in fact, whenever you choose to do that, you will be able to sit down and have every single thing you need (memories, souvenirs, facts, maybe even photos!) right at your fingertips!!! but until then, you will also have a unique and wonderful record to keep and enjoy! ♥

if you'd like a more detailed explanation of my "process" in making one of these, here's my original blog post about this journal; here's my washington dc journal; andthe blog post about my most recent (san francisco) volume is located here. if you click the label "travel books" at the bottom of any of those posts, you can see ALL of the ones i've made over the years!

if you'd prefer to skip the engineering all together, and start your trip with a pre-made travel book that is ready for you to just add the memories, there are a few different styles of each of the following sizes available in my etsy shop, and i'll be adding more in the months to come:

measures: 9.5 x 4.25"
great for full-sized brochures and everything else!

measures: 4.5 x 6.5"
perfect for postcards and photos!

measures: 4.74 x 11.5"
holds everything *INCLUDING* the kitchen sink!!!

i am also willing to make custom journals to your specifications using a mix of vintage and new supplies! feel free to ask me any questions you might have by email (llaurenb @ hotmail [dot] com) or via the comments form below!


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  1. Brilliant, a bit like the wee journals that my kids and I make while we are away, we sit of an evening, write a wee bitty about what we have done, cut up brochures to include pictures of the best bits and leave a few spaces for photos when we get back. Beautiful front covers and love the fact that OH enjoys participating! Heidi x

  2. Your journals are fabulous and you are perfectly correct ... I always promise to write things down then something happens and bingo .. all is lost ... Thanks for the inspiration

  3. I love this idea! Not that I ever travel anywhere :) Great job!