Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Own Illustrated Travel Writing

A couple of days ago I posted a list of my growing collection of illustrated travel writing from other artists (it's here). I also have a small collection of my own writing/drawing travel journals. I currently have three (Ireland, Canada and Alaska) and I'm planning to add another (Europe) this year!

Travel Journals

My 2009 trip to Ireland for 10 days was with three very close friends and included my 29th birthday. We traveled around the whole country and keeping this journal was the best decision I made when planning to go. I just re-read it last night and was reminded of so many great little moments I had all but forgotten - a lemur fell into a pond!

I kept track of places we went and food we ate. The little maps and weather reports are my favorite parts of this journal.

Ireland Journal

Ireland Journal

Ireland Journal

Confession time: I did a TERRIBLE job keeping this log during our trip to Vancouver (and the Olympics!) in 2010. In my defense we were rarely indoors. Our hosts are amazing, active people who planned so many adventures for us. My photos from this trip are great but the journal is lacking. I think I chronicled just a handful of days and most of those pages were composed on the plane ride home!

Canada Journal

Canada Journal

This is the first trip during which I decided to BRING IT with my diary keeping. I knew we would have a home base most of the time (the home of the friends we were visiting) so I brought my watercolor set and my Instax Mini instant camera (and some washi tape). Because it was a very special trip I tried to keep track of everything we did.

The Alaska trip was chock full of the great outdoors so my book included a few 'animals we saw' lists and little watercolors of scenic vistas! (Alaska is breathtaking, by the way.)

Alaska Journal

Alaska Journal

After returning home I used Blurb to turn my journal (plus my photos rom the trip) into a little book to sell and share with the friends who traveled with me.
Alaska Book

I like that I can clearly see the evolution of how I keep track of my travels. After seeing how pencil gets so smudgy over time, I switched to ink for the text and the Alaska trip is in color (!) and is much more image-heavy. Working in pen also makes me more aware of my handwriting so the AK book is the easiest to read. The Vancouver trip was a whirlwind that didn't allow for great record-keeping but other than that I think I've done a pretty good job! [insert self back-pat]

We are planning a trip to Europe in September and aside from making a dream list of places we'd like to visit, the only prep I've done is to plan some art supplies for the travel journal-keeping. Recently I was gifted a beautiful set of French watercolors from a beloved friend and I treated myself to a BIG A3 folio watercolor Moleskine. My past travel books have been spiral bound but I've fallen in love with the watercolor paper Moleskine uses in their little books so I'm going to give this new format a try.

New for Europe

Now that my art supplies are stacked up, I just need to pack a couple pairs of underwear and I'll be ready to go!

I'm not sure where our autumn trip will take us exactly but I hope we have plenty of down time (on the train maybe?) so I can keep up with my travel writing, drawing and painting! Wish me luck!



  1. Sarah-
    I can not tell you how awesome this post is and how much you inspired me to take a journal on my vacation next week. Just a few days ago I was remembering my grandfather and and as a child he would write down a diary entry for each day we spent with him and give us copies to take home with us. It was so meaningful and special to read them in the middle of winter dreaming of the spring when we could visit them again.

    I am packing a fresh book, pencils and micron pens to document our own west coast adventure (and the regional assembly of text is actually on my MUST visit list )

    1. Thanks so much Jen! That means a lot to me.

      Your grandfather's technique sounds amazing! Do you still have the pages? What a treasure.

      I can't wait to see or hear about your trip! Have fun!

  2. This really inspired me, going to Portugal and I will do the same. I love sketching and writing and why not combine both?

    1. Luana - I'm so glad you're inspired. I don't think I will ever travel without a sketchbook again - I wish I had kept journals on my childhood travesl!
      Trips go so fast and we usually do so much it's easy to forget little details. I have a bad memory so going back to read these years after my trips has been great.

      Have a wonderful time in Portugal!

  3. I've said this for years - how envious of you I am and all your travels - I havent been on a proper vacation in 10 sad...

    but i love, love, love these journals. if, no WHEN i get to travel again i will definitely pick up this idea!


  4. Thank you Trisha! :)
    YES "WHEN"!
    And I hope you'll share your notes from your future trips! 10 years is so long for a vacationless dry spell! Take a little trip! You deserve it!

    1. we are really going to try a few short day trips - it's just so hard with having the two dogs, especially polly. i don't have it in my heart to ever even think about taking them to a boarder, i would be a nervous wreck the entire vacation...