A Travelling Tale… or, How I Finally Got to Whistler

It should have been a simple trip -

A return flight to Castlegar to spend a week in Nelson (mid way between Calgary and Vancouver); returning to Vancouver to be whisked away on the Whistler Shuttle who guaranteed I’d be on my way within the hour of landing, and dropped off at my door.

But… let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

1. In the Beginning – There was an Airplane

Travel journal entry about flying from Vancouver to Castlegar

My travel journal entry for my flight to Castlegar

 

 

 

“Calling all passengers on flight AC8248 to Castlegar.

We are now boarding through Gate 4.
However, please be aware there is a 50:50 chance that due to poor visibility we will not be able to land, in which case we will be returning here to Vancouver.”

 

 

 

It’s not often you hear a flight called where the destination is potentially going to be the same as its departure.
But I love a sprinkling of serendipity in my travels, so embarked on my Canadian Rockies adventure with anticipation.

Canadian Rockies

In fact, the flight was smooth and beautiful, and fruitful.

We floated over snow capped mountains and deep deep valleys where those rogue clouds looked like sticky candy floss.

But as we approached Castlegar – which due to the mountainous terrain is considered to have one of the most challenging approaches of any North American commercial airport with ‘no possibility of a straight-in approach’ – the candy floss clouds dissolved and we made our final descent down the narrow valley where you could virtually touch the passing tree tops that hugged the vertical sides… before turning to miss the mountain range perpendicularly ahead of us.

 

2. In the Middle – There was a Greyhound

After a superb week in Nelson (blog posts of fat tire biking and snow-shoeing at Whitewater to follow) I was ready to leave Castlegar, which I had since discovered is colloquially referred to as ‘Cancelgar’.
I arrived at the small airport at 9am to the announcement that not only was my flight cancelled, but flights from the previous two days had also been cancelled due to poor visibility; while there was another flight due at 1pm, with the previous two days’ record, was it really that promising?

The alternatives were limited – 
There was a single daily Greyhound bus that (miraculously?) left in less than an hour but would take 12 hours, compared to the flip of a coin possibility that the lunchtime plane, scheduled to take just an hour may (or may not) jet in.

I vied for the “certainty” of the Greyhound – at least that way… so I thought…  I’d be at my destination that night.

A cab was called, and I was raced down-town to the Greyhound office where I purchased a one-way ticket.

Moments later the bus from Calgary pulled in and bags were loaded into its undercarriage as I clambered aboard eyeing either side of the aisle for a place to sit –
At the very back (by the toilet) there was a girl spread across two seats dozing –
“Sorry.. but…”

The frayed fabric on the seats did not bode well if this was a reflection as to the state of the mechanics…

Worn out Greyhound bus in BC

And two hours into the 12-hour trip it lived up to its appearance.

Making our way up a mountainous pass the bus ground to a halt on a steep single lane incline.

After a few intermittent bunny hop efforts of cranking her up, and letting her cool down, we reached a safer spot to pull off the Highway and assess the situation – Which was that we weren’t going to be going anywhere soon – And, we were out of cell phone range.

The driver donned his regulation fluoro yellow safety vest and disembarked to flag down a vehicle to take our carrier pigeon message back to the previous base where, a short while before, standing in the queue for the only loo at the small office, the driver had hassled us to abandon our mission with:
“All aboard – We’ll be at the next stop in no time”

A while later a reconnaissance party from the last base appeared through the fog to do a first hand reconnoiter.

Broken down Grehound bus on the side of the road in the mist

The driver repeated the message given to our carrier pigeon that
“We’ve broken down and require a replacement coach to take the stranded passengers to the next stop.”

“Oh.”
The reconnaissance team got back into their cosy 4WD and returned to base with the update.

It was beginning to feel a little like an episode from “Lost”.
A group of unrelated unconnected people suddenly finding themselves connected by a common event.

A man who’s wife was on her death bed and desperate to get to her side, managed to muster another three prepared to fork out the additional $125 each to share a taxi, passing ‘Go’ and moving on to the next stop.

Greyhound bus broken down has a taxi come to rescue passengers

 

A loud mouth from the middle section of the bus who repeatedly shouted profanities at the driver for the inconvenience and refused to shut it despite repeated requests from fellow passengers that there were children on board was cajoled out by (it evolved) an ex SAS man – He enticed the ‘sh*t head’ to go with him to hitch a lift, escorting the disturbance out of the bus and up the highway, where when a car stopped, he said:
“You take it – I’ll follow in the next one”.

He returned to the bus alone.

A mother with two children, rugged them up against the cold and got off for some playtime in the snow.

A couple of young women asked the driver how long we’d be here?
On the assumption the replacement bus would come from a base further up the track (after the reconnaissance team relayed the request from the base further down the track) he estimated “at least a few hours”.
They descended the steps and headed off into the woodland to explore the snowy forest footpaths.

Travel journalling en route

I updated my travel journal.

Then, rather than stay cooped up, I too took to the woods following the snowy footprints of other destitute passengers who had gone before.
It was otherwise a silent, uninhabited landscape.
It felt a little ominous.
There was a low lying murky mist – the sticky candy floss clouds seen from a different perspective – wafting through the dark conifers blocking the sun from fully penetrating.
But as the path rose higher, I emerged out into a sparkling fresh white landscape a world away from the gloomy reality sealed in below.

Waling in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies

Three hours later, the summoned replacement vehicle appeared over the horizon, and after five hours marooned on the side of the highway, the journey continued on to Kelowna.

Where, as a consolation for the endured inconvenience we were offered a plate of greasy noodles flecked with khaki coloured tinned peas and ochre coloured corn kernels, with a bottle of water.

Travel Journal of a broken down Greyhound bus

 

At 10 pm, just as we were supposed to be arriving at our destination, we were instead boarding a ‘connecting’ bus that would take us through the night to Vancouver.

But half an hour hour into this segment there was yet another hold up –

A man who had decided to use the toilet as his seat, with the door open, was reported to the driver –
We stopped, and the driver came back to inspect the problem.
The man agreed to move himself further up the bus, but then took to sitting in the middle of the aisle.

The driver donned his regulation fluoro yellow safety vest and called the Police.
We waited (and waited) for them to respond.

Still protesting his innocence, the Police cordially escorted the perpetrator off the bus.

Another unexpected holdup

 

The motor once again droned.
Fleeting glimpses of lit up settlements flashed past.
And I whiled away the wee hours of the night with occasional head nodding and much leg twitching as my feet ferreted around under the seat in front trying to find an illusive horizontal position that all diurnal creatures crave when forced to sit bolt upright past midnight.

3. In the End – There was a Shining Shuttle Bus

It was still dark when we finally pulled into the Greyhound station at Vancouver.

Vancouver city skline at first light
As the dawn began to break I hailed a yellow taxi cab and headed down town to the shuttle-bus pick up point. In the hotel foyer, a Starbucks was serving aromatic cups of coffee to the early morning city slickers; some rushing to their office, some holding breakfast meetings and some donned in tight fitting running gear with white ear plugs draped around their necks grabbing a caffeine boost as part of their latest health kick.

I sunk into a plush low level sofa and relished a comforting delicious drink and a palatable plate of food.

My Whistler Shuttle Bus pulled in on cue – rescuing me from my 24 hour ordeal!

Driving over Vancouver BridgeSkipping the early morning rush hour traffic we were out and over the bridge in a flash and heading up the Sea to Sky Highway 99.

The scenery of Howe Sound was positively dreamy – With tantalizing views across the water to distant snowy mountain tops – my destination.

 

Sea to Sky Highway views from the shuttle bus window

Photos of views taken from the shuttle bus, on the move!

 

 

 

We glided into Whistler and the driver took me to my door…

Travel Journal entry Whistler Shuttle

 

Where… once inside… I collapsed into a soft cosy bed for a catch-up nap, ready for my wonderful week in Whistler :)

[Post on what to do in Whistler in the Winter if you’re not into snow sports coming soon!] 

Have you had a simple journey turn into a convoluted adventure?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

It’s All in the Detail – Travel Photo Roulette *97

Have you heard of Travel Photo Roulette?

Because we have a new WINNER for this round!
(Scroll down to see the winning entry!)

It’s a friendly fun game between travel bloggers who put up fabulous travel photos over the course of a week, focusing on a theme, where the prize for the winner is to host and select the theme for the following round.

And guess what?

I won the previous Travel Photo Roulette Round #96, hosted on Jess’ site Ice Cream and Perma Frost, with the following photo – where her theme was:

Frozen

“On my recent visit to Scotland we woke on this cold January morning to a crisp white hoar frost coating the hedgerows and the top of our stone wall and gate.”

Hoar frost on the top of a gate in Scptland

 

As the host for round #97, the theme for…

Travel Photo Roulette #97 is…
Detail

You often hear it said – It’s all in the detail!

And to my mind, that is where the true travel story of where you are and what you’re experiencing is being told –
While big open vistas inspire and enthral us with their magnitude, it’s the little details of daily life that form the backbone of cultures and demarcate the charming regional idiosyncrasies we encounter and so form our memories.

By noticing the local craftsmanship of a dry stone wall, the embellishment on a piece of traditional fabric, or quite simply what lays beneath your feet as you walk upon the forest floor…

rainforest seeds

These are the details that enrich our journey

So what intricacies have you observed on your travels?
What little nuances have caught your eye and grabbed your attention that you can show and share with us here?

Whether it be a detail that tells the story to a bigger picture
Or a piece of minutia that drew you in to take a closer look –
How detailed or micro you go is up to you…

Sculpture found on the top of a mountain at Cairnsmore  Yellow desert wildflower on red soil Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia

Fat tire biking at Whitewater  Fern Tree, Australia City Hall, Charters Towers

 I’m so looking forward to seeing your
photographic eye for

Detail

This round is now closed – But what a ride!

I had fourteen entries highlighting holiday details from the USA including Alaska and Hawaii; Canada, Egypt, Italy, Spain, India, Australia, Thailand and four detailing Mexico.
Details of flowers, embroidered fabric, reflections of nature, Mayan monuments, butterfly’s wings in macro, fashion accessories, architectural details of windows, doorways, Thai temples and Totems, which all fulfilled the brief of enriching our life’s journey…

And the Winner is….

3.) Josie ~ House Sitting Travel

Reflections of trees in water

Judge’s Comment:
As my eye skimmed across the painterly surface my focus fell upon fallen floating leaves seemingly suspended by yellow sunshine –
And it was this detail that then quietly and gently drew me in to fathomless depths of timeless tranquillity.
Focusing on Details can transpose you to a state of mindfulness, and this photo certainly took me on that journey.

The Entries

1.) Suzanne ~ Boomeresque

My “Detail” photo is a close up of an orange hibiscus I found along a busy street in the Waikiki section of Honolulu, Hawaii. It was just after a light rain and I loved the way the droplets were like little magnifying glasses

………. ***** ……….

 2.) Juergen ~ Dare2Go

This round’s topic was difficult for me from the point of view that I didn’t really know which direction to take; I have a large number of very detailed nature shots, mostly plants or rocks, but also an equally large number of photos depicting architectural details. In the end I settled for something different: a display of traditional hand-embroidered women’s tops for sale at the annual artisans fair in Uruapan in Mexico. I loved the colours and intricacy of these blouses – each requires countless hours of work. Despite that you see many women going about their daily business in these tops. Read more about Uruapan in Michoacan (not far from Patzcuaro) here

Detail Mexican embroidery

 ………. ***** ……….

3.) Josie ~ House Sitting Travel

Entitled “October Reflections ll,” my detail photo was taken on a still, sunny fall day while hiking on the NCR trail in Maryland, U.S. Here is a list of the details I love about it:

1. The surface of the lazy river was so cooperative and quiet.
2. The deep blue sky shown through the trees making a nice balance of jewel tones, plus an impressionistic wiggly corner.
3. The reds and yellow reflected leaf colors spread around in a pretty collection of real and abstract bunches.
4. Floating colored leaves on the water’s surface pop.
5. Boulders on the river’s bottom glow green.

Reflections of trees in water

………. ***** ……….

 

4.) Bethaney ~ Flashpacker Family

Taking a bite out of Chitchen Itza -
This was taken at Chitchen Itza in Mexico. I came around the corner and was amazed how this shot just lined up perfectly. Like the snake’s head was taking a bite out of the pyramid.

Chitchen Itza in Mexico

 ………. ***** ……….

 5.) Jade ~ Our Oyster

Here is a macro shot of a butterfly’s wing that we took at the Butterfly Conservation House in Niagara Falls, Canada.

[Editor’s Note: You need to click on the image for this one to see its true detail]

IMG_9867

 ………. ***** ……….

 6.) Carole ~ Berkeley and Beyond

On my first visit to Egypt a few years ago, I spotted this woman in a burka and was surprised to see her chic silver high heels and matching purse–not to mention cell phone and bottle of water. She looked just like a lady you’d see on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills except she was wearing a black tent over it all. And it was really hot.

Woman in a burka and high heels, bag and mobile phone

 ………. ***** ……….

 7.) Noel ~  Travel Photo Discovery

I just did a post on doors and portals while exploring the magnificent city of Verona, Italy. I’ll be submitting the 2nd to the last image with the yellow walls and Venetian style windows and a face on top to boot!

Window detail with a face

 ………. ***** ……….

 8.) Rachel ~  Andalucia Explorer

A narrow backstreet in Cordoba, Spain and tucked between some uninspring modern houses was this little nook. I love the detail of this painted bright blue border around the old wrought ironwork and the tiny window that would be almost unnoticeable without its adornments.

Detail of a window above a door

 ………. ***** ……….

9.) Jeremy ~ Living the Dream

When it comes to detail, I can’t think of any place better than the palaces of India. It seems like every room becomes more ornate and intricate than the next and is really quite impressive. One of my favorite details was the Peacock Door at the City Palace in Jaipur. The photo really does not do this one justice!

Peacock Door at the City Palace in Jaipur

 ………. ***** ……….

10.) James ~ The Life Outdoors

Gum-tree moon, Morton National Park [Australia]: As friends and I settled down to enjoy a glass of wine at our campsite after getting the children to bed, a full, yellow moon rose above the horizon. I wandered through the bush and found these leaves silhouetted against its wondrous glow. Through this detail both the moon and the trees appeared in a new light – literally!

Moon and eucalypt leaves silouetted

 ………. ***** ……….

 11.) Irene ~ More Time to Travel

This metal grillwork caught my eye at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya [Mexico] —both for the exquisite craftsmanship but also for the beauty of the sky behind it.

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya

 ………. ***** ……….

12.) Donna ~ Nomad Women

This shot is part of the front wall of one section of a colonial hacienda in a neighborhood called Santa Maria del Obraje in San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico. I have been parking nose-in in front of this wall twice a week for over a year and I never really looked at it until a few weeks ago. I was staring, kind of mindlessly, out my windshield when this scene just came into focus for the first time. It was just before noon and the bright Mexican sun was casting stark shadows. I love the lines in this, and the slim trail of bougainvillea vine seemed to balance the composition perfectly. Thank God I had my camera with me.

Terra cotta coloured wall in Mexico with a shelf

………. ***** ……….

13.) Brent ~ Brent’s Favorite Photos

I loved the ornate detail and repeating pattern of the temples of Thailand.
[Wat Ratchabophit]

Thailand Wat Ratchabophit detail

………. ***** ……….

14.) Jess ~ Ice Cream and Permafrost

This is a detail from the Raven totem pole at Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska.

I like looking at these poles up close because that lets you see the little bits of craftsmanship that come together to make something magnificent – here there’s the tool marks in the eye, the grain of the wood, and the way the paint is still bright but starting to weather.

Raven totem pole Sitka National Historical Park Alaska

 ………. ***** ……….

 

Travel Photo Roulette Rules/Guidelines

  1. One submission per blog ie sites with 2+ authors get one entry.
  2. Post processing is fine in this round.
  3. Abstract submissions are interesting – As long as I can comprehend the connection.
  4. Keep your images medium-sized eg 800 pixels wide is good.
  5. If you win, you will host the next round (runs for 7 days) and so choose the next theme – Remember to keep phrases general so all bloggers can participate. Specific items like “Eiffel Tower” should be avoided for open-ended topics like “monuments”, or for a little more focus try “monuments at night”. Phrases can be generic ‘signs’, or abstract ‘religion’ – Themes can be repeated after a year.
  6. Keep it PG-13 – or at least safe for work
  7. New photos, or old photos from your archives are fine, as long as not previously entered in a TPR round.
  8. ALL PHOTOS MUST BE YOUR OWN
  9. Since this is a competition for travel and photography bloggers, you must have a travel/photography blog to enter. Sorry!
  10. And last but not the least, talk about Photo Roulette! and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Stumbleupon…
    Its way too good to keep to ourselves! Oh, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #PhotoRoulette.

How to Submit a Photo

Just leave a comment with a link to your image below!
And tell me a little about what compelled you to zoom in on this detail ~
If you have a post that elaborates leave that link too so I can include it.

I’ll be adding the submitted pictures into this post throughout the week, so please check back to see them all and tell me which you think has an eye for DETAIL ;)

The contest ran for 7 days,
ending on Sunday March 22nd 2015
When I announced the winner, who hosts the next round

Want to see more awesome photos from previous rounds over the four years travel photo roulette has been running?  Here’s a list of…

Previous winners…

  1. Nov 2010 Living the Dream Animals
  2. Nov 2010 Skinny Backpacker Road Signs
  3. Nov 2010 Dream a Little Dream Street Art
  4. Dec 2010 Flashpacker HQ Festival
  5. Dec 2010 Over Yonderlust Landmarks
  6. Dec 2010 Don’t Ever Look Back Beaches
  7. Jan 2011 ThePlanetD Portraits
  8. Jan 2011 Travel with a Mate Motion
  9. Jan 2011 Johnny Vagabond Water
  10. Feb 2011 Ken Kaminesky Urban
  11. Feb 2011 Travels of Adam Friday Night
  12. Mar 2011 Itchy Feet Chronicles The Journey
  13. Mar 2011 Brendan’s Adventures  Changing Seasons
  14. Apr 2011 Shutterfeet Storytelling
  15. Apr 2011 10 Times One Piousness
  16. Apr 2011 Beached Eskimo Learning
  17. May 2011 Travel Junkies Architecture
  18. Jun 2011 Destination World Transportation
  19. Jun 2011 Living the Dream Paradise
  20. Jun 2011 Vagabond Quest Clothes
  21. Jul 2011 The Unframed World Symmetry
  22. Jul 2011 Beached Eskimo Home
  23. Jul 2011 BackPackerBanter Inspiration
  24. Aug 2011 WanderingTrader Darkness
  25. Aug 2011 Finding the Universe Tranquillity
  26. Sep 2011 Fearful Adventurer Food
  27. Sep 2011 Adventures of a GoodMan City
  28. Oct 2011 Globe-Trekking.com Reflection
  29. Oct 2011 Scene With A Hart Framing
  30. Nov 2011 Vagabond Quest Silhouettes
  31. Nov 2011 Hecktic Travels Music
  32. Dec 2011 Globetrotter Girls Love
  33. Dec 2011 Man on the lam Humor
  34. Jan 2012 My Walkabout Winter
  35. Jan 2012 The Art of Slow Travel Blue
  36. Feb 2012 Ten times One Depth of the Field
  37. Not hosted anymore
  38. Mar 2012 Nomadbiba Sunshine
  39. Mar 2012 Travel With Kat Local Character
  40. Apr 2012 The Travel Bunny Street Scene
  41. Apr 2012 Adventure Crow Spirit of the Country
  42. May 2012 Food Travel Bliss Evening
  43. May 2012 Matt Gibson Adventure
  44. May 2012 Flashpacker HQ Once In A Lifetime
  45. Jul 2012 Skinny Backpacker Surreal
  46. Aug 2012 2away Smile
  47. Aug 2012 Bridges and Balloons Excellent Splendour of the Universe
  48. Sep 2012 The GypsyNester What the ?!
  49. Oct 2012 Runaway Juno Sweet
  50. Nov 2012 GQ Trippin Play
  51. Nov 2012 Life’s Little Victories Friendship
  52. Dec 2012 Breakaway Backpacker Face
  53. Jan 2013 Fly, Icarus, Fly Serendipity
  54. Feb 2013 Travel Transmissions Lost in Thought
  55. Feb 2013 Wanderlusters The Natural World
  56. Mar 2013 Travel Junkies Patterns
  57. Apr 2013 Living the Dream Your First Time
  58. May 2013 Getting Stamped The Sun Goes Down
  59. Jun 2013 The GypsyNester Cheesy Tourist Diversions
  60. Jun 2013 Boomeresque Revolution
  61. Jul 2013 Breakaway Backpacker Colorful
  62. Aug 2013 Around This World Mountains
  63. Aug 2013 Passports and Pamplemousse Hands at Work
  64. Sep 2013 TurtlesTravel Dance
  65. Sep 2013 Keep calm and travel The Sea
  66. Sep 2013 Travel Photo Discovery The Market
  67. Oct 2013 Am I Nearly There Yet? Travel Fails
  68. Oct 2013 The GypsyNester Weird Regional Foods
  69. Nov 2013 Sophie’s World Trees
  70. Nov 2013 SHOuTography Party
  71. Dec 2013 Adventures of a Goodman Ruin
  72. Dec 2013 Have Blog Will Travel Light
  73. Jan 2014 This World Rocks Crowds
  74. Jan 2014 Travel Past 50 Competition
  75. Feb 2014 The Working Traveller Working
  76. Mar 2014 Travels with Carole Umbrellas
  77. Apr 2014 Independent Travel Help Quirky
  78. Apr 2014 Quit Job Travel World Statues
  79. May 2014 Nomad is Beautiful People Sleeping
  80. May 2014 Backpack Me Mouthwatering
  81. Jun 2014 20 Years Hence The Face of A Nation
  82. Jul 2014 Two for the Road Into the Wild
  83. Jul 2014 TurtlesTravel Summer!
  84. Aug 2014 Adventures Around Asia Candid
  85. Aug 2014 Travel with Kevin and Ruth Hiking
  86. Sept 2014 Till The Money Runs Out Transport
  87. Sept 2014 The Crowded Planet Wild World
  88. Sept 2014 ZigZag On Earth The 4 Element
  89. Oct 2014 Travel Addicts Heritage
  90. Oct 2014 Living the Dream Your Grand Adventure
  91. Oct 2014 Getting Stamped Inspire
  92. Nov 2014 Flashpacker HQ Viewpoint
  93. Jan 2015 Adventures of a GoodMan WOW!
  94. Jan 2015  ZigZag On Earth Roads and Tracks
  95. Feb 2015 Where’s The Gos? Street Art
  96. Mar 2015 Ice Cream and Perma Frost Frozen
  97. Mar 2015 Journey Jottings Detail

Packing List for Travel Journallers Who Want to be More Arty

Travel Journallers’ Packing List

For Those Who Want to Add an Arty Edge to Their Travel Memories

What’s the first thing you think when about to take off on a trip?
Chances are it’s…

What clothes shall I pack?!

Followed by a ritual spreading out of your wardrobe across your bed as you pick and choose:

  1. What do I need to take? (Essential as a must have – It’s practical and suits the purpose)
  2. What do I like? (No logic involved – But I like it – its pretty!)
  3. What will be useful? (Not essential, but, well, it could come in handy)

Arty travellers do the same, but with the contents of their drawing cupboard -
Pens, pencils, paintbrushes and paper are laid out like an offering to see and select:

  1. What I need
  2. What I simply like or…
  3. What could come in useful!

And just like clothes – it’s way too easy to over-pack, and equally surprising how little you really need!

If you want to record your travel memories
in ways other than just words –

Here’s a packing list for travel journallers 
who yearn to add an arty flair..

Comfortable Travel Journals

First thing on the packing list - a journal
Just as what goes on your feet will determine your ultimate comfort and will shape your perception of the whole trip (comfortable feet = a great trip) it is for the same reason, your travel journal must feel comfortable.

The cover needs to feel comfortable in your hand so you want to get it out and hold it.
And comfortable so when open in your lap you’re in no hurry to cast it aside.
The paper needs to be thick enough and have a texture that will make the nib of your pen sing as it rasps across the page and catch the pigment of your coloured pencils in its fibrous toothed surface.

It’s a subject in itself as to what kind of journal is ‘your’ kind of journal, and it’ll not only take many trips of trial and error to define that – it will also evolve as your style changes over time. But there are a variety of format options dependent upon your fancy and how you feel most comfortable working as to whether you take a:

  • portrait (vertical) travel journal
  • landscape (horizontal) journal
  • spiral bound (so it can fold back on itself and still lay flat)
  • stitch bound (so you can work across the central spine)
  • Or, as I discovered on my last trip – a Japanese journal, which concertinas out into a continuous strip.

But, just like the shoes you pack, I think it’s good to have opposite ends of the activities spectrum covered so I’d recommend taking two journals:

  • 1 x larger, heavy duty travel journal for telling the main tale.
  • 1 x smaller A6 light weight journal that can be carried all day with you for notating little vignettes observed, and acts as a reminder to yourself to stop and be in the moment rather than perpetually rushing forward to greet the next.

Travel journals, large and small

Outlines – The Shape of Things – Pens

For creating outlines, I used to fluff about with graphite pencils and erasers.
These had me pussy footing around, fiddling with how it went, or more to the point how it should go, which if you saw me at work it certainly appeared theatrically quite impressive with sweeping arm movements and hand flourishes. But this fiddle faddle ‘sketching’ was merely creating a messy mass of uncertain lines and eraser rubbings.

I surprised myself when I discovered, that by taking an indelible waterproof pen and casting a line with conviction that even if it appeared wobbly on the page and really not quite right that it still managed to convey a far more dynamic and honest portrayal of what I was recording.
Rather than my attempts at lifeless photographic renditions, I found my imperfect lines not only conveyed a spontaneity for the moment – They were human and portrayed far closer the truth of what I was feeling and experiencing.

Travel Journal pens for journalling

So trust your instincts and try taking only pens, which will allow your personality and inadequacies to shine through – and… save you a ton of time drawing a line, rubbing it out, and drawing the same line again (and again)!

  • A black Uniball fine Deluxe waterproof pen that is good for both drawing and writing, and
  • A brown Faber Castell Pitt Artist waterproof pen, for those times when the world isn’t quite so black and white.

Adding a Dash of Colour – Pencils

I love the effect of watercolours, but to use watercolours effectively takes skill and practice…
If you’re going away on a painting holiday to practice your art – Naturally take your full set of paints – But if your aim is to create a few memories in your travel journal I think you’re better off playing it safe and using watercolour pencils, which are so much easier to use.

Travel Journal illustration in watercolour pencils

Pages from my travel journal that have been coloured with water colour pencils, which after wetting appear just like they’ve been painted with watercolours.

 

Water colour pencils are used just like ordinary coloured pencils but once applied to the page, you take a paint brush and water – or a water-brush, which is a paint brush that has a reservoir with water that feeds to the brush head – and you then blend the coloured pencil lines on the paper, giving the impression you’ve painted it. (And if you don’t tell anyone, they’ll be none the wiser of your little secret!)

Travel journalling pens and pencils

I like to take about a dozen watercolour pencils so there’s a variety of hues, and a water-brush for the blending –
And to highlight a few areas with colour that won’t run when I add water to the page, I also take 6 ordinary coloured pencils in tonal shades that suit and reflect the region I’m travelling.

Accessories

All you really need to take are therefore:
2 x Journals, 2 x waterproof pens, a few watercolour pencils + water-brush and a few coloured pencils (and a sharpener or penknife) –
But...
As a romantic, like I’m sure many travel journallers who want to add a little arty flair to their memories are, I confess I find it hard to resist slipping in a very small compact size watercolour set and a couple of travel paint brushes (where the bristles are protected with a lid that unscrews and becomes part of the handle).

Accessories for travel journal journalers

 

In my excited anticipation of going off on a new adventure I always find myself conjuring up romantic images of myself sitting in some far-flung place sketching some distant scene that falls away before me –
It doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like, but when it does, the connection to the place totally grounds me, freezing the moment in time and space in my brain for posterity –

So, as the eternal optimist as to my time when travelling, as well as my capabilities, I confess that at the last moment I will invariably make room for my minuscule paint set to complete the ensemble.

Pulling it all together

Packing art materials is just like packing clothes –

You need to take enough to cover all eventualities, yet at the same time you don’t want to get bogged down by unnecessary weight and bulk.

Arty Travelling Kit

Just as you can’t take your entire wardrobe (as much as you’d like and feel tempted) nor can you carry an entire studio –
You need to be selective, mixing and matching materials to get the most use out of each piece, but they equally need to excite and inspire you.

Summary Packing List for the Travel Journaller Who Wants to Add Some Arty Flair

Essentials

  • 2 x Journals (large & small)
  • 2 x Waterproof Pens (Black & Brown)
  • 12 x Watercolour Pencils
  • 1 x Water Brush
  • 6 x Coloured Pencils
  • Sharpener

Accessories

  • Mini compact of watercolour paints
  • 2 x travel paint brushes (#8 & a sword brush)

Travel Journallers Packing List Kit

 

And just like with clothes –
There’s really no pressure to get it absolutely right –
As, surprise, surprise – there are shops for topping up on any supplies you later decide you simply can’t do without!

How good are you at packing?

Do you take way too much?
And find yourself coming home with things you haven’t used?

And what about art supplies?
Do you take any coloured pencils?

Do share in the comments below :D