Do you love the idea of reminiscing with a travel journal but after missing a few days feel all is lost?
On a recent trip to Europe Linda tried a storyboard journal approach to her travel journaling – which she sometimes calls story mapping!
This is one in a series of interviews with travellers who share with us their fun and varied journaling methods –
1. Why bother to storyboard journal?
My memory (sadly) is not infallible.
I therefore need a travel journal as a memory jogger. Flicking through travel related memorabilia re-ignites those fun holiday moments.
There would be many forgotten scenarios lost – never to be enjoyed again – without the help of my travel journals.
I spend hours drooling over where to go –
hours enjoying the moment –
journaling brings those travel memories back to life.
In the story-map above I got hopelessly lost driving from Wales to England.
Happily the passing countryside was beautiful and, I had a delicious picnic lunch on board plus, when I finally arrived at my destination, a beautiful dinner awaited me 😉
2. What do you include in your storyboard journal?
I’ve tried a few different types of journaling over the years –
When I first started travelling I merely wrote pages (and pages) of words as I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do in a travel journal.
I then incorporated doodley type sketches, which were far more effective for conveying a feeling of the moment than words alone –
It’s amazing how evocative a few scribbly lines can be.
However, on my most recent trip to Europe, this evolved a little bit further when I tried the concept of keeping a story-map journal.
Using each page to illustrate a kind of mapped diagram of how the day evolved –
In the story-map above we went to Interlaken, Switzerland and after a hot chocolate in an 18th floor cafe, with a stunning view of the mountain Jungfrau, we made two side trips –
One on a cogwheel train ride up to Schynige Platte where the vintage train wound its way up the mountain and into the clouds where by the time we reached the top it was raining with no view in sight!
And a vernacular ride up a virtually perpendicular track to Harder Kulm where there was a glass bottomed triangular lookout to the two lakes below.
3. How do you keep your storyboard journal?
I’m more of a visual person than aural – My eyes glaze over at the sight of pages and pages of words (with no pictures!).
I love keeping receipts, ticket stubs and things like paper place mats all in a separate zip-lock bag.
It’s like a lucky dip revisiting that. 😉
For my European Storyboard journal I used a page a day to map out the day’s events. I’ve since gone on to experiment with both watercolour journals and the accordion type, which I have to say is now my favourite!
I incorporate where and how we went, what we saw, what we ate (yum!), the weather, the landscape… all the usual things that go to make a great trip – but its encapsulated on a single sheet rather than pages of my poor prose.
Importantly, I don’t rely on my fair eye to create all the drawings – The mountains above appeared on a place mat I was given in a restaurant – Far easier to copy off someone else’s rendition than try and draw if fresh, or even trickier, recall such a stunning landscape from memory!
Note: Tourist brochures often offer diagrammatic plans and layouts of places that you can copy to get the ‘shape’ of where you’ve been!
4. How often do you update your travel journal?
My European trip was full on, with every day fun packed to the max.
It was all record worthy – I didn’t want to ever forget any of it!
Some evenings I’d doodle-draw entries whilst chatting around the table recounting the day’s events – journaling can be quite a social activity! On other evenings, if we went out to eat, I’d spend half an hour at day’s end sketching in bed before lights out.
At the start of the trip, the daily activities took up every waking hour and I fell a bit behind – I wondered whether I’d ever be able to catch up.
But in the end it’s all down to how much you really want the outcome, and how much fun it is in the creating!
I doubt I’d have bothered to try and catch up if it were all writing, but hand me a bundle of coloured pencils and who can resist a scribble 😉
The story-map above shows our first day in Switzerland. It poured with rain, but undeterred we set out on an expedition to see Trümmelbach Falls that thunder down inside a mountain. We walked up the valley (past cows with the classic huge Swiss bells around their necks) to a cable-car that took us up to Murren, another short train ride along the top of the plateau, followed by a connecting cable-car back down to Lauterbrunnen – We got soaked but the scenery was so uplifting the weather couldn’t strip the smiles off our faces 🙂
5. What is your favourite piece of travel journaling equipment?
I love a small selection of coloured pencils –
Colours and tones will vary as to which part of the world I am in and will always be tonal rather than mere primary colours.
When in Great Britain I’ll have a heathery purple colour, an olivey green, a mustard yellow (for the gorse), a cornflower blue and a dark red.
And I know I’m only supposed to have ‘a’ favourite – but I do also love my Faber Castell Pitt pens in dark sepia, which are waterproof and come in a few different thicknesses.
6. Why does this type of travel journaling work for you?
‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’ Pablo Picasso
Deciding to keep a ‘Storyboard’ journal on this trip gave me permission to doodle draw the day’s events.
Then, on our final morning in Venice, on the way to the railway station I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t stop, sit down and take the time to absorb what I was seeing as opposed to a sideways glance as I dashed to the next viewpoint –
So, scooping up some canal water into a pot I sat on the edge of the waterway and sketched these ‘french’ windows that were over on the other side.
I penciled lightly the approximate shape first, blobbed in the areas of watercolour and then with my Faber Castell Pitt pen sketched in a little more detail over the top.
Its not frame worthy but that moment of breathing in Venice will be with me forever.
Note: Even on a hectic schedule stop and smell, in this case… the canal water!
Do you keep a travel journal?
How do you do it?
Would you like to share your ways and means to help other like minded folk?
Leave a comment below to tell us how you keep your travel journal
Contact me now if you’d like to feature your journaling techniques here as part of this series 🙂
Linda Fairbairn started travelling the world at 18, when she left England for Scandinavia. The following year she island hopped through Indonesia to Australia, returning to Europe overland. She now lives in Australia… enjoying spontaneous sojourns around the world.