Starting a Travel Journal

Hello! For those of you who are new here, I'm Dana and my husband Lou and I are currently traveling through Europe in our ancient van we named Ody. We make videos and share them every Tuesday on Youtube. We love storytelling, which keeps us forever entertained with life on the road. Whether it's sharing our van life adventures or my recent passion for art, we really hope you enjoy!

Today I am so excited to share my first experience starting a travel journal! If you explore the travel journal or art journal hashtag on Instagram there are so many incredibly talented artists, and like many people I found myself in the admiring camp for far too long. After doing Inktober last year in our van, I quickly realized that keeping up with a daily drawing habit while juggling normal life was too tricky for me, but I still longed for a regular art practice. That is when I decided to start a travel journal and I asked Lou if we could make a new series chronicling my entire learning experience with you.

The Travel Journal videos will have an element of our earlier Sketchbook Stories with some urban sketching but also will be our take on a visual podcast. Lou will compile footage from our travels with timelapses of me journalling and then I will have a sit down chat talking about anything from creativity to living far away from home, to future dreams and the insecurities that come from pursuing a strange career. If you have any ideas for the series, I would so love to hear them! Please leave a comment here or on the video or even send an email to me - 

You might be asking yourself, what is a Travel Journal? 

A travel journal is a place where you can record any and all of your travel experiences. For some people this might be more like a diary where they write about their expectations of the trip, reflect while on holiday, and then take time to reflect on the experience once home. You can do any combination of writing, doodling, urban sketching, and collaging. Paste in plane tickets, receipts, brochures, or photographs. Really whatever you want! The best part is that there are no rules at all and it is a place for you to take some time for yourself, flex your creative muscles and have a good time. I think the hardest part with anything creative is to make what you want without worrying about how the final product turns out. So just remember, that this travel journal is for you - a place that you create to remember the ups and downs of your travel adventures. 

So if you need inspiration when you’re just getting started there's always Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest, but I warn you - don't spend too much time looking at images rather than making your own. I find that if I scroll too long things quickly move from inspiration to the comparison trap and no one likes feeling like that! Though if you find yourself there, I've found the quickest thing is to just start creating again and I forget about not being as good as so and so and instead I go back to my happy place - the art process. 


Before starting this travel journal, I asked myself a few questions:

  1. What size would best suit my goals? 

    • I ended up choosing a huge Leuchtturm sketchbook for my travel journal because Lou made the very good point that my urban sketches fill up the whole page in the small journal I bring everywhere with me, so I wanted to have a bit more space to play around with that could fit those drawings plus more.

  2. Do I want to bring my sketchbook out when traveling or journal back at the van? 

    • I have a small sketchbook that I bring with me everywhere and that's where I write down any thoughts, doodle, urban sketch. I don't put any pressure on that journal, which is very helpful in trying out new styles without hesitation. It can be ugly, not focused, and I love that its size makes it easy to always have with me. But when I decided to start a travel journal, I didn't want to lose the ease in my outings, and also wanted to be comfortable and create more polished reflections on our travels. I think as I get more confident it's quite possible that I will eventually shift to a smaller notebook that I can bring with me anywhere, but for right now it feels better (and to be honest much easier to film) to journal back at the van. 

  3. What materials do I want to use? 

    • I really wanted to include watercolors in my travel journal because it was the first medium that got me excited about art when we were living in Berlin a few years ago. Last year though I committed to only pen and paper as a way to focus on learning to draw, but it was so much fun to bring the color back in this first journal entry. As for the other mediums, I have pens, markers, pencils, washi tape, a glue stick and then all the papers and mementos from our travels.  


I am really happy with how the first entry in the travel journal turned out. Barcelona is so special to both me and Lou as it was where we first met and fell in love. It was such a strange and beautiful experience to go visit some of the places that had been so important to us and also explore new parts of the city, making even more memories in Barcelona that we can cherish for the rest of our lives. I hope you enjoyed this first travel journal and I can't wait to share many more with you in the future.