Sci-Fi Fan Letter: Travel Journal Ideas

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I was speaking with a friend recently and we started trading journalling ideas and I realized I’d learned a bunch of things these past few months that she didn’t know about, so I thought I’d share them with a larger audience.

For my past few trips I wanted to come back with pretty journals. For France I had this lovely idea of sitting in front of a cathedral sketching pieces of architecture. Well that never happened. These are research trips and they’re packed FULL of sites, so there’s little downtime. And my priority is photographs – hundreds of them per site, that all need to be double backed up (which for Italy took over an hour a night as my photo file sizes got larger and my phone was old).

Before I left for Italy I researched gifts for techies, looking for ideas for my husband, and stumbled across the Canon Ivy 2 (not sponsored). It’s a mini printer that makes… 2×3 inch stickers! They’re thin, so they don’t bulk up my journal, you can customize them with text and other features (frames, shapes) and there are templates on the app so you can split the sheet into smaller photos (I generally printed all of mine as quarters, with 1/8s for things like food). I made my own mini template with the photo sizes so while I was writing my journal I could block out the space with a squiggled frame and then print and add the photo in later. The photos are on the darker side, a bit ‘artistic’ looking rather than true to life/vibrant. You can edit them in the app so I tended to brighten mine. There’s also a blue sheet in each paper pack that you run through the printer first to calibrate it, and someone online suggested if you get a good one to keep it and use that one over and over again as some give brighter results. The printer comes with 10 pieces of paper. Replacement paper is not cheap though, and you have to use their stuff. (You can see three 1/4 pictures at the bottom of the picture below, the printer, a full page, the blue calibration paper and a full pack of 10 pages.)

While the printer worked great, I still want my next journal to be even prettier. So I bought a bunch of stickers and then got the idea to make my own! I lucked out and found a package of half sheet shipping labels for $1. I started by printing background text in different languages, then stained the sheet with coffee, added some coloured stamps and die cut them out. I’ve got a lot of stamps and dies from card crafting and it feels good to use them again (I haven’t been very crafty the past few years). I cut out various leaves, mushrooms, mini houses, butterflies, cats, etc. I made country labels this way too. 

One of my favourite things about churches is their floor plans, which for research is so important. So I made mini stickers of them to add to my journal. I also started printing images of interesting things I’ll be seeing at museums and whatnot (like the Jelling stones in Denmark).

I don’t have a colour printer so I set up a page and had a copy shop print it for me. They wouldn’t use my sticker paper (unsurprisingly), so I used another supply I’d bought, double sided adhesive paper. That was my original plan for the stickers before I found the labels. I printed mini city crests, manuscript pages, manuscript marginal figures, a picture of the currency I’ll be using on the trip, and more museum pieces. I also printed out and coloured mini tarot cards. I’m planning to assign a different tarot card to cities I visit (for example Stockholm = sun card, Nuremberg = justice). I’m also bringing postage stamps. I have tons from when I used to collect them. I didn’t have any from Sweden though, so I printed one off to make a sticker of it.

 I doubt I’ll use of the supplies I’ve bought and made, but I guarantee I’ll have a pretty journal when I get back!

As an addendum, my Eurail pass came with a premium code for a travel app called Find Penguins. I’ve looked into it a bit and it tracks your travel and allows you to post photos on their site. People can comment without needing their own account. You can make your trip public, for anyone to see, or private with only those who have the link being able to follow your trip. At the end of the trip you can buy a physical book from them that documents your trip, with a map, and daily information for where you went (city, temperature, altitude, photos, comments). The premium account lets you post more photos/videos per ‘footprint’ and gets you a free ebook of your trip at the end. If you sign up they give you a 3 month premium account trial – so if you want to use it, don’t do what I did and sign up 4+ months early to test it out. Also, for the sake of security, people mention to start and stop your trip tracking at the airport so it doesn’t add your house. This is especially important if you’re doing the public setting. I haven’t really tried the app out so this isn’t an endorsement, just a heads up to check it out if you’ve not heard of it in case it interests you. I may post a review of it once I’m back.

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