I can’t wait to go on vacation. Like I’m beyond excited. My mom and I have gotten into the habit of going on a trip every summer, since we started going to Disneyland in 2014. The first 3 years, we did road trips: we drove to Disney, and then we drove down to San Diego, the next year we drove over to Las Vegas after coming back over to Disneyland, then in 2016 we drove north to Seattle and Vancouver for the summer, and then did Disney for christmas, as well as Universal Studios to see the new Harry Potter themed park. I also drove down to Disneyland with my friends for halloween back in 2014. We also did a day trip to San Luis Obispo for a spa day for her birthday and Mother’s Day. In case you’re interested, I have a whole travel playlist on YouTube, and you can check out all of my travel footage there 🙂
This year we decided that we’ve exhausted all the drivable destinations for now, so we looked into maybe traveling to the east coast, or overseas. Honestly, it was sort of an up in the air plan until one of our family friends told us about the site SecretFlying.com. It’s a flash sale site that updates daily with either “oops” fares or sale fares. Depending on the day, there will be flights to Europe, or domestic flights, or Asia, or really wherever. Also, depending on the day, the flights will be from Chicago, or New York, or Boston, or San Francisco etc. Our friend had found a sale for flights to Spain from San Francisco, so they last minute booked a round trip flight from SFO to Barcelona for about $400. It was almost too good to be true! We didn’t believe it until we were also avidly watching the site everyday and kept seeing sales for places like Spain and London and France.
My mom and I then decided that we would take the plunge, and purchase a flight to either London or France for this summer. We vaguely knew that we wanted to go to Paris for sure, because neither of us had gone, and my mom wanted to go to Scotland (I had gone with that same family friend in 7th grade but she’s never been). In order to make the trip make more sense, we also decided that going to London would be fun, and convenient, so we settled on a 10 day trip to Europe, if we could find the flight.
And suddenly, one day, there it was! The site works by just collecting the information for how much the site costs, and where you can purchase it. They then send you to whichever third party site listed the sale/offer and you purchase from there. Around the same time that we decided to purchase a flight, Sharon Makeup Artist on YouTube said she had gotten scammed via a their party site, so I was a little skittish over spending so much money on a site that we wouldn’t know if it were reputable or not. Out of curiosity, I went directly to British Airways’ website (Secret Flying and the third party site Momondo, which is like Kayak or Expedia, both listed that British Airways was having a $450 round trip flight to London), and found that British Airways was actually offering a $450 round trip flight, and I figured why not just purchase off of the BA site instead of a third party site? Either way, Secret Flying and Momondo have both become great resources for searching for flights and deals online. We both still check Secret Flying everyday. And thus, we had solid plans to go to Europe.
We bought the flights back in April, and quickly hotels and tours and daily plans started forming. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do before booking anything so it really was just fun to research and ask friends for advice on where to go.
It’s been about 2 months since we finalized all of our plans, and now with our trip about a 5 weeks out, I thought it’d be a good time to start really organizing things and getting things together so we’re ready to go about a week out and can edit things up until we leave. I actually get a lot of pleasure out of doing things like this, so I’ve sort of already been doing this since April. Like… I bought a ton of travel sized stuff, and carrying pouches, and organizational cubes, and all this stuff to wear, and I will be doing blog posts on all of that so stay tuned lol.
With that long-winded introduction out of the way, I can now get to the first thing I thought I’d share, which is my travel diary.
Through almost every trip I took with my family while growing up, my parents kept some sort of daily journal, and also helped my brother and I (well at least me, my brother isn’t the scrapbooking type) keep mementos in little binders and picture albums so we’d have a keepsake for the future. Now, as I was growing up, particularly in my pre-teen years, I took a lot of those apart and I totally regret it now. I tried to “scrapbook” when I was little (aka, I wanted a cool diary or whatever and then destroyed all the cool stuff my parents made and made a really poorly designed memory box or something), and it ended poorly.
This year, I wanted to keep some sort of memento that wasn’t just my Instagram feed and my videos, so I thought what better way than to make a travel diary? Just like Calligraphy and Brush Script was a great convergence of a lot of my hobbies, so was this travel diary.
In my personal life, I’ve been dappling with bullet journaling, and you all know I’m planner crazed, and stickers are life, and I love pens, and I love taking pictures, so again, this was sort of just a “duh” answer to what I wanted.
To begin, I ordered a Moleskine dotted, soft bound journal. I personally like the soft bound because I feel like I have more control in how I write. The flexible cover really keeps it from being too stiff, and it’s lighter which is great for travel. I also chose the dotted because it’s guided but not too structured like a lined page is. I ordered mine off of amazon. I actually looked into other brands of dotted notebooks as well (after plenty of bullet journal research lol), and had intended on using this notebook for a daily bullet journal but decided that a travel diary was the perfect “first project” for this notebook. I guess I decided on Moleskine because I was already familiar with the brand and the sizing so I felt comfortable with it versus another brand, who may have different paper or sizing. Which, to all you notebook hoarders, you know it’s a big deal.
I also sort of splurged on some gel pens (not necessarily for this notebook, but for just having them in general) that I used to collect when I was little. The Gelly Roll Stardust pens are the same, honestly, I just was able to find the original set of Tiara pens by Sakura (the parent company of Gelly Roll, and their American line of pens, which all mirror the Japanese ones they just have different names) and bought the set because, well, sparkles! They’re a set of birthstone colored sparkly pens and they’re my favorite. Always have been, always will be.
For my trip, I’m planning on bringing some pens (one Gelly Roll black gel, one Gelly Roll silver pen, one of my favorite PaperMate Ink Joy Gel 0.5 pens, and some brush pens) and a ruler, all packed into that little gold zip clutch. I got the clutch in an Ipsy box way long ago. All of those bags have ended up being some sort of pen pouch, around my house lol. The pens I’m bringing are just pens I know I’ll use everyday, and are also pens that are easily replaceable. Plus they all write dependably and beautifully, which again, notebook and pen hoarders, you know that’s important
The journal itself I set up like a standard bullet journal. Or I guess what I’ve seen as “standard.” For the first page, I printed out a world map (a vintage-y one – I couldn’t decide between blank or vintage, but I went with vintage because I just liked the way it looked) on sticker paper and stuck it in. Having sticker paper has been great for projects outside of my sticker shop because it’s a no hassle way to personalize things like journals and scrapbooks. Plus it’s a way of getting things in without warping pages with glue (I’ll show you that in a second).
The next page, I made an “Adventures to Come” page and a “Corners Explored” page, which function as bucket list and Table of Contents pages. I included a ToC because I actually also decided to fill in some pages with previous trips I’ve been on, just to start off this journal with a little bit of nostalgic content.
For my starter pages, I made them pretty photo heavy because I didn’t want to take up too much space writing in things that I’ve done, when I could just cover it with pictures that I had taken in the past.
It was especially fun to find pictures for my Pre-2014 page because I got to look through old family photos, both digital and physical. To give it a little bit more of a scrapbook feel, I added in Washington tape and stickers that I had left over from various planner sets.
My last two pages before my 2017 travel diary started, were my last
few trips I took, and then I had a page left over so I made just a decorative brush script page to separate the old sections with the new sections.
The first trip my mom and I took in 2017 was our day trip to San Luis Obispo. It was the perfect day trip – we went to a spa, and after about a 4 hour drive it was a great mini getaway. Because it was a day trip, I set up the pages in my journal to be a more normal bullet journal setup.
I included the location and dates, and wrote in a little calendar, highlighting the days we were going to be gone. I also added in the contact information for the hotels, and started a mini packing list. It was a good way to figure out exactly how I wanted to set up the journal for future trips.
The second page was just a simple “what we did” so I wrote in sentences of what we ate, and our spending. It wasn’t all that pretty so I left it out of the photos lol. And here’s why it wasn’t pretty.
I had just gotten my Instax Mini in the mail, and took it on our trip because I wanted to have that nostalgic travel diary feel, like my parents made. My friend Rachael really convinced me to get the Instax because it’s a great little instant camera and she uses hers a TON. I also at the same time purchased the Polaroid Zip, instant photo printer. I’m totally in love with both, because they have specific needs they fill in my life.
The Instax gives me that nostalgic feel for sure. And the Polaroid Zip lets me keep the photos I take on my phone or digitally, and lets me instantly print them so I can have that keepsake as well. The Zip also prints on sticker paper so it’s really super convenient for me.
Now, the Polaroid Instax, doesn’t print on sticker paper (or at least you can buy it I think but it’s more expensive), which is totally fine, because I can just washi tape-in the photos that I take. And I love the way the photos look, especially with landscapes. I think when I’m on my trip, I’m mostly going to take exterior shots with it because I love the finish of the photo. I’m also going to take washi tape.
I did figure out though, that the Moleskine paper doesn’t love to have glue on it, so it gets all wrinkly and warped, which you can’t see all that much in the photos, but it definitely made for a learning experience when I put in the Instax photos. So yeah. That’s a thing.
The opposite page I put in another divider page, with a little card I got in a Pipsticks delivery. I thought it was a good clean divider to put in, to not only separate a section but to also protect some of the instax photos from writing in future pages.
Turning the page, I have one more page of photos which were printed with my Zip, and then my new section starts.
For my Europe trip, I wanted to start a really formal “chapter” so that everything is consolidated into a nice solid section. I used my brush pens to quickly and simply title the page. I like the way it turned out so it wasn’t too cluttered.
The first things I put in were all my packing lists. I made a few pages of packing lists, with titles and enough space to check off in each location we leave. This way I have a physical list of what I’ve brought. In the past I printed out a list and brought it to Disneyland, it worked great. I figured this way it’s all in one spot, and I don’t have to print multiple pages and risk losing them along the way.
Since I haven’t formally packed clothes or anything yet, it’s still pretty empty, but I have started sorting out what beauty products I want to bring, especially the “dry” stuff that doesn’t need to be in my liquid bag, and can be shut away without me needing it on a daily basis.
I’ll have a separate post on my makeup items, both liquid, dry, and checked on my beauty blog, so keep an eye out for that. Since it was a specifically beauty related thing, I thought it would be a nice feature to put up there.
I will say that my liquids makeup-wise actually are pretty much set because I intentionally bought doubles of everything at Sephora that I use on a daily basis, for the sole purpose of having a “travel set” that I didn’t need to unpack after I got back. I actually read that tip on Kourtney Kardashian’s website. It’s an expensive thing to initially do, but I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pack anything when we go away because it’s a completely set up bag of makeup that’s separate from what I use in my daily life. I purchased doubles during the Sephora VIB sale as well, so I was able to save a 20% off full price in order to make that set of makeup. My liquids bag has everything I need for a simple makeup look, my skin care, some hair care, and a toothbrush with anti-bacterial cover, and toothpaste, all packed into a TSA compliant pouch. From here on out, I know that I won’t have to go into that bag, ever, to pack or unpack, unless I run out of something, or need to replace my anti-bacterial toothbrush cover.
All other liquids, like shampoo, conditioner, and my razor, are also packed into a pouch that will be checked. I intend to do the same thing with that – keep it packed so I don’t have to re-do it every time I go somewhere.
Next comes my Itinerary page, which is color coded, and organized by day. I made a quick color key (with sparkly pen!) and then started just a quick overview of what I’m doing each day.
I also used the an online itinerary maker, back in April when everything was being booked, to help keep all pertinent information in one spot. The website I used was Travefy, and it’s super user friendly. You add in any days you’re going to be away, and it gives you options for adding in flights, events, accommodations, and more. For flights, if you enter in the flight number, it actually automatically fills in any pertinent information like terminals, times, durations, and locations. It also lets you manually enter in information like confirmations, or lets you edit any. pre-filled in information. You can also invite people to see or edit your itinerary. It’s a great resource for people who don’t like to physically create journals or itineraries (not me, lol, clearly) and have everything online. It also lets you upload PDFs of anything, so really you can have all your documents in one place.
For my trip, my mom and I have hard copies of everything, I’ve written it in my journal, but I’m also going to have my phone with me, with international data, so I’ll be able to pull up that itinerary if needed.
After my itinerary pages, I set up a spread (two facing pages) for every day we’re abroad. I figured that was enough space to go into detail of what we did, and add in photos. I didn’t want to leave it open ended because it meant packing more pens, and I wanted it to still be somewhat structured.
In the back of the Moleskine there’s a little pocket so I decided to fill it with stickers, because the planner lover in me just couldn’t ignore the fact that I had the perfect stickers for this trip.
I’m not planning on taking my main planner on the trip, so I’ll be using my bullet journal as my planner as well, so I have a lot of deco stickers that I’m taking with me. I’ll also have a few extra bits from all the kits that I’m using in my main planner. It really will be the most scrapbooky bit of the journal but with the structure of the single spread for each day, and with needing to keep space open for photos, I don’t think it’ll be too cluttered as I’m filling in the book.
I genuinely took so much pleasure in setting up this whole journal and I can’t wait to fill it with everything we do on our trip. It also gave me a sense of security because everything was organized and written down, and it mentally gave me a better grasp of how our days were going to be. They’re definitely going to be busy, since we’re doing 3 cities in 10 days. And even though we have hard copies of everything we need, it was nice to just write everything down because it made it feel more real and settled.
Being able to do that, and indulge my hobbies (photography, doodling, brush lettering, stickers, planning) made this absolutely feel like part of the trip. It felt like I was that much closer to being on vacation, even though it’s like 40 days out.
I also just like that I’ll be able to have a place at the end of the day where I can calm my mind and re-live the day. I’ll have my photos, and I’m planning on filming some footage to make a video of our trip, but being able to sit and recount the day has always been something that I’ve enjoyed. My main planner really has become a place like that for me – at the end of the day I go in with any deco stickers that represent how I felt, the weather, or the food I ate, or any activities I did.
Do any of you love journaling or scrapbooking? I’d love to peek into your planners – leave me a comment down below if you have an Instagram or page dedicated to your paper organization 🙂 I’d love to see and geek out!