Tips on Travel Journaling

Contrary to what most people think, travel journaling was an accidental hobby I discovered. It was during a cold morning in France three years ago—while lining up for the Louvre museum, that I decided to flip open a notebook and start drawing. Years later, I went backpacking around Southeast Asia and managed to chronicle 30 days’ worth of adventures inside a journal, one of which has been my all-time favourite adventures to date.

Ever since those encounters, I’ve never traveled without at least a little notebook to record my activities while in transit. And it’s always been the most precious keepsake I can hold on to from my adventures away from home.

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(my first ever travel journal from a few years back)

Today, I’ll be sharing some tips on travel journaling based on my own experiences from documenting in transit. Whether you’re just about to start, have been doing it regularly, or want to know more about it—read on, and I hope these tips help!

Tools To Bring

Every time I travel, my number one concern is always which set of tools to bring. But over time, I’ve learned to sort out which ones I really need and will use.

Faber-Castell Pens & Pencils

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I have a set of 60 Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens at home, but I find that bringing around 8-10 colors really help filter out my color choices (the less, the easier to decide, in my opinion). I usually get a gray, 2 shades of brown, indian red, pine green, yellow, and navy as I like to sketch a lot of sceneries & nature elements that require these basic colors.

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(coloring in a page from Googly Gooeys’ coloring book)

Apart from Faber-Castell’s Pitt Artist Pens, I’ve been keen on using my Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils, which are highly pigmented and are great for traveling (especially if you’re one who’s iffy about packing paint).

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I also use fineliner pens (round tip) on a regular basis as it’s easy to achieve a sketchy effect with just one pen (I used only one pen illustrating the pages at the photo below).

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Snippets from my Southeast Asia travel journal

Watercolors

I always bring just one tiny tin can of watercolors, which I did myself. I used an old candy tin, filled it up with empty pans, and squeezed out watercolor tubes with my color choices (again, mostly dull and desaturated). It’s a no-frills way of taking your paint along without having to bring the whole set.

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My habit when it comes to travel journaling involves me really drawing whenever and wherever I am. One time, I got lost while commuting in Tokyo, so I spent the 2-hr subway ride painting. No tables, just my hands. So as much as possible, I try to be flexible with the materials I bring.

IMG_0026Craft stash

People assume I carry all my washi tapes when I travel…no. Definitely not, lol. I bring around 2-3 little rolls and then tape some on tags / plastic covers so I can reuse them. I like having wooden clips on hand for 1) painting and 2) props. Then I also have a few ~ephemera~ and a little case where I store them (just in case I get more tickets / keepsakes as I travel).

Travel Journaling Style

Over the years, I’ve kept numerous photo-filled books, journals, envelopes of keepsakes, and so much more. They have never been consistent, and I guess that’s what I like most about this activity—the more variety, the better. One day I could be drawing non-stop; and the other, I could be writing endless paragraphs of what I’ve seen and what I’ve done or have printed out hundreds of photos for a scrapbookish journal page.

Art-Accordion

One thing I’ve kept consistent though is my work would always have a mix of drawing and writing. They almost never separate (except on very rare occasions).

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Lately, though, I’ve been finding myself writing more. I like articulating my thoughts by observing what I see. It’s pretty ironic considering I haven’t really honed my writing skills to its maximum (yet) but…it’ll get there. Hehe.

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The best part of getting to document memories from travels & adventures is being able to immortalize where you were at a specific point and place in time. For me, there’s a unique takeaway from illustrating or writing about your travels rather than just taking photos, or breezing through your trip.

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After all, the main goal of travel journaling is for you to remember your travel experience in the way you want it. Capturing a moment can be as simple as observing your surroundings, the food you’ve consumed, and the sights you’ve seen. Interpret them in any way that speaks to you the most.

Making Time to Document

While it’s okay to chronicle everything when you get back from your trip, making time to document in transit helps preserve the moment more while it’s happening.

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Most of the time I like to draw while in transit (literally), especially during long bus or train rides. I also like to stay at cafes or use idle time at the airport to draw or sketch. It keeps my hands busy, and at the same time, gives me motivation to narrate my experiences and take it all in.

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Speaking of, sharing with you a video diary of how I document my travels using Faber-Castell Pitt Pens, my go-to materials for journaling.

Getting to combine your love for art and travel and keeping them in a tangible notebook makes it a memorable personal keepsake that you can always look back on. Here’s hoping you can create your own on your future travels!

You can purchase Faber-Castell products at National Book Store branches nationwide, as well as Scribe & Craft Carrot. Check out their online shop at http://www.manilaatelier.com/.

[EDITED: November 2016]

By the way, have you gotten a copy of my new book The ABCs of Journaling?

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Inside the book I share tips on documenting your own life creatively, and gathering inspiration from different types of people on how to journal. There’s also a sticker sheet included 🙂 Copies are available at bookstores nationwide in the Philippines, as well as online on Shop Abbey Sy. Limited stocks are available for pre-order (internationally) at Rainbowholic Shop.

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Related post: The ABCs of Journaling Book Launch

Photos by Tippy Go & Christie Lim

Journal Roundup: Volume 2

(Long time no update on this series! Agh, @self)

Hello there!

Here’s a quick roundup of my recent discoveries while documenting daily. Last month, I shared some tips on daily journaling (which I hope helped some of you!). I’ve never been consistent with a format on journaling but keeping this diary going on since April seems like a commitment I’ve been keeping, which is…good, I guess. Haha. Today, I’ll be sharing a few pages from my current spreads and some stories in between. 😀

Cover-2

Here’s what my cover looks like. You can obviously tell I like stickers and tapes…a lot. 😛

Organizer

I recently got this plastic organizer from IKEA in Singapore. It’s now home to my washi tapes, ephemera, and other small paper things that I can’t seem to place elsewhere. Also, I received this Almond Roca tin (thanks, Tippy!) which now stores postcards I’ve received from friends overseas. 🙂 So happy because I’ve been struggling with containers (since my washi collection is growing too, lol) for the looongest time. True fact: I am a sucker for boxes and containers. Daiso is my best friend. Lol. Anyway.

Tools

I have one of my Letters from ABC boxes as containers for stickers and post-its. If you’re wondering where I get these, I usually get my stickers abroad and at art fairs / craft stores in Manila. The other day though, I scored the glasses stickers at National Book Store. Har har. My recommended shops in Manila are Papemelroti, Hey Kessy, and Common Room. 🙂

Okay, let’s talk about some of my journal pages!

Little Bear

July-4

JUNE 2016, WEEK 2

June was a deadline-heavy month (well, so is this month). I had a hard time adjusting and finding that balance between being sane and doing good work. So I had to realign things and put my energy into my personal growth by being efficient with work.

On a lighter note…am I really that desperate that I actually paste receipts on my journal now? Lol. Yes. Well, Little Bear was pretty good! I also like the logo’s typography. 😛 #biased

We also had the Creative Talks + Art Sale 2.0 at Pi Breakfast and Pies! It was an awesome afternoon. Thanks to everyone who came and listened to our stories, and help de-clutter our workspaces by purchasing our pre-loved materials! Until the next. 🙂

Reason

An afterthought: I realized how much people I’ve been meeting / spending time with and I’m pretty happy. I’ve never been the sociable type but I really am grateful to be friends with selected people who matter in my life. (That was a very introvert sentence but it is true. Lol)

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July-5

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JUNE 2016, WEEK 3 & 4

This was a great de-stresser from Manila’s craziness. I got to teach three classes in Singapore (more on that soon!) and went on a mini vacation while I was there. 🙂

Most days, I didn’t bother getting all crafty (tbh when you’re too busy painting and writing 24/7 you kinda lose the energy to actually do personal work) and I just wrote important statements on my daily entries. It was a good break since I really like unloading my inner thoughts every so often.

Note: I actually have a separate “brain dump” notebook for my feelings. It’s not in this Hobonichi because I like writing really long stories and recaps of life in general. (Nope, I don’t like writing. I really don’t. But my brain kinda needs it every once in awhile, lol)

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JULY 2016, WEEK 1

Tried watercoloring on my Hobonichi because I was curious how the paper would react. Surprisingly, it cooperated 😀 I had fun working on this spread. Coincidentally, I enjoyed the first weekend of July as it was spent making art (that matters, lol) and spending time with family, despite the heavy workload I had to deal with on those days.

July-2

JULY 2016, WEEK 2

This time 2 years ago, my close friend-turned-manager Tricie and I went backpacking across Southeast Asia (after graduating college). You can read more about that here. 🙂 It felt nice to reminisce on those days and how worry-free we were (you can just imagine how much of a different person I was when I was twenty-one; I’m now twenty-three). Anyway, we finally had one of those “no-work meetings” during that weekend, where we usually just talk about life in general (sans work). It was great 🙂 I had the best time.

I’m also looking forward to our next backpacking trip in 2017! *time to save up*

July-3

JULY 2016, WEEK 3

This was literally hell week – I had to battle 3 deadlines in a week. A week! Imagine how stressed / tired I was (to the point where I have bad dreams and wake up in the middle of the night, yep). It was nice though because I was able to 1) beat my deadlines and 2) sleep well eventually. *confetti*

Anyway, I was pretty relieved I took a day off and went to Nayong Pilipino (well, that was partly for work but twas okay!) and National Museum. It was fun to actually just worry about the simpler things 🙂 Read more about my Manila mini adventure here.

Well, that’s it so far for my journal roundup this time. You can check out volume 1 here. 🙂 Hope you’re having an awesome weekend so far.


Also, I have a few announcements!

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I’ve worked on lots of projects this year that I cannot disclose (YET) but to give you a clue, here’s a photo below of what I’ve been working on this month.

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I art directed / wrote / styled / laid out all the pages for a *wait for it* product coming at you in the next months. I also worked on a “thesis” that involved personal things (you could imagine, I spent the first half of the year working on it and now I’m feeling all the separation anxiety in my system sinking in) and I can’t wait to show you guys what it is!

That’s it for now. I’ll keep you guys guessing. Haha.

So, how’s your journaling going so far? I’ll be sharing a few tips on travel journaling (+ tools I use) for my next roundup. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let me know your thoughts on the comments below!

Abbey 🙂

Tips on Daily Journaling

If you’ve been following my posts (on Instagram, mostly), I’ve recently rekindled my love for documenting daily – and for good reason. My work schedule has been crazy since last year, and I found this to be a way for me to appreciate my day-to-day activities and being grateful in the process of creating.

Today, to end the #ABCsBookChallenge (Day 21 is, yes, create a journal page), I’m sharing a few tips on the said topic – I realized I’ve been keeping journals for more than 10 years now (gasp), but I kept hopping on different styles to find a method that was convenient for me. So here are some tips to get you started on your own journal. 🙂

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Use what you have

I collect washi tapes, stickers, and lots of memorabilia (calling cards, tickets, etc) from daily events and experiences. I also happen to have an arsenal of pens here for work, so those are the materials I often use for my spreads. They’re simple and easy to find. I also strategically placed them in boxes and containers so I just whip them out when it’s time to journal (which, by the way, for me, happens early in the morning or late at night).

For those asking: my current journal is a Hobonichi (A6 size) which I got in Japan 🙂

Related post: Journal Roundup 2016

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Choose what to share

Since this is a personal journal, you have the capability to write and share about anything you want. My suggestion is to draw out important parts of the day you want to share. Did you find something interesting? Any exciting news you received today? Or maybe you’d like to share a few anecdotes about a certain experience? It’s your call.

In a nutshell, my daily pages contain: a film / album I listened to, what I did, what unusual thing I did, and a short takeaway from how my day went.

(Yes, there are days that I just write on it. No artsy crafty stuff – I like to play it up sometimes.)

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Get crafty & creative

The fun part about using stickers and other craft materials is that you get to play dress-up of some sort. Sometimes I can choose to make themes based on colors (maybe a red and black combo, a vintage all-brown spread? something like that) or patterns – but normally, I don’t like thinking about it too much.

There really are no limits to creating what you want and coming up with new ideas to jazz up your pages. Just remember: don’t overthink too much. No pressure!

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Limit your font choices

A tip for letterers out there: try to keep your fonts limited to around 2-3 styles. This creates uniformity for the page. I also like to use 1-2 colors only to make everything look cohesive. If you’ve seen some of my type-heavy journal entries (a sample above), you’ll also notice that I follow grids or keep it in straight lines – this is for convenience, of course. You can also opt to change the size and shape of your letters to fit certain areas of your spread.

Related post: Tips on Improving Your Lettering

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The best part about lettering your journal spreads is the convenience of using any pen you want – fineliners, ball pens (yes, the regular ones), markers, or brush pens. I personally use a fineliner pen in thin weight to make sure I get all the details of my letterforms.

You can add small elements and doodles to complement your letters as well. Get creative!

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Experiment

News flash – my journal is inconsistent. In fact, I’ve kept so many journals that were half-finished, or were in different formats. And that’s perfectly fine, because it allows you to experiment on whatever style you want to try. Some days, I’d fill a spread full of photos and stickers; on others, doodles – it really depends.

These days though, I mostly find myself printing photos (I have a photo printer at home) and putting stickers on most pages. Yay for instant decorative pages, lol. I also have a habit of keeping notes from friends (which I eventually stick on the pages) and other random things I end up saving on a specific day.

Related post: Journal Roundup: Volume 1

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Anyway, hope these tips helped in some way! I’d also love to know how you chronicle your daily events. Leave a comment below 🙂

[EDITED: November 2016]

By the way, have you gotten a copy of my new book The ABCs of Journaling?

journaling_bk inside_book

Inside the book I share tips on documenting your own life creatively, and gathering inspiration from different types of people on how to journal. There’s also a sticker sheet included 🙂 Copies are available at bookstores nationwide in the Philippines, as well as online on Shop Abbey Sy. Limited stocks are available for pre-order (internationally) at Rainbowholic Shop.

Related post: The ABCs of Journaling Book Launch

Journal Roundup: Volume 1

Starting a new column on the blog called “Journal Roundup” – aka, an attempt for me to document daily and make something out of my personal journal. 🙂

Most of my friends tell me I’m a thoughtful person – I guess I really value the littlest things, and that I’m most proud of. I’d take a quick coffee catch-up over some fancy dinner, or even a small note of thanks over a huge gesture of gratitude. That’s probably why I value the things that make up the totality of who I am – and what better way to do that than to keep these memories in a tangible book?

I’ve kept journals for the longest time; ever since I was thirteen, it became my outlet of daily musings, dreams, goals, bucket lists – and many more. All my dreams have been written on every piece of notebook I owned. And it still feels surreal to know that some of them have actually come true as I’m typing this.

Anyway, enough about that – here’s a roundup of my entries inside my Hobonichi. 🙂

Quick back story: I got myself a Hobonichi supposedly for “work research” (no kidding) but I decided to scrap that and really commit to sharing a bit of how every day’s been going for me. Ideally, I’d just bullet all my favorite days; but I decided that this time, maybe it would be nice to value each day as it is. 🙂

I didn’t want to have to draw every day or even do lettering. I just wanted to keep things compact and make some sort of creative craft activity every day so I am hoping this journaling thing satisfies that. Don’t get me wrong though; I didn’t take photos of all the pages because the others are for my eyes only. Hehe. These are some of my favorite spreads, though! Enjoy. 🙂

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April 2016, Week 1

This journal was purchased out of impulse (with Kaila), but no regrets. Initially, I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Then again, I realized I should just let things take its course. 🙂

Also: I watched The Little Prince and it hit me right where I needed to be hit. That was a feels trip film – I am not over it.

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April 2016, Week 2

My last weekend in Japan was bittersweet but memorable. I wish I could remember every “note to self” we had during our “creative breakout sessions” but I’d like to believe they’ve all been injected into my system. 🙂

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April 2016, Week 3

This was a nerve wracking week for me as I spent 80% of the week out and about. If you know me personally, this is something I rarely do (that being said, you would know how much of an introvert I am). Meetings, talks, workshops all in 7 days – I gave up on the last day of the week. No joke. Nevertheless, such a fulfilling experience.

Also: It’s pretty obvious that I like this hand-lettered format better as it saves the hassle of crafting. Then again, my hands ached after doing this. Lol.

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April 2016, Week 4

A week full of questions and deadlines and works in progress – and the easiest thing I could do was jot down 5 things that made my day unique & memorable. Case in point: when someone actually asks if you’re still alive after working on x deadlines (huhu), or when you constantly replay a playlist for no apparent reason, or when you accidentally get some tough love at 10 in the morning, on a Monday (yep, on a Monday!).

Also: Thank you Dom for my portrait stamp (!!!) and Alessa for the Abbey Sy logo stamp. 🙂

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May 2016, Week 1

I was joking around and asking my publisher a few months back if we could have a signing in Cebu or Davao…and a week later, SM Lanang Premier asked if they could fly me to Davao for said signing. Call it coincidental, or maybe just ~fate~, but I had a great weekend meeting some readers in Davao. Not to mention a really fun couple of days with Koko and Jean, who took care of me the whole time. (Huhu, thanks!) More on this soon on another post 😀

Also: I bought a box of pomelos and of course, I had to keep at least a sticker. ~ephemera~ lolz


I was wondering – anyone here starting out journaling? Or have you kept journals over the years? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Abbey