Ways to Document Your Travels

Documenting has been an essential part of my adventures every time I travel. I know, I know—it’s been said so many times, we should really focus on what’s in front of us rather than snapping away on our smartphones and cameras. For me, though, it’s quite different. Every time I see something that piques my interest, I draw and write about it. I document it. As much as a reporter or journalist gathers information about what they see or about a story they need to write and eventually compile, I find that I do the same with my own experiences in transit. By nature, I might have gotten this habit thanks to my job (especially the book writing bit, really), which requires a lot of research before I start implementing it in my process and as I proceed with an output that will reach my standards.

I have a problem with sticking to one style of documenting. Some trips, I end up drawing all the buildings and structures—while others, I simply print photos and stick ephemera with some writing in between. On self-imposed escapes to places I’ve been to so many times (ahem, Singapore), I end up filling several pages of notebooks with my thoughts and musings. My creative preferences vary because I can’t stand doing the same things in different places. It just doesn’t make sense to me to do the same thing over and over again. I can’t even use the same journal twice, and I don’t know if it’s just me, or I’m just not one to do repetitive things.Over the years, I’ve traveled extensively to places I never would have thought possible—especially in parts of Southeast Asia (apart from Japan and Singapore, I loved Cambodia and Penang), Europe (Hungary and Sweden are still on my mind), and the US (fell in love with NYC for obvious reasons). I also have had my fair share of going to La Union regularly, a staple for when I just need to get away from the city. It’s been my nature to bring at least a notebook to all of my trips, and make sense of whatever tools I end up bring (sometimes I leave my paint at home and challenge myself to just use ink, lol). But I know not everyone is interested to whip out a notebook and start journaling. So in this post, I’m sharing more ways to document your travels, both digital and analog style.

Analog

Collage-style journaling

Materials: journal, photo printer, film, glue, ephemera (brochures, cards, etc), stationery (stickers, sticky notes, post its) and pens

This is as easy as it gets—any notebook is fit for this activity. I like starting out with printing my photos (I use an Instax Share SP-2) and sticking them to wherever I want on the page. Usually, I do this in color schemes for easier referencing. You can also try doing this per location (e.g. per city or per country) as it’s more organized that way. Stick on your ephemera and make fun collages out of it, depending on what you want to achieve.

Simple, no-frills and instant documenting done!

Postcrossing

Materials: postcards, stamps

I’m not sure where I got the idea of sending myself postcards, but it’s always something I’ve been regularly doing in my trips. It serves as a reminder of where I am and what I am doing at that point in time. I buy postcards in the country I am exploring, search for the nearest post office for stamps (some countries have stamps available at convenience stores, like in Stockholm), and drop off postcards at the post boxes (which are usually in street corners). I like the idea of these cards traveling and making its way to where I live—and despite it taking longer than usual (Philippine post office, sigh), the fact that it arrives excites me.

Paper Trail

Materials: ephemera, plastic containers or folders (for filing)

I’m a true blue paper hoarder—not because I like making a mess in my own room, but because I have a fascination for layouts and good design in general. I like keeping brochures, maps, cards, and posters for inspiration. My stationery corner in the HQ is filled with ephemera that I’ve filed and segregated per country. If you don’t know where to store yours, I suggest getting a clearbook to file them per country. I’ve found it the most efficient way to keep my things (especially since I take them out sometimes for flatlay purposes) intact and for easier referencing the next time I plan to revisit a certain place again soon.

Digital

Photobook

Software: Whatever Photobook application you’re using

I started doing photobooks when I backpacked to Southeast Asia with Tricie. We made an A-Z account of places we visited during our 30-day trip, and decided to create a book out of it for personal documentation (in case you’re curious, here is the PDF version). That was 2014, and years later, I left this out of my documenting activities because I found it time consuming.

Recently though, I’ve been getting back to it mainly because Photobook Philippines offers discounts every now and then. I also love exercising my non-existent layout design skills, so this is the perfect excuse for that. So far, I’ve finished my Singapore and Japan photobooks, and managed to collate a “Color Story” photobook featuring my travel and daily photos sorted out by color scheme (yep, ROYGBIV and some pinks, browns, and greys). I add in my lettering and scanned ephemera because I always love playing around with collages and photos with my layouts. I also write a lot (if it isn’t any obvious, my blog posts are lengthy!) so I make sure to incorporate text into my photobooks. Technically, it ends up being a book or magazine of sorts that I produced on my own.

Blog entries

Software/s: Evernote or Notes, Photoshop/Lightroom, and your website

There is always a slim chance I never get to write a full blog post when I travel. Sometimes, if my energy permits, I do some writing on the plane. But most times, my eyes just give up on me and I end up sleeping for the whole duration. So I’ve came up with a solution: I jot down places and notes on my phone (or sometimes on my pocket notebook) for future blog entries about my trip, and then revisit those when I get back.

The whole idea of En Route dates back to 2015, on my 14-day trip to Central Europe. However, I’ve been playing around with different writing styles for my travel blog posts depending on location. I knew that while I liked writing in transit, most times, I can’t. So there are occasional roundups here on the blog in case I want to inform people about places to see in a certain country that most of you visit (ahem, Japan). Funny enough, I have a lot of unfinished entries in my Evernote that have started out as drafts from downtime in between trips. So let me try to resurrect them and make something out of them for my future posts…

Here’s a video to sum up some of the ways I document. Enjoy! And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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PSA: The ABC Travel Journal is available at bookstores and stationery stores nationwide!