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The Benefits of Keeping a Travel Journal and Taking Your Art on the Go

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I’ve been keeping a travel journal of some sort for as long as I can remember. Some of my journals are purely a diary, a written account of what I did on the trip. Some are filled with simple doodles and some are even conversations between the people I traveled with. But by far, my most favorite travel journals are the ones with art in them. It may be a tiny postage sized stamp drawing, or a watercolor that fills the entire spread. I’ve made some with colored pencil and others with only a black pen. There are even a few that are collaged with found ephemera. Regardless of how well the art is rendered, or how eloquent the writing, they all give me a lot of joy to reread, and remember adventures of the past!

Assorted Travel Journals from my Adventures by Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer
Assorted Travel Journals from my Adventures by Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer

Creating these journals while traveling has provided me endless amounts of stories and memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Have I missed out on some wonderful naps while on vacation to sketch instead? Yes. Did I not get to tour all the places I wanted because I was painting in my journal? Yes, but it’s always been worth it to me. Sitting down (or standing) where ever you may be and capturing the scene is truly an exercise in enjoying the moment!

Sketching on a Winter Day in Pescadero, CA (Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer)
Sketching on a Winter Day in Pescadero, CA (Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer)

Opportunity to Talk with Locals

Taking your art on the go, and sketching on a trip has also allowed me to meet wonderful people and soak up the vibe of the area. I’ve met locals and tourists alike all curious what I am up to, and particularly interested in what I decided to draw. I find an open sketch book can be an invitation for conversation, a way for people to feel they can approach and talk to me, an opportunity that would otherwise not arise.

Sketching in Line for Famous Philly Cheesesteaks at Sonny's in Philadelphia (by Betsy Beier)
Sketching in Line for Famous Philly Cheesesteaks at Sonny’s in Philadelphia (by Betsy Beier)

Slow Down & People Watch

Sketching on location has also allowed me to slow down and enjoy some serious people watching! Whether the people are being captured in my sketch or not, just taking the time to draw the scene provides moments to watch everyday interactions in the location I’m visiting.

Travel Journal Page from the Whitsunday Islands, Australia (by Betsy Beier)

Experience the Details

But by far the best part of keeping a travel journal is taking the time to experience the details. Inherently taking the extra moment or two to sketch or jot down notes allows us to soak up unique aspects we may not notice otherwise. We may see specific or unique colors, smell a distinct odor, overhear a lively conversation amidst city noises or sounds in nature. Adding these experiences in our journal help use remember the moment even more deeply then if we were just to pass by. Years later, I’ve been surprised at how much I remembered from some relatively mundane moments of a trip for the sheer reason that I sketched the scene!

Details of a Jeffrey Pine in Lake Tahoe (by Betsy Beier)
The Little Things: Dad’s Favorite Chair at the Cabin in Lake Tahoe (by Betsy Beier)

No Rules

As much fun as sketching or writing on location can be, we don’t always have the time (or the travel companions) eager to wait while we create. I’m here to say with confidence that that is OK. Actually, it’s more than OK to write or draw in our journal when we are not on location! Whether we create our entry while at a café following our outing, back at the hotel at the end of the day, on the flight or drive home or actually when we have unpacked and back to our normal routine — it really doesn’t matter! Perhaps we lose a few minute details we may have captured while on location, but in the end, just the act of taking the time, when ever it may be and creating a journal is significant and will be rewarded wonderfully in the end! There are no rules to keeping a travel journal. There is no one saying that a travel journal is only legitimate if completed at the actual location. A journal no matter when or where it was created and/or how complete it is is still something to celebrate!

Capturing the Sites of the Day at a Café in Belfast, Northern Ireland (by Betsy Beier)

There are no rules to keeping a travel journal. There is no one saying that a travel journal is only legitimate if completed at the actual location. A journal no matter when or where it was created and/or how complete it is is still something to celebrate!

Spreading Out and Drawing During a Rainstorm at our Cottage in Northern Ireland

Enjoy the Process, Wherever It Takes Place

I have had some trips where I’ve only captured just a few moments, a random afternoon, or one day out of a 2 week trip. I have had some trips where I’ve jotted down notes or snapped a few pictures during our touring, and happily painted the details in the evening back at the hotel when everyone else rested. And, I have had some trips where I’ve created nothing, only to return home and enjoy reliving the experience by drawing and painting in a journal. I’m here to resoundingly say, that anything goes! Even the smallest doodle, or most hastily written bullet point list is an achievement and will be greatly appreciated and perhaps even cherished years down the line.

Doodling While on a Road Trip Leaving Minneapolis, Minnesota (by Betsy Beier)

Reminders of Your Adventures & Keepsakes Forever

So, have fun making wobbly doodles while on a road trip.

Capturing Our Ireland Itinerary While on the Long Plane Flight (by Betsy Beier)

Enjoy the long plane flight by watercoloring your travel plans.

A Mini Drawing from a Hike in Tucson to Add to my Travel Journal (by Betsy Beier)

Capture the nature while taking a hike.

Capturing our Adventures of the Day in San Francisco’s Famous Chinatown (by Betsy Beier)

Spread out at home (or the hotel) and document your day.

Pescadero Sketch Outing with Natalie (by Betsy Beier)

Head off for a sketch outing with others and make a day out of it!

Any and all travel journaling is worth the effort and will be a treasured keepsake in years to come no matter how it was done!

Benefits of Keeping a Travel Journal and Taking Your Art on the Go by Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer

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