A Sketchnoted Travel Journal - Verbal To Visual - Doug Neill

A Sketchnoted Travel Journal

Got a trip coming up that you’d like to capture within your own travel journal?

In this post I would like to share how you can use three tools (a spiral-bound notebook, a Pentel Energel pen, and a Fujifilm instant camera) to document a travel experience.

This simple set of tools will allow you to capture your next travel experience in a unique way.

The Trip

Let me start by sharing my own travel journal in which I captured a weekend visit to Austin, Texas with my fiancé Shelby.

Neither of us had been to the city before, but it had been on our list of places to visit for quite some time. So it was fun to spend a low-key weekend walking and scootering and Lyfting around the city.

Our first time in Austin, Texas!

Even though there will be some memories from that trip that we won’t forget, the purpose of creating a journal like this is to capture some snapshots and some sketches of the day’s activities to serve as an entry point into a fuller set of memories.

Yes, it’s easy to take photos on your phone and even keep a digital journal in something like Evernote, but I feel like there’s a bit more value and future use that comes from a physical journal, one that you can literally grab off the shelf and flip through.

This journal is fun to revisit now (just a couple of weeks after our trip) and I think it will be even more fun to revisit years and even decades in the future.

The Camera

Now that you’ve got a bit of context, let’s next look at the individual tools I used to create my sketchnoted travel journal, starting with the camera.

We actually picked up this Fujifilm instant camera while in Austin, after stumbling upon it in a store that we hopped into.

Polaroid style instant cameras are making a comeback!

But we’d seen it before. A friend of ours owns this same camera and brings it along to some group activities. We’ve also seen it at a couple of weddings, and in fact Shelby and I plan to use it at ours.

The film for these cameras is not cheap.

Each cartridge contains ten photos (here’s a two-pack from Amazon). The price comes out to about $1 per photo, which yes is a little bit expensive, but what I like about that is that it means you pay more attention to what you do choose to capture.

Instead of taking ten photos in a row on your phone and then deleting all but the best, you have to put a bit more attention and energy into the capturing process. I think that’s a helpful constraint to keep you from tying to capture every single thing that happens during your trip.

The Sketchbook

Let’s next take a look at how I weaved together the polaroid photos with some sketches and handwritten notes within a Traveler’s Company notebook.

Can’t go wrong with a map on page one.

I started by capturing the location of our visit (Austin, Texas), the dates, our flight route there, and our first trip out (to The White Horse for some live music and dancing).

For me it’s fun to sketch out the signs of the places we visit (like restaurants and bars).

A bit of our first full day in the city.

The goal with the combination of these sketches and photographs is to be able to revisit our day, to remind ourselves of where we went to eat, the places we visited, and what we did there.

We stayed in a unique Airbnb: and old-school travel trailer!

Even though the quality of the photos aren’t as good as if we had taken them with our phones and then printed them out, for me I kind of like the character that comes from less polished photos, and the fact that they dispense instantly from the camera and that you can see them develop.

Handwritten notes to add commentary to photos and hand-sketched images to capture other memories.

With the added handwritten text we’re able to include some details that weren’t captured by photo, and add some commentary to events of that day.

Each page is an opportunity to practice drawing something I’ve never drawn before.

I like to use this opportunity to practice drawing things that I’ve never drawn before, sometimes drawing it realistically and other times simplifying it into something a bit more abstract but still a useful reference to what we were experiencing.

What might you capture in your own sketchnoted travel journal?

So in that way I used this travel journal as a fun practice activity to help me develop my sketchnoting skills: building in some hierarchy with text, adding some simple imagery, and weaving the two together.

Your Turn

So if you’re looking for a new way to capture your next travel experience (in a way that will also help you develop your visual note-taking skills), then try keeping your own sketchnoted travel journal.

I hope that the examples I shared here gave you some starting points.

If you would like a bit more support on the sketchnoting side of things, then check out our online courses, maybe starting with An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking or diving into Learn a New Language with Sketchnotes.

Are your travels taking you abroad? Why not build in some language learning!

You can explore our full course library here.

Have fun experimenting with your own sketchnoted travel journal!