Creating a Travel Journal for Inspiration

A guest blog by Victoria Rose Martin

There is beauty in the ordinary, which probably explains why there are so many images of food on social media sites. However, much like that amazing loaf of bread you saw in the window of a bakery your art too can grow stale. Creating the same thing over and over can get tedious so every once in awhile it can be good to explore new ideas. An art journal or sketchbook is a fantastic way to do this.


My watercolor set, sketchbook and Papermate mechanical pencil.

Every time I plan a trip I buy a new sketchbook and creating a travel journal becomes part of the adventure. And even if you’re planning a staycation not to worry, buy a few art supplies and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Here’s a list of what I bring along to create a travel journal:

  • A small sketchbook that will easily fit into your bag. I like the type of sketchbook shown here because there is a pencil holder and a band to hold the book closed when not in use. And if you’re interested, I have used the same red AmeriBag for nearly 14 years while traveling. It’s lightweight, cross body and stands up to a lot of abuse.

My red AmeriBag, sketchbook and pens ready for a day out.

  • A small watercolor set or colored pencils. My watercolor set above is a Windsor & Newton Cotman. If I lack a color I simply buy a tube of watercolor paint and add it to the mixing area in the lid. And if you run out of a color just buy another pan in an art shop.


  • A variety of pencils and pens. My favorite pencils are Papermate mechanicals shown here. I like them because there is no sharpener required and I find I get a nice variety of gray to rich deep tones.

Papermate pencils are my favorite.

  • And finally a glue stick and a small pair of scissors. Remember, if you’re flying don’t pack the scissors in your carry-on luggage as it would be a shame for airport security to take them from you.

So once you have your supplies how do you start creating? Here are some ideas to create your own travel journal:

1. Most towns and cities have travel brochures and so often we grab them for inspiration on things to do and
when we’re done we throw them into the trash. But before you throw them away at the end of your adventure why not see if there is an interesting picture or caption, cut them up and create a collage in your sketchbook with them.


Red bus image and random words cut from travel brochures and glued on top of drawings.

2. Create a map of a route you travel. Your route doesn’t have to be wonderous either, consider illustrating the path where you walk your dog or the circuit you traveled after leaving your home or hotel that day. Perhaps you could begin by listing all the the places you went. And then sketch out a loose map of where you went. Later you could add color by adding painting or colored pencil. And if that travel brochure has a map why not glue it along side?


My travel map showing my journey from London to Norwich, England.

3. Literally take time to stop and smell the flowers, and the leaves, and the grass, and anything else you might see or smell of interest. Find things that will fit into the book, press them into the pages and later affix them with your glue stick. Pick flowers and leaves and note where you found them. I’ve even been known to stick my finger into a glass of wine or food and then press my coated finger tip onto the page. Later I will draw a circle around the finger print and write what caused the stain and when.
4. Create a quick sketch of what is around you and then write a sentence or two of where you are and what you saw. Be detailed. If there was a little old lady walking her dog and a certain song was on the radio, document it. Months later those words will help bring you back to that exact moment in time.


Martin Victoria Rose 160Victoria Rose Martin is an artist and designer currently living in South Florida. She is the Department Chair for Fine Art and Graphic Design at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. You can visit her website at:







An Illustrated JourneyFor more travel journal ideas, check out An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration from the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory.

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