Tuesday, March 5, 2019

hey! it's a travel book!

it's been a while since i posted a travel book, but then it's been a while since i took a trip that called for one. luckily, i just got back from a couple of weeks hanging out with my friend barb in carlsbad, california; and while i was there we took a road trip to palm springs for part of modernism week. and that's definitely the kind of trip that needs recording! 

somehow i accidentally forgot to take a "before" photo. so we will just have to imagine the bare bones book i started out with. it consisted of two chipboard covers measuring 4.5 x 9.5" that i had wrapped in an oversized atlas index, and added a cloudy sky illustration from an old book as endpapers. 

inside, i started with about 50 cardstock pages, measuring 4.25 x 8.25". i made one page for each day of the trip, labelled with the days of the week; a few printed theme pages for things like "food", "weather", "accommodations" etc; and a bunch of blank pages for journaling or adding photos, stickers, business cards or other fun things from the trip. i also made a bunch of slightly higher quality sketchbook-paper pages, so i could draw or doodle or do some lettering while i was on the road. 

my travelbook kit is a little larger than my regular travel art kit, just because there are a few extras i thought i'd need... also the book is bigger than my little moleskine travel sketchbook. inside this 12 x 9" clear plastic pouch i could easily fit: the book itself (secured with a hair elastic so the pages wouldn't get bent); small scissors (TSA demands the blade be shorter than 6cm if you want to put them in your carry-on); a hole punch, tape runner, tiny stapler and some washi for adding and attaching things; small ruler, pencil, magic pencil, sharpener and eraser; a selection of pens including my 3 favorite sizes of pitt artist pen (XS, S and 1.5), a ballpoint with 4 colors of ink, a couple of gel pens as well as a medium and fine point white posca paint pen; plus a rainbow of tombow dualbrush pens and a waterbrush. oh and wet wipes, which are useful for clean-up, while the outside plastic wrapper is a nice wipe-able surface for scribbling the tombows on, to pick up with the waterbrush and use like watercolors!

typically, i spend 10-15 minutes per night on my travel book during the trip. the most crucial thing to do during this time is write a quick summary of what we did on the appropriate day's page... because although i THINK i'll remember the details... honestly, i never do, lol! the other thing i do each night is punch a hole in the brochures, menus, postcards, business cards or any other ephemera i collected  that day, and slip them into the book, more or less in order. honestly, it's this type of item which makes up better than half of my travel books. and that is why my travel books are generally the size and shape they are: i based the whole design around the size and shape of the typical tourist brochure. not only is this the quickest and easiest way to document what we did, it means that when someone asks me next year the name of the condo we booked via air b-n-b, i will not only KNOW, i'll have the address and telephone number in a place i can quickly find again. you can see from the photo below that i will sometimes also make notes on the fronts or backs of postcards and brochures, if there were particular things i wanted to remember or a funny story attached to a place or... whatever...

honestly, i have made plenty of travel books in which the day pages and ephemera are the ONLY contents and they are fun, useful and (to me, at least) cool looking. however, if i'm feeling more ambitious, i will sometimes add stickers, tape or other decorations to some of the pages. for example, i found those cute puffy cacti at paper source in carlsbad, the day before we left for palm springs. obviously, they were a necessity! when i get home, if i feel like adding photos, i do; if not, i don't worry about it. in this case, i chose to print a dozen or so panorama-shaped photos the same size as my text pages, and i printed them on inkjet transparencies, so it's possible to see the text through the pics as you flip through the book. in the photo below, you can see a rather dramatic sunset towards the back of the book, a pic of me standing in front of the big MW moderism week logo, and in the foreground, a snap of the little monkey amigurumi i crocheted on the airplane and sewed together before we left for palm springs. because road trips need mascots!!! :)

the final step i do after returning from the trip is make the decorative part of the cover. i don't do this beforehand because i know i'll be handling the book a lot, and honestly anything attached to the covers during that phase is bound to suffer. also, i love to use something i acquired on the trip, to make it even more special. in this case, it was an oversized vintage postcard of palm canyon drive in palm springs, in the magical twilight you only get in the desert. of course, i could have attached this directly to the index-wrapped chipboard covers, but you know how i LOVE layers, so i added it to an orange hambly transparency, which swings free of the cover itself. a few pleather stickers for a title and i was DONE. 

seriously... i think this may be the easiest and lowest maintenance style of travel book in the world; you literally come home with the thing 90% done! later this week, i'll show some art journal pages inside the book that i made while on the road. and hopefully  a second, blank book that i'm making for my friend barb as a thank you gift! (so shhhhhhhhhhhhhh don't tell her, k?!) ♥♥♥


  1. Very cool, Lauren. I really like your travel book!!

  2. absolutely FABULOUS! you KNOW i love this - you make, hands down,the best travel albums evah! Thanks so much for taking the time to post it sweetie!

  3. Fun! Great ideas here. Glad you enjoyed your trip.


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