How to Start a Travel Bullet Journal

In 2016 the Bullet Journal system first entered my life and started to have its effect on me. I got my first Leuchtturm1917 journal and started off. It was particularly helpful when I was planning a bit 6 month trip through India and Asia. In my first bullet journal I tracked everything I needed to do for my trip. I even tracked my savings in my travel fund!

But then as the trip came closer I started to wonder if I should take this journal with me on my big trip. It had become a huge part of my life so I couldn’t imagine leaving it behind. But I knew that that particular notebook wouldn’t last the whole trip and since my lifestyle would change so drastically for that 6 months I decided I needed a fresh start with a dedicated travel bullet journal. In this post I’m going to share how I used my travel bullet journal and some important things to consider when you choose your own travel journal. 

My packing list was one of my favourite spreads I used when planning my trip in my bullet journal.

How to Choose the Right Journal

Below are the two bullet journals that I actually used when travelling. Even though I fully intended to only use only the A6 Leuchtturm I didn’t have a lot of room to be creative and I decided I really missed that. On the left is my Moleskine dotted notebook which I bought in Bangkok after finding a great stationery shop that reignited my need for… well a lot of stationery. 

When choosing your travel bullet journal you'll need to make careful decisions about what notebook you'll be using.

These two notebooks are both quite different and when you choose your notebook for your travel bullet journal you’ll need to think about the strengths and weaknesses of different journals and how they fit your needs. 

Start fresh or Continue?

The main thing you’ll need to decide before you go is whether you want to start fresh with a brand new shiny notebook or if you want to incorporate your travel planning into your current bullet journal. A lot of it will depend on how full your existing bullet journal is and how long you’re travelling for. Remember that there’s always a risk that you might lose or damage your current journal so you need to be prepared for that possibility if you’ve already put a lot of work into it. You might also prefer to have a dedicated journal to your trip to separate it into a special memento.

On every trip I always keep some kind of journal or diary to keep my memories safe.

When travelling for an extended period of time you probably won’t need to write down lots of things like appointments or track things like how many coffees you’re having. Since the big change in lifestyle would have altered the layout of my journal drastically I decided it would be better to start fresh. 

Size & Weight

The Leuchtturm notebook is an A6 which is a great travel size that can fit in pretty much any day bag so I took it with me everywhere. I don’t like to carry too much around with me when I go out and about for the day I generally just use a shoulder bag and A5 sizes wouldn’t fit in that. My Moleskine was an A5 size but since it was a softcover it was a little lighter and slimmer than a hardback journal like my old Leuchtturm. The only way I could fit that journal into my bag was leaving the bag unzipped and having the journal stick out which definitely wasn’t ideal for security or when it suddenly rained!

Durability

Hard or soft back cover will also be important when considering the durability of your travel notebook. The advantage with a hardback is that it will be more durable and easier to write in when you don’t have a hard surface available. However soft backs are a little lighter but less hardy in a backpack. My Moleskine definitely got a little crumpled and the edges got quite dirty but it kind of added to the well travelled look! 

Colour

I’m a big lover of white. For clothes and my journal but I’m also a spiller. A deadly combination. A travel journal is going to go through a lot more wear and tear than your daily journal so keep in mind that the lighter the colour the more wear will show!

My grubby lime green bullet journal. I think it adds character!

Keeping Your Journal Safe

When you’re travelling, especially for a long time and if you’re moving around a lot you’re going to want to think about how to keep your journal safe and in good condition. One of my top tips for protecting your journal is to keep it in a ziplock bag! 

What to include in your travel journal 

For me a bullet journal is above all useful so your travel bullet journal should make your life easier rather than being a burden. Sometimes you have to accept that your travel bujo might not be as pretty as an everyday bullet journal. I go into a lot more detail about spreads and layouts that are useful to include in your travel bullet journal in this blog post here. So check it out to figure out how to fill up your journal.

My budget in my travel bullet journal was definitely one of my most useful pages but as you can see it was very messy!

Depending on your pace of travel you might not have time to make it look as polished and perfect as some of the bullet journals you see on instagram. But if it’s functional and useful then it’s still an awesome travel companion. My travel bujo is super rough and has random doodles everywhere but I feel like it gives it character. If I’ve had a stressful day I’ll turn to my bullet journal to create a new spread and take my mind off the stress of long term travel.

bullet journal mood tracker
I created this spread while travelling as a way to relax and destress!

Have a read of my blog post on 10 things to include in your travel journal for a more comprehensive guide on what useful spreads you can include in your travel journal. 

What Tools to Use in Your Travel Journal

It can be very tempting to want to bring a ton of stationery with you to use in your bullet journal. At home I have a collection of about 100 fine liners, 30 washi tapes, brush pens, stamps and more but obviously I can’t take all of that with me in my 40L backpack. I did still manage to fit in a small pencil case of fineliners but thats been my limit. If you’re a design freak stick to a simple theme or colour scheme and bring tools that fit into that.

When travelling you’ll probably have to have a reduced stationery tool kit for your journal. Pick your favourites carefully!

But remember, travelling also gives you a chance to find stationery in a whole different country. Bear in mind, particularly if you’re travelling in Asia, that you could find some really cool stuff for your bullet journal. My favourite day in Bangkok was spent wandering around the shopping centre looking at all the beautiful stationery. It was heaven. 

How are you planning on using your travel journal? Let me know in the comments and get more ideas for travel spreads here!

Summary

4 Comments

  1. Nadine
    February 23, 2019 / 7:58 am

    Thank you so much for this brilliant post.
    I will shortly travel to Japan and only have little time to prepre the trip. So now you gave me an awesome structure to build up my BuJo for this trip. I got a brand new Leuchtturm 1917 slim for that purpose and did not really know how to organise it. I will use it for preparation, which your post helped a lot for, and for memories, like a dairy in daily-log-format.
    Greetings from Luxemburg

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 23, 2019 / 1:48 pm

      You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you found it helpful. I’m so jealous you’re going to Japan! The stationery there is insane. I’d love to see how your Travel Bujo turns out! Feel free to send me pics after your trip!
      Sarah

  2. Claudia
    May 5, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    Thank you! When you do a search on pinterest on how to journal your trip, it gives you a gazillion pins. But most of them are either useless, or a repetition of the same five pins.

    This was the only one that was truly useful!

    • Sarah
      Author
      May 5, 2019 / 6:45 pm

      This comment has made me so happy thank you Claudia! I’m so glad it was useful for you and feel free to show me how you journal your trip! I’d be so interested to see what you do 🙂
      Have a great day x

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