DIY Travels – How to make a travel diary

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Words. Trying to make sense of everything that is new. Of the million sensations that surround your travel. Of the ideas that come and go as if in every turn they were something new. Words to give shape to flying thoughts. A search for that something that we all know we travel to look for. Whatever it is, words and drawings compete to flee your hands only to get trapped in pages that will end up in drawers or boxes or your blog posts, if they are lucky. To have a travel diary is to collect memories. And names, and maps and flowers that will survive time. There is something beautifully romantic about travel diaries. I get nostalgic even before starting to write the first page.

DIY Travel Diary COVER copy

But not all notebooks are good, not all papers fit your needs, there is not always a stationary shop at hand or at least not one with blank pages instead of school notebooks with lines. Whatever the reason, there is always a good excuse to learn how to create your own handmade travel diary. And here is a very simple method to start with.

1. What you need (ingredients?)

– Thin cardboard for the cover (0.5 cm larger than the size of your paper, if possible, so that when you fold it it covers it well). Carboard from the stationary shop is just as good as a cornflakes box. Improvise with what you have.

– 5 to 10 A4 papers, of any kind you like. 5 papers will make for a little notebook of 10 pages, good for a short holiday and to start with binding. The more you have the thicker the notebook, but the harder it is to sew together.

– A large needle and thick thread (better if it’s waxed)

– A pencil and a ruler (if you do not have one at hand, see below how to make a temporary one)

DIY Travel Diary INGREDIENTS

DIY Travel Diary RULER

2. A simple binding technique

1. Measure your cover and your pages. Mark a line  to fold them in the middle. Mark two sewing points in the folding line (to make them centered use a ruler or the substitute described above).

2. Fold your notebook and perforate with the needle the sewing points.

3. Sew the cover and pages together with thick and resistant thread. The thread ends can be inside our outside, whatever you like.

4. Tie the ends of the thread together. You can make a simple knot or a pretty bow.

DIY Travel Diary BINDING

3. Write and draw till the pages are gone.

If you want to keep on binding your own travel diaries or books, check our pinterest board for inspiration, techniques and more complex ways of crafting your diaries.

Here is a photo of Marta making a travel diary for Boris in Turkmenistan. As there was no cardboard to be found, she used a tetrabrick instead, and it turned out a bit clumsy but at least waterproof. Also, she had no needle, and used a knife to cut the holes (not recommended).

Marta making diary in Turkmenistan web

And these are some photos of a notebook making workshop we run in 2014 at the Alternative Arts Center Tbilisi (Georgia). A whole day of collaborative crafts making with beautiful results.

Monika at work copy copy

Anna and Katerina

Hands together copy copy

Notebooks result copy copy

This post is part of the series DIY Travels, where we share ideas, things and recipes we make on the road that you can make too. Because travel is not always and not only about consuming, and because making stuff makes us feel at home wherever we go. Check this section for other DIY ideas.

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Boris, Marta and Burma roam the world at a speed of a snail. Two humans and one cat that found their way to India overland.

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