How to Start a Travel Bullet Journal

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What is a Bullet Journal & why should you travel with one?

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a bullet journal then basically it’s a diary, journal, to do list, mood tracker, listography and more. It’s a system created by Ryder Carroll that has become hugely popular for its flexibility, simplicity and usefulness. All of these qualities make it the perfect travel companion particularly if you’re jetting off for a significant period of time.

bujo travel

Get started with Bullet Journals

If you’re completely new to the system and have no idea where to start here are some links that will introduce you and help you to get set up and create your very own travel bullet journal.

bulletjournal.com – Getting Started

Buzzfeed – WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One? An Explainer

Boho Berry – Bullet Journal 101 – Introduction

The Lazy Genius Collective – How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide

That’s all I’m going to say about the bullet journal system in general. In this post I’ll assume that you now have a general idea of what bullet journalling is.

My Bullet Journal

Last year the bullet journal became a huge part of my life, when I stumbled across the concept and trawled through blogs in order to become a fully fledged bullet journalist. I bought my first dotted A5 Leuchtturm 1917 journal last August and the rest is history.

I found it especially useful when I was planning my big 6 month trip through India and Asia. Notably I used it to track my savings for my travel budget. So the question arose whether I would take my bullet journal with me? In the end I decided that my current bullet journal was just too precious to risk taking. As well as that it was over half way full and it would never last another 6 months. I decided to start afresh with a dedicated travel bullet journal.

travel journal

So I bought a new mini bullet journal, still a Leuchtturm1917 but in A6, in order to optimise it for long term travel. I’ve been using it for 3 months so far and I wanted to share how I use it and some important things you need to consider when using a bullet journal for long term travel. I now have 2 bullet journals that I use on the road. One for basic travel info and one for my blog planning.

To start fresh or continue?

One of the big questions is to start fresh or continue. It will all depend on how full your current journal is, how long you’re travelling for and whether you want to start a separate travel journal as opposed to integrating it to a daily journal.

When travelling I don’t have as much of a need to write down appointments or things like my daily caffeine intake so my format would have altered quite a lot. Instead I decided to start a new bullet journal focussed just on travel.

The practical stuff

Below are my two current bullet journals that I use while travelling. On the left is my Moleskine Soft Dotted Notebook, on the right is my a6 Leuchtturm1917. They’re both quite different and when you choose a notebook for your travel bujo you’ll need to think about the strengths and weaknesses of both. How will it fit in your day bag? Do you want to be able to take it everywhere with you in a handbag or are you happy to leave it at your hotel and fill it in at the end of the day?

travel journal

Another important thing to consider is whether it’s a hard back like a Leuchhturm or soft back like some of the Moleskine dotted journals. 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.

10 Things to include in your Travel Bullet Journal

Now that you have your notebook you need to decide what to put in it. The beauty of the bullet journal system is that it’s personal. You can literally include whatever you want. It can be tidy, or messy, super organised or mish mash. However you set up your bullet journal if it works for you and does it’s job then you’re doing it right. Here are my top 10 spreads and pages that you can include to make your travel bullet journal useful for the road.

1. Calendar

One of the most important features of both a general and a travel bullet journal. Your calendar gives you an overview of the months and helps you plan stuff accordingly.

travel calendarMy calendar only covers the months I’m travelling and each month takes up a whole spread in the A6 Leuchtturm. The calendar is the first thing in my bullet journal. I use it to fill in definite events, like booked flights or hotels and then I also use it to remember where I was when or even what I did that day. If you want to add even

2. Daily Log

In my everyday bullet journal my daily log is where I focus on the day to day to do list. Although you might not use it in the same way as you do for everyday life you can use a travel bullet journal as an actual diary to write down everything you did. You can record important things, like meeting times or departure times and details about. It can also be a good way to keep track of things you need to organise that day. When you’re travelling long term you’ll often find that you have to spend a significant amount of time getting organised for the next leg of your journey. A daily log can help you breakdown what you have to do into manageable steps.

3. Packing List

packing list travel

You could include this just as easily in your everyday bullet journal the way I did. I dedicated a page to my packing list a few months before we left. I simply added to it as and when I thought of things and used a coloured pen to mark when I had collected the things together. If you wanted to you could include this in your travel bujo and use it as an inventory in case you’re worried about things getting lost.

4. Flight/Transport Itinerary

travel organisation tool

One of my first pages in my travel bujo was my slight itinerary spread. In the first month of our travels we had loads of little flights booked so it was hard not to mix them up. I sat down and wrote out all the details for the separate flights including times, flight numbers and terminal numbers. It meant that I could just whip out my bujo and check the information without having to rifle through the massive folder of printouts for all the separate flights.

travel journal

We did the same when we had a lot of trains booked in Rajasthan. Especially as we had some Night Trains and we got confused about when we were where! It takes about half an hour to do but saves you a lot of confusion in the long run.

5. Hotel Details with Basic Directions

start a travel bullet journal

Hotel details are another one that I included before we left. I don’t record the details of every single hotel we stay at just the ones when we arrive somewhere drastically new, like when we first arrived in India. I note down the name, address, contact details and I also include any outstanding amount I have to pay on arrival so I know I have enough local currency. It’s a good idea to have a look at directions getting to your accommodation and note down that too. It doesn’t have to be detailed but it can jog your memory.

6. Personal Information & Practical Details

Similar to the flight itinerary pages this spread means that I don’t have to fish out my passport every time I need to know the passport number and expiry date. It’s also a lot safer because it reduces the risk of getting your valuable passport pick-pocketed if someone is watching you get it out. I also use it to keep details about my credit and debit cards and travel insurance which includes emergency numbers.

For obvious reasons I can’t really include a picture of this but it’s set out like a general list with all of the expiry and start dates, passwords, pins and more info. I make sure that I disguise things like pins in a code so that they can’t immediately be understood.

travel bullet journal

Similar to personal information you can also use your travel bujo to make quick notes about really important things you need to remember. If you’re on a trip where you have to cross borders note down some information about visa requirements. Being able to access the information in front of you means you can decrease your risk of getting scammed.

7. Addresses & Contact Info

I’m a huge lover of sending postcards to people while I’m away so of course I have to have a list of all the addresses I need. Instead of scrambling around trying to find out people’s addresses while you’re away with dodgy wifi just take some time to compile a list and write them down. I also use a tally system so I can keep track of how many postcards I’ve sent to people.

8. Budget

budgeting travel

This is the main thing that I use my travel bujo for on a daily basis. My budget pages are all very rough but that’s not too much of an issue for me because it works. Travelling on a limited budget means I need to be aware of my spending and if I took too long to create pretty spreads then I would probably forget what I spent on! Instead I just jot it down quickly, tally up the amount at the end of the day and then currency convert it into GBP so I can add it to a spreadsheet.

9. Useful Phrases & Quick Currency Conversions

If you’re travelling somewhere with a completely new language to you why not try and note down some useful phrases. You can also write down some phrases in the local language and use it to communicate with locals by pointing at the phrase. Or you might want to try your hand at drawing symbols if it’s a language with a completely different script.

It’s also useful to note down some quick currency conversions or maybe some guide prices for things like a bottle of water or a meal in a basic restaurant. When you arrive somewhere new and you have to use a new currency it can be very confusing so this is just one way to make it a little easier for yourself.

10. Wishlists & Memories

travel bujo

I also like to use my bullet journal to create wish lists of places I want to see in a specific country. When we’re visiting so many countries it can be hard to remember everything that we really want to see. So I create a page that can jog my memory. The time I take to make it also helps it to cement in my memory.

You can also use this method for memories once you’ve done something. Many bullet journalists create picture board style pages where they illustrate memories. If you’re not into drawing you can just write, exactly like I have.

 

Some more things to consider when travelling with a Bujo:

Sometimes you have to accept that your travel bujo might not be as pretty as an everyday bullet journal. 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.

travel schedule

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 theme and bring tools that fit into that.

stationery addict

But remember travelling 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 rushing round a swanky mall like a kid in a candy shop stocking up on decor tapes. Their washi tape range was out of this world!

Get started with your own travel bullet journal

If I’ve converted you then take a look at the following bullet journal supplies that I use. These links are all affiliate links which, in plain english, means that I will earn a small commission if you buy any of the products that are linked below or anywhere in this post, at no extra cost to you.

Leuchtturm1917 Notebook A5 in Dotted

Moleskine Large Soft Dotted Notebook in Underwater Blue

Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner in Black

Staedtler Triplus 334 C30P Fine Liner Pens in 30 Colours

Zebra Midliner x5

10x Decorative Washi Rainbow Tapes

 

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4 Comments

  1. May 6, 2017 / 8:39 am

    I remember keeping a journal very similar to this on my first trip to Europe back in 2006 – well before smart phones and list apps etc, I kept a page for every city/country I was visiting with all the details I would need like where my accomodation was, what transport to take to the airport, ideas for sightseeing, budget etc. Now I could do one for my next trip including fancy fonts, colours etc… the only question is how many pens to take!

    • Sarah
      May 6, 2017 / 10:40 am

      Oh Jenn, I could have brought thousands! Sadly I managed to misplace my entire pencil case somewhere in Vietnam so I’m going to simply HAVE to go pen shopping! Such a shame!

  2. May 6, 2017 / 11:28 am

    Love this! Now I know what to do with all those empty journals I have been collecting.

    • Sarah
      May 6, 2017 / 11:30 am

      It’s fab the only problem is now I travel round with 3 notebooks and a guidebook. It adds a little extra weight but it’s worth it!

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