By the Toy Story Fanatic Devo
So… Let’s talk about travel journals for a minute.
Let’s stray from Disney (just for a second) and talk about one of my favorite video game franchises: Uncharted. Those who know the game know the game, but for those who don’t, let me recap the premise. The game series follows an adventurer/ treasure hunter named Nathan Drake as he travels the globe, looking for artifacts, running away from cursed treasure and trying really hard to not act too much like Indiana Jones. As you go through the game you encounter puzzles and clues and Nate Drake will sketch them, take photos, write down notes and clues to the puzzles and tape important papers into the pages of a leather-bound journal.
Now if you are reading this, it’s likely because you are planning your own adventure to a magical, sometimes hidden city full of (tourist) traps, thick jungle, and future technology developed by (now) ancient societies, and giant rodents who roam free through the isolated ecosystem. This has all of the makings of the adventure of a lifetime! And just like the great adventurers of TV, film and video games, taking a notebook of some kind to document everything can be a great way to keep track of all of your activities and successes.
When you get to the park, there is an opportunity to pick up official Disneyland Autograph Books and photo albums for your trip, however, building your own autograph book/ Disney journal adds a lot more options as far as your theme and is a fun way to prepare for your excursion and take a break from your trip planning. Here are a few ideas on and things to consider when you make your book that I think may be of use to you.
Pick a Base
A good starting point is to start with a base of some kind. This takes away any extra work you would need to do such as binding the book together and allows maximum creativity and options for customizations. Here are some that I would say are sufficient, but the sky really is the limit as far as what base you use:
Composition Notebook– depending on the time of year and what year you get it, these come in a variety of Disney animated characters already placed on the cover; but if not, you can always get a plain one, unlock your inner schoolchild, and decorate the cover yourself with crafting supplies.
Journal- I’m talking about the 6” X 8.5” ones. Not full 8.5”X 11” ones. There is quite a selection of these to choose from with
almost any cover image you can imagine available online or at a bookstore. These last a long time and are ideal for long-term/ repeated use. I’d go with this option if you are hoping to collect all autographs into one book.
Sketchbook- I use a 9”X 6” sized sketchbook and that seems to be the ideal size. These can run expensive sometimes, but the cost is returned when factoring in the higher quality paper (sharpie doesn’t bleed through), the fact it’s completely blank, and they’re meant to travel places so they are rather durable.
My Tip for you is to take one of these and turn it into the base for your custom Autograph Book/ Travel Journal. Decorate the cover however you want or even leave it plain. It really depends on you.
What to put in it?
There are a lot of ways you could document your adventures and a travel journal gives the opportunity to use almost all of them. Again, the sky is the limit as to what you can do here, but, after careful examination of several treasure hunting stories, I found that these are the ideas that are the best
Write down the day’s events- What did you do? When did you do it? Write down the information you learn about the rides, your feelings when meeting favorite characters, etc. Writing down your thoughts into your travel journal will prove to be more valuable to you in years to come than almost any trinket from a gift shop.
Pictures- Take pictures of your family or of interesting things you find and tape them into your journal. Digital is nice but hardly anything beats the real thing. I recommend you correspond pictures of characters with their autographs/ related attractions but that’s a personal decision.
Paper scraps- Did you like the gray stuff? (I hear it’s delicious) Did Orleans square fulfill your souvenir wishes? Did you accidentally miss your Fast Pass time? I would tape certain receipts, passes, and my ticket stub into the journal along with a reflection on why it’s there.
Autographs- Of course, Autographs from characters are always a cool thing to have and adds a kind of collaborative feel to your journal making it feel fresh every time you open it.
Sketches- Need to sit and rest for a bit? Sit down and try to sketch something. Disney Parks are amazing pieces of art, even when just walking around the park. Nowhere has that kind of attention to detail. If you’re resting for a bit, take some time to sketch out something in front of you- Jungle Cruise boat, The Forbidden Eye, Space Mountain Rail Cars, etc.
What to Bring With You
Now taking a travel journal of this caliber might require you take a few items with you to scrapbook on the go.
- Tape: use this to place paper scraps/ photos into the book
- Pencils: bring multiple in case one breaks
- Eraser: for when you mess up with the pencils
- Pen: Pens are great for autographs. And general writing. They don’t smudge like pencils would but sketching with them isn’t my favorite thing (however, I have several Art friends that swear by them… personal preference I guess.)
- Sharpie/ permanent marker: this one is important. A lot of the non-face characters (anyone with a mask over their heads) have gloves as well that make it hard to hold pens. A regular sharpie, maybe with some rubber bands as a grip, are ideal and easier for these cast members and you know that underneath their masks they are relieved and thanking you with their brain.
I made it a habit since I was 14 or so to write in a journal the day’s events every single day. I have missed very few days and each vacation, for the most part, has had their own travel journal with them. Being able to look back at my life and remember specifics of the day is one of the better things I have done. I can see how I have grown in my talents, relive my greatest triumphs, and see easier how my defeats really didn’t last that long.
From my experience, this is the best way to document a trip, particularly Disneyland. Relive every experience you had over and over with the greatest Disney historian available: you.
What do you do to document your Disney trips? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and remember to keep wishing on stars.