Travel Journal Prep!

Holy moly, tomorrow night I will be headed out of the country for the first time on a family vacation to Costa Rica! Since I’ve never been on a trip of this scale, I decided to take a travel journal with me for the sole purpose of drawing and documenting my trip. I always take photos (and I’ll certainly be doing so!) but I really like the idea of journaling each day and each adventure, and capturing those memories while it’s fresh in my mind.

Figuring out what supplies to pack for my travel journal has been on my mind for months. As you all probably know, I primarily work in Copic markers. However, packing Copic markers with me wasn’t going to be very practical. I didn’t want to have to select colors for a limited palette, and I also didn’t want to have to haul markers around with me everywhere. I debated just doing inks, but I knew with the lush landscape and tropical setting that I’d want color to capture that. So I decided to go with watercolors. I’ve been really into the watercolor and ink look lately and figured this was a good time to give it a go myself! Here’s my final list of art supplies I’m packing:

1. Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in Small, Medium, and Large
2. Koi Sakura Watercolor Field Sketch Set (24 Colors)
3. Travelogue Watercolor Book 5.25″ x 8.25″
4. Regular black pen + sketch pencils
5. Washi tape
6. Copic Multiliners
7. Sakura Gelly Roll Pen (white)
8. Pentel Brush Pen
9. Eraser + mini pencil sharpener

It’s been years since I’ve ever used any watercolors, and even back then I didn’t have a large amount of experience with them. Knowing I didn’t want the first time I used them to be ON the trip, I decided to do some prep pages in my travel journal just to get a feel for them.

This is the cover page. It’s kind of random in terms of composition, but that’s what happens when you’re just playing around! I did little illustrations of Costa Rica’s national tree (arbol de guanacaste), national flower (la guaria morada), and national bird (el yiguirro). Also, ‘pura vida’ (meaning ‘pure life’) is their ‘official’ unofficial slogan (aka, super commonly used but not made nationally official by the government I believe?).

The next two pages were used for a packing spread! Frannerd did an awesome What’s In My Suitcase illustration video and I thought that would be a great way to practice laying in flat color, as well as doing tinier work. As you can see, I definitely need a lot more practice with the watercolors! Also, sorry my clothes spread is pretty darn boring…what can I say, I own mostly black guys. #gothkidforlife

Overall, I’m thrilled with the idea of keeping a travel journal. I’m giving myself no rules for it; draw what I want, with or without color, neat or messy – anything goes! If you want to keep up with the art I create on my trip, be sure to follow along with my art Instagram (@myopensketchbook). I’ll be posting updates there when I can – we have internet at the house we’ve rented, but I’m not sure how great it is so fingers crossed. To see photos and such from the trip, be sure to follow my personal Instagram (@lifeofkaynyman) where I’ll be sharing snaps from out and about!

No blog posts for me next week, but I’ll be back to my regular Tuesday/Thursday post schedule in May. Prepare to be bombarded with posts about the trip! The traveling part of this adventure makes me nervous since I haven’t traveled much, but I’m also incredibly excited. Nine days of ocean, beach, exploring, and hopefully hiking a volcano. Fun fact: the volcano we planned to hike (at Poas National Park) is currently closed due to ‘unpredictable volcanic activity’. WHAT. Plus, it’s my birthday on Sunday, which is our first full day there! It’s looking like 29 may be a hard birthday to top…

Do you travel a lot? Have you ever kept a travel journal? What supplies do you bring with you? I’d love to know!


  • Travel a lot yes! I have plans of three more island hops this year before we move from Hawaii to somewhere in the world (We’ll find out soon!). I don’t keep a travel journal, more I do a documentary photography. I mark all my SD cards with numbers or dates if there is enough room to let me know what order things happened in. I loved making collages of the trips and videos. I guess my talent lies in photography so that’s what I do.

    I make sure to always have my camera in a safe place and on my person. I bring my camera cleaning kit cause you never know when dust will get on the sensor, SD cards, charger plus an extra charged battery, and I stick to one lens and one lens only because I don’t want to be pulling off my lens in a possibly dusty area.

    • Kay

      That such a great way to document things! And you sound super organized about it which much make things so much easier when you come back home. I am weirdly excited to find out where you’ll be moving to next haha; I can only imagine how much anticipation you must be filled with!

      • I’m a planner for sure. I am really excited about where we’ll end up soon!~ We don’t have much longer before we’ll know where we are going and then just soak but the sun until it’s time to leave. Enjoy your trip to Costa Rica!

  • Really like seeing your cover page finished. The idea of doing a suitcase spread is cool. I will have to keep the idea in mind if my husband and I ever go on an actual vacation. With his family being six hours south and mine being eight hours north we spend all of our ‘vacation’ time visiting one or the other.

    Anyway, I hope you have a fun trip! Can’t wait to see the posts about it.

    • Kay

      Thank you so much! We rarely travel (though we are working on doing it more often!) so this is a real treat!

  • Aw, I’m gonna miss you, but I hope you have so much fun!! Also, looking at your packing list, “really old Kindle” and “all the sports bras” both made me laugh. I think this is such a great idea, and I can’t wait to see what else you end up creating in your travel journal!

    I wouldn’t say I travel “a lot,” although Dan and I have been going places more lately, maybe once or twice a year. Our honeymoon was definitely our biggest trip, but we’re also planning a Wizarding World trip for later this year, too, even though it’s stressing me out SO MUCH already (and not just because I don’t like Florida much in general). My camera is always a must to bring with us, but also my phone of course, and usually a notebook or two in case I get the time/energy to write while we’re away.

    • Kay

      Yes! We too are trying to squeeze in more trips, even if it’s just a weekend trip we drive to. The older I get the more I want to soak in experiences.

      Oooo Wizarding World!!! I so want to go back and see all the updates (we went pre-Gringotts and such). Have a blast!! I’m with you on not being into Florida. It’s hot, sticky, and theme parks overwhelm me. I need rest days in between just to recover from existing amongst so many people.

  • I’ve never been able to travel a lot and when I went outside the country (still in Europe though) it was with my highschool class, so I didn’t have to think about the stressing part and I could just enjoy the journey. When I went to London with my mom was another thing, because she never took a plane before and didn’t speak English so I had to organize everything by myself. It always scares me a lot and even if I love visiting new places, I always need a couple of days to adapt myself, since I’m such a homebody! Think about a female version of Bilbo Baggins 😀

    Hope you’ll have a great time with your family!

    • Kay

      Thank you Alice! I too am a big homebody so travel brings with it such anxiety, but also excitement to see new things!

  • Your journal is beautiful! I don’t have a traditional artist skill in me so photos are my thing. Enjoy Costa Rica!!

    • Kay

      Thank you! I love a scrapbook style travel journal even if it’s just pictures with no art! Mine is a mix of art, journaling, and scrapbook stuff I’ve taped/pasted down. 🙂

  • I love to travel. I don’t get to do it very often and I totally should take more photos when I do. I love how you used your art to journal in your travel. I’ve never been outside of the US so that might be my next great destination.

    • Kay

      Thank you! This was my first trip out of the US – I’ve never even been to Canada despite it being like a two hour drive from where I live!

  • Mariah Kaercher

    Have a great time in Costa Rica!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much!

  • Awwwww!!!! That’s cool! I love travel journals! But, I’m a mess with journals, and I don’t keep them for long xDDDDd But I do prepare myself a lot before travelling (specially batteries for my iPhone so I can take endless pics).

    • Kay

      Ah, nice! I hauled along my big DSLR camera for this trip, but I took a decent amount of pics on my phone too!

  • B.

    I can’t wait to hear all about your trip! I bought a travel journal for when I went to London and then….never used it. LOL I was furious with myself!

  • Danielle Knapp

    I sadly haven’t done much travel, but think a travel journal is a brilliant idea! I can’t wait to read all about your trip 🙂

    • Kay

      Thanks Danielle!


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