I like to use thin, paperback notebooks, with no more than about 40 pages in them. I find any more pages in a notebook and the notebook becomes too bulky.
A roll of washi tape
All the paper stuff you collected that day
Step 1: Organise in Chronological Order
Spread them out on your bed, and put them in chronological order, with the earliest (start of the day) on top, and the latest (end of the day) on the bottom of the pile.
Step 2: Get Sticking With the Washi Tape
Don't try to overcrowd the page by sticking too many things onto one page. I tend to find sticking one leaflet or one set of tickets per A5 page is good.
If there’s something interesting on the back of an item, only tape one side down so you can flip and see the back. Conversely, if something doesn’t have anything on the back, tape down at least two sides so you know there’s nothing on the back when you are flipping through your journals in the future.
Step 3: Date and Comment
After that, it's nice to write a one-sentence note on special items. I note things like what my favourite piece of artwork in that museum was for a museum leaflet, what hotel room number we had for a hotel business card, etc.
Step 4: What to Collect?
As to the question of what to collect - every paper object you can is my answer! I've put several photos from my own travel journal here so you can get some inspirations. I tend to collect the following wherever I go:
I stick every ticket I can get my hands on. I have tickets from planes, trains, buses, and ferries. I also have entry tickets to museums, art galleries, shows, tours and tourist attractions. They are great to keep as often they have the date you bought the tickets, which can be used as markers if you ever need to go back and write more about the trip.
Leaflets and maps
I love picking up leaflets and maps as I go. Leaflets are a great way to gather information about the places you’ve visited, without having to make extra effort to make note of stuff like their address, what it’s about, etc., as leaflets usually cover these details. At the end of the stay in each city, I stick in the street map I have been using to navigate around the city. At the end of each day, I mark the route we walked that day on the map. By the end of our time in that place, the map represents every street we’ve walked in that city.
Whenever I go to an art museum and meet a piece of art that really pulls me in, I buy a postcard of that painting in the museum shop (if they have it, which they sometimes, very sadly, don’t). I date the postcards and write a quick paragraph about why I liked the piece. It’s like creating your own little art gallery of works you like the most.
I adore found stickers! The top photo is the cover of one of my travel journals, covered in stickers been given away at the New York Maker Faire 2014. I think I actually pushed some children aside to get some of them. I don’t just stick to purposely made stickers. If it has a sticky back to it, it will go into my journal, such as luggage tags and parcel stickers.
As odd as these may seem, they are my absolute favourite items to find in my journals when I am flipping through them long after the trip is over. I’ve kept anything from ice cream cones, serviettes and beer coasters. My number one favourite item I have ever stuck in my journal is the orange Schneider hot dog wrapper you see in the second picture. The hot dog was a surprise gift from a wonderful woman we happened to be on the same tour with going through Canada. Whilst waiting to go on the glacier bus trip at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Center, she had bought a hot dog. My face when I saw the hot dog must’ve been one of desperation as after the tour she ran up behind me and handed me a steaming hot dog. I love that the wrapper reminds me of this beautiful lady and her act of kindness that totally made my day.
I make an effort to pick up business cards from any hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops and places I visit. This is for the same reason I collect leaflets, they allow me to keep note of names and address of places I’ve visited without me having to write anything down.
Left over stamps
I did a project during my travels last summer of writing a postcard to my mum every single day I was on the road. It ended up being about 150 postcards in total. To make it easier for myself, I bought stamps in bulk. I love that the stamps in my journal are a little reminder of my organisational skills during this project.
Personal notes from people
Another absolute favourite thing to put into my journals. When someone leaves me a little note (or when I write them a note and they don’t keep it), they go straight into my notebook. It’s a physical representation of the connection with people you make along the way.