Upcycled Travel Memory Album / Journal and Photo Album




Introduction: Upcycled Travel Memory Album / Journal and Photo Album

You can keep so many memories from your vacation that aren't photos - ticket stubs, packaging, receipts, leaflets, playbills, menus and more. But, if you just stash them in an envelope somewhere, will they even make it home? Will you get around to pasting them into a scrapbook? Will you remember what you did where, which day to you went to which place, why you even kept that? The best way to preserve your vacation memories for posterity is to save them as you go along. Drawing on the 'smash book' style of journaling, this memory album / journal is intended to make it as easy as possible to record and organise your ephemera as you go, in an attractive way that will inspire you while on your journey and make enjoyable re-reading once you are safely back home!

Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials

The travel journal is created as a large album journal with a pocket that contains a photo album and a concertina-style envelope journal. You may wish to make all of these, or perhaps just one or two - I have listed the materials and equipment separately for ease, but mostly it is the same materials and equipment for each!

For the journal:

  • Sturdy board (I used an old board game, but you can use mounting board or foam board if you wish)
  • Craft or Stanley knife and steel ruler
  • Old map that you are happy to cut up
  • Paper glue of your choice
  • Mod Podge or PVA and brush to apply
  • Access to an iron
  • Three sheets of thick card in a colour of your choice - I used black
  • Bone folder or something to score with (empty ballpoint pen, awl or blunt butter knife)
  • Writing paper - I used 40 sheets of 100gsm paper, but choose what you like!
  • Binding machine and wires or access to a printing bureau that offers a binding service
  • Ribbon or elastic band as desired (see instructions)

For the photo album:

  • 160-200gsm card - I used black, but choose what you like!
  • Old map that you are happy to cut up
  • Craft or Stanley knife and steel ruler
  • Paper glue of your choice
  • Mod Podge or PVA and brush to apply
  • Binding machine and wires or access to a printing bureau that offers a binding service

For the envelope journal:

  • 6-10 envelopes as required
  • Old map that you are happy to cut up
  • Craft or Stanley knife and steel ruler
  • Paper glue of your choice

Step 2: Cutting the Covers

The first thing we need to do is build the covers of the large journal, which will contain everything else. To do this you need some good sturdy board. You can buy mount board or foam board, but my favourite is the board from an old board game. If you don't have any you can usually source them cheap or even free from charity shops, car boot / thrift sales etc. One note of caution though - whatever board you use, be sure that it will fit into the slot on the binding machine before you start making!

Measure the boards and cut them to the desired size for your journal - the size of paper you have access to will have some bearing on this, otherwise it is down to personal preference. Cut the board to size using a knife and steel ruler. Using several light strokes is easier, safer and gives a better finish than one or two heavy strokes!

Step 3: Covering the Covers

Once you have cut your covers, you can then cut sections of the map to cover it. The journal I made was for a family member visiting the Lake District, so I chose an area featuring the place he was staying for the front and an area featuring his favourite place, Consiton Water, for the back. When you are choosing the area for your covers, do be mindful of any other components of the journal you are making, and plan accordingly!

Place your cover down on your chosen area of map and cut the section out, allowing around an inch all round. You can use scissors, or a knife and ruler - whichever you find easiest. Stick your map down with a layer of PVA or Mod Podge, folding the excess over on the inside edge (you can cut the corners, but I find that map paper is thin enough that just folding it works absolutely fine).

You might find that the map bubbles from the surface as the glue dries. If this happens, wait until it is completely dry, then iron the wrinkles out. You can use a regular household iron, on the lowest heat setting (usually nylon) and no steam.

Once that is done, paint over the map with a protective layer of PVA or Mod Podge. This will protect the map cover and make it a little more durable. While wet, the map may look like it is going wrinkly again, but these should stretch out again as it dries. If not, you can repeat the ironing process.

Step 4: Finishing the Covers and Adding a Pocket

To neaten the inside covers, cut a sheet of card to slightly smaller than the size of the cover and glue in place using your chosen paper glue. Repeat for each of the covers.

Next, create a pocket for the inside cover. You can do this for both covers or just one - it is up to you, but I prefer just one so I have a smooth flat writing surface inside.

Measure up how tall and wide you want the pocket to be. Cut a sheet of card that size PLUS 1/4 inch extra tall and 1 inch extra wide. The extra card will form a gusset that allows more space for storage. Once your card is cut, use a steel rule to measure and score a line 1/4 inch from the bottom. Then score the two sides, 1/4 and 1/2 inch from the edge. Cut away the bottom corners where the scored lines intersect. Then fold the bottom flap up and the side flaps in and then out again. Glue the outer edges of the flaps and stick them down on the cover to form a pocket.

Step 5: Adding Pages and Binding the Journal

Once the covers are ready, it is time to add pages to your journal!

Trim down paper of your choice so that it fits the covers. It is up to you what kind and how many sheets you use, I used around 40 sheets of 100gsm (so slightly thicker) bright white writing paper, but you may prefer lined, graph patterned paper... whatever you'd like to journal on! I have used a mixture before of all kinds of paper, and it was awesome, but as the recipient of this journal is a little more conservative, I stuck to plain old paper.

You can then take the journal to a printing bureau to be wire or spiral bound, or bind it yourself if you have access to a machine. Use a comb a couple of sizes bigger than the 'correct' size so that you have plenty of room to stick things in!

For my binding machine, I just slot the pages in the top and pull the lever to make holes, slide them onto the wire combs, then squeeze the wire in the front slot to close. Do remember to bind the back cover onto the front, then swing it round to the back of the book after closing the wires, as this gives a much nicer, neater finish.

Step 6: Making the Photo Album

To make the photo album, simply cut the required amount of card to the size you'd like (I used 20 sheets at A5 size). Glue or Mod Podge some map paper to one sheet to make a cover, and trim to fit. Then bind as before to create an album! I think that black card looks wonderful, but you can use any of your choice!

Step 7: Making the Envelope Journal

The envelope journal is a cute way to store little bits of ephemera that might otherwise be lost. The clever bit is that it folds out, concertina-style, but when closed back up takes up hardly any space and looks great in the pocket you just made in the cover of the main It is so cute that it is not just a place to organise them while you are travelling, it can be used to store them permanently! I like to make mine with an envelope per day, or, if I am moving around a lot, one per destination, but feel free to change this to however many you like!

First, stick the flap of one envelope onto the bottom of another envelope, so that they face the same way. If you have self-seal envelopes, you may need to add extra adhesive as you want the entire flap of the envelope stuck down firmly. Then, stick the flap of that envelope down on the next, and so on until you have a chain of envelopes.

Next, cut strip(s) of map paper long enough to cover the length of the envelope chain (if your chain is very long, one length of the map may not be enough). Glue down using your choice of paper adhesive. Once dry, trim to size, then fold into a concertina and gently score between the envelopes to form the concertina. That's the envelope journal complete!

Step 8: Securing Your Journal

If you are taking your journal travelling with you, an elastic band may be the best way to secure it. I like to make 'bi-directional' bands to secure books while travelling. To do this, take a thick elastic band and cut down the middle of one side almost to the centre, so that it forms two thinner bands. Do the same from the other side. You are then left with a band that can secure in two directions at the same time! Pretty neat, huh?!

Once you are back home, or if you are making the journal as a gift, you can glue a ribbon down the centre of the covers and tie them to secure the journal. If you do this, remember to leave some slack in the ribbon as it crosses the spine, so that the journal can expand easily as more items are added!

Wherever you plan on travelling to, I hope you like this journal and that you enjoy storing your memories in your own fab travel journal. Bon voyage!

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