A peek into AFAR designer Emily Blevins' travel notebook
Here’s how AFAR Junior Designer Emily Blevins captures her journeys—and the tools you need to get started, too.
I can almost taste the cardamom in my first kardemummabullar in Stockholm. I hear the haunting melodies as a choir sings in Reykjavík’s Hallgrimskirkja church on a Sunday morning. I feel awestruck facing The Kiss in Vienna, and my heart races as I rush through the streets of Florence, a slice of pizza margherita in hand, to catch a train. I haven’t been to any of these places in over a year, but as I flip through the pages of my travel journals, the memories come alive.
As a graphic designer and illustrator, I like to observe the people and cultures around me when I travel. More often than not, a photograph alone isn’t enough to bring back the nuanced sights, smells, and feelings of a trip. So in my journals, I use a combination of photography, illustration, and writing to capture specific moments in time.
A year ago, I set off on my first solo trip—a 10-day exploration of Copenhagen, Vienna, and Prague. All three were cities I had never seen but had long dreamed of visiting. I hopped on a plane from San Francisco with few concrete plans other than my connecting flights. Once abroad, I wandered the streets of each city, ate local food, and visited art museums, recording my favorite experiences along the way. Here’s a peek at what that looked like.
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Although my time spent in Prague was short, I g0t lost in the quaint alleyways that snaked away from the old town square and Christmas markets. It was in these quiet corners that I felt at peace, alone with my camera in the rain.
My advice for keeping a travel journal: Keep your supplies simple, and the experience will shine.
Notebook: I always bring a Moleskine notebook with me because I like the size. Often I’ll travel with its watercolor notebooks, which have thick pages that don’t bleed through (although I did not have them on this particular trip).
Pens: I try to bring along a handful of Le Pen pens, which are thin, as well as black Tombow markers, which have different tip widths on each end. Using a combination of these, I have three different line weights to work with.
Photos: All photographs were shot on my iPhone or Nikon camera. Artifact Uprising is affordable for photo printing and has a lot of variety; for this trip, I got a set of square prints on matte cardstock.
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