On Keeping and Organizing a Travel Notebook

Here’s my case for carrying a little black book. Not for that. Although, good on ya. But seriously, what are some other uses of a notebook beyond a traveler’s journal?

Travel Photography Notes

If you’re like me, you’ll take as many images as your camera or phone can hold. If you’re traveling from one place to another, those forests and gulfs start to merge together. And that statue from that one museum? Was he an old governor or a moonshiner? Perhaps a governor known for moonshining?

If you’d written it down, you’d know.

Before I take a picture of a building, I get a pic of any tourist markers or placards outside. That’s one way of telling myself that I’ve moved on to something new. More importantly, I’m jotting down in my notebook as I go from site to site. It’s never a big deal and doesn’t take more than a few seconds. When I get home, I add the name of the site to the picture (i.e. DISC 2018.08.11 House on Haunted Hill and Creepy Family). I really don’t care how long the file name is, so long as it holds the information. More on that in a future post.

A Numbers Page

100% just what it sounds like. See?

20180831_164315~2 (2) Van page Bullet journal Numbers

For those who can’t read my writing, it is a page with all of the reference numbers that matter to my van:

  • height
  • towing capacity
  • gauges of my extension cords
  • windshield size
  • how long my heated blanket will last at various temps
  • wattage requirements of my electronics…you get the idea.

It’s ridiculous, I know, but it has saved my butt a million times. Getting the wrong heater for an extension cord can lead to disaster. On the other hand, you can just check your notebook to make sure you won’t overload the thing.

I have another page with more personal numbers:

  • license plate
  • VIN
  • passport number
  • I don’t keep my credit card numbers there, but I DO keep the phone numbers of the credit card companies in case I misplace a card and need to shut it down ASAP.

Guided Tour Notes

Tour guides and park rangers are heroes. Often, fast-talking heroes. So that I don’t miss a thing, I jot down interesting tidbits during a tour. I’m a historian. I like history. There’s no way I’m not going to write down what they say.


This is not complicated. No rulers involved. Since it is a lined notebook, I just write the numbers of the month going straight down the page, with the letter for the day of the week. One day per line. It gives me a big picture of what’s going. Details (like addresses or what to bring) are noted in the calendar on my phone.

Other pages include…

  • A master grocery list – I tend to buy the same things over and over again.
  • A rolling shopping list – A page where I jot down what I want and cross off when I get it. No random slips of paper for me.
  • Monthly budget – Writing out how I allow myself to spend money keeps me in check.
  • One pot recipes
  • Big picture trip planning – When, cost estimates, drive times, overnight stopping points, etc.
  • Restaurant and hiking tips from locals
  • A running To-Do list
  • Meeting/Conference notes
  • Photography notes – I took my first photography class yesterday (thanks, Fred!) and jotted down a few pages dedicated to ideal ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings for various lighting and events.

20180831_164249 (2) Photography Bullet Journal Notes Page

It occurs to me that this is a bullet journal. But it’s not. Right? I don’t do any of those arrow marks and squiggly line things. I don’t know, lol. The concept of an everything notebook is older than a bullet journal, so that’s what I’m calling it!

Which notebook to use for an Everything Notebook?

Hipsters gonna hip, right?

Serious question: If I’m too old to be a hipster and too young to be a hippie, where do I fall?

Anyway, I like a small, 3.5×5.5 sized notebook like the Moleskine Pocket (you can pick up a handful of them through this affiliate link). It fits in the back pocket of my jeans, my purse, camera bag, or my backpack. The thing’s small, but sturdy. Any larger and it’d get in the way.

So, that’s it – here’s my way of staying organized on the go. It takes me about 5-8 months to fill a notebook. I then archive it with the others in a fireproof safe (weird, right) and move on to the next one.

Happy travels!


5 responses to “On Keeping and Organizing a Travel Notebook”

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