How to make a travel gluebook for collages on the go

Logging your daily activities on a trip can be a great way to keep track of precious memories. But bringing a full art kit with you while traveling can be difficult. While you may be able to bring a mini art journal kit, what if you’re REALLY short on space?

Travel gluebooks are the way to go!

Gluebooks are the simplest form of visual journal: all you need is a gluestick, a notebook, and some paper items to turn into a fabulous collage.

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If you’ve never made a gluebook before and don’t know how to start, I have a beginner’s gluebook guide here which covers the basics.

Travel gluebook kit

Because space (and weight!) is precious when packing, the key to a travel gluebook kit is to keep it simple.

First, get a blank notebook.

I prefer the Midori Travelers Notebooks in Passport size. You can swap out the notebooks when they get full, and the leather cover is luxurious without being too expensive.

If you prefer something vegan, these small Moleskine notebooks also work well.

Or Field Notes has sturdy waterproof-cover notebooks in a small, portable size.

Whatever you choose, make sure it has a good binding so it won’t fall apart in your luggage. The Traveler’s Notebook covers are very sturdy, and Moleskine hardcover notebooks hold up well, too. Field Notes also hold up well in pockets and purses.

Second, get a gluestick.

I use Elmer’s Glue brand, but almost anything will do. Scotch has a “wrinkle free gluestick” that sounds great for paper collages!

While wet glue works well for paper collages, I don’t recommend putting it in your travel gluebook kit as it’ll have to go in your liquids bag, which might take up room that you’ll need for sunscreen or makeup or what have you.

Third, collect materials for gluing.

This is the most fun part! You can collect nearly anything during your trip, as long as it’s paper (or thin and glue-able). Anything that has some sort of meaning and/or has good graphics can make for a great gluebook page.

Here’s some things I’ve collected on my travels to use in my travel gluebook:

  • Soda bottle wrappers
  • Business cards
  • Stickers from fruit and food packaging
  • Receipts, especially ones with handwriting
  • Brochures, pamphlets and maps from tourist things I did
  • Train tickets
  • Cute stationary and stickers
  • Paper coasters
  • Tea tags and wrappers

Once you start looking around, you’ll find tons of paper ephemera to add to your gluebook. Because it’s so easy to get a ton of ephemera, I recommend gluing things into your notebook every few days. That way you aren’t carrying around tons of paper– that gets annoying fast, believe me.

Scissors? …maybe.

I prefer having a small pair of scissors in my kit to make it easier to fussy-cut images, but if you’re flying then it’s more likely than not that the airport security will take them. Even my little scissors with a cover over the blades got taken!

So what I do is: once I arrive at my destination, I hunt down some scissors and buy them. Usually they’re only a few dollars and well worth the cost and added space/weight to my luggage.

My favorite are these little stainless steel ones from MUJI, but anything will work as long as it’s made for adult hands. Small child-sized scissors are too dull to do delicate cutting work.

Example travel gluebook

I had a small gluebook for my last big trip to Asia last year, where I visited Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc. While I didn’t keep up with it as much as I hoped to, I really enjoyed making these pages and I like looking back on them as a souvenir of my trip.

Click on an image to enlarge it:

Most of the stuff I used was things I picked up during my trip (especially in Japan). I used tickets, things from brochures, tea tags, (clean) food wrappers, maps, and more!

Are you going to keep a travel gluebook for your next trip? Leave a comment below!

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