Travel Journaling Goes Tech

Ever since we started taking big road trips I’ve been documenting the vacation in a journal. However, it’s not your typical travel journal, but a Smash Book. I love the free-form format of a Smash Book. While I do keep a day-to-day account of our adventures, we also press leaves and flowers discovered on outings, paste drawings from our sketchbooks, store menus, campsite maps, tape cleaned feathers, save National Park brochures and keep the occasional hitchhiker butterfly that didn’t survive a hit to our vehicle. Of course, we tell the kids not to take anything out of National Parks, so most items we collect tend to be from pit stops in the middle of nowhere or campsites outside of federal property.

Inside pages of our Smash Books

The best part of keeping a journal such as this is that our kids don’t rely on a purchased souvenir to give them a reminder of what they did that day. They know that most details have been written or stored in the Smash Book. They end up saving money for more quality items or little things (like unique foods) that they can’t get back home. 

This year, instead of a road trip we are going on a Caribbean cruise. My husband and I went on a Caribbean cruise two years ago for a “baby moon” and though I tried to keep a Smash Book, I gave up after one day. It just wasn’t the same without the kids. I loved their interpretive sketches of our surroundings, their little quips, and living vicariously through the wonder in their eyes as they experience new places. I have no doubt that this vacation will leave them in awe as it is the first time that they will swim in the turquoise blue ocean and spend time on a “fancy ship.”

Oh, how fast the kids grow! Their drawings are more intricate now.

I was dismayed to see that Smash Books were hard to find locally. My go-to places (Michael’s, JoAnn, Hobby Lobby) did not carry them as they have in the past. So I ended up ordering one on Amazon (Prime rocks!). I’d usually get only a folio but I wanted a different color than what I already had and couldn’t resist a good deal and bought a gift pack that had extra embellishments. (See the links at the bottom of this post.)

What I always desired when keeping a Smash Book was the ability to put in photos. It’s true what they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words.”  Sometimes you just need a photo to explain something that words or drawings can’t capture.

Lo and behold, Polaroid to the rescue.

Polaroid sent me their Zip Instant Photo Printer to try out and it was perfect timing. It is ink-free and has special paper embedded with dye crystals that produces a 2×3 photo. The device itself is wireless connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth or NFC. The It’s the perfect size to fit into a travel journal!


Here’s what we’ll be taking with us:

  1. Smash Folio – The field / travel journal and keeper of all memories.
  2. Elastic Pen Band – This holds extra pens, pencils, small scissors, etc. This came with the gift pack but I have purchased one that I’ve used in my previous trips. 
  3. Sticker strips, mini wallet folio, Smash note paper, washi tape – Also included in the gift pack, these are fun items that will add some accents to the journal.
  4. Polaroid Zip – To print out pictures that we’ve taken on our phone and GoPro.
  5. GoPro – This has come to be an essential travel item! It takes great photos, comes with a waterproof case and it can wirelessly connect to your smart phone so you can view and save the images onto your phone.
  6. Aleene’s Tacky Glue Pen – Yes, the Smash Folio comes with a combo pen/glue stick. I find that the glue stick isn’t enough for some items so this Tacky Glue pen comes in handy. It’s so AWESOME. I’ve made paper page pockets on-the-go and had no problem adhering them to the pages.
  7. Kid Scissors (not shown) – Kid scissors are the perfect size to slide into the pen band. Sometimes I’ll find photos in brochures that are worthy of keeping.
  8. Sketch book (not shown) – My kids and I like to keep drawings of our surroundings. 
  9. Watercolor pencils (not shown) – Crayons melt in the scorching heat and markers have caps that can get lost. We’ve found that watercolor pencils work out best when adding color to drawings.

Inside a Smash Book

Blank Pages of a Smash Book

The Smash Book has different pages all surrounding a theme and you have to be a little selective when choosing the right one for you. You don’t want to pick a “baby theme” just because the journal has a light blue spine. Otherwise you might end up with some cutesy pages for your backpacking trip. This red one is a “doodle” theme so I figured it was pretty neutral for what I needed it for. It has some fun pages inside and I’ve found during some trips that the little quotes sometimes matched the recurring theme of the day.

Going Tech

I mentioned using a Polaroid Zip, GoPro and a smartphone for this trip. Polaroid and GoPro both have free apps that you download on your smartphone to connect their devices. The GoPro is going to be great for underwater shots and other photos that we just can’t capture safely with our phones (or without our phones getting ruined).

With the GoPro app, you can control your GoPro camera, view its contents, and save them to your phone. You can view, mark, and play back videos. It’s an essential app since you really have no way to preview anything on the camera itself. 

The Polaroid ZIP app connects to the ZIP and gives you some light editing, frames, and collage options before you print. The device charges with a micro USB cable and is small enough to fit into your purse or a big pocket (hey, it’s smaller than my Google Nexus 6, so that says something). It doesn’t come with a block charger so you will either need to connect it to your computer or a USB wall/car charger. The printer uses ZINK paper which come bundled in packs of 10 to fit into the ZIP.  The paper has a sticky back which makes it great for printing and placing in your journal. 

ZINK Paper: Peel and stick!

Travel Journal Tips

Before our road trips, I visited the visitor’s bureau website of each state we planned on visiting. They have sent free guides, maps and brochures of their state. It also has some fabulous photos to clip and place in your journal. We highlight the routes we’ve taken on the maps of each state in case we want to visit those places again. The pic below shows how the scissors and glue pen come in handy when using photos from brochures.

Clippings from brochures turned into fun pop-up pages!

Document EVERYTHING! Sights, smells, taste… You don’t have to be a great writer to keep a travel journal. It’s all about the memories and that’s the most important thing you need to keep.

I’ve provided links below to the products I’ve used for your convenience:


Polaroid ZIP for more info visit

Polaroid ZINK Photo Paper

 Smash Scrapbook Folio Gift Pack

Aleene’s Tacky Glue Pen


I hope you all have a fun and safe summer! How do you plan on keeping your travel memories? Comment below!

Disclosure: I get a small commission from any purchases made through the Amazon links above. Polaroid sent me a Polaroid ZIP mini printer to try out and use for my projects. Everything else, I bought, I use and I love ’em!

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