SYW237 – How to Start a Travel Journal

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Abbey Sy has long loved traveling, but it wasn’t until she started documenting her experiences that she discovered more about herself and her travel style. In this episode we chat about her personal and professional journeys as well as how others can get started with the creative approach to travel memory keeping. This inspiring conversation will have you looking at your adventures in a whole new way!

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[00:01:33] Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 237. In this episode I’m chatting with Abbey Sy, an artist, educator, and memory keeper who focuses on the art of travel journaling. Our conversation includes advice for beginning and experienced journalers alike.

[00:02:02] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Abby. Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:02:04] Abbey Sy: Hi Jennifer, I'm so happy to be here.

[00:02:07] Jennifer Wilson: I am so looking forward to our conversation, but for those who don't know who you are, can you share a little bit about yourself?

[00:02:16] Abbey Sy: Sure. Hi everyone, I'm Abby Sy. I'm an artist and author. I grew up in Manila in the Philippines and I'm currently living in Berlin. I do, what do I do? There's a lot to say but I mostly do journaling and I also like to, I try to say like I like to document a lot about my life and through different like ways like illustration, journaling. Um, videos and content, so I think that pretty much sums it up.

[00:02:47] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes. Now, how long have you been living in Berlin?

[00:02:52] Abbey Sy: About a year and a half, I'm fairly new, so it's been a wild ride, but I've been enjoying it.

[00:03:00] Jennifer Wilson: Is there anything in particular that brought you to Germany?

[00:03:03] Abbey Sy: Well, I did a, like, in 2019 I did an art residency in Berlin, so that kind of drew me in. And I was like, oh, this city feels like it's livable, and then the pandemic happened, so I had to wait like three more years to kind of process everything, so that's why it was a bit delayed. So, yeah, it was very interesting and random choice, but also I thought it'd be nice to live in Europe, and like, I've always wanted to explore a lot of European cities, also to travel and to journal, so thought it'd be nice to have a home base here.

[00:03:38] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. What a fun adventure.

[00:03:40] Abbey Sy: Yeah.

[00:03:41] Jennifer Wilson: So I always like to ask our guests, what is exciting them right now? I'd love if you shared both one kind of scrapbooking, memory keeping, journaling related, as well as one life thing.

[00:03:53] Abbey Sy: Yeah. So for scrapbooking, memory keeping, I've been catching up on my San Francisco journal pages. It hasn't been done, which is funny because it's like, after San Francisco, I went to Manila for a bit, so I feel like my brain hasn't fully closed off. You know when you're traveled and you haven't fully documented the trip, it feels like you're not done yet.

[00:04:16] Abbey Sy: So, I'm looking forward to update that, which I haven't really had the time to do because I've been flying, um, to and from different um, cities. And non scrapbooking thing, I guess, I just moved into a new apartment, so it's my first time ever, like, furnishing a room. So it's been overwhelming, but it's also I feel so, um, excited to kind of like slowly make it homey and cozy, especially now that it's almost the fall. You know, find a proper way to store my stationery, have a good workspace, comfy bed, so I've been busy doing that.

[00:04:55] Abbey Sy: Mm hmm.

[00:04:56] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds fun. Do you, let me, how do I ask this? Do you enjoy like shopping for kind of like vintage thrifted things or brand new things?

[00:05:06] Abbey Sy: I think it's a mix of both because like the brand new things I get like the basic stuff like a bed, a desk, and then everything else I feel like is gonna be a nice mix of going to flea markets and finding random things from marketplaces or you know just hunting down vintage finds. I think that's one of the things I'm looking forward to doing actually.

[00:05:28] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, that sounds so cool. I think that's definitely one of the things I've noticed, um, in Europe is just everything is so much older than it is here in the U. S.

[00:05:37] Abbey Sy: Uh huh. There are creepy photos too, but. Yeah, apart from that, um, there are a lot of, like, really nice gems, so I've been, like, telling friends to come with me over the weekend and, like, have a look at these markets and see what I'll find, and I'm taking my time doing that, yeah.

[00:05:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, but it's perfect for the fall season and everything.

[00:05:57] Abbey Sy: Mm hmm, exactly.

[00:05:59] Jennifer Wilson: So the other question we ask every guest is about their memory keeping bucket list. So do you have a story that you've not yet told but feels really important to do so?

[00:06:09] Abbey Sy: That is a very interesting question. I kind of thought about it. I think I haven't really talked about why I moved, but then I was like, I don't know if I'm ready to talk about it. This feels a bit personal. And also, um, just like this whole idea of, it's very meta. It's like, I wanna explain why, I wanna like talk about why I like telling stories and why everyone should tell their own stories. It's very meta in a sense that like, documenting and scrapbooking is all about telling stories, but then again, I always want to emphasize on that, but I feel like I haven't fully explained it. Does that make sense?

[00:06:51] Jennifer Wilson: It does, but that sounds like a YouTube video. Like, I think you could do a really good job.

[00:06:55] Abbey Sy: Oh, okay, thanks for the idea. I should, yeah.

[00:06:57] Abbey Sy: Weaving both together.

[00:06:59] Jennifer Wilson: You know?

[00:07:00] Abbey Sy: Yeah, yeah, so, something to that extent, cause like, lately I've been enjoying the word documenting for some reason, I feel like it encapsulates a lot of the things that I do, without limiting it too much. So right now I'm like, yeah, documenting this and documenting that. So.

[00:07:20] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and it's fun as, as creators, creatives, that we have so many different formats that we can do today, whether that's, you know, the most tactile in our journals or with the various things that we can do online.

[00:07:34] Abbey Sy: Yeah, for sure. It's like a mix of analog and digital, which I find very interesting, but it's a good like avenue to explore all of these different formats and find what works for you.

[00:07:47] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. So today we're talking about travel journaling because you are one of the people that is most known for that. You have developed quite a business and brand around it. I'm going to link to a video. It's a couple years old now, but you shared how your business got started. But I would love if you talked a little bit more about kind of the evolution of your creative interests from when you started your business to now.

[00:08:14] Abbey Sy: Okay. Yeah. Um, I started like probably 2014, 2015. And at the time, actually, I was very much outside of the whole journaling sphere. I did hand lettering and calligraphy. And at the time in the Philippines, there wasn't anyone who was doing hand lettering and calligraphy. So I kind of, you know, when you're on the internet, you're like, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna go on Tumblr and see all these amazing lettering artists.

[00:08:42] Abbey Sy: And I kind of was curious about it, got into lettering, and it became an avenue for me to teach workshops about lettering because people wanted to learn a skill. And then eventually I got my first book published that was about lettering. So the first few years of my career were very centric, like very focused on hand lettering, but then I've been doing journaling since I was you know, I was a teenager and I had like my whole like angsty phase of like writing in my diary.

[00:09:12] Abbey Sy: Everyone has this like writing in your diary. Oh yeah, I saw my crush today, stuff like that. So I've always like played with it, but then it's interesting how I realized when I look back, all of my journal pages in that time, like 2016, 2017, they were hand lettered. So, stationery came in later, actually. So, it was all like hand lettered and all like written form because growing up I've always liked essay writing.

[00:09:40] Abbey Sy: I feel like as much as people think I have like drawing as my first love or illustration, I think it's really writing that's the core of what I do. And also it makes sense because I write books as well. But, um, journaling kind of came later in that, um, in my creative journey, in my business. And also I personally wasn't so sure how I could like transition because at the time I'd have like, I had like three, four books out on hand lettering, so people knew me as the lettering girl.

[00:10:09] Abbey Sy: And then suddenly I'm like, boop, I do journaling now too, question mark, you know? It's kind of weird to explain it to the internet, which is a funny thing to say. But you know how people are just like, oh, how come her content started to be like different? And with that also, in the middle of that, my publisher of my first book in the Philippines, she actually was the one who planted the seed on journaling. She's like, why don't you explore journaling? And I think that big, um, pivot really helped me kind of figure out what journaling was. Because I also did my own trip to Japan, and that's where I discovered Japanese stationery, Japanese journals, and I'm like, this is a world! You know, this is a thing and.

[00:10:56] Jennifer Wilson: And you want to be in it.

[00:10:58] Abbey Sy: Yeah, I'm like, tell me more, tell me more. I was like, what are these pens? And so for me, it was very, um, slowly a kind of like a self discovery thing as well. And with that, I was like, okay, journaling, journaling. And then there was this whole intersection of, at this time I was traveling frequently.

[00:11:18] Abbey Sy: And I also drew a lot about my trips. So back then I didn't do travel journaling, it was more like, oh I go to Paris, I'm gonna draw the Eiffel Tower while waiting in line at the Louvre Museum. It's something that I just found therapeutic to do because there was nothing... to do while you're waiting in line for a museum, you know, stuff like that.

[00:11:38] Abbey Sy: So it's interesting how travel journaling kind of made its way into the picture because for me, at the time, I was like, no, I don't think people will do this. And then turns out people do do this. And I was like, okay, cool. And then I think, I think Japan really played a big part of how I kind of visualized the whole idea of travel journaling because I went to Japan every year during that time. And when you go to Japan the thing that you get is like a lot of maps and tickets and you're just like what am I gonna do with all these things?

[00:12:14] Abbey Sy: So that's how I decided to kind of use it as a as a tool to scrapbook and memory keep and document everything in a journal. So then everything kind of like made sense in that realm of like Oh travel journaling was a thing now. So every time I traveled I had a journal with me and I documented about my trip.

[00:12:35] Abbey Sy: So I feel like my interests kind of jump from one lane to another but there's also kind of connected in some road so yeah it's it's just kind.

[00:12:46] Jennifer Wilson: Mean, I can definitely see the flow, because.

[00:12:49] Abbey Sy: Yeah.

[00:12:50] Jennifer Wilson: People have long been journaling, but it is the idea of coming back to hand lettering and making our journals like beautiful and documenting within them. Is perhaps a modern take, though of course we can trace its roots back probably hundreds of years, but.

[00:13:09] Abbey Sy: For sure.

[00:13:10] Jennifer Wilson: We go back to illuminated manuscripts.

[00:13:13] Abbey Sy: Right exactly.

[00:13:15] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, no, I think it's definitely a flow. I don't see it as much of a jump as just, as I said, an evolution, so it feels very natural.

[00:13:22] Abbey Sy: Okay I think evolution is a good term to say yeah pretty much.

[00:13:27] Jennifer Wilson: So, Abby, what are you most passionate about creating for yourself or sharing for your business right now in late 2023?

[00:13:36] Abbey Sy: Well I think now it's especially late 2023 coming from Um, my summer this year has been very eventful and I didn't expect it to be. Like I went to the US a lot to teach workshops and meet people that I've never met. You know, you always just think everyone's online. So right now I feel like I'm more passionate of a passionate about making connections through creative pursuits. Whether it's like journaling or like just making art or like coming from the San Francisco pen show.

[00:14:08] Abbey Sy: I met a lot of friends who had like similar pen interests as I am like, oh, we're on the same level, let's talk about it. You know, it's nice to feel less alone in this world of I mean, being creative and like getting into all of these interests is very niche, but also everyone is super open and super welcoming. And I love that, like I have a bunch of friends that we live in different continents, but we always talk about like, Oh, did you see this new journal come out?

[00:14:37] Abbey Sy: Or like, Oh, have you finished your journal spread? I'm trying this format, or that format, as well as small biz friends like Christine of Everyday Explorer. Sometimes we rehash our own ideas and try to make sense of our, we kind of brainstorm together sometimes. So for me it's great to just do that because it's one thing to say like, I do make content for the internet, but also I do most of it alone. So it's nice to do things with other people as well. So I'm trying to build that more like build more connections and just, you know, um, not really have more friends.

[00:15:14] Abbey Sy: I'm such an introvert, but it's more like just having this community where you can feel at ease and like connect with people and also share ideas and inspiration. I think for me, that's what I'm really focused on right now. And it's, it's great.

[00:15:30] Jennifer Wilson: I mean, that's where introverts thrive. I am a hardcore introvert as well, but, you know, we can really dive into these topics that we care about, we're passionate about, we're obsessive about researching and looking at new products and planning new things. Um, that's where we can really, um, shine and come to life, for sure.

[00:15:51] Jennifer Wilson: So I get that for 100%. So backing up a bit for those who are completely new, maybe they're more traditional scrapbookers or have a different history in their creativity. What is a travel journal? What does it look like? Can you get us, give us some of the basics.

[00:16:08] Abbey Sy: Sure. Well, a travel journal, I'm gonna be very broad here and say it's a place to document your adventures or trips. And even the idea of adventures or trips, it could really be some students have told me like, I'm going to take a trip to the grocery store. Does that count? It's it counts still. It's still going somewhere, right?

[00:16:28] Abbey Sy: It's doing something. And, um, it's a place to basically document your trips or adventures in a way that speaks to you the most. And I guess the main thing is you have a notebook to do that, which is regardless of size, it's up to you to decide. So it's a fully customizable way to document your adventures. I think that's the easiest way to say it.

[00:16:52] Abbey Sy: What does it look like? I would say the common elements of a travel journal like the pages contain either photos, illustrations, writings, collages, or a mix of everything. You know, some people have fully photos and like write a bit of caption, and that's it. Or some people don't even print photos. They just do a full illustration of their road trip to the mountains or if you like to just write so that can also be like, you know you're writing your travelogue or your essays and just hashing everything together. Or even collages, you know if you if you go on a nature hike and you pick up all these like little leaves you can play around with them and document them. So that also can be inside a travel journal, it's, I like that it has no rules basically, it's how you kind of decide what goes in and out of this little book that you're going to create.

[00:17:47] Jennifer Wilson: So I'm curious, do you keep consecutive journals? Like for example, you went to San Francisco and to the Philippines and then back home. Is that in one book or do you keep separate journals for separate locations, separate trips? How does that work in your mind?

[00:18:04] Abbey Sy: For me, I experimented a lot with that and in the end I kind of divided it per either country or continent depending on the time of my trip. So for example, my San Francisco one and my New York one is in one book. Because It's both summer and it's both the US, so I was like, oh, I'll just fit everything in that book.

[00:18:24] Abbey Sy: I did have a Germany one, I think, last year, where it's like, I went on like, different train trips around Germany, so it's all documented in one book. It also depends on the trip, for example, I went to Manila, it wasn't really a travel, because I live there, so I didn't keep a very comprehensive travel journal, it was more like, I did keep a bunch of food packaging and photos with friends, but it's in a separate journal. So, I think the most I do is cities or continents or countries.

[00:18:57] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think it's important to just underscore the kind of there's no rules, no right way, because I can see that being like a sticking point for someone who does travel frequently of how, how do I organize this? And I don't want that to stop someone from getting started.

[00:19:11] Abbey Sy: Right. Exactly. And also, it also depends like some, some people also do categorize it per season, for example, like spring trips, you know, or summer trips, or if you don't travel frequently, it's also not necessarily it has to be like, oh, it has to have like one journal for the entire thing. You can even have like, Okay, my 2023 travels are going to exist in one journal.

[00:19:33] Abbey Sy: That's totally fine. It's really, uh, customizable depending on your needs. I think I also factored in the fact that if I bring that same journal and it's going to be very heavy towards the end of the year, then I don't want to bring it to my trip. So I just like, you know, I'm like, I might take home a lot of maps and other stationery or other things from this trip.

[00:19:54] Abbey Sy: I don't want to bring, bring a really big, um, toolkit of things. So I try to like minimize a lot on that part.

[00:20:03] Jennifer Wilson: For sure, for sure.

[00:20:03] Abbey Sy: Yeah.

[00:20:04] Jennifer Wilson: So thinking back to when you were, say, drawing the Eiffel Tower while waiting in line at the Louvre. Um, and thinking now to what you do in your travel journals, why do you love this kind of, uh, more extended version of documenting a travel experience?

[00:20:23] Abbey Sy: Yeah. So with now, I think it's just more dynamic in a sense, like, don't get me wrong, I still draw, but there are some cities that, Are just, you know, I just go to some cities and like they're begging to be drawn. Like I went to Italy for a week. I'm like, I'm not gonna do that much documenting, but I did draw a lot of like the doors and the windows and whatnot.

[00:20:45] Abbey Sy: But I feel like with the journaling style that I do now, it's just more accessible in a way that there are a lot of different options you can approach things. And also it just doesn't have to be confined with like, I'm gonna draw this structure, not that it's bad, it's just like, I wanna kind of diversify the storytelling angle. You don't have to, yeah, so like a typical travel journal would be like, if you really want to do it like by the book, it's like day one we went to New York, Manhattan, day two we went to Brooklyn, stuff like that. But I try to, what I do with every trip also is I try to consciously change how I document so I can figure out what else to do. Because there's always some kind of way you can like change it up, you know. So I do okay instead of like I went to Brooklyn today I'm gonna write like six coffee shops that I went to throughout my time in New York. Because I love coffee. So I try to tap into my interests and expound on that. Another thing I do also is I go to museums and I do a full like this is what I did at this museum I have five paintings that I really love blah blah blah blah blah. So, you know, it really is an exercise in discovering I like to say it's also an exercise in self discovery and figuring out what your travel style is and how you want to tell that story through your pages.

[00:22:07] Jennifer Wilson: And also what you, what you care about, like what. What experiences really sit with you because they could be small to someone else, like I can think of my husband who doesn't care about going to a coffee shop, he probably ate a pastry while I drank coffee, but whereas like you, I would savor the coffee shop and look at the decor and the people there and.

[00:22:30] Abbey Sy: Ask for a free sticker. Yeah, stuff like that. Pick up the menu or like, you know, take pictures, get some, some like, get a feel of the place. Yeah, totally.

[00:22:41] Jennifer Wilson: So, how can someone get started with travel journaling if they are completely new and not sure where to begin?

[00:22:51] Abbey Sy: I always say just start really small. I think the common mistake of most people is they start off buying all these supplies and they just get overwhelmed. It's always just a matter of getting a notebook and a pen and being observant. I think that's the first step because with travel journaling, it's not only just, um, documenting per se or like being able to put photos on a page and write everything, but also just regardless of the tools you have, just like your own perception of seeing a city, seeing a place. Traveling, being mindful of where you are. It's very cheesy, but I feel like traveling really invites you to pay attention to what's in front of you because you don't see these things every day. And it's just a really nice way to just, you know, take everything in, observe, and one thing I always say is like, I feel like traveling is like you, when you journal about it, it's like you're also being kind of a reporter.

[00:23:52] Abbey Sy: You're like, oh, this is what I saw, or I think, I think it's a nice way to also slowly get started, you don't have to start with, okay you have to journal about this museum, you can start with, okay I went to this museum, and then you have some notes and observations. And I like it because it's like having a little dialogue with yourself, like, How do I feel about this place? Like, oh, the interiors of the Rijksmuseum was really nice, or something like, I saw this painting and it reminded me of my mom, you know, these things that are very, um, just personal to you, that you kind of see and unlock when you travel, because travel is a very personal experience too, to everyone. And no one has the same perception of a city, you know, or a trip.

[00:24:35] Abbey Sy: So, for me, it's one of those ways that you can really get started and just, you know, have a pen and paper with you. Or, if not even, you can just write it on your notes on your phone. That's how I started actually.

[00:24:49] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm.

[00:24:49] Abbey Sy: Because when I used to go on trips, my mom would always put us on, like, tours. Which I, I liked it to some extent, but also like, it's very restricted because I couldn't explore by myself.

[00:25:00] Abbey Sy: So the tour guide would just talk about a certain thing. I would literally stand beside the tour guide and take notes. Because I'm like, I need to know what happened in this monument or something. It's this curiosity that really brings you to ask questions, discover new things, and in turn explore a lot about the city you're visiting.

[00:25:21] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think there's a kind of, uh, an additive effect. Like, the more you do it, the easier it gets, the more second nature it is. I think we have that in all of us. And when we start to kind of release it, it's, it's hard to stop it, I'm sure.

[00:25:35] Abbey Sy: Yeah, yeah. It's also this exercise where you kind of, I mean I've been doing like travel journaling for a while now, but also I've been, every time I travel I try to put myself in a certain mindset of being open, not being too constricted. Like the way I traveled like 10 years ago is totally different to how I travel now. So I lean into that. Like my energy, I can't just go to 5 places in a day, I need to do like, a two day trip and like slowly like ease into two places, you know, instead of like packing everything in.

[00:26:07] Abbey Sy: So it's, it's a lot about these, like, little things that it's kind of having a routine per se when your daily life but also with traveling. Because that's also going to affect how you document and how you kind of see things and figure it out. How you don't want to get overwhelmed. And you know traveling is like there's a lot of sensory things going on so you kind of have to catch yourself a minute. And I feel like journaling helps you do that because you kind of sit still and you're like wait, what happened today? Let's, let's write it down.

[00:26:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. I want to dive more into that, but I do have one more question about getting started because you have a book about travel journaling. So

[00:26:44] Abbey Sy: I do!

[00:26:44] Jennifer Wilson: What can our listeners learn from the book?

[00:26:48] Abbey Sy: Well, I guess what they can learn about it is there are many ways to document, and there are no rules. But the book does offer a lot of ideas and inspiration based on the different travel journals I've owned. As well as, you know, if you need a primer to getting started with all these, like, what is a clear stamp?

[00:27:08] Abbey Sy: What is a, what is this kind of scissors? Or what is a glue tape? I explain everything thoroughly because these are things that you can you know, eventually use for your own journaling toolkit.

[00:27:22] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. Awesome. I will definitely include a link to that in the show notes as well as your hand lettering books.

[00:27:28] Abbey Sy: Mm hmm.

[00:27:28] Jennifer Wilson: So Abby, can you talk a little bit more about the timeline of a travel journaling, let's just call it a series of entries, whether it's its own book or, or within a larger book, what do you do before, during, and after a trip?

[00:27:43] Abbey Sy: Yeah. So, before a trip is always the hardest part. I, I have this little routine of laying out all the journals I could possibly bring. It's like an elimination round where it's like everything is laid out. It's very funny that it's a new, it's a new routine that I discovered and I told my friends about it. And they're like, Abby, that is actually really smart. So I'm like, everything is laid out, my journals, my tools, my printer, if I need a photo printer or whatever, and I'm gonna think, okay, who's coming with me? There's a lot of things to factor in, so that's what I do before the trip, and this is also aligned with whatever itinerary I'm having, right?

[00:28:20] Abbey Sy: So, if I'm traveling alone, and there's no motive, there's no big agenda, it's just vibes, like, okay, I'm gonna go to Italy for a week, I'm going to this, this, this, that's it, and I don't have to follow anyone's schedule. That's always the easiest because then I could figure out what I need to bring because I'll have time to draw.

[00:28:39] Abbey Sy: Because this is the thing that I always find difficult. When you're traveling, you cannot just sit, I mean you can, but it's always hard to find time to sit at a cafe and draw. Because you feel like you're wasting time. That's the common thing that people think, right? Like, oh, I just... Why don't I just explore?

[00:28:55] Abbey Sy: But then again, you don't want to keep exploring and getting tired at the same time. So, with figuring out what to bring, I also factor in if I have a work engagement that's going on for that trip. Because if I do have a work engagement, I already know in my head that I won't have enough time to document while on the trip.

[00:29:15] Abbey Sy: So 90 percent of the time, I do my documenting and journaling after the trip because it's a, I'll explain later, but it's like a little moment for me to kind of like close the trip as I mentioned earlier, like with the San Francisco trip, I haven't closed anything. So, during the trip, I just try to take everything in.

[00:29:39] Abbey Sy: I have a little notebook that I bring, it's like my reporter's notebook, there is no journaling on it, it's literally a tiny notebook with just my gel pen and I just write everything that happened in a day. It can go from the slightest thing like, oh, the weather was so cold, the day was so cold, or like, we got lost in this train stop. So I'm being observant of where I am, what I'm doing, I feel everything that's happening in that day, in that moment, in that trip, and I log everything. And then afterwards, um, I guess this is also like in conjunction like during the trip, obviously you're also taking pictures, you know, you're doing all these things to kind of preserve the memory and keep it all in like a little box in your head. So, after the trip, that's where I sit down and like, you know, take a look at all the things I've collected. There's probably a map of a museum, or a pen that I got from this trip, or like, a little ticket that I preserved or I asked for the menu of this restaurant that I really liked. And that's where I kind of gather inspiration and tap into my creative side because apart from documenting I also like to, I have a background in graphic design, I like to color, you know, add like specific color schemes to my work, like to my pages.

[00:31:00] Abbey Sy: If this map is blue, I'm gonna go for a blue theme, or if I went to a certain city that screams like green, I'm gonna put a very green nature inspired journal spread. So there's always a routine that I do, when I do after the trip is like, in the evening I sit down with a cup of my rooibos tea. It's very specific.

[00:31:20] Abbey Sy: I'm actually having one right now as well. Um, rooibos tea, it's, it's like the taste just make, I really like the taste of it. So I have that and then my desk lamp is on. Contrary to popular belief, I actually journal in the evenings. But sometimes it's the daytime because I have to film it for my YouTube channel or Patreon, but mostly it's in the evenings. Where it's just quiet and I'm just like, uh, okay, I'm in my little bubble with my desk and just, you know, making magic. So that's how I kind of time everything, like before, during, and after.

[00:31:56] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think it's important to, um, how do I say this? So we've talked about how there's no right way to do it. And I think some might assume that if you're going to do it, you need to do it on the trip.

[00:32:08] Abbey Sy: Is this is not, yeah, this is not the only way. Disclaimer.

[00:32:12] Jennifer Wilson: But you have to do it on the trip, otherwise it doesn't count.

[00:32:15] Abbey Sy: Is, yeah, yeah, I don't know who made that rule, I'm like, that's so tiring. I tried it before, and I think it only works to a certain extent if you really have enough free time to do it. But I don't wanna sleep and stay, I don't wanna stay up late every night doing my journal pages if I have to wake up early the next day. So I try to do like, half and half, if I do have extra time, there's gonna be some random day in the trip where like, okay, you know, just take the day off, we can have like a three hour coffee date or whatever. So I would do that, or you know, when a flight is delayed, I kind of maximize these times to do something that's not computer related because I don't want to work when I'm in transit.

[00:32:58] Abbey Sy: So I do work when I'm up in the air, but like when I'm in transit, I like to kind of do something with my hands or write stuff. So yeah, I think contrary to popular belief, you're not, you're not required to journal and finish everything and come home saying, I've done my journal. Unless that's really how you do it, but that's not really, you don't, you don't have to, don't force it. Because it gets too tiring to do everything in one go. Traveling and doing it and journaling at the same time, it's not, It's not sustainable I think.

[00:33:31] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I think if you are traveling with others, that also makes it less sustainable. But if you are traveling, say alone with lots of free time, then that would be a different situation. Um, but I think that probably would maybe would have been the biggest misconceptions going into this that someone might have, is that if you can't, you know, you could make it beautiful and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But if you can do something that you feel proud of afterwards, you don't necessarily have to do that on, you know, a bumpy tour bus or anything.

[00:34:03] Abbey Sy: Yeah, that's true. And also, um, this idea of, let's say you brought like a little stationary capsule kit in your pouch for your trip and you're like, Oh, the sticker set I wanted is back home. Then now you feel bad because you couldn't use it. Then you can just like, comfortably documented the comfort of your own home where you have access to all your materials. Versus like regretting bringing stuff because my, my mantra is when I bring stuff to a trip, I don't bring that much and people are always so surprised.

[00:34:36] Abbey Sy: I'm like, come on, I have to buy stuff. I don't want to bring too much stuff. And like, limit my luggage. You know, I want to just be able to like freely like play around with what I have and it's, also an exercise in resourcefulness. So then I can like fully enjoy whatever else I have and like go home to print photos and just take my time in documenting and finishing up the pages.

[00:35:03] Jennifer Wilson: Sure, sure, sure. So how do you think about or approach everyday journaling like personal journaling differently from travel journaling?

[00:35:14] Abbey Sy: Well, for everyday journaling, I've been slowly appreciating how it's really different from travel journaling for me. For everyday, it's very mundane, but I like it. There's a lot of mundane things that I really like. I'm a very, um, simple person. I like seeing leaves fall and turn into red, or like, just the morning sun.

[00:35:35] Abbey Sy: So I do write a lot of these things, and for everyday journaling, I also keep, so my main differentiator is my travel journals exist in the traveler's notebook system and then my everyday journaling is either in A5 or in A6. So they are not the same book and also I don't write my travels on my everyday journal because then that feels like I'm just kind of copying and like it's gonna take more time. So I just fully like I'm like no these these are two separate things and for everyday journaling.

[00:36:08] Abbey Sy: I am more I think I'm more heavy on writing. That's what I've been leaning towards with everyday journaling because I just like to write about little moments or like what we did that day or where I went, the errands I did. Usually also everyday journaling is also a sign for me to write about a little, a little win at work, a small win because I can be really harsh on myself and like not recognize and give myself enough credit for the work I do.

[00:36:34] Abbey Sy: So I try to do that frequently with everyday journaling.

[00:36:38] Jennifer Wilson: Now is your everyday journal together or separate with say like a planner for how you figure out what you're going to get done?

[00:36:46] Abbey Sy: No, it's a separate one. Because I, I think I used to try doing planning and journaling, but then it's just too much for one book. So I do have a separate planner and it's very straightforward. It's like, do today. Like, tasks, errands, who I'm meeting. And then my journal is a really big A5 book where it's like all my feelings are there basically.

[00:37:10] Abbey Sy: And covered with really cute stationery. So pretty much that's what it looks like.

[00:37:14] Jennifer Wilson: I love it. I love it. So Abby, what are some of your biggest lessons learned from your years of travel journaling? I'm thinking both kind of reflective, reflective life lessons, as you mentioned about like learning your travel style and then also come with those practical, creative lessons of being a travel journaler.

[00:37:33] Abbey Sy: Yeah. So. As you mentioned about the travel styles, that was the first thing I thought of, that I travel differently and I know my limits because for a time I kept following other people's travel schedules and I just was really mad. You know, it's like I'm paying for this trip, how am I, of course not everyone has the liberty to do this, but like things that I plan with friends sometimes it's just like they just want certain things. And I think in the end that's also why I prefer traveling alone. Because I can really like decide on things. But I also know traveling alone is not for everyone.

[00:38:10] Abbey Sy: It's a very introverted and it's an avenue for self discovery and self appreciation, actually. That's why I do it a lot. So I know my limits in the sense that I don't force myself to oh my gosh you have to finish 10 journal pages because this is a really nice city like no one, no one makes the rules. So I've, I've kind of let loose in that department.

[00:38:37] Abbey Sy: It's also funny coming back to, um, I told you I used to do hand lettering where hand lettering is such a precise skill. I draw letters, they have to be a certain shape, the spelling has to be great and everything. And once I got into travel journaling and journaling in general, I felt this like, Um, I felt that I had to let go of that control and that really helped me regain my footing in my creative pursuits.

[00:39:02] Abbey Sy: Because there's no particular rule and I can just change it up. Obviously my 2016 journal looks different. I'll give you a link to it, versus like my 2023 journal. But it's nice to see how the idea of documenting is still in the same format, it's just evolved. And, um yeah, so that's what I think is one of the biggest lessons I learned. And another thing that's very cheesy is like, everyone's journey is their own, even how everyone documents, it's very personal, it's very different. And I try to honor that because every time I walk into a travel journaling workshop and meet people, it's so great to see how everyone sees a city differently. Or like, when I taught workshops in New York, everyone had their own perception of the city because some people live there, I lived there for a few months. I now live in Europe, so there's a lot of these things that kind of factor in, and it makes you appreciate everyone's relationships to these cities more. And that travel has a very different, you know, connotation to everyone that you meet. And lastly, this is the very the most cheesy thing I'm going to say, but when I was young, this is like one of the things that I always wrote inside the first page of a journal when I open one and start one, uh, life is a journey.

[00:40:19] Jennifer Wilson: So it sounds like that over the years you've learned to kind of embrace who you are and be kind of less hard on yourself and less of a perfectionist. Is that, would you say that's accurate?

[00:40:33] Abbey Sy: That's accurate, but I'm still working on my perfectionism.

[00:40:37] Jennifer Wilson: Mm hmm. And it's, I mean, it's so hard, but I can see as in the transition from hand lettering where that is more, let's say, required. Than um, in your travel journal, I can see it's a way of kind of working through that maybe.

[00:40:54] Abbey Sy: Yeah, but I think the nice pattern is like at the end of the day, I'm still like connected to words and letters. It's still in that same realm of like words and writing quotes and like just being able to like weave words together. And I think that's still what I do with journaling. So I think it's a really nice like transition into what I do now

[00:41:17] Jennifer Wilson: Awesome, awesome. So before we start wrapping up here, I'm curious what are some of your favorites right now in terms of journals, pens, markers, stickers, you know, what are the things that you just love the most?

[00:41:30] Abbey Sy: Okay, I have my go to. So I'm gonna share with you some of them. For my journals, I did create a journal two years ago. It's called the diarist. And it's A5, and it's dotted, and I just like the format. Obviously because I made it. And it's, sometimes I make products, no, most of the time I make products because I don't see it in the market, and I want to use it for myself. I'm the first customer, basically. So, that's the journal I've been using, like, I think I'm on my third journal now for the diarist, so I'm gonna start my fourth one soon.

[00:42:05] Abbey Sy: But anything A5 is like a really good size for me because it feels like a book and it's very tangible. And since I write a lot, I need a lot of space to get those words out and basically fill up a page. For pens, I recently got a new fountain pen. Do you use fountain pens?

[00:42:24] Jennifer Wilson: I do not. I am totally intimidated by the wetness. Yeah. Mm hmm. Yes.

[00:42:27] Abbey Sy: Oh, no, you have to get a thinner nib, like a Japanese nib, so it's not gonna be too wet, but it's a new thing that I've been like slowly getting into as well. And it's so funny because one of the first things that I thought of when I was getting into fountain pens is like, I'm gonna be, you know, I'm like gonna be my peak writer energy because you're using a fountain pen.

[00:42:50] Abbey Sy: It's so fancy, but That's always been my connotation until now. So I kind of laugh at myself, but I'm like, yeah, it looks good on my hand. So, yeah. Um, so yeah, for pens, I do have two pens that I really like. One is a fountain pen that I newly got, and another one is a gel pen. So for the fountain pen, I bought this, um, it's a brand called Nagasawa.

[00:43:10] Abbey Sy: It's Japanese, and it has a, It's a demonstrator pen meaning the body is clear so you can see the entire body and it is in a pink gold trim which is really pretty. So I've been enjoying using that and it's one of the higher end pens that I got from the pen show this year. And for regular like gel pens I've been enjoying this pen called the Uni Ball 1P, it's a very tiny. It's a, I think it's the size of a, like a, smaller than a hand, and it's just, you can put it in your bag, and you can like instant, it's a click pen, and it just comes in really cute colors. I currently have a beige one, I think it's called coffee or something, and it's just nice to like, Um, it's so handy to write.

[00:43:56] Abbey Sy: The size is really good and for some reason ergonomically it works really well too. So I've been enjoying that a lot for like jotting down. This is what I use to write my travel notes on my tiny journal that I do for like reporting. For markers, I never outgrew or like never got rid of the ones that I used to use for hand lettering.

[00:44:17] Abbey Sy: So I'm pretty sure you know the Tombow Fudenosuke brush. It's like, uh, yeah, it's, it's, it's similar to Pentel Touch, so any of those, because the tip really works well with my handwriting. So I really enjoy both of them. And I also use them for sketching sometimes, so it's just a mainstay in my pen case anytime I'm traveling or I'm out and about.

[00:44:41] Abbey Sy: For stickers, I've been loving, and I told Christine this, I've been loving the Everyday Explorers Co. Currently, Sticker prompts, currently prompts. It's a clear sticker set and it has all these prompts that you can use for travel, for daily journaling. If you're running out of idea, you know, sometimes you're like, I'm gonna open my journal.

[00:44:59] Abbey Sy: I don't want to write about my day, but I want to do some memory keeping or like talk about what I'm currently reading or what I'm currently watching. So I really enjoy the currently prompts. So that's what I've been, um, like using a lot on my in my stash right now.

[00:45:18] Jennifer Wilson: So you recently launched a collaboration kit.

[00:45:20] Abbey Sy: I did.

[00:45:21] Jennifer Wilson: With Christine. So as of recording, it's open for pre order, but by the time it goes out, it unfortunately might be, um, sold out. But I think they'll eventually be a digital kit version. Um, but can you share how you hope customers will use these products?

[00:45:36] Abbey Sy: Yeah. So this kit that I did in collaboration with Every Explorer's Co. This is actually our second year doing one. The first one we did was last year. Because it was travel themed and it was in line with the release of my book about travel journaling. So it was like, oh, it's a great way to pick up a kit and start travel journaling.

[00:45:55] Abbey Sy: For this year, we created the Everyday Journaling Kit. So Christine runs the Mini Bookmakers Club. It's a monthly subscription kit and there are themes every month. And this year she told me, she actually pitched me the idea. She's like, Can you talk about everyday journaling? And I was a bit like, that's very broad, she's like, yeah, but I think it's a good way to like, get people to start journaling.

[00:46:19] Abbey Sy: So with the theme, I created stickers and a clear stamp set and that kit has a mini book, which is great because as I mentioned earlier, you know, starting small is very important. And starting small doesn't have to be like, So, it's all really like, very like, tiny tiny. It's like, you know, you can have a little book to bring with you, you know?

[00:46:41] Abbey Sy: Make it as easy as possible, and this is one of the ways you can do that. So, what I hope, um, people who get this kit do is make time to document, start small, notice things. The prompts inside the Everyday Journaling Kit are very, um, straight forward. It's like checking in, or on my mind, or if you're like stuck in a cafe or it was raining outside and there's like a stamp called date, time, and location. So you can like mark the passage of time or where you are, just a little corner in your room if you're journaling.

[00:47:15] Abbey Sy: So it's really all about capturing these little moments and, um, I want people to feel the idea of how journaling has made me feel because it really transformed, yes, also my business, but actually me as a person. I feel like I've really transformed so much and I learned so much about what I like and what I don't like and it's a, it's this whole, I really am such a fan or how do you say, I'm like super pro self discovery because it takes a lot to actively look inwards, you know, and journaling really allows us to do that.

[00:47:49] Abbey Sy: So, of course, it's a lot of work to do, to do that, but then journaling is one of the ways you can like get in touch with yourself and you're the true core of who you are. And so, um, hopefully through these kits, they learn to figure out what their journaling style is, what they like to document, what their interests are, realize what they really want out of life, you know. And so, yeah, that's what I hope, um, customers do to when they get these kits and these products.

[00:48:20] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, it sounds like a great entry point. Abby, this has been such a wonderful conversation. Thank you.

[00:48:26] Abbey Sy: Thank you. Thanks, Jennifer. I had a blast

[00:48:28] Jennifer Wilson: Can you share where we can find you online? Anything you might have new or coming up towards the end of 2023?

[00:48:35] Abbey Sy: Yeah, um, so I have a Patreon it's called. Yeah, it's Abby Sy on Patreon so I call it my Art Club. And um, as of this recording, it's probably October, so we will do Happy Mail as the tier because I haven't done that in a while. So I'm going to start rolling out Happy Mail because I miss designing stickers and like, these are gonna be journaling stickers and stuff you can use for documenting, memory keeping.

[00:49:02] Abbey Sy: I do also have exclusive content that's centered around documenting and journaling. So, journal tours, I also show, um, previews of my products or projects and I also talk a lot about the behind the scenes of running my business. And if you would like to support my creative journey or meet fellow community members, it's a great way to get involved and like, share, and share ideas and exchange conversations, so it's Patreon.

[00:49:30] Abbey Sy: And then, I'm just on Instagram for updates, and also on YouTube, I do have, at the moment, I don't have that much journaling videos. Because I've been sharing all of the things I did from my trips. But it's a fun one because I've went to different factories I got to meet amazing people and like introduce these small businesses. Because I also used to run a small shop. So I just want to like highlight all these small businesses I got to work with. And my book is still available.

[00:49:59] Abbey Sy: It's called the Art of the Travel Journal. And it's available on Amazon and bookstores worldwide. And I also have a shop that I, I don't have a shop, but I have my products coming out to different, uh, stockists around the world, like in the US, in the UK. So it's at ShopAbbySy on Instagram if they want to get updated on where you can find my brand new products and stationery.

[00:50:25] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds so fun. We'll include all those links in the show notes. Again, I'm so glad we could spend time together.

[00:50:31] Abbey Sy: Thanks so much, Jennifer!

[00:50:34] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to document your life your way.

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