Creating Travel Scrapbooks on the Road

I have boxes and boxes of vacation photos and memorabilia that I always plan to put in a scrapbook someday when I have the time.  On trips in more recent years, I have promised myself that I would translate my digital photos into a beautiful Shutterfly album as soon as I returned home.  It really shouldn’t be that hard to preserve our memories in these ways but somehow life always gets in the way once we return home.   That is why, when I saw a Pinterest photo of a school box with enough supplies to create a scrapbook while still on the road, I knew that I had to try it!  I immediately created my own portable scrapbook studio in a small pencil box.  Unfortunately, my motto in life sometimes seems to be

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.  

That is why, before long, I had instead purchased a larger, deeper box with adjustable compartments (14 x 9.1 x 2.8 inches) and my kit looked like this:

Portable Scrapbook Supply Organizer Kit for Road Trips and other Travel

Supplies.  Does one really need all of these supplies to make a travel scrapbook on the road?  Not even close!  All that is really needed is a book or binder with paper and a pencil box with scissors, adhesive, and a pen or marker.  Still, I had a lot of fun having all these extras. Here is a list of what I took in my portable scrapbooking studio.

EPSON MFP imageWhere to buy.  Most of the items on this list can be found at hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, and Michael’s.  However, I also found some items at Amazon, Wal-mart, or Etsy.  While searching for travel journals on Pinterest, I saw the cutest “You are Here” stamp.  I looked absolutely everywhere for a similar one, but they were completely sold out.  I was thrilled that the nice folks at Simon’s Stamps were able to custom make a similar one for me for a reasonable price.

Binder.  After looking at some different Smash Books and Scrapbooks, I ultimately decided to go with this customizable 3-ring binder that I ordered on  I then used a three-hole punch to punch holes in some Kraft paper cardstock to use as the pages.


I actually found that I was able to be much less of a perfectionist creating this book than I am creating more formal scrapbook or Shutterfly albums.  I didn’t work on the book everyday, I would just catch up whenever I felt like it, sometimes that was in the hotel if my husband  was watching something that did not interest me.  Mostly, though, I worked on the road which was a nice distraction since we were sometimes on the road for several hours per day.

first page

My biggest splurge was definitely an Instax printer which was a birthday gift from my husband.  I chose it over the Instax camera because it is small. Plus, when you take a photo with the Instax camera, that is the photo that you are going to get, good or bad.  The printer gives you the option to choose a photo from your iPhone and even edit it before printing, if you want.  I had an instant camera in the 1980s, I wanted every shot to be good and choosing the printer helped me to do that.

Instax printer, cord and film in a pencil box

You need to have a Wi-Fi connection, so I always printed my photos in the hotel at night.  It is actually quite simple to use.  You will need to download the Instax Share app onto your phone and insert the batteries and film into the printer.  Here is how to print a photo from your phone:

  1.  Crop/edit the photo that you want to print and save it on your phone before opening the Instax app.
  2. Turn on your Instax printer.
  3.  On your phone, choose Settings->Wi-Fi and choose Instax when it comes up under “Choose a Network”.  You will need to repeat this anytime the printer has turned off, even briefly.
  4. Open the Instax Share app on your iPhone.
  5. Select, “Choose from Photos”
  6. Select the photo that you want to print
  7. If preferred, choose edit to rotate the photo, edit text or apply filters (optional)
  8. Select Connect and Print.

The phone will tell you how much film you have left.  The power shuts off pretty quickly after printing.  The quality is fairly good, but not perfect, it definitely has that old retro vibe, as you can see in the upper right of this layout.


The washi tape came in handy for a variety of purposes, but I especially loved using it to make pockets with a half piece of cardstock.


My husband was not happy about my decision to buy a selfie-stick, but we usually come back from vacations with almost no photos of the two of us together.  It’s important to me to have photos like that because the memories are the best part of a vacation!

Cape Cod

I brought along a manila envelope and, as we visited different places, I would put brochures, maps, and  other scraps into it until I could cut them up and glue them onto the pages.

blue ridge mountains

I was going for an old-fashioned, retro vibe in this book, so I found a lot of old blank postcard printables on-line before we left and printed them on cardstock to use as journaling cards.  To go with them, I searched google images for retro postcards of the places we would be visiting and then printed those out to use on my pages.  I also like the look of these a lot more than the overpriced postcards that we found in shops along the way.

I probably should have spent more time journaling, but these postcards that I wrote out were more journaling than I have ever taken the time to do on a vacation, so this was an accomplishment for me! If you are reading these journals, you might want to know that I am a genealogy nut and we were stopping at some of our ancestors graves along the way.  Or, as my husband joked, visiting my “dead kin”.


I also had fun using my “You are here” stamp, old school embossing label maker, and the fun embellishments that I brought along to enhance each page.Lexington

I hope that you found some ideas to help you preserve your memories, even while you are in the midst of making them!  Happy travels!

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How to Prepare for (Almost) Anything on Your Road Trip

My husband and I spent three glorious weeks driving up the coast from Virginia to Maine last summer.  Before we left, I considered potential problems that might arise and how we could avoid or solve those problems.  Having been on some shorter road trips in the past, I knew how inconvenient it can be when you need something on the road and must track down a place to buy it.  Since we would be changing hotels almost every night, I also didn’t want to be dragging a lot of luggage into our hotel every night.  For that reason, I decided to bring as many useful items as would fit in a small space and could stay in our SUV.  I bought a set of plastic school pencil boxes for $1/each at a dollar store and the 3 plastic drawer cart made by Sterilite for about $10 at Wal-Mart.  The dimensions of this cart are 14.50 x 12.63 x 24.00 inches, so all of the items listed below fit into a little over two square feet. We used it without the wheels, it fit perfectly in the back of our SUV (without blocking our view), and there it stayed for the duration of our trip.  Once we returned home, I put it in our storage room and it is ready to go on our next adventure.

I found that I could fit up to five pencil boxes in each drawer and each pencil box held a lot!

uploaded oct 2015 154

As you can see, I used one pencil box just for sunscreen (body and face) and bug repellent.  Also, in this drawer were items categorized as Problem Solvers, Laundry, First Aid, and Office.

Problem Solvers.  My goal was to include items that could be useful in a variety of circumstances that might arise.  Fortunately, we only needed about half of these items, but I was glad to have them all along, just in case.  We could have fit even more into this pencil case, had we wanted to.

Problem Solvers

Laundry.  Not wanting to pack three weeks worth of clothing, I knew that we would need to do laundry at least twice, but I didn’t want to cart around a bunch of liquid detergent, fabric softener, and static guard.  Luckily, I already had these 3-in-1  Purex laundry sheets that I had purchased on Amazon a few years earlier when we were needing to do laundry between a conference in Seattle and a cruise to Alaska.  We only use these for travel since they are a little pricey, a little over a dollar a load, but I think it is more than worth it to not mess with liquid detergent and the rest while traveling.  I really like the Purex, but if you cannot find those, you might try WashEZE.  I also saved quarters in an empty mini-M&M package.  It was the perfect size!  We used everything on this list at some point during our trip.

Laundry with list

Don’t accidents always happen while on vacation?  That is why I put more thought into our first-aid kit than anything else.  The one thing I almost left behind was this compression bandage because it took some doing to get everything on this list to fit into that little pencil box and I wasn’t sure that big compression bandage deserved so much real estate.  Turns out, that was the one item I needed most.  On our VERY FIRST night on the road, I tripped and broke my elbow in downtown Nashville. What are the odds?  We didn’t know it was a break until we returned home.  I initially thought it was just a sprain and so did the doctor at the Urgent Care that we went to the day after I was hurt.  He was impressed that I had immediately done RICE:  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate.  This was possible because the kit was in our car and not in our hotel room, so we were able to easily access the compression bandage, advil, and a Ziploc baggie, which the nice bartender filled with ice for me. I was able to fulfill my dream of listening to live music at the Station Inn for a little while before we headed back to the hotel where I took advantage of another item in my first-aid kit…a prescription-strength pain killer from my recent surgery.

I used old medicine bottles for some supplies, one for cotton and Q-tips and one for rubber gloves.  I also made a splinter kit out of a little matchbox.  It had a needle and some matches to disinfect the needle.  Come to think of it, that might not be best way to handle splinters, but that’s how we all did it when I was growing  up.

I also put small portions of several medications in tiny Ziploc-style bags and stored them in an old Altoids tin.  I had purchased the bags previously in the jewelry-making department at Hobby Lobby, one of my many abandoned hobbies.  Medications were included that would treat pain, stiff muscles, allergies, diarrhea, gas, nausea, and motion sickness.

I also had a list of our current medications and another paper that had first-aid instructions.  It was from these instructions that I was reminded to do RICE.

First Aid Kit canva

I knew we would want to send some postcards to family and friends during our trip and also that we would be dealing with all the maps, brochures and other paperwork that piles up when you are sightseeing.  I put some of these smaller items in a plastic soap container that we had never used before.  The mini tape measure came in handy when we stopped to look at antiques a couple of times.  The highlighter helped us mark places where we wanted to visit and the permanent marker was used several times to label items.The office

Everything listed so far fit in only ONE drawer in the Sterlite 3-drawer cart.  Can you believe it?  Luckily, I don’t have much to say about the remaining two drawers, so try to hang in there with me for a few more minutes.

One of the other drawers was my mini-kitchen on the road.  We wanted to spend our money on experiences on the road and that meant having some picnics and avoiding spending a lot on beverages.  We brought some reusable Copco coffee mugs and Copco tumblers.  Having a little bottle of dish soap meant that I could wash these out each night at the hotel.  Every morning, we would fill our tumblers and a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with ice at the hotel.  We also saved by filling our mugs with coffee each morning at the free breakfast.  We kept our tumblers full at water fountains and from our stash of beverages that we brought along and replenished along the way.  It was fun to pick up regional beverages at local grocery stores for a reasonable price.

One of my favorite finds was this nifty little Japanese knife with wood sheath which only cost about $7.  This was handy in preparing a wide range of items, but especially cutting up fruits, vegetables, and cheese.  Having a Swiss Army Knife also came in handy, especially when we decided that we needed wine!  I brought our reusable string grocery bags for more than groceries because they hold a lot and take up very little space.

Kitchen with list

The final drawer held cleaning supplies for a variety of situations, but especially for the many bathrooms used along the way!  Speaking of public bathrooms, have you heard of the Charmin Sit-or-Squat app?  It was a lifesaver and we found  a lot of humor in labeling bathrooms a Sit or a Squat based on their cleanliness.

Cleaning 2

In addition to the pencil box, the cleaning drawer included a thin bath towel, paper towels, and wet wipes.


Having this cart in the back of our SUV was a huge help because we didn’t need to unload it every night and we could easily access needed items on a daily basis.  I hope you find this information useful.  Happy traveling on your adventure!

Please click below for a free printable list of all items mentioned above, plus everything else that we fit into our Ford Escape:

Packing Car Preparing Extended Road Trip.jpg

Pack and Prepare for almost anything on your extended road trip.Prepare for Road Trip Kitchen Cleaning Household first aid problem solvers laundry office (1)
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