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Paperwork! Have Glue Stick, Will Travel

This reissued blog post takes on more memorabilia. The junk journal is an alternative to bringing home more paper to add to the clutter. You might try junk journaling as an on-going family record in addition to travel related memory keeping.


Volunteering to write a travel blog during a pandemic might not have been my best move, but I knew I needed at least a weekend getaway and I needed it soon. After several starts, stops, and spurts along the way four of us pulled off an inexpensive three-day weekend in Hot Springs, AR. I needed a plan for creating a shareworthy mini-vacation journal.

Our two women from Tulsa, OK, and two from Bossier City, LA, met in Hot Springs on Friday in the smack dab middle of the second surge of the pandemic as the mask/no mask debate started to escalate – again.

The Tulsa duo decided a junk journal had to be part of our attempt to memorialize the trip. Sometimes called a “smash book,” a basic junk journal requires paper (we used a composition notebook), a glue stick, and a desire to record the sublime AND the ridiculous. The junk journal isn’t as “pretty” as a scrapbook or as wordy as a diary, but it does allow the vacationer to build it as you go, thereby eliminating the need to do much to it once you get home. It’s multi-generational – great for kids who want to help, great for adults who want their own pages that represent a particular passion or point of interest during the trip.

“Junk journals are an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style of journaling that incorporates numerous crafting methods and scrap materials to create a unique and beautiful journal for you to store your mementos.”

Our junk journal began with screenshots of our texts as we decided to accept the invitation to go on this adventure with our Louisiana friends. Next, we added the receipt from the necessary oil change before the trip, and a photo of the cat sitter with a new kitten before we pulled out of the driveway. Like any good road trip, we had snacks and beverages to cover the driving and the arriving parts of our trip, and the Flaming Hot Cheetos bag was added to our journal.

In addition to the junk journal, we took our adventure LIVE through Facebook. We used live video to invite our friends and family to enjoy our trip with us – complete with the “Hi, MOM!” waves as we made our way south. As made stops along the way, we made sure we to use the check-in feature in the comments section – and we even turned around a couple of times for some really bizarre photo ops. We played “Road Kill Bingo” and our bingo card went into our junk journal when we arrived.

We chose our dining experiences loosely around Guy Fieri’s Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins, and picked restaurants based on their rating and the quirkiness of their name. Our first stop, Ralph’s Pink Flamingo BBQ in Fort Smith, AR, set the tone. We would dine at the Bleu Monkey Grill and the Purple Cow Café before it was all over. Our junk journal pages filled up with brochures, business cards, menus, with spaces left for our photos. We even had a section for things we saw but didn’t do – like zip lining and digging for crystals.

This part of the journey and the recording of our adventure was fairly predictable. What we weren’t prepared for was how filling the junk journal and recording our trip digitally would affect our relationships and how much we enjoyed the trip. We noticed more because we looked for more – more beauty, more people watching, more everything.

Since we all needed a break from the world, we never turned on the television. Sightseeing and shopping was minimalized by COVID- 19 and the July heat. Instead, we learned how to play Canasta on the deck as the bug zapper kept time to the bull frog serenade. We kept score in our junk journal, of course. We shared meals, stories, book recommendations, and we talked and talked and talked.

The junk journal started to fill up with quotes and funny sayings as we shared our hearts, our opinions, our frustrations, and our hopes and dreams for the future. We learned from one another. Sometimes it was the best place to find Vera Bradley bags on the cheap, or a great app for simplifying a process. Other times we helped each other by listening, encouraging, and offering fresh perspective for puzzling situations.

As we headed back to our homes we all agreed . . . it was just about the best vacation ever.

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