By Sarah Shotts
Five years ago I graduated from the University of London and flew back home. Since then I’ve been married, moved to Arkansas, and have a new job. But all that time I’ve been dreaming of returning to England with my husband Nathan and showing him some of my favorite haunts. We finally went on our first international adventure last month.
There’s always the temptation, when traveling, to cram in as much as humanly possible. (Especially in Europe where there are so many different countries within a short jaunt.) Our first travel itinerary included every country in the UK.
Then I realized something magical. This didn’t have to be our last trip. Immediately the pressure melted away. We decided to choose two locations to explore for a full week, rather than gallivanting around to a different place each day. I felt the tension in my shoulders relax instantly.
We decided to spend a week exploring London and a week in the countryside. I started planning at once. (That’s half the fun, right?) I pulled out my passport sized Fillion and made lists of adventure “opportunities” organized by location. Rather than following a schedule we chose a new area to explore each day; we left the specifics up to serendipity (and my trusty traveler’s notebook.)
After I’d filled my Fillion with plans I slipped in my passport and crafted a traveler’s watercolor palette so I could document my journey along the way. Slow travel and art journaling are perfect together.
Sketching your surroundings forces you to slow down and really savor them. You see things more clearly as you draw them. The light, the color, the line, the details. Our first day in London we walked over 20,000 steps from Big Ben to the Tower of London snapping photos and video. But it wasn’t until I sat down to paint Tower Bridge that I really realized we were there.
I also journaled back in our Air BnB and added mini sketches from photos I’d taken during the day. I enjoyed my first foray into art journaling my travels, and it definitely won’t be my last. This is just the beginning.
I feel sure that my trusty Fillion will be a travel companion on many adventures yet to come. I still carry it with me every day fully equipped with my travel watercolors. There are lots of everyday adventures to continue documenting.
Sarah Shotts is an everyday adventurer & visual storyteller. During her recent travels she documented each day as a travel vlog. Click here to join her adventures over on YouTube.