Whether you’ve just begun journaling or you have a library of journals filled cover to cover, knowing how to store journals in a way that preserves them while maintaining privacy be a challenge.
In this article, I show you how to prepare a bullet journal, travel journal, or travel scrapbook for storage and provide tips for storage that prolong the longevity of your personal journal and helps ensure that only those with permission and the privilege to read your journal are able to access it.
By following these simple steps for how to store a journal you can keep your journal in excellent condition until you decide to go back to flip through your journal and review your travel memories or show your journal someday to a friend, partner, or child
Start with Quality Materials
Although it may be too late if you’ve already begun journaling or have journals to store, it’s important to choose the right paper and writing supplies for your journal. Choosing quality, acid-free paper and art supplies will help prevent your journal from naturally decomposing when stored over the course of years.
Don’t worry though, even if you started with less than archival quality journal paper and pens, with these tips on how to store journals and preserve your travel journal the longevity of your existing journal can be maximized.
Create a digital record before Storing your Journal
If you haven’t already, take a photo of every single page of your journal. By scanning your journal, if anything ever happens to the physical copy, you’ll still have a record. Scanning pages can be another good alternative.
For journals that include art, I like to do a flip-through video. I love how the flat lay video of flipping through my Italy Trip’s travel journal turned out– I love how flip-through videos allow me to share my whole journal without giving full access to read about all my thoughts and feelings. To make this video, build yourself a flat lay a tripod or have a friend hold your camera horizontal above you as you flip through your journal. TIP: Go slow- You can always adjust the speed later but it’s easier to make a video faster than it is to slow it down and maintain high quality.
Many of us may not want to record every single page of our long hand journal or bullet journal, but scanning pages can be a valuable way to archive documents.
A story about scanning journals for preservation: a few years ago, a friend’s home in the Pacific Northwest was inundated by a particularly dangerous strain of black mold. As we carefully helped her dispose of or clean every inch of her belongings, we realize the journals were unsalvageable.
Instead, we found a copier/scanner at a local university that could feed from a stack of papers and scan all of the pages into a PDF. We cut each journal’s spine from the pages, and fed pages of each journal, and batches, through the scanner. Creating a digital record of her journals allowed her to still retain all of her emotional labor of writing and creative doodles without the danger of keeping her mold spore inoculated paper journals.
Prepare the book for storage
Once you have made a digital record of your travel journal and shown it to your close family and friends, take a few steps to preserve it as it goes into longer-term storage. If you’ve used glues that were not marked “acid free” or if you have added papers from ephemera, be aware that acids in the glues and papers could degrade the paper faster than we’d want.
To help prevent this, put a piece of acid-free tissue paper in between each page. This preserves the art that you have created and will prevent one page from damaging another in the event that something placed in the journal was of non-archival quality.
Add a Privacy Seal
An easy way to add a layer of privacy to your finished journal is simply to place it in an envelope, seal the envelope, and then sign your name over the seal. Obviously, it’s not the same level of security offered by a safety deposit box, but it dissuaded casual snoopers and leaves evidence if someone tries to open and reseal the envelope.
Store in a Waterproof Bag
Just to be on the safe side, I store my travel journals in large, 3-mil (that’s extra-thick) Ziploc bags. These bags can be purchased in just the right size for any size of journal that you selected, and will keep the journal dry and free from ambient moisture and humidity. If you want to be extra safe, purchase some silica packets (or just save them from purse or shoe purchases that often include a packet) and enclose it in the plastic bag to prevent any humidity already in the paper from turning to mold.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.