Thailand: A Color-Your-Own Travel Journal & London: A Color-Your-Own Travel Journal by Evie Carrick

with illustrations by Emma Taylor.

As someone who enjoys both travel and art, the idea of Color-Your-Own Travel Journals absolutely appeals to me. While the prospect of actually creating my own travel journals from scratch seems immensely daunting, having guides like these, that provide not only outlines to apply my creative imagination to but also highlight must-see travel spots while leaving space for my own thoughts, fit perfectly with my own modest aspirations. The journals themselves come in sturdy hardback with rounded corners, and are lightweight enough to chuck into your carry-on with a set of colored pencils. Honestly, these books are just beautifully and thoughtfully designed inside and out, and are absolutely outstanding as a consumer object.

I was sent the Thailand and London editions to check out, reflecting my interests both in Southeast Asia, where I’m from, and in one of the best cities in the world. London was actually my last international travel destination, to watch my beloved Arsenal play in North London while staying in a delightful walk-up in Bethnal Green. Over a whirlwind two nights and days, a good friend and I explored Brick Lane, roamed in the steps of Jack The Ripper and took in the art at the Whitechapel Gallery, in addition to touring Arsenal Stadium and surrounds, before I bussed it over to Dalston to enjoy some excellent kebab at Mangal 2, off of a popular thread on Twitter. Side note: every city should feel as easily traversable by public transport as London. I was entirely cash-free in England, but my Oyster card got me everywhere at all hours. It was cheap, efficient and a great way to see the sights.

With that in mind, it didn’t take me long to realize that perhaps I am not exactly the target audience for the London journal. While the sites featured in the book are all definitely worth a visit, they’re also almost all situated on the well-worn tourist routes through South and West London, with brief stops in the City and North. And that’s fine! Anyone covering all or even most of these spots will get a London experience perfectly packaged to first-time tourist, and especially American, tastes. Best of all, these places are all pretty easy to visit over the course of a handful of days, with dining and shopping recommendations inserted, too.

I was a little less enthused by the Thailand journal, tbphwy. It seems a little weird to me that all the other books in the series revolve around cities, while the entire country of Thailand was compacted into one guide. Again, I had to remind myself that this journal is meant to appeal to a wide-range of travelers, and many of them will be looking for far more beach time than Bangkok has to offer. I appreciated Evie Carrick’s efforts to include some of the country’s more beautiful yet less visited spots, such as the Red Lotus Lake and Pai, but felt that this volume especially was meant to be less an actual journal than an inspirational guide to places readers might want to visit some day.

And frankly, that’s a perfectly valid way to use these books. It’s certainly how I’ve been enjoying them most, as I look up the featured places on the Internet and try my best to color the pages in accordingly. I took some liberties with my depiction of Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, tho I was 100% drawing from my own experiences with various lakes and boats in both Asia and DC. As recommended, colored pencils work nicely on the sturdy paper, tho markers also work well so long as you place an extra sheet beneath to capture any bleed through. While I enjoy Emma Taylor’s art overall, I still haven’t decided how I feel about the abundance of lines and details, especially in the Thailand book. They’re certainly very accurate to the scenes depicted, but they do feel a little daunting for the amateur coloring enthusiast. In fairness, I’m a big fan of coloring that puts less strain on the hands and eyes, and I know that it’s perfectly fine to color in large swathes of line work with one color. I guess the art student in me just feels like I should be doing more when confronted with all the intricate detailing.

Overall, these are lovely journals for tourists to capture and record memories of their travels, while checking out some top recommendations. They make art easier and more accessible for world travelers who might not have enough faith in their own abilities to capture a scene. These are also a delightful way for armchair travelers to experience far-flung locations, and perhaps plan for future trips of their own.

Thailand: A Color-Your-Own Travel Journal & London: A Color-Your-Own Travel Journal by Evie Carrick & Emma Taylor will be published May 21 2024 by Adams Media and are available for pre-order from all good booksellers, including

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