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Saturday, July 13, 2019

your new park bff: the erin condren petiteplanner travel journal

There are certain things everyone should bring home from their Walt Disney World Resort vacation: a new pair of ears, an autograph from their favorite character, the latest map from their favorite park, and more than anything else-- a week's worth of brand new memories!

I like to keep my memories bright and shiny by using a travel journal to record them throughout the week.

Happy Saturday!  Anyone else start their morning off with a trip to the Disney store?  Today is July 13, which means it's Collector's Day!  The Toy Story key was released to the first 100 guests at your local Disney store this morning.  Vouchers were distributed to anyone over the age of 16, and the keys were included with your purchase of more than $10.  For Collector's Day, you're encouraged to get there before the store opens, so we don't normally jump at the chance to grab these... but as Forky's #1 fans, dad and I had to prove we were worthy trash by heading in today.  It was the perfect post-wisdom-tooth-extraction pick-me-up.

While I could talk about Forky for an entire post, I'm not going to.  Not today, anyway.  Today's post is about one of the many tools I use to make sure my Disney trips are as amazing as they can possibly be.

I always pack light when I head off to the Parks every day, but seasoned Park guests know that there are certain things you just don't leave the hotel room without.  For me, that includes: my wallet, my Canon, my two Fuel Rods, and most notably-- my travel journal.

During one of our first Disney vacations in 2014, I told myself I would "write notes" about what I did every day in order to prep myself for writing my formal Trip Report once I came home at the end of the week.  While I was in Epcot that week, the skies opened up and a massive storm forced me to take refuge in the Innovations East building.  I sat against the wall facing out into World Showcase, plugged my phone into a stray outlet, and cracked open a Little Twin Stars notebook I had purchased that day from the Japan pavilion.  I must have been there for an hour waiting for my parents to arrive at the park for our dinner reservation, detailing the events of the day non-stop, only stopping to look up and watch the monorail fly by Spaceship Earth.  I was in heaven.  Since then, I won't leave my resort hotel room without my journal in my bag.

I think I've probably mentioned this on the blog before, but journaling your time at Walt Disney World is probably one of the best things you can do, whether you're here for the sole trip of a lifetime or starting a lifetime of Disney Vacation Club member magic.  Disney travel journaling serves two key purposes:

  1. Helps you plan your future trips.  Did you like staying at the POP C?  Or do you think you'd prefer something a little closer to the monorail line?  Was breakfast with Cinderella everything you dreamed it would be?  Or maybe a quick breakfast of Mickey Waffles and eggs at the resort was more your speed?  Keeping a log of everything you loved and everything you didn't love can only help you plan your next vacation.  Disney trips cost a mint, so any mistake you make can quickly become an expensive mistake.  And nobody wants to make an expensive mistake twice.  Alternatively: you can make great mistakes on vacation!  If you end up on a ride or at a restaurant that wasn't your first choice, and you loved it, you'll definitely want to make a note of that so you'll know to revisit it next time you're at your happy place.
  2. Keeps the magic alive.  Some of my most cherished "souvenirs" are the travel journals I bring back from these vacations.  There's nothing more satisfying to me than bringing an empty notebook into Orlando on day one and leaving with a slightly-bent, slightly-dirty notebook filled with notes and littered with park maps, confetti, and those chunky stickers CMs give out.  When I'm missing my happy place, it helps to crack open one of my journals and remember what it felt like to be scribbling down those notes after an amazing day in the parks.

That's not to say I haven't had problems with journaling in Disney in the past.  It's hard work!  In the past five years, I've become pretty disciplined when it comes to updating my journal, but I wasn't always like that.  My journal becomes my main data bank when I come home and write my Trip Report-- which keeps the magic of every vacation alive for me, at least for a few more months-- so I've always done my best to update them at least once a day.  But ending a long day in the parks with a wrist cramped from last minute note-taking is not my favorite thing in the world.

I spent years looking for the perfect travel journal.  I tried bullet journaling in 2017 because everyone promised that the system would be easier to use, but I wasn't artistic enough to set it up properly, nor did I have the time to memorize and use the key I literally made to make it easier.  At the end of the day, I was back to just writing notes the same way I had always done on a weird graph-paper notebook.  By the time we were getting ready for our 2018 vacation, I was really looking to invest in a journal that had a specific layout for travel writing.  I made it my pre-Thanksgiving mission to find the perfect travel journal, something that would keep my interest and make my life a little easier at the end of every park day.  I'm pretty sure I stopped in every book store in NJ and NYC looking for my perfect match.  At first, I considered this one: the Kate Spade New York Bon Voyage Travel Journal.  It had everything I was looking for: ample space to take notes, a layout for to-do lists, packing lists, daily spreads, and it even had pages of glue dots for attaching photos.  It was a strong contender, but it was just a little heavier than I wanted it to be.  I was really looking for something small that wouldn't intrude on precious bag space.

So in August 2018, something amazing happened to me: I found Erin Condren.  Remember how I gushed about my Academic Planner?  I was obsessed with EC from the first time I picked up my planner, so when I found the Erin Condren PetitePlanner Travel Journal, I knew I had found my perfect match for Walt Disney World Resort.

At $14, the PetitePlanner Travel Journal was a bargain for everything it offered.  There's space to document your reservations, write your own packing list, plan your must-do activities and your itinerary, and above all: an amazing daily spread.  Take a look:

When I first saw how organized and detailed this was, I literally got chills.

(I may have gone a little crazy and ordered both sticker packs go to along with it, too)

I ended up being right: the PetitePlanner Travel Journal was perfect for my November 2018 trip.  This spread made sure I didn't forget any detail.  Writing everything was a breeze, whether I was on a bus, sitting down at an ADR, or just getting ready to go to bed at the end of the night.  The captain's log-style spread is perfect for your needs.  You can set it up easily before you go, with ample space to write out your reservations on the lower left-- keeping you on track throughout your busy, magical day of FP+ and ADRs!  They also give you plenty of notes to actually write down the things you did and sights you saw, and even encourage you to write your "favorite moment" from the day.  Other boxes prompt you to write what you wore, what you ate, and what you bought/how much it cost.  This planner will seriously keep you on track in the easiest way possible.

I was so scared that I'd fall off and forget to update my journal by the end of the trip, but Erin Condren made it so easy to keep up with journaling.  Here's one of my pages from August:

Somehow, there are even more amazing pages to the Travel Journal.  Before the daily spreads, you'll have four pages to jot down your reservation notes, packing list, must-sees, and itinerary.  I'll give you a snapshot of mine for our upcoming trip, which I finally filled out this week!

For anyone who is not as... y'know... absorbed as I am in the realm of Disney planning, fret not: these pre-planning pages are your best friend.  They'll give you ample space to jot down not only your official itinerary, but several snacks you saw on IG, walls you want to take photos with, and characters you want to meet-- so you'll never get sidetracked, even if you aren't super familiar with the parks just yet!

All in all: I couldn't recommend anything but the Erin Condren PetitePlanner Travel Journal for your Walt Disney World Resort vacation.  It was my best friend last year, and it looks like it's going to be my best friend this year, too.  It's functional and thorough, yet still compact enough to throw into the smallest of park bags.  It's stylish and can be customized to whatever extent you'd like, so whether you're a planner fiend or just-getting-the-hang-of-things, you're sure to have the perfect planner.  

Whether you're a first time World traveler or a seasoned Park-hopping pro, this journal will keep you on track and help you maintain those sacred, special Disney memories.  This is not a sponsored post, but I encourage you to get your hands on the journal for $14.99 here, with sticker packs for $5.99 here and here.


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