Custom Travel Journals from DomesticPapers

I discovered these beautiful travel journals on Etsy just recently. Lee, the talented woman behind the shop and these journals, creates them and as soon as I found them, I was intrigued. Luckily for me, Lee was more than happy to answer a few questions for myself and you lovely readers.

Originally these beauties are filled with blank paper, perfect for a person who likes to sketch or who has straight hand writing. Sadly, I’m not one of those people. Not only do I prefer the aesthetic of lined paper, my writing goes completely off-center without them. Lee kindly agreed to fill my journal with lined pages and then we got on to discussing what the cover should be like — we were so caught up with the lined paper that we nearly forgot about the outside!

Every customer gets to choose what part of the world they would like their map to feature. My decision was easy, I left a piece of my heart in Thailand and knew that I had to have a map of Southeast Asia as the cover of my journal. You also get to choose what you would like to bind your journal; a globe or a plane? As you can see from this photo of my journal, I chose a plane.


Hello, it’s wonderful to meet you! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your Etsy shop?

My Etsy shop, Domestic Papers, combines my great love of All Things Paper with my lifelong fascination with antiques, tools, and paper ephemera. You’ll notice my books all have a “vintage vibe.” I love to mix old images with modern papers, throw in some centuries-old bookbinding techniques, and make something both timeless and useful.

What inspired you to create your custom made travel journals?

As a bookbinder and avid book collector, I’m always cruising the library discard sales for hidden treasures. I struck it rich with a box of ‘worthless’ encyclopedias from the 1920’s. The geography section of each book held a gorgeous color map bookplate. I experimented with reproducing these maps, since the original paper is practically ancient, and came up with an idea for a portable book for travelers that shows off how the world looked nearly 100 years ago.

My handmade journal!

What makes these journals the perfect companion for travelers?

I designed these to be not only beautiful but durable. The take-along size fits handily into a backpack, tote bag, or carry-on luggage. By using heavy-weight artist canvas and archival materials, I’ve created a cover that is sturdy, flexible, and somewhat water-resistant.

Inside, I’ve hand-sewn folded acid-free pages into a roomy spine that allows space for attaching maps, brochures, biz cards, and other mementos while still providing space to write travel notes. I always attach a little pocket to the center section that can hold small items… a bus pass, train ticket, hotel key, or such.

What is your favorite thing about making and using the journals?

I love how not only can I customize this travel journal, but the user can customize it too. Their design choices make creating each book a unique experience and that keeps it fresh and fun for me. When I’m searching for a map for a customer, I feel like I have the whole world at my fingertips! I love to travel but I’m still a ‘homebody’ at heart, hence the name Domestic Papers.

Another map in the middle of my journal

What custom options are available to those hoping to purchase one for themselves?

I start by asking my customer “Where in the world do you want on your book?” I look through my large collection of vintage maps, going back to 1883. I also search more modern atlases and National Geographic maps to find an image the right size and shape for our journal. Some countries are tiny and others are vertical when I want them to be horizontal- that’s geography for you!

I do my best to find wherever in the world my customer wants on the cover. Sometimes, I’ll add a map to the interior of the journal if I can’t quite fit where we want on the cover or if we want a detail map. Also, the customer can request extra pockets, additional pages, lined or unlined pages, a color range for the papers inside, and a style such as romantic, masculine, tropical, or vintage. Of course, to top it off, it’s their choice of brad closure on the front cover.

Choosing all of these elements together is like creating a unique recipe I then follow to make the perfect map travel journal to accompany you on your next adventure!

*A closing note from Lee: My grateful thanks to Michelle for the opportunity to share my map books with you!*


I could not be happier with the finished product of this journal. I had mine done in the regular size, although Lee offers the option of having mini journals made for those that want to travel even lighter and have limited space. The regular sized journal is light-weight and the perfect size to bring with you. My only criticism is that I wish it was filled with more paper because I write a lot on my travels and am going to be able to fill this baby up pretty quickly. I wish that I had some upcoming travel plans because I want to write in it so badly! But I don’t, so I’ll have to be patient and wait for my next trip to fill it up with beautiful memories.

With the new year fast approaching comes opportunities to explore places we’ve never been before. These travel journals may just be the perfect companion for yourself on your next adventure or as a gift for someone who loves travel.

If these journals capture your interest, head on over to Lee’s Etsy shop Domestic Papers to browse her creations and contact her.


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