Hello, my neglected personal blog! At long last, here’s something that I want to share that doesn’t fall under the “beauty” or “makeup” heading. Lol.
World, meet my Traveler’s Notebook. If you’re not familiar with traveler’s notebooks,
where have you been the concept is rather simple: you have a (usually) leather outer cover that houses a customisable number of notebooks and/or other organisational inserts. As the name suggests, the system was conceived with travelers in mind; removable inserts make it possible to document (or journal) many a trip and the leather covers only get better the more scuffed up they are. Of course you don’t have to use your TN just for traveling. Many TN fan(atic)s use theirs as yearly planners, organisers, wallets, visual journals… you name it. There’s a humongous community revolving around these things and it’s really easy to get sucked in because, well, everyone does something different with their TN — the possibilities are endless and that always makes for loads of fun.
That said, it took me a while to figure out the perfect set up for my Traveler’s Notebook. I have a brown passport size TN from the Traveler’s Company, which I purchased from JP Books in London late last year. My friend Bea uses a regular size TN (see her first post about it here– her set up has changed since, but the post is amazing) and it’s she who I have to thank for introducing me to the world of traveler’s notebooks. She was literally with me in JP Books when I got mine. It was then that I knew she was a true friend (haha, hi Bea).
In the eight-ish months my traveler’s notebooks has been with me, it has seen about three different set ups and has served different purposes each time. The first few set ups were messy and confused, usually because there were things in there that just didn’t need to be. I also tried to get into visual journaling for a while, but my total and complete lack of artistic skills left me frustrated and had me abandoning my TN much too often.
This most recent re-vamp was triggered by my fast-approaching dissertation deadline and a general need for order in my life. As you can see in the photo above, I’ve got it down to a slim silhouette and as you will see in the following photos, it’s quite the minimalist set up all around (or plain old boring — depends how you choose to look at it).
The first thing I see when I open up my TN is the slide-in pocket side of the Zipper Pocket refill (004). It’s my “dashboard” in the sense that I stick pretty things into it, but it’s not the kind of dashboard that I post useful things onto. I suppose if I used Post It Notes they might go here, but I don’t. I just like this part to look pretty.
Moving on to the functional parts of my TN: the card holder section of the plastic refill holds my Post It Flags, which I use for marking passages in books. I sometimes keep those coffee stamp collection card thingies in there too.
Right behind the plastic refill is my Kraft File refill (o1o). This is probably the most important part of my TN as it holds loose sheets of paper, which I use to make lists that I then clip on to the front of the cardboard. This is essentially my functional dashboard. I like using loose sheets of paper for lists so that I don’t have to worry about being neat and I can throw them away afterwards.
Recently, I started using one notebook insert by the Traveler’s Company attached to the actual TN, plus one Field Notes notebook that just hangs out around the back, unattached. More on that later. My preferred TC refill is number oo5: Lightweight Paper, but the plain MD paper refill (003) is fine too. This is where I jot down random scribbles — usually thoughts about my yoga practice or moments in my day that I want to remember. As I mentioned earlier, visual journaling just isn’t my thing, so my notebooks are all just filled with words.
At the back, the zipper compartment holds pieces of card that I use as bookmarks (I always need one) and some spare cash. Having a zip pocket in a notebook is surprisingly useful. And finally, there’s my Field Notes notebook. This is what I use to bullet journal, and yes, that is a different thing altogether from making shopping lists on scrap paper. It functions more like a planner, with to-do items and events logged in there. I don’t like attaching it to the actual TN because (1) it doesn’t fit and (2) I like to be able to grab this alone if I want or need to have an extra light carry. I actually kind of like how it just tucks in to the back of my TN and the elastic holds it snugly in place. I didn’t bother blurring out the words — everything I do is far from top secret. Haha.
My version of bullet journaling is even simpler than the original system: no monthly index and no page numbers — just the bullet system running from page to page. The Field Notes size cahiers are only slightly larger then the Traveler’s Company ones, but I feel a lot more comfortable using them for some reason. I almost forgot to mention that the pen I carry with me is a Muji gel ink pen with a 0.5 tip. I used to carry a Kaweko Sport and I also used to have a pen holder attached to my TN, but both of those items made my carry too bulky. Fountain pens also don’t really mesh well with Midori paper, sadly.
And that is my no-frills, no-fuss everyday carry. I love how this set up is working for me at the moment, but if I ever do need to change it up in the future, it will be extremely easy to do so. That’s the beauty of traveler’s notebooks: they grow with you and reflect the way you live your life. Mine feels like an extra appendage at this point, really. Love it.
I barely covered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the world of traveler’s notebooks in this post, so do check out the Traveler’s Company website, here, as they are the brand that are responsible for popularising the system. There are also Fauxforis — faux/fake Midoris ( <- what TNs used to be called) — from various vendors on Etsy and off Instagram stores and Facebook groups.
If you’re really interested, Google, YouTube, and Instagram hashtags are your friends when it comes to learning more about the wonderful world of traveler’s notebooks. Be warned, though: it’s incredibly addicting.
P.S. In Manila, Traveler’s Company TNs are available at Scribe Writing Essentials.