Notebooks

2019 Travelers Notebook Review: Part 2.

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This is the second part of my Travelers Notebook review, the first part of which can be found here. Today I am sharing how I use each of my Travelers Notebooks and plenty of photos.

My Travelers Notebook Journal.

Since I started with my first Travelers Notebook (the brown regular notebook), I have worked my way through most of the different leather options. Over time the notebook I have come to love the most is the black Travelers Notebook which I have paired with the red elastic for a little pop of colour.

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The format of my Travelers Notebook journal remains unchanged most of the time. I keep two refills, the first being the weekly + memo refill. I have spoken about this in many blog posts so I won’t repeat too much but this is my mini, decorative journal and I use this refill everyday. It’s a long standing love affair.

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The second refill is the one which is a little more fluid and changes depending on what I am doing. Most of the time I have an insert dedicated to little notes and journal entries to my son. I use this as a way of remembering the small details while he is growing up, adding a photo, little conversations and momentos from things we have done.

At other times, such as when I travel, I replace this with a different insert to use as a catch all for information when on the move. I am about to do a little travelling so I will be using the cream Travelers Company refill. I love the cream MD paper and I am looking forward to giving this new refill a test run. This refill will be a place to doodle, add some travel journalling and jot down any silly and interesting snippets of information.

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The way I use my black Travelers Notebook means it holds a lot of emotional value for me. It’s a marker of my life and for that reason is my most cherished notebook.

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My everyday Travelers Notebook.

The passport Camel Travelers Notebook is my everyday carry notebook. For some reason the passport size feels like the most stable Travelers Notebook I use and I adore the Camel edition. I have been really tempted to get this in the regular size as well, but so far I have resisted.

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My set-up is pretty simple for the passport size. I usually have two notebooks in here, a daily to do notebook full of scratchy handwriting and a sketchbook in case I feel like doodling while on the move.

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The to do notebook is usually Baron Fig pocket notebook. I have blogged a lot about how much I like Baron Fig products and their smaller pocket notebook size works perfectly with the passport Travelers Notebook. At the moment I am using a ruled notebook, I am all about those sweet lines.

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Recently I have started carrying a Travelers Company passport sketchbook to ensure I have the opportunity to sketch and doodle at any time. So far this ideal scenario is partially working. If I need a lighter carry everyday I remove this notebook as it’s not essential.

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Finally I have a Superior Labor wallet in the salmon and blue colour which compliments the notebook nicely. This holds a few spare cards, some stamps and sometimes some lose change.

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I really love the Camel leather colour. The leather is softer and picks up marks than the black, brown or blue Travelers Notebooks that I own. As this is my most used and journeyed notebook you can see the evidence of this with scratches, a looser elastic round the middle and friction marks on the reverse of the notebook where my Superior Labor wallet has marked.

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My work Travelers Notebook.

My final and newest Travelers Notebook is the Olive edition that I bought on a trip to Amsterdam. I use this for work and I use just one blank insert. This Travelers Notebook is purely functional but I found the size works well and it sits within my bag without taking up too much space.

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Travelers Notebook leather differences.

When you have used several different Travelers Notebooks, purchased over a number of years, you notice some subtle differences between the leathers. This is understandable and part of the charm. The older Midori branded Travelers Notebooks have a more finished and smoother feel to the leather.

With the more recent additions such as the Camel and Olive notebooks the leather is softer, it marks easily and has a texture. I love this finish to the leather and I love the way it changes with use. I am not precious about keeping these things ‘out-of-the-box’ new.

Overall thoughts.

The Travelers Notebook is a specific notebook system in a specific size format. The slim profile isn't ideal for drawing and I have found if I use these notebooks for long form journaling then I fly through the refills. However as a tool and a repository for notes, information and small journal entries I think the Travelers Notebook works perfectly.

The charm of the Travelers Notebook comes in the longevity of the cover. The marks that it picks up, the way the leather changes over time and becoming more supple is all part of the appeal. There are very few paper related goods that can be used for such long periods of time. The refills keep the Travelers Notebook feeling fresh and new and different and the customisation options that are available, with a little bravery, make this notebook system utterly charming. The

I think the Travelers Notebook system will always be part of my writing set-up. As long as I can get inserts then I will use this notebook. I think I might start to get a bit creative, as I have several of these covers and explore with paint, perhaps try embossing on one of the notebooks. The personalisation and the memories that these notebooks hold is wonderful.

2019 Travelers Notebook Review: Part 1.

I wrote my first Travelers Notebook review not long after I had started The Finer Point to share my thoughts on a notebook system that I enjoyed using. Almost five years on, I still use this system everyday but it has now become the core of my paper use and it’s because of this that I wanted to share an updated take on my Travelers Notebook use.

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I’ve split this post into two parts so I can really go into depth. Today’s post will cover off the emotional aspects, why I love the notebooks and what I have learnt from using them over time. In part two I will share some specifics of my use and plenty of photos, which is really what we all love to see.

The appeal of the Travelers Notebook.

What attracts the stationery enthusiast to the Travelers Notebook is a question I keep coming back to. The Travelers Notebook cover alone is an investment that requires a little thought before purchase. Start adding to this and the cost increases. Despite this there are plenty of people who invest in this system and many people who own and use multiple Travelers Notebooks. There are plenty of reviews and videos on the Travelers Notebook that undoubtedly pull people in, but what makes them keep investing and using this system?

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Customisation.

It’s not uncommon to hear that the customisation of the Travelers Notebook is one of the big selling points. A quick YouTube search shows plenty of set-ups and flip throughs showing how people use their Travelers Notebooks. Choosing your notebook insert, the grid you enjoy, charms, wallets, the annual planner inserts, or the inspired undated inserts all allow the Travelers Notebook to keep its feel fresh while allowing the beautiful leather to age the more its used.

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Next-level customisation.

In the past couple of years it feels like the customisation options of the Travelers Notebook has taken a step up. Earlier this year Travelers Company expanded their branded range of products that was greatly appreciated by its audience. I was particularly pleased to see a cream paper insert.

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Alongside this enthusiasts and stores such as Baum Kuchen have really showed the community how you can take your Travelers Notebook customisation to a new level. Their love of analogue artefacts has helped users explore new ways to enjoy their Travelers Notebook and to be a little more adventurous with their customisation. Through their collaborations with the Superior Labour, their Inspiration Labs and workshops you get a sense of how careful design decisions can really elevate the feel of the Travelers Notebook. I was surprised and interested in a recent post showing paint on the cover of a Travelers Notebook.

My Travelers Notebooks.

For years I have used one regular sized Travelers Notebook all the time. This held my beloved Weekly + memo weekly refill that I use as a journal. It stays on my desk but I use it everyday to journal. My love of the Travelers Notebook grew because of this refill and part of the reason it has been a constant in my life is because I love this journaling system.

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However in the past few years, through following blogs such as Baum Kuchen and learning new ways to use the system I found that the Travelers Notebook system could fit into other areas of my life. After trying out numerous different notebooks, paper types, grid systems I came to the realisation that the Travelers Notebook does what I want it to.

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Today I have three Travelers Notebooks in use. Two regular sized notebooks, my Black TN with two inserts, one journal, one insert with notes to my son and a Superior Labour wallet. My second TN is the Olive which I use for work and has a single insert. My final TN is a Camel passport with one notebook, one sketchbook and one passport Superior Labour wallet. I have found peace with the passport Travelers Notebook after finally giving up on Field Notes and admitting I like the Baron Fig/Travelers Notebook pocket notebook size and enjoy the TN system.

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Part 2.

In part two of this post I will go through each of my TNs in detail and share with you how I use them. Check back next week to read part 2. And if nothing else, come for the photos.


For inspiration on anything Travelers Notebook I suggest following these blogs or Instagram accounts.

Trigg Life Mapper: Initial Impressions.

Trigg kindly sent me one of their award winning Life Mappers to review on the blog. All the thoughts shared in this post are my own.

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The Trigg Life Mapper has been on my radar for a while. I had seen people posting about their planner on Instagram and the bold colour scheme really caught my attention. I have an interest in planners generally and I like to see what and how people use them. Trigg also won the Best New Product at the Stationery Show in London earlier on this year. So I didn’t come to this product cold, I already had some thoughts based on what I had seen.

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This is the time of year when people are looking for planners, researching, watching YouTube videos and trying to gather all the information they can to make the best decision for their annual planner.

This review is lengthy and I have tried to cut it back but I felt like the information needed to be shared. Hopefully the headers will guide you through the review, but the plan is to discuss the layout of the Trigg Life Mapper and then give you my personal thoughts.

Productivity Assistance in your planning.

So part of the idea with the Trigg Life Mapper is to offer guidance with your goals for the year. There is a double page at the beginning where you can plan out your year and what you want to achieve.

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There is some guidance here, but it’s very generic and made me feel like I was filling in a job application. I hate being asked about my 5 year plan. It has the ability to make you feel inferior if you don’t have one, but also I don’t like planning out that far in advance, I feel like it sets you up to fail. This sort of start-of-the-year page is not uncommon by any means, but I feel that the questions being asked are dated.

There is a Visual Assessment graph section to fill out. There are 4 focus areas outlined which are: Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. These focus areas are generic and in many ways inclusive to people who perhaps would be interested in a planner. However I come back to the feeling of being restricted by these outlines. The focus areas are too obvious and they don’t resonate at any depth. I do however like the idea of showing reflective or start-of-the-year information in a visual format.

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Monthly Calendar Spreads.

These appear at the start of the planner and you get two months per double page spread. The space per day is a little tight and there definitely isn’t enough room for my big handwriting or multiple appointments per day.

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Each month has a focus and colour theme which ties back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. The focus themes are loose associations to the months their given. So for January your focus is intentions which is an obvious choice for the beginning of a new year; February is relationships which I guess is down to Valentines Day and so on.

These focus themes also don’t go any further, they just appear as words on your monthly calendar. This planner is littered with quotes and Trigg comments, and yet at a point when I would have thought some guidance would be necessary, it doesn’t appear.

Annual Forecast pages.

My first note is that the annual forecast pages appear after the monthly calendars splitting the meat of this planner, the monthly and daily pages. I think this section should have gone before the monthly section and keep all the themes and big thinking pages together.

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The aim of these pages again comes back to Self, Relationships, Passions and Work. You write down your goals for each theme. This is done as a list based on the layout of this page but there is no further prompts. No trigger phrases or questions to guide and push you in your thinking and planning process.

The top third of each forecast page has a random assortment of descriptive words that could relate to the theme. Again I think this is for guidance and inspiration but I don’t really think they’re needed and they take up valuable space.

Weekly Priority Planning.

There is a page which kicks off each week. Again the 4 themes come into play here and you write your goal to tackle that week and the actions to help you get there. I am not sure I have a goal for 52 weeks of the year on all 4 of these sections. That feels out of reach entirely.

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The weekly planning though is a good idea and one I like, but I don’t think this page is the right execution of that idea. There is no space for goals that sit outside of the 4 themes either which feels limiting. There is no space for general weekly tasks, such as calling the vet, arranging your car service etc. These don’t fit into the 4 themes but they’re typically things you need to jot down in your planner as general reminders.

Daily pages.

We then come to the real meat of this planner - the daily pages. There is a quote or a Trigg point that heads up each day.

In the top half of the page there is a task, plan and delegation grid to help guide your day. Tasks gives you space for three must do items. There is a box named plan which I am little unsure how to use and then delegate / delay section. The delay / delegate section is interesting but I am not sure how to use this. I don’t think at the start of the day I would know what I want to delay, or whether this is a section that can be filled in at the end of the day and used for future reference? I think it’s an interesting addition to the daily spread but I really don’t know how to implement it.

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The second half of the page is for your appointments. I think the space allocated is too much. I don’t have appointments each day and most of my appointments are captured on my monthly spread. Obviously the headers can be ignored and general notes can be made here.

One other small note, is that Saturday and Sunday don’t get the same layout as the weekdays. They share a page and have none of the daily page features. The weekend days always gets shafted when it comes to space in planners which leaves the weekend workers, or the side-hustle people without the space they need.

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There is a small weekly reflective slot that is included on the weekend pages too, limiting the space even more. This prompts you to reflect on your week and write down something you’re grateful for. There is also the inclusion of some of the map artwork from Mapper theme that comes up on these pages. Everything on this last page feels too tight and squished.

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End of Year Review.

At the end of the planner there are some review pages for the year. There’s another Visual Assessment where you can rate yourself on your 4 pre-set themes. You’re then guided into a double page spread review by themes where you can note the successes and set backs for the year.

There are also a few Notes pages at the back of the planner if you need them.

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My personal thoughts.

I’ve alluded to my thoughts throughout the write up and have tried to not sound harsh but objective with this review. I realise that a planner cannot please or work for everyone but I think there is a lot which could have been improved upon in this planner.

Firstly I was shocked when this planner arrived by how big it is. It’s a very bulky planner, which means it’ll be heavy to carry around and would be uncomfortable to write in with such a huge ledge. I appreciate this is a page a day planner, but there are alternatives out there that are a lot slimmer.

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The mapping theme is good for a planner and I can see why Trigg used this. The use of the mapping artwork doesn’t feel right throughout the planner however. This is a really small thing, but subtler tones (even though grey is used a lot), better quality artwork and thought on the placement and use of the theme would have lifted this planner a lot.

The thought behind the daily pages is a step in the right direction. It guides your day and tries to focus the attention on doing the important things. However in order to focus on the top 3 things for that day I need somewhere to dump the master list, and I think that is what’s missing. The monthly calendars and weekly planning pages don’t give me the space to do this because they’re trying to force me to focus on 4 themes I didn’t choose and potentially don’t care about.

Rethinking the weekly planning pages would help a lot. Some guidance here is fine but I need to space to use these pages as I see fit. And this is likely to change over the course of a year too. Moving the goals and aims piece into the monthly spread would also mean I can focus on more manageable goals in a more manageable period of time.

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Overall thoughts.

I think a productivity planner that isn’t aimed at a corporate person needs to be more than the obvious. Its needs to open up to creative professions, to the side-hustle people, to those who seek out the planners. It has to have a different mindset behind it to really help people be productive.

At the moment I can’t see past the Trigg Life Mapper as some sort of HR self assessment form that I am forced to complete in order to get my bonus. It’s something I go through physical strain to do racking my brain for some nominal thing to include under a header I don’t believe in.

I thought this planner was going to be something more than it was. In part I think I formed these preconceived ideas based on the awards it has won and the social media influences I have, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the Trigg Life Mapper.

I would like to thank the guys at Trigg for sending me their planner to review.

Mid-Week Mini: Field Notes End Papers: Initial Thoughts.

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The latest Field Notes quarterly release,End Papers, was another example of Field Notes pushing the boundaries of what they do with a pocket notebook. It seems like once a year Field Notes try something different with the quarterly release and this time we get a new size and the recurrence of the signature binding.

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End Papers is a little taller than the Signature Field Notes but the same width as a normal standard Field Notes pocket notebook. This makes it a little odd in size. Let me explain what I mean.

Binding.

Signature binding feels too burdensome on a pocket notebook. With small notebooks I don’t like or think signature binding is needed. Staples are easier and makes the notebook easier to use. Pushing against signature binding to just be able to use it is not a challenge I really want.

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Size.

The size of this notebook feels strange. It feels too tall and slim and too bulky with the additional pages - 68 pages versus the 48 found in a standard Field Notes.

Ruling.

Their is a mixed page rulings within this release, left hand page is blank and the right ruled. This mixed ruling makes me want to write on the right hand side and then leave the left unused. I don’t think a mixed ruling works within a pocket notebook, it feels like a waste of pages. On an A5 sized notebook there could be an argument of why this is useful and how it could be used, but for me on a pocket notebook it doesn’t work.

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Switching to a little positivity within this release the design of the End Papers is classic and simple with dark covers and debossed logo on the cover.

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The marbled papers on the inside covers are pretty and I really liked seeing the process video that accompanied this release. The colours are a little muted, it would have been nice to have a little bit of colour. I like the combinations used on the Timber Green notebook the most.

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Overall thoughts.

The signature binding makes me think of Write notepads and the more Field Notes use this binding on their notebooks the less inclined I am to use them. On the Field Note Signature series of notebooks the binding doesn’t inhibit how you use the notebook because of its larger size. With End Papers I don’t think this binding style works.

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I like that Field Notes try different things but this release isn’t for me. The marbling process was obviously the main goal with this release but I think it could have been implemented in lots of different, cool and impactful ways.