Travelers Company

My Journey with Travel Sketching.

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As a Travelers Notebook user you can’t help but lose time admiring the way other people use of their notebooks. One of the many things I enjoy is the ways they are used for travel journaling and sketching. There are numerous benefits to sketching when travelling such as observing your surroundings in detail, really looking at the architecture, getting a feel for a place...the list goes on. I have just never been that good at it.

With this in mind I decided recently to take a punt on this elusive task. I would be travelling, first on my own on a work trip which is highly unusual, and then again on our annual family trip. This was ample opportunity to draw and I wanted to take advantage.

The ‘well-travelled’ travelers airport sketch.

Now from my online observations the airport sketch seems to be a travel sketching essential. You need this sketch in there for a multitude of reasons. It shows you have time to sketch in the airport. You can show what airline you fly with. It shows that you love drawing so much that you’ll draw planes.

For me this was a challenge on perspective. My airplane sketch was not done on location but from a photograph I had taken. I did want to try and capture some of the detail of the gate without getting bogged down in the minutia.

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For my second airplane sketch I took a different tact. Again this was done from a photograph but this time my son was the focal point rather than the scenery.

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The inflight sketches I actually did on the flight in a bought of boredom. There are loads of things wrong with these sketches, but they were fun and they were definitely a challenge.

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The hand drawn map.

Another thing that has fascinated me are people who sketch maps. The ability to look at a real map, pair this back to the essential areas, make this fit on a small page and illustrate landmarks is fascinating and frankly a little mind boggling. I attempted this with a route I had walked in Austin to minor successes. It’s definitely something I want to develop and work on, it’s like a small puzzle to solve and fun at the same time.

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Page layouts.

Trying to find the right format for the travel journal, while not thinking too much about it was tricky. I wanted the journaling to be the priority and not the decoration. I wanted to include some drawing and try to be varied. I did this to varying degrees of success. Some pages I really like and others ended up looking too flat.

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I also tried to vary the orientation at times and flip the Travelers Notebook on its long edge. This helped with some of my doddles, one in particular from my family holiday in Portugal.

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Photos.

One element I really struggled with for my travel journal was trying to incorporate photos in with my doodles and journal entries. I printed out a series of photos after these trips but what I have found is I hadn't planned space for them. The prints I have are also too heavy and end up pulling on the page.

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I think to really have a good travel journal with photos you either need your Instax on hand all the time, which is an additional item to carry, or to use a photo printer and print off photos I take with my phone. I don't own one of these, but I think it’s something I will invest in for future trips and journaling. The inclusion of photos for me would really elevate my travel journals.

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What I have learnt.

There is an element of travel journaling that can appear stressful which defeats the purpose. I have stopped comparing my spreads to others and worrying that it’s not perfect. Only by playing around with different layouts and attempting to draw, do you learn and know how to improve on it for the next time. The fear of it not being perfect only stops you doing something rather than taking enjoyment from the activity.

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I have enjoyed travel journaling over the past couple of months. Giving myself some time in the day and having my regular Travelers Notebook with me has helped, as this isn't something I normally do. I really like attempting the maps. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but it helps me get a sense of a place, and to mark out those important places I visited.

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I have a trip coming up in the next couple of weeks and I will put a small element of planning into the travel journal, but on the whole I will take it as it comes while I am on the move.

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My travel journal essential tools.

Part of my pre-trip planning was to keep the stationery to a minimum. What I have found useful was to have my usual Travelers Notebook set-up (for this trip I have the dated weekly + memo planner and the new cream paper insert), one drawing pen, one pencil, a couple of rolls of washi tape and a few pens that I like writing with. This gives me everything I need to journal on the go.

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Mid-Week Mini: 2019 Summer Travel Kit.

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I am travelling a little over the next few weeks and as always I have to think about the tools I am taking and how they will be used. My first trip is work related so the tools will be more limited but I wanted to share the items I am taking.

Black Travelers Notebook Regular.

This will include my beloved weekly + memo refill for my daily journaling, the cream Travelers Company refill for drawing, small journal entries and a Superior Labor wallet.

Zebra Sarasa Clip: Vintage Colours.

I love these gel pens and the vintage colours they come in. I have the blue grey, brown grey, green black and red black. These pens write really well, give a really thin crisp line, plus the colours are lovely.

Caran d’Ache coloured pencils.

I only have a few colours but in the rare instance I get a change to draw anything, I want to be able to add some colour. Coloured pencils are easy to travel with, are low maintenance and I can take them almost anywhere with me.

Le Typographe Porte-Mine Mechanical Pencil.

I really enjoy this mechanical pencil especially when travelling. It feels good in your hand when drawing, has a nice line weight on the page and the graphite isn't too dark. Plus the little graphite sharpener hidden away within the pencil means I can sharpen it so easily.

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Sakura Pigma Micron Drawing Pens.

I have a few drawing pens with me for my travel in the 02, 03 and 05 sizes. I find these pens easy to draw with and there are no risks of leaks or spills.

Superior Labor Engineer Pouch.

The Superior Labor pouch is great for keeping all my sketching and notebook things together in one place. I can either access this quickly on a plane, or when out and have all the things I need together.

Caroline Gardner Pencil Case.

This pencil case is the perfect slim size to hold a few pencils and drawing pens. I love the orange colour too.

Field Notes National Parks edition.

I will be bringing a Field Notes memo book with me as they are small and portable. With my Travelers Notebook I don't really plan on using this notebook during the trip but I would rather have a small one with me just in case.

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Emerald Bag.

This is a new addition and I have finally succumbed to a Kanken bag. I love the bright green of this Emerald colour.

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This is a fairly simple stationery travel kit for me. Usually I bring too much, over complicate and weight myself down rarely using even half of what I bring. This time I tried to be a little more selective and think about the outcome of these tools and not just the tools alone.

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.

Stationery Shopping in Amsterdam.

Last month I was fortunate to visit Amsterdam for a very brief trip. Whenever I visit a new city I like to see if there are any interesting stationery shops that I should carve out some time to visit. (Small helpful hint: check out All Things Stationery’s handy map.) My recent trip to Amsterdam was no different and I found an afternoon to visit two stationery shops, my thoughts on which are shared below.

Like Stationery.

My first stop was at Like Stationery, a short walk from Amsterdam Central station. I wasn’t overly familiar with this shop before my trip but their website looked really nice and their instagram well shot, so I was hoping this would be a little gem. But when I arrived it was quiet, and dare I say a little unwelcoming. There were also quite a few notices asking for no photography.

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Like Stationery had a good range of brands in store displayed and presented really well. A long central table held lots of different notebook brands such as Life Stationery, there were tall glasses filled with Blackwing pencils and a display of correspondence cards. The selection that Like had was pretty good and everything was laid out allowing you to see what was on offer. The one downside was a lack of testing pads alongside the pencil and pen displays, and when combined with notices of no photography it creates an atmosphere of no play.

I didn't buy anything from the store for some of the aforementioned reasons, but also because there was nothing there that really grabbed my attention.

Misc-Store.

My second visit of the day and the shop I was really looking forward to visiting was Misc. It was a little bit of a walk out of the city and even in the cold and wet weather I wasn’t deterred.

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Misc has lots of treasures displayed in a manner which made them easy to look at and in some cases test and play with. There was a small Travelers Company section in the store which I was immediately drawn towards. Misc had some beautifully worn TN’s on display to give you an idea of how the weather wears and ages, to show how they can be set up and used. It’s such a great idea to include them in this manner because part of the allure is how these notebooks change with use. There were also some Travelers Company stamps with an ink pad, that I happily played with and added into my own TN.

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Another brand I was keen to see in Misc was their range of Classiky items. I haven’t noticed too many online stores in Europe where you can find Classiky and I had only seen some in person at Present and Correct in London. Misc had a great selection including the small dishes, the wooden first aid boxes and some of the papers and pads too.

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Misc did have a pen testing area in one section of their shop. An array of pens and fountain pens from brands such as Lamy and Y Studio were displayed with testing pads encouraging you to try them out. I did have a little play in this section too, in particular with the Y Studio pens as I hadn’t seen these in flesh.

I spent quite a bit of my time exploring the different stationery items that Misc offered and chatting to the staff. I came away with a small selection of items including an Olive TN, a set of the Midori pencils and a Le Typographe Porte-Mine mechanical pencil. I bought this mechanical pencil after testing it out and because I was surprised by how comfortable it was to use and how nice the graphite appeared on the page. Letting customers play and test definitely helps them to buy - no question.

Overall thoughts.

Misc lived up to my expectations and I really could have spent a lot of money there. I think on another trip to Amsterdam I would definitely take the time to visit again. As a customer you’re encouraged to try and test things out, which was very different from my experience at Life Stationery.

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the stationery shops during my trip. It’s a great way to find new products you may not normally be interested in, or exposed to. With a bit of good fortune I should be able to get back out to Amsterdam this year and will take the time to visit other stores too.

One last thing before you go…below was my short break stationery toolkit. Far too much as always, but it included the things I thought I needed. This needs a lot of refinement and is something I have to work on but I thought I would share it with you.

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