Travelers Company Notebooks

My go to notebook these days, and a simple, but clever, system for notetaking.

For some time now, I have been using paper notebooks for note taking around the office. During meetings in person, on a call, or working through ideas — paper is often the starting point for a lot of stuff I do. Eventually, this expanded to using notebooks at home for various thoughts — though on a much more limited basis than at work. I often plan out my packing list first on paper, by working out my ideal outfit for each day of a trip in pen, and then sorting out how to achieve that in as few clothing items as possible later in Numbers on my iPad Pro.

Anyways, I’ve never stuck with a single notebook or type of notebook for long. They wear out fast, or don’t really have the right vibe and are tossed aside rather quickly. But Travelers Company Notebooks were items I kept seeing, kept wondering about, and finally pulled the trigger on one in each size (Regular and Passport). I’ve been using them both for quite some time now, and they are checking all the boxes for me.

Materials & Construction

These are impossibly simple: flat bit of leather which folds over all the notebooks you put inside. There’s an elastic band with a small cord as well. You slip a single notebook through the elastic band, and use the cord as a bookmark. To add more notebooks, you use a ’connecting band’ (you need to buy these on their own, confusing) which is a large rubber band, and you loop it to the primary notebook and the additional one. There’s pockets and other odds and ends you can add, which either go behind the main notebook, or connect with the connecting bands.

The entire thing then stays closed with an elastic cord that goes around the notebook horizontally.

It’s hard to explain in words, easy to do in practice. Which means this can be a quite thick notebook, or slim depending on your setup. Since the cover is just a flat bit of leather, it sits flat for a nice writing surface. The inserts are all Midori paper (same company) and really nicely done in multiple weights, colors, and types. Goulet Pen also makes Tomoe river and other inserts which are equally nice.

The leather is interesting, it feels like a thick heavily oiled leather. Such that it grabs a lot of marks quickly, but they are all somewhat fleeting in staying power. For how these notebooks are designed to be used (traveling) this leather makes a lot of sense. All in all a very simple, but very nice package.

In Use

I have both of mine setup with two notebooks inside, and a pocket insert to keep odds and ends. I utilize different pen holders which clip/attach to the cover — none of them are great, all of them are annoying, and yet they are somewhat necessary for how I use my notebooks. I’ve found the notebooks to be bulkier than I hoped, but in a way, the bulkier I get these notebooks the more I love carrying them.

When I carry something too thin, it feels delicate and pretentious. When I carry a thick notebook around, it feels like a serious tool brimming with potentially good ideas — even if they never see the light of day.

I’ve found that the format on these work really well. A notebook for personal musings, and a notebook for work tasks — all in one container. It makes my life a lot easier to manage — I just need to bring my notebook with me.

Where things really start to get interesting is with the sizing of both. Even with them packed out pretty thick, they still seem to drop easily into a jacket pocket or a back pocket. In other words, the narrowness of the notebook, allows it to easily fit in a lot of pockets. There’s been a lot of meetings where they end right at lunch, and I drop my notebook in my blazer pocket, and head off to lunch. It’s not the best look, I know, but it gets the notebook out of my hand so I can go eat.

As I’ve been using them, they have broken in more, have some patina, and I’ve come to really like the way they look. In a lot of ways, they feel like the notebook Filson would make, if Filson made notebooks. They have that same durable, rugged, but somehow refined quality that Filson brings to their briefcases and bags. I’m a big fan.

Which Size

The real question I can feel you wondering is which size to buy. The regular is much better for anything you want to write in a lot. If you want something to carry often, the Passport size is stellar. I tend to carry my Papa notebook over the Passport, but the Passport carries much smaller in pocket than the Papa, with more notebooks in it. So it’s really killer for travel.

If you think you’ll write a lot in it — or want to write a lot in it — go for the regular. For all others, passport.

Which Paper

Standard dot-grid from Travelers is my favorite of all that I have tried. The ‘lightweight’ offerings from Goulet pack a lot more pages in a thin package, so if you need page count over paper thickness, that’s the hack.

I tend to keep one standard paper notebook in the Passport, and one lightweight when traveling to maximize paper count. For day to day, the passport size has one standard and one “ticket” notebook that Traveler’s does, which can add entertainment for the kids. Or me.

In the Regular, I keep the stock paper, one plain and one dot-grid. One of the notebooks is dedicated to work, the other for personal.

Overall

While there are higher end options to accomplish the same thing as these notebook covers, there’s something about the Traveler’s Company Notebook setup that really works for me. It’s a flexible system, which is sized really nicely, with a few small touches to make it feel durable and nice quality — all while not making it feel pretentious and loud.

I’m a very big fan.

Shop here, $55+.

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