Traveler's Notebook
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Guide to Traveler’s Notebook for Beginners

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The Traveler’s Company traveler’s notebooks are a great place to jot your notes, keep your plans or store your memories. These high-quality and aesthetically pleasing notebooks feature luxurious leather covers and a plethora of notebook inserts that feature smooth, creamy paper, pockets, and accessories. You can easily customize and build your own custom bullet journal, notebook, or planner to meet your needs and personality.

Your Traveler’s Notebook can be your companion year after year, allowing the leather to age beautifully. Or let it be a keepsake while you collect different leather colors, notebook sizes, and specialty covers. This guide to Traveler’s Notebook for beginners will help those who feel overwhelmed with all of the options and those who are looking for new products from Traveler’s Company.

If you’re interested in other Japanese planners, I’ve also written guides for other popular planner options: Hobonichi Techo and Kokuyo Jibun Techo.

What is a Traveler’s Notebook?

Before we get into the different refills, I wanted to start by talking about what a traveler’s notebook even is. It is sometimes called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook or Traveler’s Notebook Midori because Midori rebranded this popular line as its own company. travelers’ notebooks have notebooks, planners, and other inserts that help you create your own planning system. The great thing about the Traveler’s Notebook system is that they are fully customizable. You can add up to four inserts comfortably at a time and swap them out as you wish for different needs while still keeping the same luxurious leather cover. This is obviously a favorite of travelers because of how easy it is to swap inserts out to write or scrapbook about your current travels.


Traveler’s Notebook for Beginners TL;DR

The Traveler’s Notebook is made by a company called Traveler’s Company. They are a simple leather cover that comes in 2 sizes, with elastic bands that hold thin paper notebooks and other accessories such as file folders or pouches.

Traveler’s Notebook Setup Guide

Traveler’s notebooks are a system of notebooks, so you’ll rarely see a single notebook in a Traveler’s notebook system unless that’s your goal. As you’ll read below, the Traveler’s Notebook initially comes with a leather cover and a single notebook inside. Just buy the additional notebooks and accessories, and you’re good to go. For help getting started, follow this basic guide:

  1. Choose Your Cover Size- Regular or Passport
  2. Choose Your Cover Color- Black, Brown, Camel, or Blue (specialty colors available too)
  3. Choose Your Notebooks- Lined, Grid, Planner, Kraft, Blank, etc.
  4. Choose Your Accessories- Zip pocket, Pen loop, Paper folders, etc.
  5. Add Personality- Charms, Stickers, etc.

Traveler’s Notebook Starter Kits

Whether you’re tracking travel plans, jotting down notes, journaling, or planning your week, the Traveler’s Notebook is a great choice to accompany you wherever you may go. Its sleek and timeless design fits any situation. Available in two sizes, the larger Regular and smaller Passport size, the starter kits include the leather cover, a blank notebook that features Midori Diary (MD) paper, and an elastic band that stretches along the cover’s spine to hold the notebook in place.

A starter kit is the perfect option first timers t get started. After this, you can add more notebooks, add pockets, insert pouches or file folders and add other accessories to make this notebook system work for you.

Traveler’s Notebooks Covers

Traveler’s Notebook covers are thick, flat pieces of leather with holes for the elastic bands. But that’s it. No extras or extraneous additions. The longer you use your Traveler’s Notebook, the more the leather ages, patinas, and develops its own character. It molds to your notebooks, like a baseball mitt to your hand.

The covers come in four colors, black, brown, camel, and blue. But there are limited-edition covers that I get into more below.

Or, for more options, shop on Etsy

Read More: The Best Japanese Stationery on Etsy

Traveler’s Notebook Refills

Notebooks

Traveler’s Notebook paper is made from Midori’s signature Diary paper. The well-tested and designed paper is fountain pen-friendly, feather-resistant, and bleed-resistant, contributing to a great writing experience. Notebooks come in both passport and regular sizes.

Notebook refills come in:

Lined

Lined paper is a classic and must-have for traditional writers and notebook users. The lines, at 6.5mm spacing, are perfect for journaling, to-do lists, travel planning, and any other notes you need to keep in a notebook.

Buy Regular on Amazon

Buy Passport on Amazon

Grid

For a little more freedom than the standard lined notebooks, you can find the grid. The 5x5mm grid gives structure for graphs, charts, or diagrams, while allowing the freedom to draw, journal, and plan any way you want, thanks to the pale gray lines. Similar to a bullet journal, the lines are light while not intrusive, giving you just enough guidance.

Buy Regular on Amazon

Buy Passport on Amazon Japan

Blank

If you need a little more freedom to express your creativity, there are blank notebooks to let your doodles run wild. You can also use the blank notebooks for brainstorming, creative journaling, or just jotting down your to-do lists in the way you prefer.

Buy Regular on Amazon

Buy Passport on Amazon Japan

Cream Blank

Similar to the blank refill, you can find the cream-colored version. The cream is a bit softer on your eyes than the white option, which makes it a great alternative for your notes or journaling.

Buy on Etsy

Dot Grid

Those familiar with the bullet journal know all about the dot grid. Just like standard bullet journals, and the grid I mentioned above, the dot grid has unobtrusive dots that provide guidelines without getting in the way of your designs or imagination. You can write in neat lines, create straight sections, or draw however you please.

Buy Regular on Etsy

Buy Passport on Amazon

Planners

One of the great ways a Traveler’s Notebook can be used is as a planner. With many styles of planner inserts, you’ll have no shortage of ways to stay organized. Planner inserts come in both regular and passport sizes, while some of the layout options are only available in the larger regular size. They also come in dated and undated versions. The 2023 versions will be available in the U.S. on October 11.

Monthly Planner

The monthly planner comes with 14 months worth of pages; the dated ones start in December of the previous year and end in January of the year after. The monthly planner helps you get an overview of the months and is perfect for big-picture people. You can also combine this with a weekly or daily planner to create your perfect planning system.

Available in passport and regular in both dated and undated versions.

Buy Regular on Amazon US

Buy Passport on Amazon

2023 refills coming soon

Weekly Planner

The weekly planner in this layout is only available in the Passport size. It is divided into 4 horizontal sections on each page, one for each day plus a blank section or notes or additional plans. This is great for those who want to see their whole week on one spread but don’t need much additional space for notes or to-do lists.

Shop Passport on Amazon

Dated Passport Coming Soon

Weekly Planner with Memo

If you’re familiar with the Hobonichi Weeks, the Weekly with Memo is a very similar setup. Only available in the Regular size, you have the days of the week on the left page to keep track of your appointments and a grid page on the right. You can add notes, your to-do list, or more plans as you see fit. It only comes with enough weekly pages for six months, but at a relatively low cost, you can easily swap out for a new one when you fill this up.

Shop Regular on Amazon

Dated Regular Coming Soon

Weekly Vertical Planner

This vertical planner has the 7 days of the week spread vertically across 2 pages. with a blank section for your to-do list on the right. Each day is broken up into hour segments from 8 AM to 10 PM. There is also space at the top and bottom of each day for additional notes or appointment reminders.

Buy Regular on Amazon

Dated Regular Coming Soon

Daily Planner

If you’re super busy or like to record your plans and to-do lists on a daily layout, the daily planner is a great option. You’ll have tons of space to record all of your necessities on the 5x5mm grid with a new day on each page.

Buy Regular on Amazon

Dated Regular Coming Soon

Specialty Paper

Traveler’s Notebook also has a variety of specialty papers available to add to your notebook. These are great options for different journaling or planning styles or just to give your notebook a more unique look.

Sketch

If you like drawing, watercolors, or sketching, sketch paper provides a smooth, sturdy surface to make your creative ideas a reality. Not only is the paper perfect for any type of art you prefer, but the pages are also perforated so you can remove a page and frame it or use it as a postcard from your travels.

Buy Regular on Etsy

Buy Passport on Etsy

Buy Regular on Amazon Japan

Buy Regular on Amazon

Lightweight

If you love Tomoe River paper, you need to check out the Lightweight notebook. It’s ultra-thin but easy to write on, meaning you can grab a bunch of these notebooks for your travels without being weighed down.

Buy Passport on Amazon US

Buy Regular on Amazon US

Kraft

For a rustic feel, you need the kraft paper insert. If you love scrapbooking or an old-fashioned look for your journal, the brown paper is just the ticket. You can glue your travel souvenirs like photos, maps, and ticket stubs, or write with a nice fountain pen to keep your travel journal in an aesthetic way.

Buy Passport on Amazon US

Buy Regular on Amazon Japan

Watercolor

As the name suggests, watercolor paper is specifically made for watercolors. The paper is more textured than the sketch insert, which is ideal for watercolors. But it can also be used for pen or pencil sketches. Just like sketch pages, they are perforated, so you can remove the page after creating your work of art.

Buy Regular on Etsy

Buy Passport on Amazon

Traveler’s Notebook Accessories

Paper inserts aren’t the only thing you can add to your Traveler’s Notebook. You can also get a variety of accessories to add to your notebook to help add functionality and individuality.

Brass Clip

One of my favorite accessories are these vintage-inspired binder clips that help to keep the notebook open while you use it. Because that is one of the downsides of Traveler’s Notebooks is they aren’t lie-flat, so you will need to either constantly hold down your notebook or use a clip like these. They are made of solid brass, and just like the leather covers, they will patina over time.

Buy on Etsy or Amazon Japan.

Connecting Bands

If you need to connect additional notebooks to your cover, you’ll need additional connecting bands. These help you create your ideal notebook situation by allowing you to fill it with as many notebooks or accessories as you want (within reason). You can get these in both sizes.

Buy Regular Size on Amazon US

Buy Passport Size on Amazon US

Card File

A card file is a very Japanese addition as business cards are not only still prevalent in Japan today, they are expected every time you meet someone for business. Therefore, card files are a must. The plastic file has slots for 12 business cards and can fit both Japanese and American business card sizes. This is only available in the Regular size.

Buy on Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Kraft Card File

Another option for a card file is this kraft version. It has 60 spaces for you to store whatever you want, like small photos, business cards, stamps, ticket stubs, or other souvenirs. The kraft paper gives it a slightly more rustic feel than the more business-like clear version above. Only available in Regular.

Buy on Etsy or Amazon Japan

Double-Sided Stickers

To help you make your travel journal or add information to your planner, double-sided stickers are very helpful. Just attach maps, cards, additional pages, or other souvenirs with these thin stickers that are strong but won’t add bulk.

Buy on Etsy or Amazon Japan

Film Pocket Sticker

These handy film pocket stickers create additional storage spaces for you to stow small notes or items. You can stick the pocket anywhere in your notebook and mix and match the number of pockets you want on each page.

Buy on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Pocket Sticker

Similar to the film pocket sticker, you can add additional storage space for items you need to keep track of. It can fit inside of your notebooks or even your leather cover to give you even more storage. You can keep membership cards, coupons, or any notes you need with you frequently. You can get the large packet that fits the Regular size notebook or the pocket sticker set (left) that has three smaller pockets perfect for any size notebook.

Buy Regular Size on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Buy Large Size on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Kraft File Folder

This kraft file folder adds a ton of great storage space to your notebook system. Each file folder has two pockets, and is perfect for itineraries, maps, brochures, or notes you need to keep with your planners and notebooks. They are available in both the Regular and Passport sizes.

Buy Regular Size on Amazon US

Buy Passport Size on Amazon US

Pen Holder

My next favorite accessory is the pen holder. As you can guess, it adds a convenient loop right to your planner cover so you can keep your pen secure and hand at all times. The metal clip grips the leather cover securely, and the loop can hold up to a pen with a 12 mm diameter.

Buy in on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Repair Kit

The repair kit is great for those well-loved notebooks that need a little bit if fixing up. The kit comes with extra bands and a metal clasp to repair the original spine band. The great thing about the kit is that you can try out different colored bands to add even more personality and style to your planner system.

Buy on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Sticky Notes

Who doesn’t love sticky notes? You can write down to-dos, take a quick note, or annotate something for later. These sticky notes come in a convenient set with a variety of formats or sizes. Available in both Regular and Passport sizes.

Buy on Amazon US or Amazon Japan

Three-Fold File

This tri-fold fild can fit an A4 paper. You can hold reservation documents, maps, itineraries, and more. It only comes in the Regular size.

Buy on Etsy or Amazon Japan

Zipper Case

For a little more security for your essentials, you can keep them in this convenient zipper case. They’re perfect for small, flat items like tickets, cards, or souvenirs. One side of this insert is the zipper pouch, while the other has a large pocket to stick notes or papers you pick up along the way. Comes in both Regular and Passport

Buy Regular Size on Amazon US

Buy Passport Size on Amazon US

Pencil Boards

In order to keep the thin notebook paper looking nice, you should look into a pencil board. Pencil boards give you a flat surface to write on and can help to protect the paper underneath the one you’re writing on. They’re also great as a bookmark or ruler. Traveler’s Notebook has a lot of cute options for pencil boards and they come out with more each year. They’re available in both passport and regular sizes.

Buy Regular Size on Amazon US

Buy Passport Size on Amazon US

Binder

The great thing about Traveler’s Notebooks is you can swap inserts in and out. But, you might wonder what to do with your full journals when you add in a fresh one. Well here is the solution. You can get a binder that is essentially a hard-backed Traveler’s Notebook for storage. You can get it in both Regular and Passport sizes to store all of your notebooks safely in one place.

Buy Regular Size: Amazon US, or Etsy

Buy Passport size on Etsy

Traveler’s Notebook Size Comparison

As you saw above, Traveler’s Notebooks come in two sizes: Regular and Passport. The Regular size is similar to an A5 Slim at 9″ x 5.7″, while the passport size is unique to Traveler’s Notebook at 5.2″ 3.8″. These two compact sizes make them great for travel or use as your daily carry.

Traveler’s Notebook Special Editions

Traveler’s Company Yearly Collection

2022’s theme was “Imagination.” There are four themes for this: hotel, train, plane, and records. Each collection has a limited edition cover, an original refill, a charm, a pencil, a luggage label, stickers, stamps, and a cotton storage bag. This collection is is limited edition so may not be available. There will be a new set for 2023.

Shop on Etsy

Traveler’s Company B Sides and Rarities

The Traveler’s Company B Sides and Rarities were created in 2021 to celebrate Traveler’s Notebook 15th anniversary. This is one of my favorite collections with unusual and interesting products from those 15 years that never actually made it out to the public. You can find notebook refills and zipper pouches in both the passport and regular sizes.

Shop on Etsy

Traveler’s Company Factory Green Collection

Traveler’s Company released a collection of pens inspired by the factory locations where the floors, doors, and shelves are painted in a similar light green color that is supposed to evoke peace of mind. The pen’s finish will develop a distinctive patina as it ages to reflect how you have used it. Just as the paint in the factory has faded in some areas and darkened in others—a testament to many years of hard work and productivity.

Shop on Etsy

Traveler’s Factory Limited Editions

Traveler’s Company has Traveler’s Factory stores in Japan that sell the same merchandise listed in this guide, as well as limited edition covers, refills, and accessories that can only be purchased in-store and in the specific store you’re in.

If you’re a true Traveler’s Company junkie, the Traveler’s Factory stores should definitely be on your bucket list. There are three locations in Tokyo: Tokyo Station, Narita Airport, and the flagship store in Nakameguro. There is a fourth store in Kyoto. Each location is unique and a treat to visit for stationery and travel lovers.

I would highly recommend visiting a store yourself if only for the experience, but at the time of writing (September 2022), most travelers may still be unable to make it to Japan. So if there are certain special edition notebooks you’re interested in, you can purchase them on Etsy from local sellers who go to the store and can ship them to you.

Fair warning, though, these special editions are expensive to begin with (even more so than the standard leather covers), so the prices from these sellers are even higher because of their exclusivity and popular demand. So unless you’re an avid collector or lucky enough to have a large budget, I might stick to the standard covers or save up to visit Japan in the future. Depending on where you’re traveling from, it honestly might just be cheaper to fly to Japan to shop for yourself, plus you get the experience of Japan and the Factory stores.

Some of my favorite shops are inukshuk Japan, Stationery Station, and Japaneasy Shopper. All are based in Japan and have a huge selection of Traveler’s Notebook, Hobonichi, and anything else you can only find in Japan. If you’re interested in what else I like on Etsy, check out my profile.

Some of the best limited edition items are the Traveler’s Factory Airport Edition, Traveler’s Factory Station Edition, Traveler’s Factory Kyoto Edition, and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo Collab.

For more on Japanese stationery, check our posts Here.

Buy Regular Traveler’s Factory Airport Edition

Buy Passport Traveler’s Factory Airport Edition

Buy Regular TF Starbucks Reserve Roastery Collab

Buy Passport TF Starbucks Reserve Roastery Collab

Buy Traveler’s Factory Kyoto Edition

Buy Traveler’s Factory Station Edition

How to Install Multiple Traveler’s Notebooks

As you’ve seen above, you can mix and match your notebooks to create your perfect planning system. While you can stuff your Traveler’s Notebook as full as you want, 3 or 4 notebooks is all that I would recommend, depending on the notebook thickness and any other accessories you might be using, like folders or pockets.

Adding multiple notebooks to your planning system is easy, but there are a few techniques you can use. I get into each of the options below.

Using the Existing Elastic Binding

OPTION 1: The simplest way to add an additional notebook is by using the existing binding. Simply insert the first notebook through the first elastic as usual. Then pull on the second elastic to loosen it slightly and make more room for the second insert.

OPTION 2: The 2nd easiest way is to use the elastic that comes with the box with your notebook. Just remove the elastic band from the box and add it around the cover. Then you can insert the refill through the band as you would normally. The downside to this method is that the elastic is visible from outside the notebook so it may take away from the sleek look of the notebook. But personally, I don’t think it’s that bad.

Traveler’s notebook Connecting Bands

OPTION 1: Now we’ll get into the options that take a little bit of work and money. As you saw above, Traveler’s Company has elastic bands available in their repair kit. THese will allow you to install multiple notebook refills in one cover while retaining the same classic look to the outside.  First, insert a notebook between the existing rubber band and cover.

Then, place the second notebook beside the first. Open both notebooks to their middle pages and hold the notebooks together. Now, slip the connecting band around those pages. To install another insert, follow the same steps but this time with the second and third notebooks.

OPTION 2: Possibly an easier way is to connect the notebooks outside of the cover before inserting. This option gives a more balanced look to the notebook system, especially if you only have 2 inserst. But to add more, just follow the same steps as above.

What to Put in Your Traveler’s Notebook

There’s no end to the possibilities of your Traveler’s Notebook. One of the greatest thing about the TN system is that you can mix and match, swap out, and customize to whatever works best for you. But if you’re at a loss for what to do with your notebook, or you’re looking for new ideas here are some of the top ideas.

  1. Journal. Spend a little time each day writing down your thoughts or jotting down your notes. Doing all of this in a beautiful leather cover makes it that much more special.
  2. Daily Organizer. Use the calendar insert to keep track of your schedule, add in some pouches or pockets to keep receipts or notes from work or school, and add in another notebook or two to write your to-do lists or
  3. Work Hours or Expenses. Use the notebooks to log your work hours, your expenses, and your overall to-do lists. Keep receipts for taxes in a pouch or added pocket. It’s so easy to use your Traveler’s notebook for work as you can customize it to fit your needs.
  4. Wallet and Appointment Book. I know a few people who actually use a TN as a wallet with pouches and zippered pockets or IDs, cash, and important documents. They also add a notebook to write down anything they might need to remember while away from their main planner or desk.
  5. Health Journal. Keep track of your fitness goals, medical concerns, or overall health.
  6. Art Journal. Paint, draw, or design your notebooks any way that makes you feel creative.
  7. Travel Journal. And finally, the most obvious. Most people probably use the Traveler’s Notebook as an actual travel journal. Because of its slim size and easily interchangeable notebooks, you can take it anywhere with you and switch out the refills for your next trip. Keep track of your itinerary, write down your bucket list, or collect souvenirs in the pouches. The possibilities are endless.

For help with creative journaling or trying different art techniques, I definitely recommend Skillshare. It’s an invaluable tool for ever-increasing courses where you can learn just about anything. You can learn how to watercolor or try calligraphy, and then learn a new language or how to start your own business. Get one month Free Now.

Traveler’s Notebook Alternatives

If you’re looking for a notebook system that’s a little more affordable, not leather, or a different size, there are a few options that you can also consider.

ProductCover MaterialSizeRefill IncludedPriceBuy Now
Kokuyo Systemic Twin Ring NotebookCanvasA5Yes$$Amazon
Robrasim Classic Vintage Leather JournalLeather5.4″ x 4″ (~Passport TN size)Yes$Amazon
September Leather Traveler’s NotebookLeather8.5″ x 4.5″ (~Regular TN size)Yes$$Amazon
Barns and Noble Voyager NotebookVegan Leather7.75″ x 5″Yes$$Etsy
Handmade Vegan FauxdoriVegan LeatherVarious sizesNo$$$Etsy

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