Traveler's notebook mods

Traveler's Company Traveler's Notebook modifications

Cover Image

Ah yes, my Traveler's Company traveler's notebook (TN) that I received as a gift many years ago—still grossly underused since I mainly use A5 size for most things personal. I have a very romantic idea of what these notebooks should look like based on what the internet has fed me: stuffed to the brim, all sorts of collagey inserts, vintage/nostalgia vibe, brass, lots of danglies/customization/charms/etc. Honestly I like all of these things, in concept!

In practice, I am very basic and function is always what wins. Function for me means: not a super fat book, not a carry-all, it's for writing/drawing in the pages, and it has to lay as flat as possible.

I finally bit the bullet and made the little changes to my TN:

  • Put something on the closure string
  • Cut off that bead!!
  • Insert two bookmarks instead of one
  • Move the closure cord to the spine

I wasn't sure if this was all going to work out, but thankfully it did!

Collage of 3 photos of different views of a modified traveler's company notebook cover, showing the front (closure elastic across cover), back, and front (closure elastic undone). The notebook is camel brown coloured leather, with a light brown elastic closure cord. The elastic closure also has a wooden ring hanging from it. A fountain pen with a brown cap and jade coloured body is paired with the notebook.

Pen in photo is a Manaslu from Jeb's Pens with a gold tone jowo B nib! MATCHY!!

My "charm"

My cover is scuffed up not because I carry it around, but rather, because of a short stint with some brass charms/tassels that I had on here, as well as some metal dangles on the bookmark strings. This notebook cover has BARELY been used.

I removed all of the metal charms/dangles NOT because of them scuffing up the cover (I don't care!) but rather, I don't like the sound of metal hitting things (e.g., when I put the notebook down on any hard surface, it would make clacking or jingle noise). While I don't care much about scuffing up the cover, I do care a bit more about metal scraping up against my writing surfaces—it means I'd have to be more careful about where I put the notebook down! Sometimes metal charm/dangles got trapped underneath my notebook and I'd have to pull it out while writing. Long story short, I got rid of everything metal and opted for an old ring made out of bent woods and some mysterious material. It's very lightweight and round, so doesn't make too much noise or scuff other things up. By chance, the colour scheme of the ring matches super well with the camel cover, elastic cord, and the off-white bookmarks I added! MATCHY!

No more bead/clasp

The original TN has a metal crimp/clasp/bead in the top left of the notebook. It holds the elastic knots in place and keeps them out of sight. This means that the notebook doesn't quite lay flat at the top of the spine and there are also metal scrapping possibilities against your writing surface.

I finally cut it off. Cutting it off meant that I didn't have enough elastic to string it the way it was originally, so I strung it a different way (reverse-ish), which still works for my purposes (I don't have a super stuffed notebook system). Instead of tying knots on the inside, I tied the elastics on the top/bottom, facing the outside. The spine still lays pretty flat, so I'm happy!

Photo collage of the front and back of the traveler's notebook cover, with a fountain pen resting next to the cover, on the right. This photo shows how the elastic was knotted on the exterior of the cover.

Two bookmarks

An easy add. I had leftover waxed linen thread from my bookbinding! I tied 2 loose strings together at the top and then threaded it through one of the top elastic loops. It stays in place just fine. The waxed thread gives it some stiffness, so it tends to want to lay straighter against a page, which is what you want a bookmark to do.

Photo close-up of the elastic knot on the exterior side of the traveler's notebook, showing a white linen thread fitted through the knot, which acts as 2 bookmarks

Move closure string to the spine

The original TN has a hole in the backcover for the closure string to be knotted through. This meant that there was a "bump" from the knots that could be felt if I was writing on the right side of the book. DO NOT WANT!

I used an awl and screwdrivers to create a hole into the spine. I covered the original hole on the outside of the cover, with a round washi sticker.

Photo collage of the front and back of the traveler's notebook cover. This photo shows how the backcover's elastic closure was moved to the spine.

I also repurposed an old metal fold-over "crimp" to keep the elastics in place without a knot (to further reduce the bump).

Photo collage of the interior side of the notebook cover. It shows how a metal crimp was used to keep the elastic closure in place without a knot.

What's inside?

I started with a moleskine cahier, cut down to A5 slim size. Quickly realized it made all my FP inks look horrid. OBSERVE:

Photo collage of the moleskine cahier notebook cut down to A5 slim size. One shot shows the exterior of the notebook's cover, decorated with stamps and a drawing of a sad Sally. The other shot shows the interior cream coloured grid paper, with horrible looking fountain pen ink writing.

Offensive! Completely unacceptable!!

So I made my own notebook out 5mm dot grid printed on HP premium 32lb paper. The cover is of course, another HWA cover leftover, further covered by a ginkgo ecoprint collage paper from StudioPetaBooks. Sorry Jake, there's only so much of your face that I want to see. I used leftover waxed linen thread (also from HWA) for 3-hole pamphlet binding. Notebook lays super flat! FP ink looks OK on this paper, though not as nice as FP specialty papers. What pains me the most is that there's significant paper cut-off to get a half-letter-sized notebook to fit the A5 slim size of a TN.

Photo collage of two notebooks resting inside of the traveler's notebook cover. One notebook has a off-white cover because it was DIY-ed in-house, while the notebook with kraft paper is an official insert from Midori. The DIY notebook has dot grid ruling printed on it and scrap paper pasted on the interior cover to obscure old art that was printed there.

I have another insert that's the official #03 blank insert with white Midori MD paper. It's nice stuff...feels kind of rare since Midori MD paper is primarily available in cream colour. This insert doesn't lay as flat, so maybe I'll pull out the staples some day and rebind it (?) or continue to reverse crease the notebook.

I made my own "clear file folder" insert by cutting down an old plastic folder (with pockets) and taping together 2 pockets with washi tape. The rest of the file folder became a shitajiki/writing board.

Photo collage of a plastic folder insert made out of plastic sleeves and washi tape.

Also made a scrappy insert that primarily serves as a pen loop flap-out that also folds flat. Maybe I can merge the clear file folder with this...hmmm!

Photo collage of four images. The first two photos show a Traveler’s notebook with a piece of folded cardboard jutting out and around the front cover, holding 3 platinum preppy fountain pens (like a sheath). A third photo shows the same cardboard sheath, but with a OPUS88 Omar inside of it instead. The final photo shows the insert pulled out, laying on top of the notebook.

What am I using it for?

Now that I'm officially not a bound to digital work calendar, I'm going to try to use the notebook for work-related writing/brainstorming! We'll see how it goes...

After writing this post it became obvious that I'm very particular about my stationery. I'm glad I got to repurpose a bunch of existing items to make these mods to my TN!

Today's music post: Tout Est Bleu by Âme Strong.