Catching Thoughts: A place for notebooks, notebooks for places

My name is Kim…and I am a stationery junkie.

I have always been obsessed with pens, notebooks, and basically stationery of any and all kinds. The drawers in my roll top desk are filled with notebooks, beautiful paper and all kinds of writing and sketching tools. I am also an avid journaler and always on the lookout for a beautiful new journal to add to my collection. Over the last few months though I have stumbled down a whole new twisty rabbit hole: Traveler’s Notebooks.

Traveler’s Notebooks are a binder system that holds together multiple notebooks. The original brand of Traveler’s Notebooks are the Japanese brand of Midori. These are leather covers with an ingenious elasticated string system that holds together multiple notebooks.  

courtesy of Midori
The genius concept of the Traveler’s Notebooks are that they are rugged, minimalist, fully customisable – as to how you use them and they are the perfect travelling/desk/handbag/rucksack accessory. With a Traveler’s Notebook I can have multiple notebooks kept together in a hardy and durable cover. I always like to have a notebook or three handy at all times, because thoughts and ideas flutter in and out usually during the most mundane moments in life. With a TN I can catch those thoughts before they fly past into the Neverland of forgotten memories. There is also something to be said for the tangible beauty of a leather Traveler’s Notebook. 

 The Midori-style notebook has become so popular that it has inspired many other suppliers and artisans to create their own versions inspired by these Traveler’s Notebooks. Traditionally the Traveler’s notebooks are notebook covers that are made from supple leather and come in a cheque-book-wallet size *Regular/Standard Size* and a Passport size.

These other Traveler’s notebooks, made by independent artisans, come in a smorgasbord of materials from leather to material to paper. They also come in a variety of sizes from small pocket sizes to large art journal sizes. There is the perfect notebook for everyone’s needs. 

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” ~ Jack London
“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” ~ Jack London
I stumbled down this rabbit hole a few months ago and am still to come up for air. At first I wanted to get myself the traditional Midori Traveler’s notebooks (TN) but the Midori TN I wanted was temporarily out of stock.

So I then I started looking at the various alternate Traveler’s notebooks made and I was wowed. After stalking quite a few Instagram hashtags and YouTube videos, I settled on Chic Sparrow. Then it was a case of narrowing my focus down to which size I wanted and which leather/colour/texture I wanted. Although a lot of people use their TNs for planning/scheduling, I knew I wanted to use mine for journaling and for note-taking, perhaps even sketching. I also knew I preferred a leather that was thicker, firm but still supple and flexible and a leather that was rich in texture. I also wanted a TN that was personalised to me. 

I ended up stalking the Chic Sparrow website daily for a few weeks. Chic Sparrow is so popular that they often sell out within a few hours each day. Eventually the leather I wanted in the size I wanted was finally available. *I got a Narrow size with overhang – the actual cover is slightly wider than the inserted notebooks/inserts.* I ended up choosing the Distressed CremeBrûlée Deluxe* (*Deluxe is a TN that comes with stitched in pockets/pen loop and is finished off externally with a beautiful stitching border.)   I chose my personalisations and hit order. Then I waited. Nine days later my Chic Sparrow package arrived…

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I was thrilled to see/feel the variations/texture in this gorgeous distressed leather. There is something very special to me about a distressed leather. One of my favourite parts of my TN is the deep natural “imperfectly perfect” scar on the back secretarial pocket. It shows a life well lived by this cow. It also reminds me that the page can always safely store both my scars and my joys. Catching my daily thoughts in this beautiful Traveler’s Notebook fills me with joy and fresh inspiration.

Again…this is keeping me true to my new mantra: Yo no Bi ~ Beauty through Use…Use through Beauty.

My next Traveller’s Notebook is going to be a limited edition Original Midori. I have waited to get the traditional Midori Traveler’s Notebook in a limited Blue leather edition: this one will capture my actual travels, adventures and road trips. But more on this blue-beauty when it arrives…

Tell me, how do you catch all your thoughts/ideas?
 Are you a note-taker?

Traveler’s Notebooks Links

8 thoughts on “Catching Thoughts: A place for notebooks, notebooks for places

  1. Hi! I just got my first Chic Sparrow (plain, to be lighter in weight, versus the Deluxe w pockets). I have my Hobonichi Cousin Avec and a soft-cover Leuctturm in it. The Hobo, however, does not have a bookmark so I need to figure out a solution. I see that your notebooks have bookmarks — did they come with them, or did you add those? I’d love any suggestions you night have. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! 🙂
      Yes it was my dream desk. I searched for years and years to find the perfect roll top desk. I do end up spending so much time in my home-atelier (much nicer word than office!) so I made sure that everything in this space inspires me and fills me with joy. The rolltop takes centre stage and just anchors the whole space. This roll top desk is beautiful. Solid oak. But the grain in the wood is just beautiful….

      [Aside: Mmh…maybe it is time for an update on my atelier…A #whereIwrite type post….Yes…I think I need to do one of those posts again, been a few years (and another atelier in a different house) since I did one of those posts…..
      So watch this space…for a blog post next week on my favourite place in my house: my writing atelier…]

      Thanks for stopping by to comment! 🙂

  2. Kim,

    I am a note taker. I have a notebooks in all sizes and shapes, some spiral bound, some simple exercise books, some from which perforated pages can be torn. I tend to take quick short notes on my pages — unless I am doing a writing exercise, and then it can take pages. Sometimes I write out a whole scene because I’m lost and think better on paper than on computer at that particular time. I should say I try to keep each story in a separate notebook.

    I need to try your notebook system.

    Deb Turner

    1. Hi Deb 🙂

      Love note-taking on the go. I have always had tons of notebooks tucked everywhere. Which is why the Traveler Notebook system immediately appealed to me. One portable system for multiple notebooks!! What is not to love? 😉
      Yes – you should totally try it. Let me know if you decide to get one. (Or if you enjoy crafts you can even make one too. – I still want to make my own as well.)


      1. Is this something you can get in the States? I would love to get one. Went and looked at the site. I would need a big one for all the projects I take with me. It would be great for taking to the beach (a block away from me) and I could sit and write. Yes, I am in love with this system! Gotta have one (gotta find the money first, but that’s entirely beside the point). Thanks for sharing this. I’ll let you know what I get.


      2. Deb,

        The links I have included the bottom of this post (just above comments) take you to the stores where the Midori is available globally – quite a few U.S. stores.
        Also Chic Sparrow is in the U.S. too.

        Ooh…let me know what you get when you do get one. 🙂

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