Category: Journaling

My Customized Traveler’s Notebook

I recently ordered and received a customized standard-sized Traveler’s Notebook from Baum-Kuchen. I have been wanting to order one for a while so as soon as they had re-opened the service, I contacted their lovely team to work out the details of my request. I have always wanted a camel Traveler’s Notebook and have always wanted a customized Traveler’s Notebook, so great opportunity to fulfill both wants.

My Tokyo Station Traveler’s Notebooks is what I have been using as my main journal for the past couple of years. I kind of baby it because it is one of my favorite souvenirs from our first trip to Japan. As such, whenever I take it anywhere, it is usually in a canvas carrier to prevent it from getting scratched up; Which is fine, but that makes it kind of a chunky thing to carry anywhere and prevents it from developing a nice patina like my passport Traveler’s Notebook. I kind of just throw my passport TN in my bag since it functions as a planner and extended wallet. Because of that, the leather has become nice and supple and broken in with a lot of character.

So the Tokyo Station TN now houses all of my travel journals from Japan along with pamphlets and other ephemera and my new customized TN is now my daily writing journal. I took my scrapbooking insert out, leaving just my journal and the sticker paper insert. Doing so slims it down quite a bit and makes it so that it actually fits in some of my bag/backpack pockets. When I feel like carrying around my scrapbook insert or sketchbook insert I can easily add either one back in as I have my TN setup to make it easy to do so.

So as far as customizations, this is what I went with. Originally I had wanted the pockets in nude but one of them was out of stock in that color so I had chosen brown instead. Thinking back, I am so glad that I went with brown as it matches the color of my pen clip and just suits my taste better.

I chose the cardholder wallet pocket on the left inside cover to store washi samples and other random card shaped slips of paper. I added my Superior Labor double pen clip holder because it’s convenient being able to hold two pens (fountain pen, and either pencil or inking pen) and also because the brown leather on the pen loops matches the brown leather on the pockets perfectly. The brass clip makes the top card pocket on the left inside cover a bit too tight for washi samples but I have found that it is the perfect size for printouts from my Polaroid Zink sticker printer.

On the right inside cover I chose the zipper pocket, which currently holds: A small plastic ruler, a fake movie prop $100 bill, weird pictures, bird stickers, scraps of paper. It’s basically a catchall for random ephemera. There is ample space under each sewn on pocket to store more items. This setup more or less matches the setup that I used with the blue canvas insert in my Tokyo Station TN. It’s a lot easier to manage with the pockets sewn in vs being another insert.

On the cover I have a quote from one of my favorite shows embossed: “There’s coffee in that nebula.” I feel that it encompasses a decent range of things that I enjoy: Coffee, Star Trek, and exploration/adventure. But seriously, I am a huge Star Trek nerd.

Analog System Update

These are the notebooks that I am currently using: My Regular Traveler’s Notebook for journaling and memory keeping, my Passport Traveler’s Notebook for planning, and the new addition discussed below. Not pictured is the black notebook that I scribble in (brain dump journal entries, grocery/to-do lists, etc). I had recently treated myself to a few goodies from one of my favorite stores, Baum-Kuchen, one such item being an A5 notebook cover to house the stuff that I am using to study Japanese.

Finally, after so much procrastinating, I am bucking down and redoubling my efforts to study Japanese. I took around 2 years of Japanese in college, but didn’t really keep up with studying it afterwards. Consequently, even though I still know enough to travel and hold basic conversations, I had forgotten more than I would like. My study goal is to relearn all of the kanji, vocabulary, and grammar that I have forgotten as well as continue my language education with a focus on stuff that would be useful for our next Japan trip (whenever that will be).

I am using the GENKI textbooks as they were recommended on Reddit and seem well regarded online. Instead of skipping ahead in the book, I figured I would start from the very beginning. Although I already know almost all of what I have covered so far, it is good to reinforce existing knowledge and to notate grammar, etc in my notebook for the sake of reference.

I have two notebooks in the cover; One tucked into the left side and one tucked into the right side.

The left notebook is comprised of A5 sized gridpaper. I was previously using this notebook as scratch paper and lettering practice but it has been repurposed for kanji study and practice. The postcard holds no significance other than it being pleasing to look at and to cover personal information that was written down underneath it. I do plan on printing out or writing out A5 sized (or smaller) reference sheets and either tucking them into the pocket on the left or clipping them to the front inside of the first notebook.

The right notebook is an A5 slim sized Washi SOSHI notebook from April 2020’s Stationery Selection box. The paper is an absolute delight to write with my fountain pens as I find that it’s the perfect texture (not too smooth, not too rough, no feathering). Sadly, I have been sitting on this notebook for over a year because that’s how long I procrastinated on starting this project.

Special mention to these highlighters. I bought them years ago off of Amazon and I use them all the time. I think they are Muji twin tip highlighters? One side is broad tipped for highlighting and the other side is fine tipped.

2020 Analog System

I figured that now would be a good time to post about the various notebooks that I have used this year and why they did or did not work for me.

Traveler’s Notebook Passport

My Traveler’s Notebook Passport setup hasn’t changed much since I had made this post. This notebook is used as my daily planner. I have 3 inserts: A weekly planner insert, a monthly planner insert, and a blank notebook. I had considered moving over to a TN regular or A5 sized planner, but the passport size really works for me because it is modular and is the perfect size for my bags and purses.

Traveler’s NoteBook Regular

This notebook is mostly a creative outlet. The layout is almost the same as I had posted, with the exception that the dot grid Notebook has been swapped out with a Baum-Kuchen GRID notebook. I like the idea of having a notebook dedicated to entries that are neatly penned with one of my fountain pens. I do take this notebook along when I travel as it is actually used as a traveler’s notebook. When I do so, I will only take one insert and the canvas organizer so that it is not overly thick. When in “travel mode” it fit perfectly into the sling that I use so long as I don’t have it overloaded with stuff.

Kokuhodo Black Notebook

This journal came in one of The Stationery Selection boxes last year. I really like matte black so naturally, I chose this as my journal for 2020. I really like the paper quality, but it is a little frustrating that this notebook doesn’t fold flat. This notebook started off as a fairly traditional journal and has turned into somewhat of a hybrid between a brain dump and a bullet journal. Basically, if I need to get something random off of my mind I’ll write in this notebook. If I feel like writing but can’t think of anything to write about because it was a boring day, I will just write about the cats or literally anything and everything that comes to mind.

At the beginning or end of the day I will try to write down literally every single thing that I need to do. Anything that doesn’t get done gets migrated over to the next day and so forth. I find that the physical act of writing something down helps me to remember and process things; That is why, despite being a very technology oriented person, I use an analog planner instead of my phone.

My Traveler’s Notebook (Regular) Setup

Here is a post on how I use and setup my regular sized Traveler’s Notebook. My passport sized TN is used as a daily planner/general notebook whereas my regular sized TN is used as a creative outlet for watercoloring, sketching, scrapbooking, and stuff like that. I really like the TN system because of how modular it is; I use my notebooks for a variety of things so being able to swap inserts in and out is crucial. For daily use, I usually have 2 or 3 notebooks inserted at a time (detailed below). For travel, I will have one notebook (an insert dedicated to travel journaling) to keep the thickness of the TN down to a manageable size, since my travel journal insert is filled with about a dozen pamphlets and stuff like that.

This is the Traveler’s Factory Tokyo Station edition notebook that I picked up during our first trip to Japan in 2018. The red mizuhiki charm (the knot thingy) was purchased during the same trip. The brass charm was purchased from the Nakameguro store when we visited in 2019.

Diary Pouch

I keep my notebook as well as my most commonly used journaling supplies in a large atelier’s PENELOPE Diary Pouch from Baum-Kuchen. It’s great for preventing my journal from getting scuffed and makes a decent lap writing platform. I try to only keep a bare minimum of what I need in the pouch to avoid it getting bogged down with stuff as this item is a part of my travel setup.

Canvas Organizer

The blue canvas organizer insert is a Fourrof x Traveler’s Factory Collaboration purchased at the Tokyo Station Traveler’s Factory store when we had visited Japan last year. It has a zipper pouch on one side and card inserts on the other. The card inserts are great for storing washi tape samplers, stickers, and well… card shaped items. The zipper pocket and back pouch has a small ruler, paper clips, paper scraps, stickers, etc.

First Notebook: Baum-Kuchen SKETCH Notebook

I absolutely love this insert. The texture and page thickness of the paper is perfect for watercoloring and sketching projects.

Second Notebook: TN Kraft Insert for Journaling

I had mixed feelings about the kraft paper insert because the color made some of my pens and watercolors look weird. It has though, forced me to start writing and drawing on some of the paper pads that I have hoarded (before cutting/gluing/whatever it to the insert), so that is nice.

I originally had planned on printing vacation photos at home and then adding them to my journal later, but that’s a huge pain in the ass of a workflow. I purchased a portable Polaroid Zip printer for photo journaling a while back and I am glad that I did. Great quality, easy to use, great to travel with. The downside is that the refills aren’t super cheap so I have to be somewhat conservative about what I choose to print.

Third Notebook: Random Dot Grid Insert from Amazon

I started migrating my RPG notes over to the regular sized TN. It was easier to use the smaller TN for D&D 5E session notes because most, if not all combat and character based things are tracked on D&D Beyond. I needed a larger notebook for Shadowrun and 4E because there isn’t a good web-based character tracking site or app. As such, everything is done old school style using *gasp* pen and paper.

I also purchased a plastic three-fold file insert as pictured above. It’s great for holding papers as well as character sheets.

My Traveler’s Notebook Passport Setup

I guess some folks find it odd for someone so digitally oriented as myself to use an analog planner system instead of well, my phone. I have used both methods for general planning as well as note taking, and physically writing stuff down just works the best for me and well, ❤️ analogue/journaling things.

I have three notebook inserts, two folders, and the plastic sleeve insert in my TN. These are the three notebooks that I use: the Weekly Diary, Blank Notebook, and the Monthly Diary. I find that having three inserts is the most that I can include in my current setup without making the notebook too chunky. 

The plastic sleeve has a clear zipper pouch in the front and card slots in the back. I keep memory cards, checks to deposit, and stuff like that in the zipper pouch (as well as a whisker from each cat). The card slots in the back have cards that I don’t need to carry around in my wallet (club cards, stamp cards)

I have two folders: The first folder is the TN Kraft folder, which is inserted around the monthly planner notebook. I just keep blotter paper, post-it notes, shitajiki (writing bird), and stuff like that. The second notebook is a thin leather folder that I purchased at the Tokyo Station Travelers Factory store when we we visiting Japan. This folder is loosely inserted in the back. Continue reading