this thing's incredible

This Truly Customizable Notebook Has Replaced (Most of) My Many Others

Photo: Retailer

I live and die by my planner, but it is not the only notebook I keep close by to jot things down at any given time. I also have a diary, a gardening log, a baby journal, and an ideas notebook, all of which I use to record everything from tasks, to movies I watch, to family meal-planning. The reason I have so many notebooks on hand is because the planners I’ve always preferred never had enough room for everything I want to keep track of. While comprehensive, this embarrassment of notebooks has never been convenient, simply because I have to switch between so many as I organize my thoughts. A friend suggested bullet journaling as a solution because it combines daily planning, diary writing, and task management into one (cult-y) organizational methodology. But after experimenting with the technique in a dotted Leuchtturm — the notebook of choice for so-called Bullet Journalists — I grew daunted by all the work it requires: You literally draw the lines and write out the calendars and whatever else you want to include in your bullet journal by hand. I also learned that I don’t actually want all this information in one notebook. It’s just too chaotic.

The perfect product, I realized, would allow me to keep separate notebooks, but package them together — ideally, between the same two covers. After doing some research, I worried such a thing existed only in my dreams, but a bit more digging led me to the Traveler’s Company. Founded in 2006, the Japanese brand (which formerly went by Midori) has gained its own cult following because its notebook allows you to separate things like a free-flowing diary from regimented to-do lists thanks to a rather ingenious insert system. At its most basic, the notebook appears like any other with a handsome, removable leather cover. But that leather cover can actually hold up to three or four notebook inserts, which are easily added (and removed) via rubber bands. (Yes, there are other brands that do this, but Traveler’s Company, from what I’ve read, is considered the original.)

The inserts give the Traveler’s Company notebook a genuine Goldilocksian appeal because you can really use them to create a single product that serves the many — and exact — functions you want it to. Each insert is a manageable 64 pages (so you can actually finish them), which can come lined, dotted, blank, or gridded. You can also get inserts made of plain lightweight paper, sketch paper, kraft paper, or watercolor paper. If you are using the notebook as a planner, there are inserts with daily, weekly, and monthly formats, too. The brand even sells accessories like pocket stickers, card holders, zip pockets, sticky notes, and pen holders that allow its notebook to be personalized even more. You can get the notebooks in two sizes, regular and a smaller passport size, and with different leather covers (mine is blue, but there are natural shades, too). The passport-sized notebook actually made the Strategist’s list of the 100 best notebooks; we docked points for its compact size (not ideal for an everyday notebook for most people), but I could see those who never go without a small notebook in their pocket really digging it. (And had I reviewed it, I probably would have discovered my new favorite notebook a lot sooner.)

The starter kit shown above comes with a leather cover, a blank notebook insert, and a spare elastic band to secure the insert inside the cover, all packaged into a neat little parcel. Right now, my (regular-sized) notebook has one insert that functions as my diary and another I use to keep track of household stuff like chores, meal planning, grocery lists, and whatever random notes I take. It’s on the narrow side — the company says it’s slightly narrower than A5 paper — but what you lose in page space you gain in convenience, because its slimmer profile means you can easily hold the notebook in one hand. (Its design, however, makes it hard to lay flat on a surface.) While I haven’t yet retired my beloved weekly Appointed planner for one of the notebook’s weekly planner inserts, I like knowing that I only need to click “buy” should I ever want to.

Traveler’s Notebook inserts and accessories

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This Truly Customizable Notebook Has Replaced My Many Others