Posts filed under Traveler's Notebook

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Review

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Review

Reading is fundamental, they say. Reading comprehension? Even more so in my book. That’s something I learned about first hand with the Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook.

Reading that product description, I thought “Cool. An A5 slim spiral notebook with an added pocket inside. Count me in.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is an A5 slim “notebook” full of pockets. That’s literally all there is. 16 sheets, with pockets on the front and back of each page, making for 32 slots of storage. The entire notebook is pockets!

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook

I was flummoxed when I opened this up. I honestly thought it was a mistake - there is no way I would have ordered this on purpose. Then I re-read the product title - which is all I ordered from, no pictures or product description - and I still couldn’t wrap my head around what I missed. As it turns out, I missed all of it. Japan got me, once again.

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Folder

What this notebook is is a storage folder. It’s honestly hard to even call it a notebook - folder may be a better term. It’s made to hold anything from stamps, to notes, to stickers, to receipts, to tickets - any loose items that you want to hang on to, either for storage, or for future use. And for that, it is fantastic.

As confused as I was upon receiving this product, it makes me smile. It is so specific, and not something I had ever seen before. Sure, you could use a coupon folder, or the like, to perform the same task, but the Traveler’s Company made it. One of the coolest stationery companies in the world. They know better than me, right? So I better find a good way to use it. And I think I did.

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Washi

I’ve mentioned the visual journal I keep for mind-freeing and creative purposes. Most of its contents are cut from magazines and washi-taped into a notebook. The Traveler’s Paper Pocket Notebook has been hugely beneficial in helping me sort my images before I use them.

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook DJ

Before, I would just stack things up on my desk, or use them as I cut them out. This notebook allows me to flip through various images and pick and choose what I want to put in my journal. Maybe an image that I had set aside by itself works better with an image I found a few weeks ago. I can sort by artist, or size, or color palette and pull from the notebook as needed. Somehow, this notebook opened things up and allowed me to be more creative.

Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Nock

Aside from my paper trimmings, I’ve found it to be a good place to store note cards. I’ve talked about how I use my cards to sketch out product ideas for Nock, and I like to keep those together for inspiration. Instead of a stack on my desk, they now live in this pocket notebook as well.

Products like this are why I love stationery so much. This shouldn’t exist. No one in a creative meeting should go “I’ve got it! A notebook … full of pockets!” But they did. And I love them for that. And I’ve found a new product that I love, purely by mistake.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Traveler's Company Spiral Ring A5 Slim Paper Pocket Notebook Binding
Posted on March 18, 2019 and filed under Traveler's Notebook, Notebook Reviews.

My Planner Dilemma: Hobonichi Cousin v. Hobonichi Techo v. Traveler’s Notebook

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I am an indecisive person. Here the new year comes, and I can’t decide which planner to use. I’ve reviewed the Hobonichi Cousin and the Traveler’s Notebook on Pen Addict. I wound up buying a Hobonichi Techo in November because I like the size. All three planners have positives and negatives, but just when I think I’ve made up my mind, I change it again. I realize that there are many other planners from which to choose, but for me it comes down to these three.

The Hobonichi Techo

The Techo is probably most people’s first choice when it comes to Hobonichi planners. It’s the only one that comes in an English version, and its diminutive size (A6) makes it nicely portable.

The first two pages provide a yearly calendar for 2017 and 2018.

These are followed by vertical monthly calendars starting with December 2016 and going through March 2018. Each day gets one line, so you can’t write much, but you do get a visual overview of the months.

Next are monthly calendar grids beginning with January 2017 going through March 2018. These allow you much more space to write in events. Each week begins on Monday rather than Sunday, which often messes me up since I’m so accustomed to American calendars which usually begin on Sunday.

The main part of the planner consists of a page per day. Prior to each month is a lined page where you can write down important events or things to do for that month. Then, each page has the day of the month, the moon phase, a grid with 12:00 printed midway down the page, a quote (on the left page) and the author of the quote (on the right page), and a small monthly calendar with the date circled.

You can write the other hours of the day in the left-hand column and use the remainder of the page for your daily schedule, to dos, bullet journal, or whatever you like. I appreciate the fact that the planner does not force you to follow a particular format, so you can make lists, draw, paint, use stickers, etc.

At the back of the planner are several pages with things like contacts; size charts; a conversion table and a small ruler; Japanese plants, animals, and tea rituals; international country codes and dialing codes; a list of international holidays; and a page for your personal information.

The planner sets off each month in a tab-like format which you can see when you view the pages from the side, so it’s easy to find each month.

This year I purchased a Hobonichi cover for my Techo, though you can find all sorts of covers on Etsy.

I like the Hobonichi cover’s inner pockets where you can insert cards and sticker books. It also has two bookmarks that are sewn in.

The one thing I don’t like about the Hobonichi cover is the pen-loop closure method. It’s bulky and I would never use a fountain pen to keep the notebook closed because the pen is too exposed.

So, I bought a little card that fits in the back pocket with an elastic closure. It’s not perfect because it doesn’t keep the notebook completely secure. But, I like this method much better than the pen loops. I may cut the pen loops off if I can do so without making the cover look awful.

The Hobonichi Techo can be purchased from the Hobonichi Store for 2,700 Yen (=$22.97). The notebook cover I got is 1,944 Yen (=$16.54). You can purchase the notebook and cover together for 3,780 Yen (=$32.16) plus shipping from Japan. You can find this same cover and notebook at JetPens for $47.00 (they are currently out of stock).


  • The Hobonichi Techo size is perfect, because you can easily fit it in your purse or backpack.
  • The notebook contains a vertical monthly grid that lets you see several months at one time; a monthly grid that gives you space to write more detailed plans; and a page-a-day planner.
  • The notebook uses fantastic Tomoe River Paper.
  • The A6 size is small but adequate if you write small.
  • The planner lies flat when open.
  • I love the quotes at the bottom of each page.
  • The Hobonichi Cover contains pockets for cards, stickers, etc., along with two sewn-in bookmarks.


  • People who write bigger or want more room for drawing or painting might feel cramped in the Techo.
  • There is no weekly planner in this version.
  • I don’t like the pen loop closure method. I think it would be fine for anyone who uses inexpensive pens. But I would never use one of my fountain pens as a notebook closure.

The Hobonichi Cousin

The Cousin is the A5 version of the Techo with some nice additions and differences. Unfortunately, it does not come in English (though the days and months are printed in English). Its larger size means you have room for much more, and it offers some weekly planning pages that you won’t find in the Techo.

The first two pages provide a large yearly calendar for 2017 and smaller yearly calendars for 2016 and 2018 on the facing page.

Next are the vertical monthly pages. These are exactly the same size as the Techo version but with additional writing space at the bottom. The vertical monthly calendar begins with January 2017 and goes through December 2017 (whereas the Techo goes through March 2018).

The Cousin offers much larger monthly grid calendars with lots of extra space on the left margin and below. Again, the days of the week start on Monday. Fortunately, the name of the month and the days of the week are in English as well as Japanese.

A weekly planning grid appears next in the Cousin but it’s absent in the Techo. This grid plots each week with 24-hour time increments so you can see each week at a glance. Although I thought I would use this planning element extensively, I rarely referred to it last year. So, even though I like the addition, I haven’t found it necessary in my planning. I tend to look at my wall calendar to see what’s coming up for the week rather than the weekly calendar in the Cousin.

Like the Techo, the Cousin provides a page-per-day planner. Each month begins with a “Remember This” page followed by each day of the month. The Cousin gives you the month’s number (but not its name in English), and the day, the day of the week, and the moon phase. The hours of the day are shown in increments of three hours in 24-hour time on the left. As I said in my original review of the Cousin, I wish they had spread the times of day down the entire page and done them in one-hour increments. I write over the hours so that my daily page goes from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The top of the page gives you five check boxes for to-dos. This leaves the remainder of the page for whatever you want to put there. It’s actually more room than I need. At the bottom is a daily quote in Japanese (not useful for those of us who don’t speak Japanese) and a small monthly calendar wth the date circled. I hope that eventually Hobonichi will make an English version of the Cousin.

Unlike the Techo, each month tab is a different color. I like that extra detail.

Additional pages at the back of the Cousin include a weekly timetable; graph paper; a gift list; a favorite things chart; a page called “My 100” which I suppose is a place to list your top 100 somethings; several pages in Japanese; a Remember This and Addresses page; and a Personal Notes page.

Although I own an absolutely beautiful Esplanade London wool cover for my Cousin, I bought a new Hobonichi cover this year that has a spring-like flower pattern. I figure that on cold days I can use the wool cover and through the spring and summer I can use the Hobonichi cover.

The Hobonichi Cousin Cover has larger (and more) pockets than the Techo. Like the Techo, it uses a pen loop closure system and comes with two sewn-in bookmarks. As with the Techo, I bought a card with an elastic that I use to keep the cover closed, though because the cover is much larger, the elastic doesn’t work as well.

The Hobonichi Cousin can only be purchased through the Hobonichi Store in Japan. Their website is English-friendly, so it’s not difficult to place an order. The Cousin notebook by itself is 3,780 Yen (=$32.16). The notebook cover I bought cost 7,020 Yen (=$59.72). Again, you can find Cousin-sized notebook covers quite easily on Etsy.


  • The A5 size of the Cousin makes it a much more substantial planner. There’s more room to write, especially on the Monthly Grids and the Daily Pages.
  • The Cousin offers a Weekly Planner section unavailable in the Techo.
  • As with the Techo, the Cousin uses Tomoe River Paper.
  • The planner lies flat when open.
  • The Cousin Notebook cover is nicely made with lots of pockets.


  • The Cousin is much bulkier and heavy than the Techo. It won’t fit in a purse (unless that purse is quite large), though it will certainly fit in a backpack, briefcase, or carrier bag. That said, you can purchase the Cousin Avec which comes in two thinner six month notebooks to decrease the thickness.
  • The quotes at the bottom of the daily pages are in Japanese.
  • Currently you can only buy the Cousin through the Hobonichi store. As far as I know, no American retailers carry it yet.

The Traveler’s Notebook

This is the planner of choice for many people. Like the Hobonichi, there are many devoted followers of this notebook. The thing I like best about the Traveler’s Notebook is its versatility–you can include many different kinds of notebooks and change their order to suit your style.

In my current set up, I have a daily planner, a weekly planner, a monthly planner, and a lined notebook.

The Daily Planner contains two months worth of pages (so you’ll need to buy six to cover a full year). It’s unmarked, so you can start with any month you like. The first page is a vertical monthly planner followed by a page per day grid. At the top there’s a blank space for writing a title and check boxes for each day of the week. I usually write the day of the week in the blank because the checkboxes are too small for my taste. I use the left-hand column to write in the hours of the day and put in my daily schedule. There’s enough room at the bottom for to-dos.

The Free Weekly Planner provides four pages at the beginning with a monthly vertical grid, which is nice because you can see an entire semester on two pages.

These pages are followed by the weekly planner pages. On the left, you have each day of the week, starting on Monday. You fill in the day of the month. Each day has a box where you can write events or other things. On the right is a grid where you can write to-dos for each day. The weekly planner contains 28 weeks, so you’ll need two to cover a full year.

The Monthly Planner begins with two pages of vertical monthly grids. These are followed by large two-page monthly grids with plenty of room to write. Since the pages are unmarked other than the grid, you can start with any month. Fourteen months are included.

The Lined Notebook contains 32 pages (64 front and back) with 6.5mm ruling. The paper is fountain-pen friendly.

You can find Traveler’s Notebooks in several places. I buy my filler notebooks from JetPens. They range in price from $5.50 to $13.00 (for the regular sizes). The basic Traveler’s Notebook starter kit is $53.50 from JetPens. I bought my cover from Chic Sparrow for $89.00. I must say I’m rather disappointed with it. I knew the leather would fade somewhat with time, but it’s gone from a beautiful turquoise blue to a sort of ugly tan-blue in just a few months, and I’ve barely used it.


  • The main advantage I see in the Traveler’s Notebook is its versatility. You can put a variety of notebooks in it and in any order. You can also start with any month and day. With the Hobonichi, the order is set and the calendars start in January.
  • The size and shape of the Traveler’s Notebook appeals to many people. It is longer vertically than other notebooks, which makes it unusual and distinctive.
  • The paper in the Traveler’s Notebooks is good quality, and now you can purchase Tomoe River paper in TN sizes.


  • The basic Traveler’s Notebook covers come with no frills. If you want to add more than three notebooks, you have to buy extra elastics. There are no pockets in the covers.
  • Although the notebook inserts are versatile, when you use the weekly and daily inserts, you need to be aware that only a few months are covered. So, you’ll have to buy at least two or more inserts to cover a full year.
  • If you want pockets for peripherals, you’ll either need to buy a zippered insert or purchase a third-party Traveler’s Notebook cover.

So Which One?

Short answer: I still don’t know.

I thought I had decided on the Hobonichi Cousin at long last because I tend to prefer A5 notebooks. But I don’t like how big and thick it is. If I decide to go with the Cousin in the future, I will probably order the Cousin Avec which comes in two separate six month books that correspond roughly to my semesters at the university. That way, I can have the A5 size without the thickness.

As it turns out, I love the size of the Hobonichi Techo which I thought would be too small. It has all the planner pages I actually use, and I don’t really need the large page size of the Cousin. Essentially, all I write on my daily pages are my to dos and daily schedule. I tried using up the extra space in the Cousin by writing quotes and drawing pictures, but that lasted about a month last year. In my Cousin, most of the daily page remains blank, and I feel like I’m wasting space. In the Techo, I actually use the space provided.

I’m still torn between the two. Maybe I’ll find a use for both.

As much as I like being able to switch out notebooks and rearrange their order in the Traveler’s Notebook, I don’t like how thick it becomes once I’ve added all my notebooks. It won’t lie flat when open, so you wind up having to use bulky clips to keep it open. I prefer the Tomoe paper in the Hobonichi, and even though I can get Tomoe notebooks for the Traveler, they don’t come in all the configurations I like.

I’m also not fond of the plain Traveler’s Notebook covers with their stingy elastics requiring you to buy extra elastics if you want more than three notebooks.

So, it’s down to Hobonichi Cousin v. Techo. I’m leaning toward the Techo this year. I guess if it’s just too small for everything I need to write, I can go back to the Cousin. And then there are all those other notebooks and planners calling my name. . .

Posted on January 6, 2017 and filed under Hobonichi, Traveler's Notebook, Notebook Reviews.

The Traveler's Notebook (Regular Size) in Camel: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Traveler's Notebook (formerly known as Midori) is one of those notebooks almost all pen addicts have heard of at some point. Along with Field Notes and Filofax and Hobonichi, it is one of the most beloved notebooks for the handwriting set.

After I gave up on iPhone/iPad-based organizational systems (believe me, I tried them ALL), I decided that my ADD-addled mind needed something simpler. Several years ago, I bought a "fauxdori" from Etsy seller Zenok Leather and Traveler's inserts from JetPens.

But, last year I decided to go with the Hobonichi (see my review here). In a future post, I plan to compare and contrast the two notebooks. But for this review, I am going to focus on the Traveler's Notebook, regular size, in Camel.

The Traveler's Notebook Starter Set ($53.50) arrives in a cardboard envelope with an elastic around it. Inside, the notebook itself is enclosed in a muslin bag. There are instructions about caring for the leather and an extra elastic as well as a blank notebook.

The camel Traveler's Notebook cover is a single piece of leather with no stitching, no inner pockets, and no embellishment other than a stamp on the back cover.

It comes with one elastic, attached with a small round metal piece, to hold notebooks, a string bookmark, and one elastic cover closure.

That's it. The Traveler's Notebook itself is extremely simple.

Things get more complex, however, when you start looking at all the notebook variations and accessories.

The Traveler's Notebook Starter Kit comes with one unlined notebook. Obviously, most people will want more than one notebook. And there are plenty from which to choose:

If you plan to insert more than two notebooks in your Traveler's Notebook, I highly recommend you buy the set of extra Connecting Bands $5.50. There are ways to use the single elastic to insert at least three notebooks, but it's simpler to use extra bands.

I also recommend getting the Zipper Case $9.00. You can put this under all your notebooks, and it is really handy to have the zipper pocket to hold stickers, tickets, photos, and other flat items.

My Set Up

This is how I've got my Traveler's Notebook set up. Of course, I can rearrange it anytime, and that's one of the advantages of this system. Because each notebook is separate, you can rearrange the order any way you like, and you can add and remove notebooks as your needs change.

Daily Planner. This is a new addition to my old Traveler's Notebook line-up. Each page has a header that you can fill in (so you can start this calendar any time and skip days if you wish) and a grid format you can use however you please. Right now I put the hours of the day down the left side and fill in my schedule, but I may move to a Bullet Journal format at some point.

Weekly Planner with Memo. I actually used this planner the most in my original Traveler's line up. It works well as a daily planner because on one side are the days of the week with enough blank space to write important events. On the opposite side is a grid format where you can list your to dos. I will probably just use this planner and eliminate the Daily Planner, unless I discover I need the extra space in the Daily Planner.

Another thing I really like about the Weekly Planner is that the first four pages allow you to map out all the days in each month so that you get an overview of all the major upcoming events. I really like this because it gives me a bird's-eye view of the entire semester.

Monthly Planner. I usually only look at this calendar at the beginning of each month, so I can move important dates over to my weekly planner. But, it's a nice layout (blank, so you can start on any month you wish) and lots of room to write in events.

Lined Notebook. Last, I keep a lined notebook for any notes I need to keep with me.

Some people decorate their Traveler's Notebook pages with adorable drawings and stamps and washi tape and photographs. Here's what I think my pages should look like:

How I Wish My Pages Looked

How I Wish My Pages Looked

But here's the reality:

How My Pages Really Look

How My Pages Really Look

Sure, I wish I were more artistic and had the time to record each day creatively. But that's just not me. I'm a writer, not an artist. So, I record my thoughts, memories, and important events in my Seven Seas Journal without illustrations.

Honestly, there's not a right way to fill out your Traveler's Notebook despite the peer pressure you might feel if you follow artistic Traveler's Notebook users on Instagram. I do tend to decorate my monthly calendar more fully than my daily or weekly calendars, just because I have time at the beginning of each semester to do so.

But, my Traveler's Notebook is primarily my place to write down what I need to do each day to keep up with my schedule. If I add a special quote or a photo or nothing at all, that's okay.

One last thing: the paper. For the most part, the 80gsm paper is great for all kinds of pens, including fountain pens. Even with my wettest pens I didn't experience feathering or bleed through.

However, there's considerable show through, even with ball point pens.

This was especially true on the Monthly Calendar pages I decorated using Ink Joy gel pens. The show through was significant.


Oh, man, do I love accessorizing. In fact, I love that a lot more than organizing and making to do lists. There are all sorts of accessories made for the Traveler's Notebook: a pen holder $14.50, a kraft file folder $7.25, a card file set $7.25, and even a Midori Brass pen $27.00. These are just a few of the Traveler's-branded items you can add to your notebook. You can find many more accessories if you Google "Traveler's Notebook Accessories."

Many people like to add charms to the elastic closure and to the bookmark string to personalize their notebooks.

Stickers, stamps, clips, and washi tape are also items that many people use to decorate their notebooks.

You're not stuck with the Traveler's Notebook brand covers if you want something in different colors or with extras like pockets. I love my Zenok Leather cover from Etsy because it easily allows for four or more notebooks. And I just ordered a ChicSparrow version in blue (a review of that will be forthcoming).

Apps That Do What Paper Can't

Although I've moved my calendar, to-do list, and notes to a paper system, that does not mean I've abandoned all digital organizing. One thing a paper system can't do is ding you with reminders and repeated events. For that, I use an iPhone app called Due. This app is absolutely essential to my life, because it won't stop reminding me about things until I mark them done. I put repeated events in Due, such as when my credit card bill needs to be paid each month, when the dog needs his heart worm meds, when I'm supposed to pick up my daughter, etc. Due won't leave me alone until I get these things done–annoying, but effective!

I also use Fantastical (a calendar app that syncs across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad) for things like doctor's appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. I put these things in my paper calendar too, but it's nice to have repeated events on my iPhone and computer and pop-up reminders about upcoming events.


  • The Traveler's Notebook is a terrific option for anyone who wants a paper-based organizational system (or a sketchbook, journal, commonplace book, etc.)
  • I prefer the regular-sized notebook to the passport version, simply because, for my purposes, the larger format allows me to include more information and, frankly, it's easier to read.
  • I especially like the freedom the Traveler's Notebook offers, in that you can rearrange and add and remove notebooks to suit your needs. This is an advantage over the Hobonichi Notebook which limits you to the layout chosen by the publishers.
  • There are so many notebook and accessory options you are bound to find a set up that suits you perfectly.


  • While the Traveler's Notebook leather cover is nice, it only comes in a few colors (camel, black, and brown). There was a limited edition blue, but I believe it is sold out. The cover has no stitching or pockets. If you prefer covers with more frills, numerous options are available.
  • The paper in the notebooks is good but does exhibit show through.
  • I wish the Traveler's Notebook came with more than one elastic to hold notebooks.
  • The bookmark string is too thin to be very useful. It would be nice to have a more substantial bookmark with multiple ribbons or strings.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Posted on July 22, 2016 and filed under Traveler's Notebook, Notebook Reviews.