To say the Midori Traveler's Notebook has a cult following is probably a bit of an understatement. The Western market has begun to discover this over the past few years, while the Far East is knee deep into all things Traveler's. I admit to not really "getting it" for a while, but now that I have a Passport sized Midori I'm beginning to see what all the fuss is about.
People ask me all the time "Why fountain pens?" My answer, almost always, is customization. I can take one specific fountain pen and build it exactly to my liking with nib and ink choices. Someone else can choose the same fountain pen and have a completely different, yet still perfect, experience. This exemplifies what the Midori Traveler's notebook is all about.
It starts with a simple leather cover. The not too thick, not too thin, rectangular hide has no adornments, aside from the few holes the elastic bands require, along with two small slits in the spine. If anything, I think the simplicity of the cover is what confuses people the most about the Midori Traveler's system. Why should I pay $50 for a non-descript hunk of leather? I struggled with that same question for years. But then again, why fountain pens?
Customization is at the core of what the Midori Traveler's system is all about. I use the term system loosely, because there are honestly zero guidelines on how you should use or build your Traveler's Notebook. I started out simple, in this case choosing two grid notebooks, a zipper case to hold business cards and loose papers, and a set of connecting bands, which we will get to in a moment.
To put it into action, you simply need to slide one notebook through the elastic band found in the spine of the leather cover, and then add any additional notebooks or accessories with the help of the aforementioned connecting bands. Mentioning these bands for a second time is where a slight digression needs to take place. Part of the fun of the Midori Traveler's system is that you don't need to buy any part of it to have a similar experience. The connecting bands? Rubber bands that you probably have laying around the house. Leather cover? Google the term "fauxdori". Any paper insert can be printed from one of the many Midori resources on the web. All that said, Midori gets design - and marketing - right. Quality and thoughtfulness of their products is part of the experience.
I'm a novice compared to those who have been using a Midori Traveler's notebook for a while, but I am having fun putting personal touches on my Passport. One of the most common questions that arise around this size Midori is will a Field Notes notebook, or any other standard 3.5" x 5.5" memo book fit in the cover? In short, no. The leather cover is designed to hold a 3.5" x 5" notebook, so standard memo books are too long. But you know what does fit perfectly? The Baron Fig Apprentice. Adding one of those into my Passport cover was a no-brainer.
While building it is fun, putting the Midori Traveler's Notebook into use as part of my daily carry is still something I am working on. Prior to getting this model from JetPens, I had purchased the regular sized Midori cover from the now shuttered Resor Shop. I loved every aspect of the bigger size, but I never fully committed to it. The Passport seems more my size and speed. So far, I am using it for daily tasks and future planning as part of my portable writing kit. I can toss my inbox (aka the Nock Co. DotDash Notebook) and any pen I want to use through the external elastic band and hit the road.
Before I owned a Midori I drooled at all of the pictures online of various Traveler's Notebook setups. Patrick Ng is my Midori muse, and should be followed by anyone with an interest in Midori, or even an in interest in product photography and design. His day job keeps him on the front lines of all things Midori, and his Instagram and Flickr feeds are not to be missed.
How do you use your Midori? What tips and tricks do you have? Who do you follow in the Traveler's Notebook world? I'm on board the Traveler's train and ready to explore!
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)