This semester I am taking a travel writing class, which has come at a perfect time as I discover my passion for traveling alongside my blogging and writing hobbies. For our first class assignment, we researched finding the perfect notebook for our notes on the road as we write about North Carolina culture. This assignment made me fall in love with notebooks, journals and anything with a blank canvas that welcomes creative thoughts. I also realized that a good notebook makes all the difference in your projects, and knowing your writing style and favorite tools is so important.
Earlier this year, during my study abroad program in Spain, I learned it’s easier to take notes and record quotes with a smaller, light notebook in hand when on the streets. It’s more comfortable to have a hardcover notebook when writing while standing and having a conversation, or a soft cover that can bend easily. When I was journaling abroad, I also realized I enjoy notebooks with blank pages instead of lined pages, as lines began to confine the size of my handwriting.
But what makes a perfect travel notebook? What kind of notebooks can withstand the muddy, tired thought processes that come with life on the road full of adventure? As any writer or designer does, I started off with questions:
What are the physical attributes of a notebook (that would make writing easier)?
When I first thought of notebooks, Moleskine came to mind. According to their website and a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, Moleskine offers a variety of notebooks bound with either hard or soft covers, blank, ruled or squared pages and often pockets on the inside. Their notebooks come in pocket sizes, 3.5×5.5 inches, a good on-the-go size, or large sizes of 5.1×8.2 inches, also a reasonable size to carry, especially if you have large handwriting like me. While the hardcover Moleskine notebook with blank pages stood out to me, I wanted to go beyond looking at its cover. We all have our personal preferences and styles when it comes to work supplies, so sometimes it comes down to the question:
Does the notebook inspire you?
What are the quirks of notebooks that get us excited to write? Simple, black notebooks inspire some of us. A lot of times, I prefer bold, colorful prints to fuel my creative energy. I was excited to see that Piccadilly (a $5 notebook very similar to Moleskine), also supplies a wide range of notebooks with colors from sky blue, sunflower, or mint, all some of my favorite colors.
After searching for notebooks online, I then looked specifically for travel notebooks and found some ones with character. If we feel like getting fancy, the Bon Voyage journal might be the one. This 5″x7″ journal has a soft linen cover with smyth-sewn binding that brings together 208 pages printed with metallic gold accent designs. The cover features an illustrated map of the world to awaken your wanderlust, and the notebook also encourages you to write your location and date at the top of each page with designated boxes. The Bon Voyage journal, although only available online through Rifle Paper Co., can lie flat on hard surfaces and remain practical in everyday writing situations. All these details made me excited for this notebook, but I still continued my search.
What is the brand, the brand’s values and story behind the notebook?
The Bon Voyage notebook got me thinking like a designer, which led me to the article, “6 Super Design Notebooks (That Aren’t Moleskines)” and the brand Baron Fig. Baron Fig designed a notebook for creative people and their ideas. After realizing that many notebooks and sketchbooks didn’t meet the needs of creatives, the founders began to ask people what they like in a sketchbook/notebook. The result? The Confidant book, made for our ideas, inspired by a community. As a one who identifies with the creative industry, I could really relate to the values and story behind the book.
The Confidant book caters to the value of putting creative ideas first, whether we are writers, designers, journalists or artists. According to the Baron Fig website, the book has 5.4″ x 7.7″ dimensions, opens flat, and contains acid-free paper. With the option of blank, lined or dotted pages, the Confidant caters to different kinds of idea generation.
Baron Fig also gives back to the earth by planting a tree with every book sold. With an environmental perspective and a passion for putting ideas to paper, Baron Fig balances practicality with soul. As a slightly more affordable alternative for Moleskine, the Confidant is a high-quality online option for a simple yet inspiring notebook with a vision.
What’s the verdict?
Honestly, trying to find the perfect notebook has made me realize something: I love any kind of journal or notebook.
In Spain, I scrambled to write down Spanish phrases I sometimes didn’t know, but I also loved recording the scenic and emotional details of people and places I saw. Keeping these experiences in mind, I realized that a good notebook lets you think about the world around you. A good notebook allows you to tell your story, without worrying about torn pages.
While the Baron Fig notebook appeals to me the most out of online notebooks, nothing can beat going to a store to test and feel different kinds. As for now, I’ll be filling up my Moleskine I received from a friend, buying a variety of notebooks from Target and perhaps purchasing a Baron Fig notebook to try too.
And my next step? Finding a travel-writing-worthy pen.
Have you all found your perfect notebook? Why do you use notebooks? Writing? Drawing? Lists?