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Consolidating my Journals and Sketchbooks into two Traveler’s Notebooks

After five years of sketching and on and off bullet journaling for even longer, it is time for a review of my system. I seem to be constantly carrying around way too many notebooks and sketchbooks! They clutter my desk, the coffee table, the kitchen table, my car – wherever I am I need to have at least one sketchbook and my bullet journal, and it is annoying me, and impeding creativity and being productive, because I am always carrying too much, or don’t know where to start due to too many options!

Notebooks and Sketchbooks currently in use:

  • General sketchbook – used for daily sketches/Patreon zoom sketch-alongs/online classes/out and about sketching
  • Daily illustrated journal
  • Garden/nature Journal
  • Nature Journal
  • Bullet Journal

What is a Traveler’s Notebook and why use them?

A traveler’s notebook is a versatile and customizable notebook system designed to accommodate various types of inserts, allowing travelers and journaling enthusiasts to organize and document their experiences, thoughts, and memories in a compact and convenient format.

The traveler’s notebook typically comprises a leather or fabric cover with an elastic band that holds multiple inserts or notebooks together. These inserts are removable, allowing for easy customisation and reconfiguration of the notebook’s contents.

The notebook inserts can vary in purpose and style, including blank pages, lined pages, grid pages, dot grid pages, and even specialized inserts like calendars, planners, or sketchbooks. Users can mix and match different inserts based on their needs and preferences, creating a personalised and functional system.

Traveler’s notebooks offer several benefits:

  1. Portability: The compact size of the traveler’s notebook makes it easy to carry and take along on journeys or in everyday life. It’s lightweight and fits well in bags or pockets, allowing users to document their experiences on the go.
  2. Flexibility: The customisable nature of traveler’s notebooks enables users to adapt the system to their specific requirements. They can add or remove inserts, change the order, or incorporate additional accessories like pockets, cardholders, or zipper pouches.
  3. Organization: The notebook system provides a structured approach to organizing information. Users can dedicate different inserts to various topics, such as travel planning, journaling, creative writing, sketching, or even tracking habits or goals.
  4. Creativity: Traveler’s notebooks encourage creativity and self-expression. Users can decorate the covers, personalize the inserts with artwork, stickers, or washi tape, and experiment with different writing instruments to make their notebook uniquely theirs.
  5. Longevity: Due to the modular design, traveler’s notebooks have a longer lifespan compared to traditional notebooks. When one insert is filled, it can be removed or archived, while new inserts can be added, allowing users to continue using the same cover for years.

Overall, a traveler’s notebook provides a flexible and portable system for recording and organizing information, making it a popular choice among those who enjoy journaling, planning, or documenting their adventures.

How I Consolidated my Sketchbooks and Bullet Journal into Traveler’s Notebooks

I’ve been using a Passport sized Traveler’s notebook for a few years now, but only use it as a wallet – even though I have a plain notebook in there, I never ever use it. Recently, I bought an own brand Jackson’s Art A6 Studio Sketchbook as a casual sketchbook, which ended up becoming both my regular sketchbook and nature journal while International Nature Journaling week was going on. I really enjoyed the paper and the lack of pressure on myself to make a pretty picture, which I often find in more expensive sketchbooks! (I know this is silly by the way – I just can’t help it!).

It occurred to me I could use a sketchbook like this in my Passport traveler’s notebook. And this is where it started… my mind got whirring with ideas! I also have an old standard size traveler’s notebook, which I must have bought at around the same time as my passport sized one, so I wondered how I could use these two traveler’s notebooks in tandem. They are aesthetically gorgeous and have so many possibilities with the various inserts you can fit in them.

Traveler's Notebooks

Consolidated Sketchbooks and Journals: Version 1

Standard Traveler’s Notebook

  • Insert 1 – Bullet Journal in a Traveler’s Company Dotted insert
  • Insert 2 – Daily Journal in a Traveler’s Company Sketchbook insert

Passport Traveler’s Notebook

  • Insert 1 – Wallet and zipper pouch for cards and cash (as used already)
  • Insert 2 – Plain notebook for notes, errands, shopping lists etc.
  • Insert 3 – Sketchbook for out and about

Using this system for a few days, I actually reached for the passport size much more than the standard size. This is probably because I take that with me everywhere, on the school runs, around the house etc. particularly as it has the sketchbook element in it. I didn’t want to be carrying both notebooks around, as this would be back to square one with too much choice and too many items on me!

I like to visualise things – so to help streamline I made some little diagrams of how I could use the notebooks better in tandem. I brainstormed how I could make the system more efficient.

Consolidated Traveler’s Notebook Set up: Version 2

Standard Traveler’s Notebook set up

This traveler’s notebook will be kept in the house, and used as needed at my desk.

  • Insert 1 – Traveler’s Company Dotted insert for Bullet Journal Collections/projects. This is where I will brainstorm and keep my ongoing projects. I don’t need access to these on the go, so can be kept on my desk.
  • Insert 2 – Traveler’s Company Sketchbook insert. This will be my Daily Journal and should do around a month of daily journaling. I actually quite like the idea of a daily journal sketchbook each month, as this will give me the chance to explore different inserts, layouts and styles.
  • Insert 3 – The last insert is a wrap around plastic wallet to keep ephemera for the journal!

Passport Traveler’s Notebook Set Up

This traveler’s notebook will be with me all the time around the house and out and about!

  • Insert 1 – Traveler’s Company weekly Insert. I think it will be great to have this view of my week/s ahead while I am out and about.
  • Insert 2 – Traveler’s Company plain insert (cream paper) for my Daily log for daily to do’s and general notes in here.
  • Insert 3 – General sketchbook – for now, I am using a Jackson’s studio sketchbook (which I manually cut down to size from A6 to the passport size). I plan to make this my every day sketchbook. I have always enjoyed a small size for out and about. I will probably try out a traveler’s notebook sketchbook, but they are more expensive than the studio notebooks so may just keep cutting those down to size!

Some Caveats to my Traveler’s Notebook Setup

I hope this new traveler’s notebook set up will streamline my sketchbooks and journals, giving me more focus in my creative process and my productivity system – but I am bound to stillhave some additional notebooks around. This is because I don’t think I can fit EVERYTHING into two little traveler’s notebooks (hmmm maybe I need a third!!).

Additional notebooks and sketchbooks:

Nature Journal – I have a really lovely Stillman and Bird Sketchbook that I started as my garden journal back in February, so I’d like to finish that. I may well continue to keep a separate Garden/Nature journal going forward – there would be space in my Standard Traveler’s Notebook for an extra sketchbook.

Morning Pages – I have started writing morning pages, and am going to use up some large Moleskine cahiers for this. The morning pages journal is not something I have to carry around with me – it can just live on my desk, so will not need to become a part of my streamlined set up.

How it is going so far…

So far, I have really enjoyed thinking about, modifying, and working in this new system. It’s made me really anaylse what I need/want from each set up – I need some elements of my creative and organisational systems with me all the time, whereas other elements can stay in one place, and are not needed all the time. This is how I merged five sketchbooks and notebooks into two Traveler’s Notebooks:

  • Passport Traveler’s Notebook – set up for out and about, always accessible use.
  • Standard Traveler’s Notebook – set up for daily use, but at my desk with less frequent use throughout the day.

I will keep tabs on the system, and do updates as I go through the summer using it! There will also be some new stationery and tools to look at once I get my order in from Cult Pens! Note to self: MUST STOP ORDERING STUFF!

Happy sketching!

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