Courtesy of Baron Fig
Photo by oxana v/Unsplash
Which notebook fits your travel style?
Whether you’re a bullet-journaler, a sketch artist, or a completely different kind of notetaker, there’s a travel journal for you on this list.
Smartphones may be an all-in-one tool, but as any intrepid traveler knows, a simple notebook is a packing list must for any trip. It’s a place to immortalize memories, note check-in times, or save the business card of that new friend you made in Buenos Aires.
Whether you prefer your notebook lined or blank, small or large, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best travel journals and notebooks to bring along on your next adventure.
In a collaboration between NYC-based designer Khoi Vinh and Baron Fig, the Baron Fig Unfinish is a perfect travel journal for nomadic doodlers. The 5.4 x 7.7-inch limited edition confidant (Baron Fig’s name for “notebook”) is not just any blank artist’s pad. Its 192 perforated cyan pages have partial illustrations to inspire your own drawings. Awesome for entertainment on a long train ride or staying put at a sidewalk café.
The DesignWorks Ink Standard Issue Notebook No. 12 may have a retro style, but inside, its practical pages help travelers stay organized. Ultra-planners will love the dates on every page and nifty details like three (!) ribbon markers and an elastic pen holder. Bullet-journalers may like the stencil and ruler template to keep itinerary-planning as easy as uno, dos, tres.
On the road it will come in handy for more than just writing—conversion charts help calculate units (such as kilometers to miles for all those scenic hikes you’re going on), and the world times chart features 15 different countries.
The Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook Pocket A6 is the journal for any traveler who wants the trappings and reliability of a Moleskine but without returning to the same old brand.
All 185 pages are numbered, and eight of them are perforated, so you can frame those sketches you made along the Seine. Ticket stubs and receipts for trains, planes, or rented automobiles fit perfectly in the gusseted pocket. Our favorite for travel is the pocket-size A6, which comes in 17 vibrant colors.
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Wreck This Journal has been encouraging its users to stain, rip, throw, and otherwise destroy the notebook since its first release in 2007. In the same vein, its travel spinoff, Wreck This Journal Everywhere, gives similarly active uses on its 144 pages. Why not spot birds in Chicago, snag paper trinkets in Bangkok, or spill some wine in Argentina—and document it all in your journal? The small size means it fits as easily into back pockets as into backpacks and can turn any journey into an adventure.
Geography nerds and design aficionados get the best of both worlds with the Luckies of London Travelogue Travel Journal. It’s on the slim side, with only 64 pages, but it makes up for its size with cartography—eight scratch maps come with the journal. So save those spare yen and document your routes (or even frame them later) with one of the most distinctive travel journals on the market.
Anyone looking for a high-quality leather journal will be in good shape with the Louis Vuitton Gustave MM. Epi leather covers available in five colors protect the watermarked pages, and a circular, metallic Louis Vuitton logo announces the luxury brand.
The century-old Swiss company Caran d’Ache has a fantastic line of notebooks, but the petite Caran d’Ache Office Notebook is perfect for stashing into a purse or tote. It comes in four colors and two travel-friendly sizes, and it also includes the popular 849 ballpoint pen. You’ve never looked so good jotting down flight times or sketching the skyline.
With the motto, “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember now,” Field Notes’s pocket-sized notebooks have long been the pick for notetakers everywhere. The 48-page booklets were inspired by agricultural memo books and pocket ledgers, as noted in their design and size. Packaged in threes, they offer plenty of writing space without the weight or bulk of a standard notebook.
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For travel, we love the Field Notes County Fair Memo Books, which feature a design for each state plus Washington, D.C. Flip each over for an extensive list of facts and figures about the state. Not taking a road trip any time soon? Field Notes’s Original Kraft notebooks are always a solid pick and come in lined, graph, and blank paper.
The soft, cloth-covered Bristol Journals by Topdrawer are ideal for travel and come in a variety of options to meet your writing needs. Choose from five solid cover colors and customize the inside with options for blank, grid, dotted, or lined pages. Journalers can also choose from two sizes: small, which fits perfectly in a compact purse or back pocket, or large, if you prefer more space for sketching. Each journal also comes with a handy back pocket and outer strap for keeping everything intact.
Whether you’re a regular rewriter or side-margin doodler, the 80-page Margin Graph Notebook by Japanese brand Life gives you plenty of space for add-ins and add-ons. Use the extra margin space to annotate your travel itineraries, add caveats to your packing list, or sketch a scene from your day. The brand’s high-quality L writing paper and a layflat binding make for smooth, easy writing. For an even more portable notebook, it also has a pocket-size version.
Poketo’s Concept Planner journal is as goal-oriented as you are. Exquisitely organized, the 252 pages are divided into yearly, monthly, and weekly sections. Each part has pages where you can list your objectives, layouts that help you plan your time, and extra pages for taking notes. It may not be the place to write about life-changing travel experiences, but nothing could be better for keeping a year-round digital nomad on track.
Whether you’re jotting notes during a multi-day backcountry trek or recording restaurant recommendations on a soggy ferry ride between Indonesian islands, the Rite in the Rain Bound Notebook is up to the task. The hardcover journal has 76 all-weather pages that repel water, oil, mud, grime, and other elements, so a little inclement weather won’t ruin your notes. Better still, it comes with a survival reference page and is perfectly sized to slip into a front pocket of your backpack.
This article originally appeared online on February 14th, 2018; it was updated on December 4th, 2020, to include current information.
>>Next: What to Pack for a Road Trip
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