A guest post by Randy S. of Seattle, Washington –
“Since 1972 I have kept some sort of notebook, usually multiple books. I started out with weekly planner books that were freebies from various pharmaceutical companies. My future father-in-law, a physician, had all sorts of planner books handed to him to induce, or at least remind him, of their wonderful products. I grabbed one of these every year and always had it in my shirt pocket during college–great, priced right, for planning and daily scribblings of all sorts. Sadly, most of the early versions of these DailyBooks have been lost.
Over the year I graduated from free planners to various formats I picked up at office supply stores. Then I found Moleskine weekly books and used them for a decade or more. This year I upgraded to the 2016 Rhodia Weekly Notebook 4×6 and find it a very nice improvement in paper quality. The slightly larger format is a bit more comfortable for notes, too.
Small thin pocket notebooks–Rite-in-Rain, Moleskine, Fabriano (fabulous paper), and even cheap-o spiral bound 10 cent tablets have been in my pocket or bag for decades. As I moved to weekly planners with the days on the left and journal entry pages on the right I have mostly stopped carrying the pocket tablets, but usually have one in my backpack. I kept “reference” entries in these–GPS coordinates, notes about drive times and distances I know I will want to reference someday, and other ephemera that seems good to keep handy rather than archiving it at year’s end.
Recently sketch books and art field journals have been added to the pile. I keep hoping my sketch and watercolor skills will improve! I include the Rhodia WebNotebook in this genre, too. I keep mine as an idea keeper and sketchbook. The paper is good enough that it can take some watercolor–it buckles quite a bit but does not dissolve! The Dot grid and ivory paper is pleasing for me and the format is near perfect. I have mine so stuffed with things the binding is breaking.
In 1991 my wife and I took a trip to Kenya and I started keeping a travel journal. I started with a very simple spiral bound notebook and rapidly moved to more purpose oriented journals. The (now vintage) Eagle Creek Travel Journals were top notch and fun and now I regret not buying a case of them. The Levenger leather slip-covered Stanley journal has been my standard journal now since 1998. So for 25 years I have some excellent travel journals–rereading these grand tours of some pretty great trips. I really wish I have kept such travel journals all my adult life.
Two years ago I started keeping an electronic journal (laptop, tablet and phone). “Diaro” is the app I use and for about one year I tried to exclusively use it as my travel journal. This was never quite the same as paper though. Sitting down with a glass of whisky and typing out my thoughts sort of felt like work. This app has morphed into more of a daily pocket notebook now with entries that I want to be able to recall at will. I can paste in images, text from emails, all sorts of things that I would never think to hand write in a journal. So this EBook is staying in the mix, but it will no longer be my only travel journal.
So this year I started using the Clairefontaine A5 Roadbook as my travel journal. This journal is about the same size as my Stanley but with fewer pages. Paper quality is a step up from the Stanley which is nice. I paste in all sorts of cuttings and other junk into my travel journal. I use the cover “pocket” as a place to stuff things like ticket stubs, leaves, brochures, postcards, business cards, etc. and then in the evening as I am writing I sort through this stuff and paste some of it in.
I already know the quality of the Clairefontaine paper as I have used such notebooks for years. The smooth paper is perfect for my fountain pens and rough sketches…even a little bit of watercolor works. The large pocket size format is almost the same as my travel journals have been for ages. I would not mind if this RoadBook had a few more pages, but the thin book might grow on me as it will easily slip in my pack or coat pocket where the big fat Stanley journal would be a squeeze. Since I KNEW I would miss the back pocket…I created one out of 140 lb. watercolor paper and pasted it in. With that improvement, and a nicely inked fountain pen or two this journal is set to go. Dot grid would be my only other wish for this journal.
My first trip of the year is fast approaching and it will be quite a memorable one…my sister is celebrating her one-year cancer free party, and I know I will have many journal entries that will be filled with emotion and well-worth revisiting years in the future.”