Puuurfect. It's a word that I love to drape and wrap myself in, because there is nothing such as perfect.
Because as much as great technology is these days, I'd rather lose an arm before I lose my travel journal, which, at this point, has been hauled throughout six continents over ten years, more than my passport, which ran out of space and was replaced ages ago. (Plus, what happens when your phone battery is about to die?)
It is a log of all those bored scramblings, random directions, flight departures, lost baggage and random miscellanea that happens in the minutiae of the road. Those can't be replaced.
What makes a travel journal?
Look, it's not exactly a deep existential question. There is no really exact criteria to what constitutes a travel journal. But as a writer who has spent decades—nay, a lifetime—trying to find the perfect journal, the difference between a travel journal and a normal journal is the ability for it to hold a passport and boarding passes without those silly edges sticking out.
According to the Internet1, that means an appropriate journal should be able to hold a boarding pass that measures 8.25 inches x 3.5 inches. Boarding passes do not conform to a defined or standardized paper size.
Many of the "good" travel journals like the Midori Traveler's Notebook and the Newestor Traveler's Notebook measure approximately around 8.5 inches x 4.5 inches (roughly), and are large enough to accommodate.
But what about the inside?
Journals are amorphous beings that can be shaped and melded, which is why they are great tools for dissecting your deepest insecurities and issues with your therapist.
It really doesn't matter what's inside, though most of "billed" travel journals have maps, calendars, scratch things and a bunch of kitschy features that make no real difference. In fact, some of the best journal systems offer refillable inserts to customize based on the needs.
As much as we love Moleskine, there's something about their Travel Journal that doesn't appeal for this specific reason (in fact, their cahiers are a much better fit). And that's before covering the aesthetic part of it, which is different to everyone, depending on their taste and preference.
Journals that fit the ticket.
Here's a good starting point. Most of these lean toward the refillable, brown leather type variety (to make you feel like Indiana Jones!), but also because I'm no longer 15 years old.
- Flying Tiger Copenhagen Traveler's Notebook (available in store only) $4
- Newestor Travel Journal - $18-21
- (Midori) Traveler's Notebook - $32
- Moleskine Travel Journal - $20
- Moleskine Caheirs (set of 3) - $12
- Thrich Traveler's Journal Notebook - $20
- Okay, we haven't had time to measure those boarding passes at home yet, and those Etsy people are nuts. ↩