Homemade Travel Journal Insert

A homemade insert to suit a regular size Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

We’re planning a big family adventure later this year and I wanted a simple travel journal to document everything. It needed to be big enough to hold everything I wanted to write about, but small enough to not be a burden to fill in. It also needed to fit in my homemade traveler’s journal.

With that in mind I downloaded Ray Blake’s travel journal printable insert and adjusted it for my needs. Nothing major, I just cut it back to only 14 Daily Journal pages and added two blank pages at the end before the Final Reflections. For some reason my printer decided to print the gray sections very, very faintly, but you can still make the sections out.


The inserts were printed on A4 paper and then each page folded in half. I used an old school atlas page showing Tasmania to create a cover. In between the cover and the printed pages is a sheet of thick travel themed scrapbook paper to help give the cover a little rigidity. The spine is stapled in two places (had to use a long-arm stapler for this) and then the excess paper trimmed to leave an 110mm x 210mm booklet.


I’m really happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to use it.

Homemade Traveler’s Notebook

I’ve been intrigued by all the images of Midori Traveler’s Notebooks on Pinterest and Instagram. Intrigued enough to look into buying one, but then a little scared off by the price. It’s a lot of money to pay for something I wasn’t sure that I would use.

So then this happened: a homemade travelers notebook from mostly recycled materials.

First up I checked out the brilliant video tutorial by Ray Blake – Making your own Midori-style Traveler’s Notebook. This video walks you through the whole process – cutting the leather, punching holes, threading the elastic, and more.

I gathered my supplies – a grotty, dusty, folded piece of leather that came off an old lounge chair, some elastic for the bands (the only item I purchased), paper from a couple of half-used notebooks, colourful pages from an old childrens book, embroidery thread remnants to bind the notebooks.

I spent a day scrubbing the leather clean (it really was disgusting!) and stretching it out to dry flat. It cleaned up beautifully. Once it had dried I whipped up the leather cover as per the video instructions above and then used the paper and thread to make some inserts. It turned out reasonably well. Certainly well enough to give this style of notebook a whirl and see if I like using it.

Homemade traveler's notebook coverThe photo doesn’t show the colour up accurately. It’s not brown, it’s actually a lovely deep maroon colour with a red interior.

Tasks list insert - coverTask list insert - inside viewThe Task List insert has pages I printed onto scrap white paper.

Task list insert - back cover, and grid notes insert - front cover

Notebook inserts back-to-back. I love the colours.

Grid notes insert - inside front coverI couldn’t avoid including the punched holes in the grid paper, but figured that’s what using recycled materials is all about ūüôā

Lessons learned

  • The scrap leather I used wasn’t the best choice for something that needs to take a fold. It’s showing signs of tiny cracks along the spine. Not a problem for a first attempt though.
  • The elastic could have been a fraction thinner.
  • The inserts are easier to bind first and then cut to size with the guillotine.
  • The inserts I made are only 20 pages. They could easily have been 40 to 60 pages. Thicker inserts would also give the notebook more rigidity.

Do you use this style of notebook? Did you purchase yours, or did you “roll your own” as I did?

To Smash Or Not To Smash …

I’ve watched the Smashbook phenomena grow and grow since the first advertising teasers for the Smash* range were released by K&Company. At the time I was just finishing off a journal and on the lookout for a new one. It took some time for Smash* to become available in Australia though, so I ended up purchasing another of my tried and true large Moleskines.

Peanuts Moleskine Journal

I kept coming back for looks through the Smash* range though and liking what I saw. The Smashbook concept is great in it’s ease and simplicity, providing a framework that anyone can work with and embellish to create a journal in their own personal style. While by no means a new concept, the Smash* product range provides a ready-made set of tools to get you set up and smashing fast.

A quick search for the tag #smashbook on Instagram or Tumblr shows how popular they are with the younger crowd. I think this is fantastic – many of these young people comment that this is the first kind of “journal” they have ever kept, so the Smashbook craze is encouraging fledgling journalers to pick up their pens (and glue sticks) and express themselves on paper. The Smash* framework takes away that fear of the blank page and the lively¬†communities¬†on social media provide encouragement and inspiration. Most importantly, the whole Smashbook concept promotes the idea that there is no wrong way to do it.

30-615007Now I find myself at a bit of a crossroads journaling-wise. I’m not yet near the end of my current journal (my standard large blank Moleskine) but I find myself wanting a little more space to work with and a little more colour to liven things up a bit. I’ve found I’m not really much of an art journaler, more of a long written entry followed by a page or two of smashed in stuff, followed by more pages of writing, more smashed in stuff … you get the idea. So I’m considering a Smash* brand Smashbook.

On the other hand, I’m one of those people who has to have a journal that “fits” and feels right, otherwise I end up not journaling at all. I’m wondering if the spiral binding would annoy me, if the page thickness would be just-right and if pre-decorated page backgrounds would perhaps be too restrictive. You know, turning to a pink page when it’s really all about green today, or running out of room trying to fit words in around the decorative elements.

A small part of me also wonders if I am perhaps just a little too old for the whole thing too. Shouldn’t people my age be keeping staid and mysterious journal entries on crisp white pages between formal black covers?

Meh, I still think it would be lots of fun to try. What do you think?

What type of journal do you think I should I try next?

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Do you keep a journal yourself? What kind of notebook do you use? Have you used a Smash* book? I’d love to hear about it!