Selecting the Right Traveler's Notebook For You

Traveler's notebooks have been around for a few years now and they are quite useful in a variety of ways. They can be used for planning, journaling, art, memory-keeping, notes, and so much more.

It can be tricky to navigate the sea of size options, spine widths and leather types, but here at Speckled Fawns, we are happy to assist in any way we can with all of your questions regarding sizing, inserts, add-ons and more to make sure that the notebook you choose is the right fit for you. Below is an in-depth guide with tips and information to help you make an informed decision.

Quick Lingo Guide:

  • TN= Traveler's Notebook (a cover that uses elastics to hold inserts; covers are typically made from leather, but many artisans in the TN community offer covers made from textiles, vinyl and paper)
  • FN= Field Note (referring to size, also known as pocket size)
  • A6; A5; B6; Micro; Passport; B6 Slim; Pocket; Standard= names of sizes
  • brain dump= A brain dump (sometimes spelled braindump, or brain-dump) is a complete transfer of accessible knowledge about a particular subject from your brain to some other storage medium, such as paper or your computer's hard drive. [taken from whatis.com]
  • inserts= the booklets/notebooks you use inside of your leather cover
  • patina= darkening effect that happens to leather over time due to age, use, handling, exposure to light, etc.

Let's start with purpose:

The first step to selecting a notebook is deciding what will you be using the notebook for. There are countless ways to use a TN. Below is a short list of what a TN can be used for:

  • planning
  • journaling
  • sketchbook
  • brain dump
  • notes for work
  • notes for school
  • memory keeping/scrap booking
  • recipes
  • habit tracker
  • fitness and health log
  • record keeping (finances, savings, etc.)

Choosing a Size

Next in the process, you will need to select the size that will work best for you. Speckled Fawns offers a wide selection of TN sizes. The most important thing to keep in mind for this step is to ask yourself, "Will I be carrying my TN around with me on a regular basis?" If the answer is yes, ask yourself "how much weight am I willing to support in my bag?" Larger sizes are great because your inserts will have so much more room for you to write, but they can weigh quite a bit, especially if you intend to stuff your notebook. Smaller sizes are perfectly portable, though can still weigh a lot depending on the type of leather and how stuffed the notebook becomes, but smaller pages also mean less room.

It all boils down to your needs. Do you write small or large? Do you intend to doodle in your book or take lots of notes? Will the TN sit mainly on a desk at home? Make a list of your needs and how you intend to use your TN to help you decide on a size. Our Leather 101 page has our sizing chart- click here.

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Sizes We Currently Offer:

  • Micro
  • Passport
  • Field Note
  • A6
  • Personal
  • B6 Slim
  • B6
  • Standard
  • Standard Wide
  • Standard Extra Wide
  • A5
  • Composition

One-inch spines are standard and have 4 inner elastics. Our 1.5-inch spines have 6 elastics and 2-inch spines have 8 elastics. Wider spines allow for more inserts to be added, and many people enjoy the look of "chunky" notebooks. Spines can also be reinforced for additional support, which comes in handy if you plan to use thicker books inside of your cover.

Inserts & Accessories

When you choose a size, the very next thing you should do is research which types of inserts and accessories are readily available for you to purchase for your TN. There are countless vendors on the internet that sell inserts of all sizes and types, from blank to custom-printed layouts for planning, journaling, etc. You can find inserts on Etsy, Amazon, Jetpens.com, Baum Kuchen and many other online retailers. Locally, Target and Barnes and Noble carry books that fit some TN sizes and you can even print or make your own inserts at home using a printer, paper cutter and stapler. Pinterest has tons of ideas for inserts, layouts, notebook setups and links to blogs with free printables. Accessories include zip pouches, laminated dashboards and all manner of stationary offerings and solutions, also available from the above-mentioned retailers and sites. 

Choosing a Leather

This is perhaps the hardest part of the selection process. Everyone has different preferences for everything, including leather types, textures and colors. Some prefer smooth leathers while others love pebbly textures. What do you like? Whenever you have been out shopping and have seen/touched leather goods, what types did you like/dislike? That same assessment should be applied to your TN. The factors you need to consider when selecting a leather are as follows:

  • texture (smooth or pebbly/wrinkly, etc.)
  • color
  • thickness
  • firm vs. pliable vs. floppy
  • how the leather wears with time and use
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All leathers age and handle wear and tear differently. Some are tougher than others and can handle being tossed around without earning any scratches or markings. Some leathers "bruise like a peach" and the slightest touch can leave permanent marks/scratches. If you do not think you would enjoy a leather that "tells its story" with use, then stick to tougher leathers that are scratch resistant. Plus, some leathers are very rustic in nature and have a variety of scars, scratches and other marks such as bug bites, all of which are natural.

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Research

Once you know what you want in terms of size and leather type, it's time to do some research. When surfing our website to pick a notebook, use the checklist below:

  1. Which photos really grab your attention? What is it about that particular notebook design/leather that you like?
  2. Does the texture/color appeal to you?
  3. Read the description carefully to learn about the type of leather and the design's default features. Our listings detail what each notebook already comes with and which features you can add for an additional fee. Add-ons include pen loops, rivets, etc.
  4. Which add-on features would you want for your notebook? Pen loops are a must for some and rivets are decorative and add a charming flair.
  5. If the notebook you admire has an external pocket, which orientation appeals to you most- sideways or upright? How would you use the external pocket? Or do you prefer no external pocket?
  6. Check to see if the item is a ready-to-ship notebook or a made-to-order notebook. RTS TNs will ship within 1-2 business days, while made-to-order notebooks typically take 4 weeks. You are able to fully customize made-to-order items down to the stitching and elastic colors.
  7. Pop over to our Facebook page (here) and request membership if you haven't already. Our group page is a wonderful community of helpful Fawn TN owners who are always willing to offer photos, advice and evaluations of our leathers and designs to help others make informed decisions. Plus, our group photo albums have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos posted by our members showing off our designs and leathers from every angle and action shots of the notebooks in use. This type of research makes a world of difference when selecting a TN since you get to see the leathers in all sorts of lighting, environments, on-the-go and how they age.
  8. Message Annie (me! ^__^ ), our Senior Customer Experience Analyst, with any questions you may have about the leathers and designs you are interested in. 

Preparing to Make a Purchase

Take a moment to review Speckled Fawns' policies before you make your purchase. Our policies detail how we handle returns, exchanges, order changes and cancellations. It's important to know a company's policies before you make a purchase so that everyone is on the same page before a transaction is completed. Also be sure to read our Leather 101 page to get a better understanding about natural leather markings and scars. It's important to keep in mind that natural markings are not considered defects.

Last, but not least, it's time to add what you want to your cart and check out! Make sure you carefully read each of the options on the listing drop down menus and double check everything before you check out to make sure you have selected the right size(s), color(s), etc. and don't forget to make sure you have added all of the add-ons you want for your notebook(s).

We hope this guide has helped you in your quest to select the perfect TN for you. As always, please don't hesitate to e-mail us should you have any questions about anything.

Talk to you all soon!