Posted on Sun 12 June 2016

Experimenting with the Midori Traveler's Notebook


I recently shared my process of planning in my Midori Traveler's Notebook on the Decade Thirty blog. I wanted to go into a bit more detail about the inserts I use, for anyone who's wondering about which ones to try.

I've had my Midori Traveler's Notebook for a few weeks now, so I'm fairly settled into it. The MTN is a notebook system that has a leather cover with notebook inserts—thin, cardboard cover notebooks that can be inserted and removed at any time. I use mine as a planner, with a mixture of ideas taken from the Bullet Journal and Strikethru systems.

I've experimented with different insert types before figuring out what I like best. Here are some thoughts on a few I've tried:

Midori open weekly plus memo: This is an official Midori insert. It has one week per two-page spread, with days of the week on the left page and blank grid paper on the right. Unfortunately the paper in this insert was a darker cream than the other Midori inserts I tried, and the grid paper had lines that were too dark to be comfortable for writing over. I've always really liked Leuchtturm notebooks because the grid is printed so lightly that it doesn't interfere with my writing, but this insert was printed more like a Moleskine, with dark lines.

Midori grid: I got a couple of Midori brand grid paper inserts, and so far they've held up well. The paper is good quality, and I can write on it using fountain pens with no ink trouble. The paper is a little thicker than I like, but that's mostly noticeable after comparing to something else like Tomoe River paper.

Moleskine chapters: I wanted to find more accessible insert options so I didn't have to keep ordering official Midori inserts online, so I tried a couple of Moleskine notebooks. The chapters line, surprisingly, is created with the right dimensions for the Midori. These dimensions are very unusual, being about the height of an A5 notebook, but not nearly as wide, so I was happy to find something I could buy in Melbourne that was exactly the right size. These notebooks are also stitched to lie perfectly flat, which made writing in them much easier than the rest of the inserts I tried. Unfortunately the paper quality isn't very good, and my fountain pens bled quite a bit on these pages, so I didn't use them for long.

Moleskine cahiers: The other Moleskine option I tried was the cahiers, which are more of a standard Moleskine size, making them a bit wide for the Midori, though they're the right height. A little overhang from one of my inserts isn't terrible, so I tried these notebooks even though I knew they were too wide. They could work in a pinch, but again the paper quality wasn't great.

Monthly pages

Yearly planner from PoobirdsRarities: When I'd given up on the Moleskine options I went looking for inserts to fit the Midori using Tomoe River paper, which is famed for being very thin, yet handling fountain pen ink very well. I found a couple of Etsy stores that sold handmade Midori inserts using Tomoe River paper, but this insert was especially unique.

Weekly pages

It has the same format as the Midori open weekly, as well as a bunch of plain grid sheets at the back, and a year's worth of monthly calendars in the front. The paper really does make ink shine—even ballpoint pen ink ends up looking great on this paper! However, I have noticed that the ink takes longer to dry on this paper than in the official Midori inserts, so I often end up with smears.

Midori dots insert

PaperPenguinCo Tomoe River inserts: I ordered a couple of notebooks from this Etsy shop as well: one with Tomoe River grid paper and one with TR dots. The paper is great, and although I have to hand-number the pages, it's worth it. I'll definitely keep my MTN stocked up with these inserts in the future.

Tomoe River paper isn't cheap, so I know lots of people wouldn't be comfortable using it full-time for something as inane as daily task lists (especially since I'm going to recycle all this paper when I'm done with it, rather than keeping it as many Bullet Journallers do). In my mind, however, my MTN is something I use every single day, and I want to enjoy that process.

I've also noticed my MTN is a lot thinner with TR paper inside it. This is one of the great things about Tomoe River: you can have the same number of pages with less bulk, because the pages themselves are so thin. While some people like having a fat MTN, I really like mine to be as thin as possible, so TR is a clear winner for me.

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

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