Journal / Pen / Paper / App

Writing in a journal may or may not be your thing, but it's always handy to have some type of pen and paper while on your travels to jot down notes.  You can also find several apps available for download to your Smartphone that will allow you to log journal notes as well.

On this page, we talk about both writing in a physical journal as well as using a phone app as we think they go hand-in-hand.

Use your physical journal to quickly jot down notes as reminders of a particular experience.  Later when you have transferred photos to your Smartphone or Tablet for backup, use a mobile app to write more detailed entries and reference any notes you have made in your physical journal.  Still later when you have returned from your travels, use your detailed journal entries to update other locations such as travel blogs or websites.

For us, as we travel along, we find it much easier and quicker to jot down a quick note in our physical travel journal than it is to use our Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop.  Plus, we think the small leather bound journals are insanely cool (in an Indiana Jones kind of way); having that old-world look and feel.  When we have downtime such as riding on a train, flying or in the evening relaxing, we often go through our notes adding details and additional thoughts so nothing is forgotten.  We can later use our detailed notes to help with our website write-ups.

There are countless types of travel journals available, ranging from the inexpensive to very expensive and of course you can makes notes on a simple spiral notebook with any ordinary pen or pencil.  The items listed here are more of an inexpensive-luxury when it comes to purchasing something specifically for your travels.  The Bullet Space Pen is pricier than your typical ballpoint pen; but well worth it and the leather travel journal is relatively inexpensive.  Digging out our special journal help brings back memories of previous trips and puts us into the travel mood.

Pocket Travelers Notebook

As you travel along, you may want to jot down quick notes about some experience you had that will help you to recall it later, especially if you are keeping a more detailed journal that you will update later.

We recommend this Pocket Travelers Notebook due to it's compact size and light weight.  It's important to note the thickness of this journal compared to others.  Some journals can be very think and heavy, so be sure to consider size and weight when purchasing a journal.  This one is a minimalist notebook with no bells and whistles, simply a nice leather cover to protect up to three inserted Field Notes Booklets.  As a single booklet contains 48 pages so one should be enough for any single trip you are taking.

This premium leather cover is supple while sturdy enough to provide support and protection for your notebooks and will develop a beautiful patina over time.  The cover fits Field Notes inserts or other notepads that are roughly 3.5 in. x 5.5 in. in size.

  • Premium leather
  • Durable elastic band closure
  • Use the spare attached elastic band to insert up to three Field Notes Booklets
  • Cover Size: 4.2 in. x 5.8 in.
  • Sheet Size: 3.5 in. x 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 4.8 oz.

A great place to shop for leather goods, especially leather journals similar to this one is at the City Market in Florence Italy, located close to the Duomo (the main basilica) at the city center.  The market is open most days and you will find deals on leather purses, wallets and other leather and non-leather items.  Years ago, this is where we purchased our first leather travel journal similar to the one shown here.  I also purchased a couple leather wallets by 'Giudi', one of which I use daily and have been using for over 15 years.

City Market - Florence, Italy

At the Florence market, be sure to haggle with the vendors before you pay the asking price.  If you feel the price is too high, make an offer.  Only purchase items when you are happy with the price you have negotiated.

 

 
Fisher Bullet Space Pen with Clip

The Space Pen is the ultimate travel pen due to it's size and rounded ends that are less likely to puncture anything in your pocket or pack.  The pen has some interesting history and even has a Seinfeld Episode centered around it.

I can remember seeing this pen is some local stores years ago when I was a young kid.  I remember seeing it at the counter of a particular store and always wanting one, but at the time, it was far too expensive for me and purchasing baseball cards was a bigger priority.  It was not until years later that I finally purchased one.

  • Writes at any angle, even in Zero Gravity
  • Writes in extreme temperatures from -30F to 250F
  • Each pen is precision assembled, hand tested, and carries a lifetime guarantee against all manufacturing defects
  • Includes removable clip
  • Multiple colors available
  • Open Length: 5.3 in. with cap placed on the end
  • Closed Length: 3.7 in.
  • Diameter: .3 in.
  • Machined brass with chrome finish

Prior to your departure, insert a fresh ink cartridge into your pen to be sure you do not run out of ink while you are away.

History

The original Bullet Space Pen was conceived in July of 1948 by Paul Fisher, who was soon machining a new pen design shaped from solid aluminum. This became the first Fisher ball point pen, the #400 Bullet Pen, and arguably the most popular pen of the twentieth century. This pen is now composed of all brass with a chrome finish. Cited as an outstanding example of industrial art, the classic design of the Fisher Bullet Pen has been exhibited for years in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The Bullet's timeless styling has been the topic of many art books and magazine articles. Often imitated but never duplicated, the Fisher Bullet Space Pen continues to be a very popular pen.

Fishers Pressurized Cartridges

The secret behind the unique capabilities of the pens lies in the ink cartridge itself. The refills are hermetically sealed, pressurized with nitrogen gas, and feature a tungsten carbide ballpoint tip, the same extra hard metal that is used to make armor-piercing ammunition. No longer relying on gravity to write, the pens are able to function at any angle, even upside down! In order to prevent leaks from the gas pressure, the ink has to be thick, thixotropic to be exact. Fisher ink is actually more of a gel than a liquid when it is at rest, with a consistency similar to that of toothpaste. It is only when pressure is applied to the ballpoint that the ink will take on the spreadable properties of a liquid, while still retaining the stickiness needed to adhere to nearly any material.

Thixotropy is a time-dependent shear thinning property. Certain gels or fluids that are thick, or viscous, under static conditions will flow (become thin, less viscous) over time when shaken, agitated, sheared or otherwise stressed (time dependent viscosity).

 

Seinfeld - The Pen

 

 
Hide & Drink, Leather Pen Case

While on our travels with our Pocket Travelers Notebook shown above, we did not have a good location to store our pen.  We had attached the pen clip to the elastic band wrapped around the notebooks which worked well, but never it seemed secure, and we did not want to lose our pen.  Looking around, we stumbled onto this leather pen holder and decided to give it a try.

For this sized notebook that fits the Field Notes insert shown above, it's actually slightly large to fit snuggly around the book.  With a little thought, we used some scissors to cut off the elastic strap from the pen holder and then purchased a strip of Velcro from Hobby Lobby for less than $2.00 to replace it.  Using a Velcro strip, you can easily cut it to fit any size notebook.  This solution worked great and we are extremely happy with it.

We highly recommend this pen holder for attaching your pen to your travel journal.  The great thing is, it fits the Space Pen perfectly and can be purchased at Amazon for less than $10.00.
  • WARRANTY: Each one of Hide & Drink’s rustic, durable leather products is made with care and craftsmanship, with every item handmade to the highest standard. Our confidence in our products knows no bounds, so we include each product that you purchase with a 101 Year Warranty. We aim for nothing but 100% satisfaction when it comes to our products, so if you’re not satisfied, just get in touch with us and we’ll help you as quickly as possible.
  • HANDMADE FROM SOFT & ATTRACTIVE FULL GRAIN LEATHER: All of Hide & Drink’s products are hand cut and handcrafted using the highest quality of leather that you will find, namely Full Grain Leather. The quality of this leather ensures a long-lasting life and durability. After time and use, the leather will attain a beautiful and unique patina that will show age and grace.
  • FINELY HAND STITCHED: We are proud that each and every one of our products is handmade by expert local artisans of Pastores, Guatemala, a town wholly dedicated to the crafting of leather goods. Each item is hand cut and finished with a fine stitching method than not only looks good, but also makes for a durable finish that will give you a lifetime of use. Any loose ends are passed over with an open flame to ensure no unravelling during its lifetime.
 

 
Daybook - Diary, Journal, Note

If you search
Google Play Store you will find several apps allowing you to perform a variety of functions related to journaling.  If you would like to use an app, check out some different ones to find one with the features you are interested in.

Some things to consider

  • Free of advertising if possible
  • Allows you to select one or multiple photos
  • Contains a calendar where you may select the date and time (will probably auto default to the current date/time)
  • Allows you to enter paragraphs of text attached to your photo selections

The Daybook App on Google Play is the one we are currently using and we like it due to it's features and ease of use.

Daybook Usage

  • On the main screen, select the red circle with the plus sign to add a new entry
  • To edit an existing entry, select anywhere on the entry text or photo
  • Click the camera icon to easily select one or more photos from your photo gallery or take a new photo
  • Click on the date or time to change the values
  • Click the text area where you can type or speak your entry

When you have downtime such as riding on a train or relaxing in your room, transfer photos from your camera to your Smartphone or Tablet.  Once the photos have been transferred, start the Daybook app.  Select photos and update your journal entries.  If you have made entries in your physical notebook, use them to recall information you want to track in your detailed journal entries.

Another good reason to create a journal as you travel is that it will help you recall your adventure when you return home, especially if you plan to make more detailed entries on travel blogs or websites about the the places you visited and your experiences.

 
 *Above images from Google Play
 

 
Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard

Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard, IKOS Ultra Slim BT Folding Keyboard for iPhone X 8 7 6S 6 Plus, iPad Mini/Pro / Air, Samsung and All Other Android Smartphones and Tablets, and Windows System Device

If you are keeping a Travel Journal, having a keyboard makes making entries much faster and easier.

We like this keyboard for several reasons.  It's easy to use and connect to your Smartphone or Tablet using Bluetooth.  The thing we really like is how compact it is.  When folded in half, it's only slightly larger than a mobile phone, so it's easily stowed away in your pack until you need it.

Features & Specifications

  • Pocket size when folded for portability
  • Unfolds to full sized keyboard
  • Built-in 110mA rechargeable polymer lithium battery
  • 66 button design, with 14 shortcut function keys
  • Power saving mode after 15 minutes of non-use
  • Material: ABS
  • Bluetooth Version: 3.0
  • Bluetooth Range: 10m
  • Battery Capacity: 110mAh
  • Charging Time: 3-4 hours
  • Working Time: 45 hours
  • Standby Time: 60 days
  • Open size: 11.5 in. x 3.1 in. x 0.23 in.
  • Folding size: 5.7 in. x 3.1 in. x 0.47 in.
  • Net weight: 5.1 oz.

Note

For Android, support only 3.0 above, does not include Bluetooth dongle, so your device must support Bluetooth.