So I finally got my hands on one of these bad boys that is discussed all over the internet but no one has bothered to show us what’s inside. First off, I’ll say I’m happy I made the purchase. Second, I’ll say that it will required a supplemental journal for me but if you are just a “jotter” when it comes to journaling this all-in-one may be just the journal for you.
The journal cover is composed of some type of water resistant laminate. It feels almost like contact paper which means it likely won’t stand up to a lot of abuse but it did repel water at least temporarily. For a short downpour or some spilled coffee you should be safe if you wipe it off immediately. Both the inside front and back have handy little pockets to keep tickets and the like. It only is a partial pocket, though, which makes things fall out easily. Even the “sample” ticket that came with the book shook around loosely as soon as I picked it up. The book has an elastic band to keep it closed so that will probably help with the shuffling but it’s really not good for long term storage like the full pockets on a moleskine or hand book are.
The book itself is composed of six main sections and I’m going to tell a little about each one so you can decide if its what you are looking for. The sections are Wanderlust, Destinations, Planning, Journal, Back Home and Resources.
This section is all about dreaming about where you want to go. It talks about types of travel, provides room for you to list your dream trips , and then goes into some considerations like whether or not to travel alone and offers a checklist about potential travel partners. This part is fun to play with and it provides lots of “prompts” to get you thinking about traveling and then offers five or six lines for you to jot down your thoughts.
This is where you get down to the nitty gritty of a trip. It talks about research, language, documents required, finances, a general packing checklist, and learning about your chosen destination through literature. The advice is the same you’d hear just about in any travel book but it has a few comedic notes thrown in to help ease the minutiae. For example, in the discussion of required travel documents it notes: “Borders are places where authority figures check you out to see if you will be trouble or a liability. Avoid the grunge look on customs day.”
Or, my favorite: “Assume that the bags you check and everything in them could disappear forever. Pack your carry-on accordingly.” For someone who hates to check anything, I love that advice! Also in this section is a proposed itinerary that includes fill-in blanks for the day, the place, what to see/do, and travel/shelter for the night. This is nice and simple and works great if (like me) you are planning a trip where you want to see two or three specific things in several different cities. For those staying in one city for a long time, this won’t be so helpful unless you are booking tours on specific days of your trip.
It concludes with a hit list of big sites you don’t want to miss, a rough budget for you to fill out, an “on the road” contact list, a place to list of addresses for folks back home (handy for those postcards!), and emergency information such as your doctor, dentist, health insurance, credit card number (really???) and passport number.
Lacking for anyone who writes frequently, this is still a fun little section. It has some little travel tidbits (“Let strangers sign this page” or “Drag it through the mud and dew”) that seem straight out of the Wreck this Journal but they are fun nonetheless. Some of the pages are lined and some remain unlined so you can tape in mementos. In all, there are 35 sheets for entries. The section ends with a re-take on your proposed itinerary where you fill in your actual travel schedule, and a place to list expenses.
Of particular note to fountain pen writers: the book sections are color coded so the paper varies in tone throughout. I tried with my Pelikan and Lamy (both EF, both using Noodler’s Ink) and there was no bleed through. There was some shading on the back of the cream colored pages (the journal ones, notably are this color) but I was pleasantly surprised that there was no bleed even when I scribbled over and over in a dark red ink.
This is a fun little section where you can think about your travels, reminisce about them. It has places for you to post in photos, receipts or any other memorabilia you’ve picked up. Then it immediately starts you thinking of your next trip by asking you for ideas and questions about what appeals to you for future trips.
Self explanatory really, this section includes a selection of helpful resources for travel. It includes about 3 pages of suggested books, 1 page of movies, 1 page of web resources and then goes into standard travel helps (travel phrases in 8 languages only enough to maybe get you out of the airport; clothing size conversions; international dialing codes, temperatures around the world; time zones; and metric conversions).
The neatest “surprise” of the journal was the supplied photo tabs including at the very end of the book. Like the old fashioned ones used in albums, these serve the same purpose in a happier blue & white motif. You can use them to help attach mementos as you travel such as postcards, receipts, or those little photos from the scary photo booths you see everywhere near tourist hot spots. They aren’t going to replace a stick of glue that most travelers bring to adorn their journals but they will work in a pinch.
So…overall, I’m extremely happy with my purchase. I hope this will help some of you who (like me!) were curious about it but didn’t want to purchase it until you knew what you were in for. It’s helpful, definitely will get you organized and thinking about travel and will suffice for folks who don’t journal regularly or just want to jot down a few reminder notes. It weighs hardly anything (forgot to mention that!) so I won’t have any qualms about taking this and a smaller journal specifically for writing.