The goal: make a passport-sized traveler's notebook in preparation for an upcoming trip to Chile. In retrospect, this was the simplest of craft projects. Hardly worthy of the name. But that means it would be easy to duplicate. My model was the Midori Traveler's Notebook. I don't buy leather products new, or else I would have just bought the Midori. But I'm a vegetarian so instead I scoured Etsy for vintage leather scraps and came up with this chocolate-colored leather that, if I'm guessing correctly, was once part of a jacket.
I bought Midori innards for the notebook. The orange elastic and the tin tie along the spine are from a Midori repair kit.
More Midori innards. Open up the leather flap & there's the passport-sized plastic zipper pocket.
I also got the Midori-brand kraft folder, but those are pretty easy to DIY & I found plenty of instructions on how by googling. But since I don't have any plain manila folders lying around, I'd have had to buy them. So, minimal savings for extra effort. Not worth it. I bought the folder.
Next is my current itinerary for the trip, printed out in booklet form. Date at the top and then all the travel details that I'll want to remember: hotel names and addresses, flight numbers and times. This is practical for me because I won't have access to wifi, so I can't count on my phone to hold all the data.
The little passport-sized Midori notebook insert. Graph paper, because that's what I prefer, and opened to the stitching to show the orange elastic that holds the notebook to the leather cover, as well as the rubber band that secures the itinerary booklet to the whole. The essence of the Midori "system" (it's less than a 'system' but more than a 'notebook' -- a sort of rudimentary system) is that they sell elastics to band several notebooks together inside the case. That allows you to use several different notebooks at once, according to your needs. In my case: one notebook, an itinerary, and a passport. Midori sells special rubber bands but I passed on those.
I'll paperclip the current itinerary-date to an open page of the notebook. That way I'll always be able to flip between the current, pressing travel info and my most recent notes.
The back of the zippered pocket and my passport.
So, in terms of 'crafting' here's what I had to do:
1. Buy leather.
2. Cut the leather to size.
3. Poke holes in the leather.
Pretty simple. It took very little time to actually make (especially compared to the amount of time I spent thinking about making it). Cost-wise, the DIY aspect makes it easy to adjust. A new Midori-branded cover costs $50, but I paid $10 for the leather I bought. The accessories add up, if you buy them all from Midori, and the slim little notebook inserts aren't cheap. But most of those are easy to make by hand; and if you make your own cover, you can tailor the size to fit your preferred brand of notebook. (Mine, of course, is sized to my passport, so the passport-sized Midori products were perfect).
I'm tempted to add bells & whistles, because this was just so simple--and, in fact, I probably will add a Leuchtterm pen loop--but I don't want to bulk it up any further. The idea is that I'll tuck it into my high-security camera bag while I'm traveling & keep it on me at all times.
The interesting part will be comparing how I set up the notebook now, before the trip, and what it looks like at the end. How it holds up, what I modify. Before & after pictures will be fun. I settled on the Midori because it solves the problems I ran into during my last long trip, when I went to India, and I had to juggle on-the-go arrangements with advance bookings. I want to be able to slip maps into the kraft folder, business cards into the zippered pocket, write down directions and other bits of advice, while always having confirmed plans at my fingertips.
I'm going to make a separate notebook for on-the-go journaling. I've collected some patterned cloth for the interior and vinyl for the exterior. I'll probably make it along the same lines as the Midori, but without the 'accessories' & in a larger size (closer to 5 x 8 inches).
Interested in buying a Traveler's Notebook or the accessories? I like the Goulets.
Wondering why I've been so obsessively drooling over Midori Traveler's Notebooks in recent days? Check out the Flickr pool.