It’s been a while since I created my version of a Refillable Travel Notebook. Gosh, I now realize it’s been over half a year!
About time for some recap of my experience with this notebook. It was an experiment. Some things worked out very well, some didn’t. Real-life usage sometimes confronts you with things that you’ve never thought of while theorizing…
Overall, I LOVE! the thing. I just love that now I can use different signatures for different topics and have the notes on one field all neatly together. It is so much of an improvement.
I like handling it. For notes, I’ve always preferred the A5 format. This is ideal for carrying with you and still having enough space for your thoughts.
At first I was afraid that signatures might fall out, but with the elastic band there is absolutely no danger of that. Unless, of course, you drop it while it is opened. Knocking on wood! Hasn’t happened to me yet.
Now to some points that I had to adapt due to practical usage:
Number of Signatures and Separating Pages
How many signatures and separating pages you use is, of course, entirely up to you. It depends on how many topics you want to write about.
At the moment, I’m using 12 signatures within 10 separating pages, plus a couple of spare signatures at the back, but I’m sure there will be some more topics demanding their own signature fairly soon. I know, I know, I’m writing about too many topics. 😉
Anyway, since I didn’t want to add more separating pages as the notebook is thick enough as it is, I decided that it would be okay to have the signatures for related but different topics under one separating page. Works fine!
It’s Not the Size That Matters
Or is it?
With the book rings and in general it is a bit bigger than the store-bought composition notebooks I’d used so far.
That wouldn’t be a problem, had not my handbag been so worn down 1-2 months after the notebook’s creation that I had to get a new one. But the new handbag is so small that the old notebooks barely fit in—the travel notebook certainly doesn’t.
But since I have to carry an extra tote bag with my lunch anyway, it goes in there now as well. 😉 Problem solved.
Paper Weight and Style
Since I was keen to get started, I took the path of least resistance and at first used my usual copy paper for the signatures that I had lying around.
However, I find that if you do so, the signatures get quite thick. I don’t know about other countries, but around here 80 g/m² is the standard. If you look more closely in bigger stationary shops, however, you do get thinner paper, down to 60 g/m² was the best I could find.
It feels kind of “cheaper”—for lack of a better term—and I wouldn’t want to use it for double-sided printing because the ink would probably shine through quite a lot on the other side. However, I personally find it ideal for scribbling. The composition notebooks I used to get also have this paper weight.
The benefit of using thinner paper is that the whole notebook will either be thinner and lighter or that you can put in more signatures. Again, it’s up to what you need. The same is true for the book you will bind with those signatures later.
As for style, the notebooks I’d used before mostly had squared paper in them, seldomly lined paper, but never blank. I liked squared paper the best. When I use blank paper, my writing becomes very spacious and uneven. Thus I use up more space than necessary.
At some point I’ll have to figure out a way to either find squared paper for the signatures or get squares on my 60 g/m² copy paper.
Signatures and Book Rings
It turns out signatures and book rings just don’t go together. It works relatively well as long as you write on the first page, but once you have to open the signature, the hole tears. No matter how careful you are, it just tears. Looks like crap and becomes loose.
My immediate solution was to take the signature I wanted to write on out of the book rings and put it back in afterwards. But you soon get tired of that and it takes up a lot of time better spent writing or thinking. So my long-term solution was to have the separating pages in the book rings, but the signatures would go between those loosely.
It would have been good to know this beforehand because now the signatures hang out a little at the side, but it isn’t much. When the covers get worn down, I’ll make slightly larger ones. The good thing is: Due to the elastic band, really nothing falls out. And I don’t have to punch holes into the new signatures anymore. Will look so much better once you get to bind a book with them.
Forgetfulness 😉 and Binding Borders
When I start the first signature for one topic, I always, always! forget to leave a somewhat larger border on the left side of the outer page. I’ll need that later when binding to glue on the colorful pages that combine the inside pages with the cover.
As soon as possible, I should add another white sheet outside. I can then leave the first page empty and write on the last one. If I added this page later, I’d have a white page in between the first and the second signature. Not very desirable.
Darn, I just realized that I will also have to remember leaving a border or a blank page for the very last page of the last signature I’m going to bind!
Speaking of borders, I also noticed that I have a tendency to write very close to all the borders of the page. This leaves the danger that part of the letters might be cut off if I have to trim the edges when binding. Again something to remember. 😉
I have yet to figure out a good way to store my signatures once they are filled up. It has to have some kind of order and separation as well. It also has to make absolutely sure they don’t get mixed up or fall out. At first I thought about getting book rings for each topic and putting them in, but if I’m not going to punch holes into the new signatures now, this won’t work anymore. I’ll have to come back to you on that one.
I since found out that there is another good solution for travel notebooks with loose signatures, but only if you use no more than three at the same time. I ran across such a book in a shop some weeks ago. I’ll present this in a later post.
But, for people like me with so many signatures that have to go into one travel notebook, I haven’t come across any other solution yet.
Although I find it a bit annoying for transportation that the book rings stand out like that, the book as a whole works out very well. And it doesn’t really matter anyway if you put the book into some kind of bag for transport.
For a while, I’ve been thinking about something in the direction of an accordion folder, but then the flexibility that the variable number of separating pages offers would be gone.
In result, with the adaptations presented above, I’m still very satisfied with this creation. 🙂