Travelers notebooks have become very popular in the planner community over the last decade. Whether you’re a Midori purist or fauxdori fan, you can buy a travelers notebook in a variety of sizes (pocket, field, personal, narrow, wide, extra wide, A5, etc.), leathers or fabrics, and configurations (single/double/quad loops, single/double closure straps, trifold, etc.). For this post, I’m going to focus on the closure strap and how I came to realize that I have a definite preference for its location.
My very first travelers notebook was a Chic Sparrow pocket Creme Brûlée also known as ‘Jendori’ or ‘fauxdori’ (i.e. not a Midori). It has 4 loops to hold 6-8 notebooks and a back strap. I immediately adapted to this style of notebook–stringing books together, creating folders/inserts, and opening/closing it with ease. It quickly became a favorite so, of course, it wasn’t long before I ordered more. 🙂
My next travelers notebook was another Jendori from Chic Sparrow but this time a narrow orange Gemini with red watercolor effect (not sure if this effect is still available), built in pockets, and a pen loop (old style pocket layout). It is a gorgeous, textured leather, with medium flexibility, 4 loops, and a back strap. Again, it was easy to setup, use, open/close, and I really loved the amount of space offered by the narrow size–it has the height of an A5 but in a compact narrow form. I also loved the number of pockets available–a vertical pocket with 3 card slots on the left and a secretarial pocket with a large pen loop on the right–but I quickly became bothered by the proximity of the back strap relative to the secretarial pocket. The strap ends tend to hang over the secretarial pocket when empty and create a bump under any paper when full.
Soon after, I ordered the Midori #004 small stick-on pockets for my pocket Creme Brûlée to create storage on the front and back covers. Ultimately, I also bought the name brand Midori in brown–because I was curious–and added a Midori #006 long stick-on pocket to the back cover. Unfortunately, I had the same problem with both–the back strap interfering with the back pockets. As a result, I started to consider a ‘hack’ where I would move the straps to the spine on all my notebooks to solve the problem but I hesitated for fear of ruining them.
My next purchase was a beautiful white and gold chevron fabric planner from Cake Paperie this time with a spine strap. However once I received it, I was so worried it get dirty–it’s gorgeous but it’s white!–I quickly retired it to holding extra books on a shelf.
Fast forward to July 2015. I decided to order a Foxydori extra wide Wanderlust in Butterscotch with 4 loops and a spine strap. “This…”, I thought, “…is going to be the perfect fauxdori!” It did not disappoint–I was in love!
Excited, I quickly setup and began using my lovely Foxydori and immediately noticed something was ‘off’. “What is going on?!”, I thought. “Why does this feel so awkward?” I started to pay close attention and then it hit me: IT WAS THE STRAP. “What the heck?” It turns out, my natural inclination when opening a travelers notebook is to use my right hand. With a back strap, this motion flows easily–the straps lift up and around the sides of the notebook landing perfectly behind the back cover. However, with a spine strap, there is ‘catch’ because the left side of the strap is stationary–where it is connected at the spine–so as my hand moves from front-to-back, the right side of the strap moves but the left side doesn’t, stopping the motion abruptly. The ‘fix’ is to switch to my LEFT hand to open the notebook but this is unnatural for me because it just isn’t programmed into my ‘muscle memory’. As a result, I mindlessly start the motion with my right hand, get ‘stuck’ causing me to stop and think, eventually remembering that I have to switch hands, and clumsily restarting the motion. That was the awkwardness I was experiencing.
So now I know: I have to open my Midori and Chic Sparrows with my right hand and my Foxydori and Cake Paperie with my left. The thought had crossed my mind to move the straps on the latter to the back cover but, again, the thought of harming those beauties in any way is a major deterrent. I finally just had to accept the fact that my spine strap travelers notebooks need more attention and ‘intention’ when using them.
What about you? Do you prefer a back or center spine? Cast your vote below!