A Deep Dive into Elastic Planner Systems (AKA Traveler’s Notebooks/Fauxdori)

Following our previous posts about Ring-Bound Planner Systems and Discbound Planner Systems its time to tackle the “elastic planner” AKA the Traveler’s Notebook (TN) or, when not made by the Traveler’s Notebook Company, the “Fauxdori”. The name Fauxdori arose several years ago when Traveler’s Notebook was still under the Midori branding and was refer to as the “Midori Traveler’s Notebook”, hence faux-dori as a name for any similar design.

Many folks will already be familiar with the Traveler’s Notebook but for anyone not familiar with the system, here’s how they work. Instead of rings or discs and holes in your paper, the Traveler’s Notebook is a leather (fabric, cardboard, or other heavyweight material) cover with a series of elastics running the length of the spine on the interior of the cover. These elastics allow for smaller cahier notebooks (thinner notebooks of 64 pages or less, usually) to be slipped under the elastics to hold them into the cover.

Unlike ringbound or discbound planners, the TN-style planner is organized by booklet. You can have a calendar booklet and then a blank booklet for notes and so on. For people looking to combine a bullet journal system with a more traditional planner, the TN/fauxdori system may be a great option. Some people have a notebook with lined paper for journaling, one with grid paper for project planning and then a sketchbook paper booklet for drawing, collage or art making.

The Original regular size”Traveler’s Company cover in Camel (via Traveler’s Company USA)

The Covers:

The original TN leather covers are just a piece of leather punched along the spine for elastics and punched in the back for a horizontal elastic to secure the cover closed. Very simple, minimal and unfussy. Since the launch of the original Traveler’s Company covers, many leatherworking companies and makers stepped in to make covers that include interior pockets, more elastics along the spine and even non-leather options.

Etsy is a sea of options for covers as well as popular makers like Galen Leather, Curnow Bookbinding & Leather and Chic Sparrow. My favorite non-Traveler’s Company fauxdori cover is from Bassy & Co on Etsy.

Inside front cover

The Sizes:

Originally, the TN covers were only available in “Regular” size and “Passport” size. The “Regular” size is now widely referred to as the A5 Slim size. (approx. 9″ x 5″). The Passport size is the same proportions as a passport (approx. 4.8″ x 3.5″).

The original Regular size Traveler’s Notebook in brown (via Traveler’s Notebook USA)

Common sizes available for covers:

  • Regular A5 Slim (original Traveler’s Company size)
  • Passport (original Traveler’s Company size)
  • Pocket (approx 4×6″)
  • A5 (approx. 6.25 x 8.75″ — cover sizes will vary to accommodate various numbers of inserts)
  • A6 – to hold a Hobonichi or similar
  • B5 (approx. 7.85 x 10.5″)
  • B6 (approx. 5 x 8″) – will hold Stalogy or Wonderland planner or similar

and many other options…. check sizes before ordering a cover to be sure your notebooks and inserts fit.

The market immediately noticed the need for other options and quickly, leather workers added A5, A6, B6, Field Notes-size and many more.

Planner

My Bassy & Co B6 Fauxdori cover with custom stitching color.

Insert Options:

Unlike discbound or ring bound systems, there is no need for additional equipment to add notebooks to your TN. Just loop them under the rubber bands. You can of course print your own custom inserts from the myriad of options available on Etsy but there are some nice options from TN Co. directly including super lightweight paper, watercolor paper and an array of plain papers (lined, graph, blank, etc).

Some people, myself included, will also put full-sized notebooks into a fauxdori cover. I keep a Stalogy B6 notebook in my cover and use multiple elastics to keep it steady and secure (one looped under the front cover and one looped under the back cover).

Traveler’s Notebook Leather Wallet insert from Galen Leather.

For pre-printed inserts, there are several companies I recommend.

There are probably dozens of other options but the companies listed above are all tested and approved by the Desk.

(Pre-printed insert from Yellow Paper House on Etsy)

A few printable options I really like are:

(from Marcy Penner)

If you are willing to print and bind your own inserts for your TN/fauxdori, there are hundreds of downloadable PDFs available via Etsy or individual web sites. Binding your own booklets requires either a stapler (sometimes a long-arm stapler will be needed) or skills in simple stitched bookbinding (a three-hole method is easy and instructions for binding can be found on YouTube or via a Google search).

(Wallet Insert from Galen Leather)

Accessories:

TN notebooks can quickly be customized with plastic pocket inserts, pen loops or leather wallet inserts and more. Traveler’s Company has also been releasing annual special edition covers with various special add-ons like stickers, rubber stamps, charms and more. The 2022 theme was actually four different covers: Music (passport Size), Hotel (standard A5 slim size), Airplane (standard A5 slim size) and Train (passport size). These sets are very limited edition and tend to sell out quickly. Last year, the theme was B Sides and Rarities and offered a wide selection of special paper inserts including Lightweight and Washable options.

Traveler’s Company also offers other add-ons like their own bullet pens and pencils and even fountain pens. If you like the notebook covers, you don’t need the branded writing tools but they are pretty cool. Like any part of the stationery hobby, you can go DEEP if you want to.

How to add notebooks with rubber bands (via Traveler’s Notebook USA)

The Elastics:

The original TN covers only include one elastic but offered an accessory pack of add-on rubber bands with a lovely little instruction sheet about how to add more notebooks to your cover by using the bands in creative ways. YouTube has lots of TN set-up videos that will show techniques for layering rubber bands and various inserts for the most stuffed TN/fauxdori possible.

Conclusion:

Some people find the standard A5 slim size to be awkward or too narrow to use while others find it to be the sweet spot between portable and functional. If you are not certain about the original Traveler’s Notebook size, I recommend purchasing an insert first before investing in a cover and trying it out. Choose a paper you like and get accustomed to the size. I find the Passport size to be useful as a wallet allowing me to keep paper handy along with cards, receipts, cash and other detritus. I use the fauxdori A6 and B6 sizes for notebooks and journals for various purposes. I keep an original TN for ink testing and swatching. This year my constant companion was my bullet journal in a B6 fauxdori. While I wouldn’t say that I would never switch from a fauxdori planner, I do seem to have more TN/fauxdori covers and inserts than any other binding system.

Do you use a TN/fauxdori? Would you consider one now?

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13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Where do you get B6 sized notebooks for for your fauxdori? B6 is my sweet spot size, and I find the paper options less than ideal.

    1. I agree with Deb. Paper Penguin Co and Yellow Paper House are great options. Stalogy makes a B6 notebook and I believe Taroko and Good INKpressions also do B6 sized notebooks.

  2. To Liz: I happened to see your question. I don’t know about many B6 options, but I do know of one on Etsy. The PaperPenguinCo makes and sells insertable notebooks in lots of sizes, including B6. Hope that helps.

  3. I have both sizes of the Midori Travelers Notebooks, as I got them before the name change. For me, that’s enough leather. Now what I’d prefer is PU leather or fake leather. The problem with Etsy searches is they still bring up leather options. I like the looks of Ana’s green one. I hope I can find a non-leather option.

    It took me awhile to find uses for my Traveler’s Notebooks. I used the regular with a calendar insert. Now I have two notebooks from PaperPenguin in old and new Tomoe paper. I used the passport size for a project. But that is over, and it wants to be used.

  4. I forgot to add I got an A5 size Lihit Lab notebook cover that I put two notebooks with Cosmo Air Light and Snow in. I should be happy with that. Like fountain pens, I have a notebook obsession too.

  5. TN-style notebooks are so much eye candy to me that I have been sorely tempted. However, a system that doesn’t allow for swapping in and out individual pages isn’t ideal for me, so I stick with my humongous discbound collection. It’s still fun to look and feel tempted, lol.

  6. Good to know the standard TN insert size is referred to as A5 slim.

    For those who don’t want a leather cover, Documented Journey makes them out of cork with a felt lining. Hers are almost infinitely customizable.

    1. Best to double check the size too as the large Moleskine is also known as A5 slim. It’s narrower than A5 but wider than the standard inserts.

  7. I tried a TN for the first time a few months ago, and it’s the perfect combination of bullet journal & planner for me, as you stated. I had graduated from the traditional A5 bujo to the Hobonichi Weeks, as I grew tired of drawing my layouts each week/month. But I found the Weeks just a little too thin for me. So the TN Weekly insert has the same Hobo Weeks layout, but a bit larger. Then I can add whatever blank inserts I want with it, so the customization really appeals to me.

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