Travel Carry for a North American January

I’ve been working in North America for most of January (Washington DC, New York and Vancouver to be exact) doing a variety of things – attending a conference, meetings and fieldwork. A few weeks away means a fairly substantive travel carry. Here’s what’s in my pencilcase for this chilly trip.


I’ve brought four types of paper with me, which is probably the most I’ve ever brought on a trip. For work, the Baron Fig Metamorphosis Confidant, which I have been using enthusiastically since November 2017. I like it a lot. It’s a perfect work notebook in many respects – the flagship size is comfortable to write on and not overwhelming, the dot grid is well-spaced and not too visually intrusive, and the paper stock is enjoyable to write on with almost any writing implement. I’ve already filled it up since I’ve been out here, so I’ll write a full review soon.

I’ve used my Baron Fig Metamorphosis Confidant quite intensively, so it’s picked up a bit of wear and tear.
I have really enjoyed using it though. I love looking back on my notes on Baron Fig’s dot grid paper.

Since I finished my Confidant, I’ve been using a Hope House Press blank notebook. You might remember I was toying with the idea of a Hope House Press journal for 2018. I plumped for a notebook instead, a blank one (to start off my year of learning to love blank paper). This notebook looks lovely: a soft, textured leather cover with my initials embossed in rose gold. Inside, there is cream-coloured laid paper with quite a noticeable “chain line” texture. Writing on this paper is a tactile experience and it feels particularly nice with pencil.

My Hope House Press notebook, which has taken over from my Baron Fig Confidant.

Thirdly, two Field Notes pocket notebooks: a Snowblind and a yellow Unexposed notebook. I really like both of these. I’ll be doing some fieldwork, so a pocket notebook is always useful. I get through pocket notebooks quickly when I’m travelling, too, noting things on restaurants, places to see, receipts I need to keep track of, etc.

Rather bright, I know.

Lastly, my Hobonichi Techo. Catching up on daily journaling is fine when it’s a few days, but I don’t really like catching up with more than a week or so, so I’ve brought it with me and I’m journaling as I go. I considered last year whether I was falling out of love with daily journaling. But the enjoyment and pleasure I get from flicking through my 2017 Hobo (even though I admittedly used it less than in 2016) tells me that I am not out of love with the format or the experience of daily journaling. My husband diligently bought me a 2018 Hobo as a Christmas present, with this pretty new cover. I’ll catch up with daily photos when I’m back though.

2018’s Hobonichi Techo, still looking fresh in its new cover.

Writing tools 

Two weeks calls for a good range of writing tools. I’m bringing three fountain pens, none of which are very “special” – my Pilot Metropolitan M nib inked up with Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro, a Lamy Safari M nib inked up with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai, and a Pilot Kakuno with Pilot’s signature red ink cartridge (Pilot has really got a hold on me eh?). I really like this ink, as it’s on the sweet cherry, pink side of red. Three fountain pens is probably excessive, but I’ve been doing a lot of writing on this trip, and I find these particular three pens very easy to write with. Almost like gel pens; I can hold them quite upright and loosely and still enjoy the writing experience. They’re also good to use for journaling in my Hobonichi Techo.

My Pilot Metropolitan and Pilot Kakuno have been a little leaky with these inks. I’ve heard that flights can make fountain pens a bit leaky, so perhaps that’s the reason.

Gel pen wise, I have a trusty Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm in Bordeaux Black. I absolutely love the pairing of this colour and line width with my Zebra Mildliner grey highlighter, which is coming too. My Uni Style Fit multi-gel pen has three 0.38 refills (orange, green and pink) – multi-gel pens such as this one and the Pilot Coleto are so handy for travel carries. The Sanrio sleepytime pen holder I chose isn’t the most professional, but I love it! For a bit of variety from the gel pens, I’ve brought a grey Marvy Le Pen. Once the fibre tip on this slim pen gets a bit blunt with use, it’s a really fun pen to write with.

Other writing tools – two pencils, two gel pens and a fibre-tipped pen.

I’ve brought two pencils and I’m aiming to power through them while I’m away. First up, a lightweight and cheerful blue Baron Fig Prismatic Archer, which should be a great one for notetaking based on my experience so far. Secondly, a classic American Musgrave #2 Harvest pencil. Musgrave has been a bit of a mystery to me, despite being a heavyweight in the pencil world. I’ve been using it over the last couple of weeks. My overall impressions aren’t good, so this trip is really my last chance testing it out before it gets relegated to the pencil bin (i.e. for my husband to use, ho ho ho). I don’t enjoy sharpening it with my Masterpiece sharpener (very unusual) and the wood is so pale it looks anaemic.

Highlighters and a marker – both useful for making notes on the go. They’re all twin-tipped, which makes them versatile for a travel carry.

As well as my grey Mildliner, I’ve also got a light blue one for a bit of brightness. Lastly in my set of writing tools, I’ve got a twin-tipped Sharpie marker in black. I’m giving some presentations on this trip, and I like using index cards to plan out my speech beforehand. The Sharpie marker is great for that – the bullet tip leaves a very bold line and is clear to read at a glance (good for presentation practice), and the fine line end is useful for underlining and scribbling things out.

Other tools

I’ve got a small, grubby but reliable Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser for pencil slip-ups, my KUM Masterpiece sharpener (the only hand-held sharpener I use), a short Muji white ruler, and a couple of pencil caps. My Tombow Mono Note Correction Tape is great for cleaning up messy notes on the go and much more compact than most correction pens. I picked up a handful of clips from Daiso when I was in Japan last year – they’re useful for keeping paper together while travelling.

My other tools – all very necessary. I particularly enjoy the Tombow Mono Note Correction Tape – it’s very useful and the thin tape means it goes almost unnoticed.

To hold all of these goodies, I’m using my navy Hightide pen roll. It’s lightweight and size adjustable – very handy for a travel carry.

My trusty and lightweight Hightide pen roll.

In summary

For this travel carry, I’ve stuck mostly with items I’m familiar with and enjoy, with a couple of newer tools to try out (my Hope House Press notebook and the Musgrave Harvest pencil). It’s not too substantial, although I wouldn’t normally bring two work notebooks with me (if I had more space left in my Confidant, I’d only bring that this time).

Close up of the Musgrave Harvest pencil branding. I have a feeling I won’t be using this pencil much after this trip.

Regarding my Field Notes notebooks, there is no doubt that Field Notes has become my go-to pocket notebook. A year or so ago I used a bigger variety of pocket notebooks, but as my stash of those ran out, I’ve turned to my Field Notes stash and I’m going through it with enjoyment. I can’t think of a recent work trip that I didn’t have a Field Notes with me.

I’m enjoying the couple of pencils I’ve got with me so far, but I can’t see me sticking with the Musgrave Harvest past this trip. I deliberately went light on bringing pencils because, lucky me, I stopped off at the new CW Pencil Enterprise store last weekend while I was in New York, so needless to say, I picked up a few more pencils there. Full review of that experience coming soon!

I’d love to hear what you take with you on a long trip. I travel a lot – let me know any recommendations you have for my next travel carry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *