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In my last post, I listed my favorite things about my bullet journal, and a couple of things that I wanted to change.

I wasn’t looking to change very much about how I bullet journal, there will be very little difference with that, just what I’m bullet journaling in.  In fact, if I hadn’t of said anything, I doubt many of you would notice much of a difference when I posted my spreads.  But after almost 2 years of using a bullet journal, I felt it was time to refine my own personal system.

As part of this process, I made a list of what my dream journal would consist of:

• The ability to have separate books (or inserts) for different purposes
One more permanent insert for collections, another insert for traditional bullet journal modules: future planning, monthly and weekly logs, another for blog/social media/Etsy store planning (yes, I promise it is coming soon!), maybe another for personal notes or thoughts, etc.

If it’s something I would want to refer to often, I would want it in a more permanent insert. My planning insert would be able to be switched out as it filled up.

• Good quality, A5-sized (or US letter half-sheet), dot-grid pages
I would want blank and lined options, low to no ghosting and clean looking.  I’ve loved my Leuchtturm so the paper needed to be as just good (or better!)

The A5 size works very well for the way I use my bullet journal so I wanted to stick with it or close to it.

• A soft yet sturdy cover
One of the things I love about bullet journaling is the satisfying tactile response to working with physical paper and pen.  I wanted the same kind of experience with my cover.  It needed to be nice to touch.

• Being able to secure the cover and book in some way
The Leuchtturm has the elastic band that keeps it closed.  My Franklin planner had a magnetic snap that secured the cover.  I just wanted something to prevent the pages from getting all dinged up.

•Unlike my beloved Franklin planner of the past, I didn’t want a ringed binder with loose-leaf pages.
This was completely a personal preference but I didn’t want the extra bulk that the rings add nor did I want to have to worry about hole punches and the pages to match them.

•The ability to keep it all as organic as possible.
No pre-printed planner pages for me (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), just lots of beautiful empty pages to create with.

With that list made, I knew that I was headed in the direction of a traveler’s notebook (TN) system.  However, before I spent the money on a nice TN cover, my first challenge was to find the right inserts. There are MANY sizes to choose from, but because I wanted to stick with the A5 size, that did limit what I could easily find.

I tested the Tomoe River Paper inserts and the pages are really beautiful but much lighter weight paper than what I’m comfortable with. I was afraid I would tear the paper every time I turned a page!

I then tried creating my own inserts, and found a great quality, letter-sized, ivory paper for them.  I did make one insert to test out but I ultimately decided that the printing, binding and trimming would be more hassle than I had time for!

While I was figuring out the insert problem, I decided I would create my own TN cover.  Searching on Pinterest, I found a few patterns that I was able to modify for my size.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up using A5 or half letter-sized inserts, and I knew that I wanted to use my Leuchtturm through the end of the year, so I adjusted the cover pattern to fit both A5 and half-letter sizes.

{If you’d like to try out a traveler’s notebook yourself, pattern and instructions for that cover will be coming in Part 3!}

Using marine vinyl I found at the fabric store, I really had fun playing with pretty color combinations.

Inserts are attached to a traveler’s notebook using elastic threaded in the spine, so I was able to thread the elastic through the spine of my Leuchtturm as well as use the inserts I’d bought or made.  I really loved the way it expanded how I used my bullet journal and I felt that it seemed to legitimize my system.  It gave me more of that planner feel I wanted.

The only issue I had with the vinyl (besides the fact that my sewing skills are quite rusty!) was that, even though I doubled the fabric and used the stiffest interfacing, I never felt the cover was sturdy enough.  I would think that you could fit a piece of cardboard in between the fabric or could just use a heavier material for the cover to begin with.  I had a hard time finding material in the weight and color I wanted, so I stayed with the marine vinyl while I was testing the TN waters.

The cover I made has pockets but I ended up not using them very much so I decided it wasn’t a need in whatever I chose as a final cover.

Here are my results after a few months of experimenting with a TN.


After much searching online, I found these inserts on Amazon. I ordered a single set to try them out and I liked them so much I ordered another two sets.  And at $9.99 for a set of three, I’m even thinking about ordering another set or two to have plenty of back up.  I mean I really, REALLY like these inserts.  😉

(Set of 3) A5 Dotted Notebook/Travel Journal – 5.5 x 8.25 Dot Grid Paper for Bullet Journaling, Total 120 Sheets/240 Pages, Black/White/Kraft Brown Cover

They aren’t true A5 size, and I’m guessing they are made from US Letter-sized paper,  trimmed down a half an inch, but they fit perfectly into an A5 TN cover.  If you like the paper in a Leuchtturm, I think you would be very happy with these too.


This was tough.  There are a LOT of A5 options out there now.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted a bright, pretty color or a soft, worn brown leather-type cover.  They can be quite expensive, especially if you go with leather, so I was worried about spending the money and then hating it!  I shouldn’t have been worried.

After researching different companies and reading/watching several different reviews, I finally decided on the Classic Mr Darcy Titanic from Chic Sparrow, which doesn’t have inside pockets but I added white contrast stitching and a pen loop. It was basically the best of both worlds for me.


It’s a very similar color as the Emerald Leuchtturm, so it’s very pretty, and it’s so soft and shiny, I can’t stop touching it!  I was worried about the shininess, but it’s not super glossy, so I like it.  It did show scratches and dings pretty quickly, but they warned about that in the description and I’m ok with that. It’s part of getting over my perfectionism so it fits right in with the mission of my bullet journal.

After my cover came, I was instantly addicted to these TN covers.  I’m already thinking I want another one in either Crème Brûlée or Toffee for work now!  I can see why people own several!

If you’re not comfortable with a leather cover, there are quite a few Etsy stores that make fabric or vegan leather options.  Here are just a couple that I found that were quite affordable:

Freshly Stitched

Cadeneta Notebooks

In my next post, I’ll show what I did to make the inserts more my own as well as take you through my set up for 2018!


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