Review of the Moleskine Travel Journal

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When it comes to keeping travel details organized, we’ve always relied on a free smartphone app called TripIt. It’s super convenient to forward all our confirmation emails to one central place. Everything is automatically compiled in chronological order, complete with maps and daily weather forecasts.

However, as helpful as it is, there’s one feature that it lacks: TripIt cannot automatically compile ports of call on a cruise. (Not their fault; it’s on the cruise lines’ end.)

This created a problem when we took our 15-day cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. If I wanted to see what was next on the agenda, I’d either have to enter everything by hand, or I’d have to find another solution.

So I decided to try something new.

Dan and Linda in front of a Dutch windmill

My new analog travel “app”

Recently a new shop opened in our local shopping mall, one that drew me inside. Within its walls were a family of creative tools to be found: notebooks, planners, journals, bags, writing instruments, and more.

I have to make a confession: I have a serious weakness for beautiful notebooks, particularly when I see one that has sections and pockets (they are so hard to find!). I relish all the unexploited potential … all those empty, blank pages just waiting to be filled with someone’s creative thoughts and dreams.

It seems I’m not alone, because Moleskine has tapped into this with a series of notebooks for various passions, everything from weddings to gardening, coffee, cats and babies. I could resist all but one.

Panorama image of 6 Passions books: recipe journal, wellness journal, film journal, book journal, music journal and wine journal. The text in front says Moleskine

One notebook in particular seemed to call to me, thanks in no small part to the cute retro airport departure board that was embossed on its cover: the Moleskine Travel Journal.

The fact that it was called a “Passions Journal” kind of did me in. After all, travel is my passion. I even enjoy reading travel quotes, just to fuel my wanderlust.

Anyway, I managed to resist its siren song for a few weeks. Thinking about its potential eventually weakened me to the point that I succumbed to temptation. I mean, it’s the first travel journal with pockets that I’d ever seen. Maybe it’s the only one on the planet. Out came the wallet: I just had to try it out.

Why I decided to try the Moleskine travel journal

Our river cruise took us to five countries in 15 days, and the itinerary (you can see it here if you want) would keep us busy. We’d enjoy guided tours, cultural experiences, and lectures, along with plenty of time to explore the ports on our own.

Just trying to imagine all that could be packed into our trip completely boggled my mind.

Tasting jenever with one of the friends from our last cruise - must remember everyone's name!
Tasting jenever with Anne, one of the friends we made on our last cruise … Must. Remember. Everyone’s. Name.

After our trip, I’d want to recall every one of the colorful people we met, the new places we were able to visit and the foreign foods we finally had a chance to sample.…

You can see how this might be useful, can’t you?

It’s not merely that I needed a book where I can record my travel memories, though. Not at all. There’s another factor: I wanted the entire experience to be a pleasure, not just in the writing but in the reading.

There’s something very satisfying about holding a hardcover book. I have lots of spiral notebooks and I have to admit that I rarely look at them once they’re full of notes. Somehow they don’t garner the same respect.

Not just your everyday notebook

After yielding to temptation and shelling out $19.95 plus tax, I left hoping this travel journal would turn out to be as useful as it looked. It certainly had more appeal than any of the other notebooks I have ever purchased.

Here are 3 things I like:

  1. It’s a hard-cover book, and rather than the wire spirals I’ve used since my school days all the pages are bound with stitching. It’s highly unlikely any pages will fall out!
  2. I’m glad that it has an attached elastic band; it was especially intended to keep the book closed in my purse and help prevent dog-eared pages. I’m also inspired by its many tabbed sections, the variety of formatted pages and the book’s three convenient ribbon place holders. (Hurray! No more need to use Post-It notes to bookmark where I’m writing!)
  3. It also has one thing that most journals fail to include, and it’s the feature I most appreciate: an accordion-pleated pocket that is securely glued inside the back cover. I expect I will be using it a lot.

Here’s the journal I bought:

First impressions of the travel journal

The first pages in my new Travel Journal—which measures about half the size of a sheet of paper—are the usual pages for recording personal information.

These pages include space to record important details, such as contact information, vaccination, travel insurance and health insurance numbers and dates, emergency contacts and loyalty cards for hotels, car rental and airlines.

Moleskine Travel Journal (2)
Moleskine Travel Journal (3)

But here’s what I hate

Okay, I can see why I might want to inscribe my contact information in there; if I misplace it on the boat it will be that much easier to retrieve. But on the other hand, there’s the possibility I might mislay my book in an airport.

It is completely beyond me why they also included spaces for owners to record their credit card numbers and expiration dates in it. Seriously? People aren’t that stupid, are they? That’s equivalent to carrying one’s social security card around: It’s tantamount to an invitation to fraud!

That said, that is the only pointless thing that I have found in the journal. The useful parts outweigh all that.

What’s inside the Moleskine Travel Journal

My new notebook begins with several handy resources to help with planning:

Section 1

  • the aforementioned personal details
  • an airline loyalty card section
  • standard checklist
  • 8-year mini calendar fold-out
  • travel timeline
  • world time zones
  • list of local temperatures and days of rain
  • list of international airports and distance from city
  • flight duration chart
  • list of some “traveling terms”
Moleskine Travel Journal TOC

Did you notice those numbers? Get this: Every page in the journal is numbered! I never would have thought of it, but that is incredibly convenient. Whoever thought of that is absolutely brilliant!

Section 2

This second segment consists of five tabbed sections, each of which comes conveniently pre-labeled:

  • wish list (where you would like to travel to)
  • planning (including budgets)
  • weekends
  • short trips
  • long trips

Each one has plenty of space for planning, checklists, memorable moments, maps, photos, whatever.

Moleskine Travel Journal sec 2 tabs
Moleskine Travel Journal sec 2 tab 1
Moleskine Travel Journal sec2 tab2
Moleskine Travel Journal sec2 tab3
Moleskine Travel Journal sec2 tab4
Moleskine Travel Journal sec2 tab5

Section 3

The last part has five tabs as well. These are blank and the pages are formatted in a variety of ways, from lined to blank. I haven’t decided how to use these sections yet. I’m open to suggestions so feel free to shoot me your ideas below.

Moleskine Travel Journal sec 3 tab
This is the first tab, just your normal, simple lines. The second tab is formatted the same.
This is how pages on the third tab are formatted.
Pages in the third tabbed section look like this.
Tabs 4 and 5 are designed for photos and clippings.
Tabs 4 and 5 are designed for photos and clippings.

Section 4

The final five pages in my Travel Journal are an index, ready to fill in with my own page contents. So glad this thing already has numbered pages!

Here's the first page. The book continues over the next four pages.
Here’s the first page. The fill-in-the-blank index continues over the next four pages.

Gotta love the back pocket.

“Simple minds, simple pleasures,” someone once sneered, derisively. I responded, “What’s wrong with enjoying the simple things?” And I do.

The back pocket is an ideal spot to store any ticket stubs or maps we may collect along our journey. It didn’t come empty, though;

  • It came with a small brochure explaining the journal’s history and a sheet promoting other products.
  • Plus, Moleskine also included some fun and colorful adhesive labels to help me further personalize its pages.
  • And they also included a quality control sticker with a serial number.

Yes, my friends, every journal has a serial number. Moleskine notebooks are submitted to a very strict quality control procedure: traction test, weigh check, glue and ink examination, cover thickness measure, rubber band resistance.

And this is where the number comes in handy: “Moleskine notebooks are made through a combination of automated and handmade manufacturing, and therefore may contain small flaws and differences typical of hand made production. If, despite quality control, you still find a defect of any kind, take a picture of it and send it to us, together with the identification number, through the contact page.”

Aha. Maybe that explains the cost.

Moleskine Travel Journal pocket

Here’s hoping this works well …

At the moment, I’m not sure if this journal will work for our cruise, but I sure am excited to try it out. I think it could be a good way to record memorable details as we travel—that is, if I remember to use it. It will require quite a bit of self-discipline to sit down and write, especially because we’re going to be busy. If not, I’ll still have used it for planning before we head out and once we return I’ll use it for bucket list and other travel ideas.

I might even download more journal pages from Moleskine’s website; they have all the templates I could ever want, even ones from other notebooks. Best part: They’re free.

Either way, I suspect this may be only the first of many Moleskine journals I’ll own. There are so many varieties to choose from: graph-ruled, lined and blank, hard- and soft-cover, large and small. And of course, there are plenty more of those Passion Journals I’ll want for my own if this works out….

Inspired to journal?

Cats, home life, tea, style … Moleskine offers a varietyy of Passion Journals, each designed for a unique interest. BUY THEM ON AMAZON.

Please share this story with your friends.

Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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10 thoughts on “Review of the Moleskine Travel Journal”

  1. I am so bad at filling in note books – have great intention but then forget to open it up !!!

    But I so could see how useful this would be cause you will be able to keep track of where you are at and what you were doing on that day, even if its only a few lines of information added.
    Love the idea of a Cruise – second blog post that I have read regards cruises 🙂

    Reply
  2. What a great trip this is going to be, Linda. I can hardly wait to read about it. Hope you’ll have a lot of fun. As for the journal, it seems like a great way to keep track of your travels. I know my husband just downloaded a travel app oh his iPhone.

    Reply
  3. This looks like a great journal. I used to be so diligent about writing in my journal when I travelled – pre technology and pre-child! I miss being about to just sit in a park and write. I might just check this out!

    Reply
    • Funny you mention that. I’ve just been exploring the possibility of using speech-to-text to record travel memories. Have you ever tried that?

      Reply
  4. Moleskin has been the standard bearer of journaling for a long time. It has been a coveted tool, one that I would have wanted in my youth, had I been a writer. Now, unlike so many in my age group, I am totally devoted to tech, even though the tactile sensation of putting pen to high quality stock is an absent sensation.

    Reply
  5. I’ve been planning to get this journal for a while. Thanks for the review, it’s really useful. I also like other journals they offer, makes me wanna just sit down and write 🙂

    Reply

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