Millions of people venture onto the road and into the sky every year to explore unfamiliar sights, foods, and experiences through travel. If you’re one of them, you know that packing the right equipment makes a big difference. You also know that something essential is almost always forgotten.
To avoid getting lost in a strange city without a pen and paper to write directions with, read on for our selections of traveling pens, notebooks, and bags. Five famous adventurers from history and fiction have joined us to share their thoughts on these essential travel supplies.
SOMETHING TO WRITE WITH
The Uni-ball Vision-Elite Rollerball Pen in Blue Black
Uni-ball Vision-Elite Rollerball Pen
Some pens leak on planes because the changes in air pressure cause their ink to expand. Gel and ballpoint pens are generally safe, but if you want the smoother writing experience of a rollerball, the Uni-ball Vision-Elite is the way to go. This simple-looking pen is specially designed not to leak during flight. It lays down a dark, satisfying line at any altitude and is available in nine colors.
The Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen in Black
Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen
Savvy fountain pen users keep themselves ink free by emptying or filling their pens completely before flight and carrying them tip up. If you can’t bear to leave without a fountain pen, the Kaweco Classic Sport deserves to be the one you bring. It is only 4.1 inches when capped but extends to a comfortable length when posted. Although it occasionally needs light priming to get going, it typically starts quickly. The Kaweco’s body material is a resilient plastic and its screw-on cap keeps it from falling off accidentally. It can take either an international short cartridge or a converter and is available in six colors and four tip sizes.
The Fisher Space Pen in Chrome
Fisher Space Pen
The Fisher Space Pen is for anyone who needs to be able to write at odd angles in all conditions, whether you’re taking ice cores in Antarctica or hiking the Appalachian Trail. Originally designed for NASA, this nearly indestructible pen can write on wet or greasy paper and will work upside down, in excessive heat, or in unusual cold. It will not catch fire even in a pure oxygen atmosphere. As a bonus, its sleek metal body is equally appropriate for camping or business. This shiny pen comes in nine colors.
The Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen in Black
Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen
Whether you are studying abroad or just want to keep your itinerary straight, the Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen is ideal for those who regularly use different-colored pens. It incorporates four vivid colors and a mechanical pencil with a hidden eraser in one body, but is not cumbersome to use. It stars an unusually strong binder-style clip that keeps it securely in place. The Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen comes in three body colors.
“I like the Uni-ball Vision-Elite Rollerball Pen. It starts easily, so I have never yet missed the beginning of an interview while scribbling to get my pen to start. I have not tested its performance in the air, but I certainly would have boarded a flying machine if it had been available for my tour around the world. To think that I could have written my dispatches in the air!”
“That is a good pen for us journalists, Miss Bly, but I confess I prefer fountain pens. I bring the Kaweco Sport on my excursions because it is small and the flat sides of its cap do not allow it to roll away. This is helpful to my editor – it gives him fewer swear words to delete.”
“I agree, Monsieur Twain. A fountain pen is the only writing instrument for a gentleman. This Kaweco is handsome and small; no lady I have lent it to has ever objected.”
“I would object, Monsieur Dantès. The Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen is far better for my travels in Mesopotamia. It has an excellent clip, so it doesn’t fall off when I’m riding. It also lets me color code my notes without carrying around so many pens – it’s easier to identify the most important points for Secretary Churchill that way.”
“You people are far too impractical. There are many hazards in the earth’s interior – that is why I relied on the Space Pen to make notes during my journey. It would have been a disaster if I couldn’t record my observations because it was too hot or too wet!”
SOMETHING TO WRITE IN
The Midori Grain Memo Pad in Dark Brown
Midori Grain Memo Pad
For adventurers who prioritize packability but don’t want to run out of pages, the Midori Grain Memo Pad is hard to beat. It is as narrow as a typical memo pad but is packed with 100 fountain pen friendly sheets. It includes both ruled white paper with one bold line followed by four lighter lines and blank, cream-colored paper. Its large binding rings ensure that the pages flip over easily. The Midori Grain Memo Pad has a handsome, textured recycled leather cover and a double elastic band to hold it closed. It comes in two colors.
Fountain Pen Friendly
The Rhodia Webnotebook in Black
For people who want only the best for their pens, the leatherette Rhodia Webnotebook delivers. This sturdy hardcover’s smooth, ivory paper defies feathering and is a joy to write on. The inside pocket can hold tickets, cards, or notes, and the elastic closure prevents the pages from folding under when you put it in your bag. It also includes a ribbon bookmark. The Rhodia Webnotebook is available in two sizes with the option of lined, dot grid, or blank paper. Stick with the classic black and orange, or stand out by selecting a more colorful option.
The Passport-Sized Traveler’s Notebook in Brown
Built specifically for travelers, the Traveler’s Notebook is perfect for those who want to mold their journal to their personality. Each notebook can hold several refills at a time, in varieties ranging from grid paper to file folder, offering endless customization possibilities. The refills can be easily replaced, preserving the leather cover, and can also be used on their own. The paper is bleed-resistant, feather-resistant, and suitable for fountain pens. The Traveler’s Notebook is available in two sizes and three colors.
The Expedition Limited Edition Field Notes
Expedition Limited Edition Field Notes
The clue is in the name: if you’re going on an expedition, these are the notebooks for you. All Field Notes are rugged and pocketable, but the Expedition Limited Edition Field Notes use tear-proof synthetic pages that are impervious to water. Since this slightly glossy dot-gridded paper is not porous, it works best with ballpoints, pencils, and permanent markers. If you are not going on an expedition, bear in mind that these hardy notebooks will protect your writing from spilled drinks as well as from raging rivers.
“I cannot keep a source waiting while I’m rummaging around for my notepad, and my satchel holds very little. I do not know what I would have done without the Midori Grain Memo Pad. It opens in a trice and takes up very little space – but it still has so many pages! Besides, the ruling helps me get by without a diary.”
“Memo pads are too small for proper writing. I take a Traveler’s Notebook and use one refill for the Atlantic voyage, and one for each country thereafter – it is much simpler to get the right word in the right place with that organization. It even has a refill for an appointment book. You might like it, Miss Bly.”
“Ha! Those notebooks are far too small. Such detailed plans as mine require more space. Besides, I am obliged to think of my reputation in society. The Rhodia Webnotebook uses good French paper which takes a fountain pen very well.”
“Nellie is right. The sight of a notebook might discourage the people from talking to me, so I’d rather have something unobtrusive and easy to carry when I am in Arabia and Mesopotamia. I also see no need to fiddle with refills when the Midori Grain Memo Pad opens so easily.”
“Again, you are all forgetting the most important thing! What good is it to make notes if they get washed away at the first sign of water? The Expedition Field Notes are the only reason my findings became known – otherwise, all my observations would have been destroyed in the Subterranean Sea!”
SOMETHING TO CARRY THINGS IN
Durable & Water Resistant
The Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C in Brown
Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C
If you want a case that can stand up to the elements, you won’t go wrong with the Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C. Its lustrous exterior and gleaming zippers belie its durability and inherent water resistance. It is simply but intelligently organized, with a large, divided main pocket, a few smaller interior pockets, and one side pocket. This robust pen case is available in two colors.
Only the Essentials
The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Pen Case in Olive
Lihit Lab Smart Fit Pen Case
The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Pen Case is ideal for those who travel light. This slim, tear-resistant case can hold a memo pad or four pens on each side. It shuts securely with two strong snaps and a protective flap at the top prevents its contents from falling out. This book-style case opens flat but can also fold back on itself to form a standing pen holder. It is available in five colors.
Out and About
The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Carrying Pouch in Orange with the separate Lihit Lab Smart Fit Shoulder Belt
Lihit Lab Smart Fit Carrying Pouch
If you need a way to carry your necessities while sightseeing, look no further. The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Carrying Pouch is compact but big enough to carry a phone, passport, small notebook, pen, and wallet, with room for a few more things. Its rip-resistant material will last through many trips and the main compartment is padded to accommodate a small tablet. The pouch has two rings for attaching a shoulder strap, as well as two snapped loops that can anchor it to a belt. This practical bag is available in five colors.
For Larger Items
The Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case
Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case
If you’re carrying something wide or just need to keep a lot of things together, the Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case is the bag to bring. Its A4-sized main compartment can hold a sketchpad or small laptop, while its zippered rear pocket, three front pockets, and three pen slots can accommodate a substantial writing set or travel art kit. This flat bag works well as an organizer for a tote or briefcase, but it also has a convenient antimicrobial handle for carrying by itself. The Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case is rip-resistant and comes in black.
“This Lihit Lab Smart Fit Pen Case is excellent. I keep my memo pad and pens on my person and this case is slim enough to keep in my coat pocket. It is also quite tough – a necessity when traveling for 72 days straight!”
“French hotels – and most European guest houses – do not provide soap. It is dratted inconvenient, but I have learned to bring my own whenever I visit that most civilized old country. The Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C is the best container I have found for this purpose. It can stand up to the splashing in a washroom and provides a place for my pen and notebook so that I am never without them.”
“I often carry the Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case when I travel. I first used it when I played a small role as an English banking clerk, and I now keep it in my valise to hold my Rhodia and other private papers. It is quite commodious.”
“I have carried the Lihit Lab Smart Fit Carrying Pouch all through Arabia and Mesopotamia. It’s small, but it is big enough to carry what I need and stands up to wear. Best of all, you can attach it to anything. I’ve secured it to my saddle, belt, and luggage, and even put a strap on it when I needed a handbag.”
“For once, one of you is right. The Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C is best of all of these, although Mr. Twain’s use for it is entirely frivolous. It is large enough to carry several small scientific instruments, it is tough enough to take hard use, and it repels water. I am shocked that you have not yet learned the importance of water protection!”
Nellie Bly was a pioneering investigative journalist who started her career writing about the plight of female factory workers. She traveled to Mexico on her own initiative as a foreign correspondent and went undercover in an asylum. Most famously, she traveled around the world in a record-setting 72 days, beating Jules Verne’s fictional characters.
Travel Picks: Uni-ball Vision-Elite Rollerball Pen, Midori Grain Memo Pad, Lihit Lab Smart Fit Pen Case
Mark Twain remains one of the most beloved and influential American authors. Early in his career, he leveraged a successful short story into a position as a traveling correspondent for the Daily Alta California. His humorous dispatches and incisive observations on the local people and his fellow tourists alike were compiled into The Innocents Abroad, a perennial travel favorite.
Travel Picks: Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen, Traveler’s Notebook, Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C
A merchant sailor who was wrongfully imprisoned in an impenetrable fortress, Edmond Dantès escaped after six years of solitary confinement. He then reinvented himself as the sophisticated Count of Monte Cristo, using his new position to exact revenge on his betrayers.
Travel Picks: Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen, Rhodia Webnotebook, Kutsuwa Dr. Ion Multi Work Case
Gertrude Bell was a writer, political official, administrator, spy, mountaineer, and archaeologist who traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, Bell spoke six languages, helped the Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and strongly influenced the establishment of the current national borders in the Middle East.
Travel Picks: Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 Pen, Midori Grain Memo Pad, Lihit Lab Smart Fit Carrying Pouch
Mineralogy professor Otto Lidenbrock was an intelligent and exceptionally dedicated scientist whose impatience and outlandish ideas led his colleagues to believe that he was insane. He persevered through great adversity and proved his theories with an incredible Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Travel Picks: Fisher Space Pen, Expedition Limited Edition Field Notes, Nomadic PF-03 Carbonium Pen Case C
Whether you’re studying abroad, going on a pleasure cruise, or climbing a mountain, packing the right tools is essential to having a successful, trouble-free trip. We hope our stationery selections and guest panel have provided some inspiration, but regardless, we want to hear from you. What pens and notebooks do you take on your adventures? Let us know in the comments!
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JetPens Traveler’s Set
Still not sure what to try? Check out our Traveler’s Set for some useful and convenient items for any traveler. Jot down memories in the pocket sized Word Notebooks Adventure Log using the compact and stylish Pentel Slicci Techo Mini gel pen, which is perfectly sized to keep clipped onto the Adventure Log’s cover. If you get caught in the elements, the pressurized ink of the Pilot Down Force ballpoint pen can write in water, grease, and freezing cold. Use the many pockets of the A5 Lihit Lab bag in bag organizer to store pens, cables, and other accessories that would otherwise just get dumped into your backpack or carry-on bag.