Every good traveler needs a journal or notebook of some kind. Over the years I have experimented with dozens of different journals in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and colors. Today, however, I want to take a look at the Markings Notebook and give you my assessment of this particular inscription tool.
First of all, a little history: The Markings Notebook is manufactured by a company called C. R. Gibson. They make a number of stationery products, which are sold in mass to retailers like Staples and Target. I picked up my first Markings Journal a few months ago from my local Staples store for about $6.99 USD after returning from my 9-month trip through Central and Eastern Europe… and went back a few days ago to get another so as to feature it in this review.
The journals shown in the images above and below measure approximately 9 cm wide x 13.5cm tall x 1 cm thick. The company does make journals in other, larger sizes, but these are the smallest ones that the company makes. Overall, the size of the journals are about twice that of my point-and-shoot digital camera… and it is their small size that makes them ideal for the traveler on the move.
The biggest advantage of this particular journal is that is has a hard cover, which does a good job of protecting the pages inside. I’ve used journals in the past that had little or no protective cover and they didn’t last long out on the road. Many of these softcover journals were torn to shreds while stuffed inside my travel bags and are now held together with rubber bands and stored in Ziploc bags – something I’ve never had to do with a hardcover journal at the end of a long trip.
While the cover is firm and good at protecting the valuable pages within, the cover itself is made out of some kind of synthetic material that claims to be 80% genuine leather and 20% non-leather materials. The overall feel of the cover is somewhat like that of plastic. It’s obviously a cheap knock-off and this alone may turn away more discerning buyers. I, on the other hand, am simply turned off by the fact that there is genuine leather in the product at all, as animal products of any kind are things I typically try to avoid.
Inside the journal, the first page contains four short lines on to which you can write your name and contact information. Each and every page after that is lined, however, and there is plenty of space inside to jot down your thoughts from the day, your plans for the future, the names and contact information for people you meet on the road… or anything else that wish to record. My only criticism of the lined pages inside the journal is that on each and every page there is a two-lined header, which wastes a lot of space inside such a small notebook. I wish the pages were single lined throughout and did not contain the two-lined header as this would give me more room for writing and less wasted space overall.
At the very back of the journal there is a paper accordion-type pocket, which easily pulls out and is ideal for storing credit cards, ID, business cards or other small pieces of paper. I think this is a cool feature, but I’ve never personally used it. In fact, I could probably save a little weight from my pack by simply ripping it out. However, I have a feeling that some travelers will find great use for this rear pocket. Maybe I’ll try and think of something to put in there in the future?
Other noticeable features of the Markings Notebook include a satin bookmark and a loose elastic band that is used to keep the journal shut when not in use. The bookmark is nice and I use it regularly, but the elastic band on the exterior could stand to be a wee-bit tighter.
Overall, I like the Markings Notebook for its small size and firm, protective cover. I think it can be a bit difficult to write in sometimes simply because if how small and firm the book is bound, and I wish there was not so much space wasted in the page headers. In the end, however, the worst part about the Markings Notebook is its price. For what is obviously a knockoff of higher priced travel journals, the Markings Notebook simply costs way too much. I think $3 – $5.00 would be more appropriate.
My Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
Have you ever used to Markings Notebook before? If so, what did you think? What kind of journal do you recommend for life on the road?