I’ve been relying heavily on my pen and Moleskine notebook for the last few weeks. I brought them with me mainly for recording names, phone numbers, or addresses of hostels, restaurants, and attractions I plan to visit when arriving in a new city in a poor country, where using a smartphone might make you a target of robbery.
For everything else, my Dell Streak Android phone with the Evernote app had been my primary tools. But since I left the charger at my mom’s house when I visited for Thanksgiving, I had to rely more on pen and paper. I looked for a charger/cable when I was in Hong Kong but couldn’t find one as the Dell Streak had been discontinued and uses a proprietary cable.
The funny thing is, after about a week of just using pen and paper, I actually started to prefer it and didn’t really miss my smartphone. I carry them with me almost everywhere now. The Moleskine notebook I bought fits quite easily in my jeans’ pocket and the Pilot pen (Precise V7 RT) I use with it rolls quite nicely on the paper as well.
Here are some of the benefits that I found going the old school way:
1. I can take it out wherever I like without worrying about getting robbed.
2. I still find it faster to write than to type using the touchscreen keyboard on my smartphone. For example, I record all my expenses and it’s a hassle to take out your phone, unlock it with your password, open Evernote, and type in just 2 or 3 words every time I buy something. So a lot of times I’ll do it at the end of the day or a few days later and sometimes I have to think pretty hard to remember.
3. No batteries required. No need to worry about running out of juice, nothing to charge, or electronic components malfunctioning.
4. No glare when I need to read/write in direct sunlight.
5. Flipping pages kind of feel nice.
6. Easier to use if you need to draw something. There may be times when you need to draw a map or if you need someone to draw symbols for you. For example, if you’re traveling in China you may want someone to draw the symbols of a place for you to show to the taxi driver.
7. Getting the contact information of someone who’s in a hurry. I remember meeting this cute girl at an event in Buenos Aires. I walked out with her after the event and offered to wait with her to get a taxi as it was very late at night with not many people around. When we finally flagged one and was saying goodbye to each other she told me to look her up on Facebook. But since she was in a hurry as the cab was waiting for her and neither of us had a pen, she just spelled out her last name for me. Unfortunately, I only remembered the first 3 letters of her last name when I got home and I wasn’t even sure how to spell her first name, so I couldn’t find her on Facebook.
8. Less distraction. Sometimes I just want to write some random stuff, maybe some ideas for a blog post, a to do list, or about something I just saw. But with a smartphone it’s so easy to get distracted to do something else, like checking your email, Twitter, Facebook, the stock market, or the news.
My mom sent me my Dell Streak’s power adapter and I received it a few days ago. But even now that I have it, I will still continue to use pen and paper for the reasons stated above. If you have additional reasons to carry a pen and paper when traveling please comment below. I’d love to hear them!