DIY Travelers Notebook – Converting a Planner Binder

So I did a thing this weekend, just to experiment. If you’re a die-hard planner lover, brace yourself! I took a perfectly good planner cover and ripped out the binder rings. It was nerve-wrecking! I know you’re wondering, why on earth would I do such a thing to a poor defenseless planner cover? I was on a mission to see if it could be converted to a DIY travelers notebook cover. And guess what… it was a success!

This easy tutorial will show you how to make a perfect DIY travelers notebook cover by upcycling a planner binder! Plus it's a budget-friendly TN cover!

Why I Converted a Planner Cover to a DIY Travelers Notebook

If you use a use a travelers notebook, or have looked into them at all, you might know that they can be quite pricey. Some of the more well-known brands can cost upwards of $100, and that’s not including any extras, like stitching, pockets, or pen loops. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got about 10 of those on my wishlist, and I’ve heard their quality is top notch. However, this is a great, budget-friendly option.

For less than $30, you can have an amazing DIY travelers notebook cover. The average A5 planner binder costs roughly $30, but with places like Blitsy (which has fantastic sale prices) and other craft stores (where you can always use a coupon!), you can do this project for much cheaper!

Plus, once you get those rings out, you have a cover that is loaded with pockets and pen loops!

Supplies for Your DIY Travelers Notebook

You might remember that once upon a time I used a very pretty travelers notebook made by Websters Pages. Unfortunately, it’s not wide enough for the A5 notebooks that I love so much and use for my current setup, like the Leuchtturm1917 and my Rhodiarama. When I decided to give this project a try, I knew I wanted another Websters Pages cover, so I got their A5 binder in Pretty Pink. The outside cover is a very pretty salmon/coral/pink, and the inside has blush pink pockets and is lined with rose gold. It doesn’t get much better than that! Fortunately, I caught it on sale at Blitsy, and it was only $17.99!

Besides a planner binder, you’ll also need some needle-nose pliers, a seam ripper (optional, and I’ll tell you why later), washi, elastic, YouTube, and faith. If you’re careful and patient, have faith that you won’t kill a perfectly good planner cover! 🙂

How I Converted a Planner Binder to a DIY Travelers Notebook

I started out by watching a few videos on YouTube. These two videos were the most helpful to me:

Make sure you watch a few of those before you start to get a better understanding of how to get those rings out. Most of the videos I saw were from people who wanted to use their cover for a Happy Planner or other disc-bound notebook. Even though we have a different purpose in mind, the premise is still the same. And I really wish I had better/more photos of this for you! I got a little ahead of myself and forgot to snap a few pics, but I’ll do my best to show you what I did!

  • Pull off the tabs that pop the rings open.
  • Bend the ends of the rings up and inward to separate them from the book.
  • This is where I did things differently. The videos instruct you to use the seam ripper on the bottom edge of the planner to open it up about an inch or so. Then you can remove the inner/backing parts of the ring mechanism. I didn’t do this because I couldn’t bear the idea of messing with the stitching. I know it would have been fine, but I was just trying to avoid this. Instead, I used my pliers to wear down and remove the connecting parts that were sticking up. There are probably still some parts to the rings in the spine, but that’s okay with me. They aren’t noticeable at all (at least with the Websters binder, other planner binders might be different).

This easy tutorial will show you how to make a perfect DIY travelers notebook cover by upcycling a planner binder! Plus it's a budget-friendly TN cover!

  • Add some coordinating washi tape to the lining in order to cover up the holes.

This easy tutorial will show you how to make a perfect DIY travelers notebook cover by upcycling a planner binder! Plus it's a budget-friendly TN cover!

At this point, I considered myself done! To add my inserts to the cover, I slid the back cover of one of my notebooks (my hardcover Leuchtturm1917 – main journal with monthly, weekly, daily spreads & short-term collections) into the back pocket of the former-planner/new-DIY travelers notebook cover. Then I connected my other notebook (silver Rhodiarama – long-term collections) to it with an elastic band.

If you want to convert your planner binder into a full-on/traditional travelers notebook cover, you can punch holes in the spine at the top and bottom to thread elastic through. Those of you who use several inserts might want to consider doing this. I’m only using two right now, so I’m really happy with just sliding mine in.

This easy tutorial will show you how to make a perfect DIY travelers notebook cover by upcycling a planner binder! Plus it's a budget-friendly TN cover!

I absolutely love my DIY travelers notebook cover. It has all the features I’ve been drooling over (tons of pockets and TWO pen loops!!!), and it was a fraction of the cost. Can I mention again the rose gold lining?! The only drawback is that the size makes it feel large and very chunky, but I’m getting used to that adjustment.

This easy tutorial will show you how to make a perfect DIY travelers notebook cover by upcycling a planner binder! Plus it's a budget-friendly TN cover!

What do you think of my DIY travelers notebook? Is this a project you’d try? Tell me below in the comments!

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About Samantha

I am a SAHM to three kids and a menagerie of pets. I love coffee, books, crafts, wine, cooking, and more coffee. Seriously, I couldn't function without coffee. Read more about me!

8 Comments

  1. What a great idea! And I love the binder you chose!

  2. What a great idea! I love my planners and notebooks, but agree that some can be so expensive.

  3. Oh how pretty! It turned out so well! I have to try this soon! A friend is visiting me this weekend and we wanted to diy something so this is perfect 🙂
    xx, Theresa

  4. Thanks for the tutorial! I love my TN’s, and I have an unused Carpe Diem planner sitting around from before I figured that out. I see a DIY TN in its future…

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