My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

I love the thought of going away. Seeing friends, having new experiences, taking in fresh scenery, enjoying a break from home and work routines. Finally a chance to exhale.

But travel itself, especially when flying, is fun and draining at the same time. The packing. The security rigamorole. Timing airplane bathroom breaks appropriately. Not losing any of your stuff. There’s always some point along the way where I kind of wish I was home. Just an inkling of homesickness creeps in along the way.

I miss my things–my husband (if he’s not with me, as on this current trip), our crazy pups, my own just-so pillows, a well-stocked refrigerator, ice on demand.

I swear, I have an easier time deciding what clothes to pack than picking out which pens to bring. I always miss the ones that aren’t with me. I stock my Nock Co. Brasstown with more pens than a sane person needs, then typically swap things in and out until zero hour. There’s so much mental chatter in my head about my pen selections that it makes me feel like I must be going off the deep end. But what a deep end it is!

Part of me wishes that I could embrace minimalism–pick ONE pen and use ONLY it for the entire trip. Maybe someday. Right now that thought gives me what is technically called the heebie jeebies.

So here I am in California, oh so far from home, with new and old pen favorites. For this trip (a conference), I brought along:

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger fountain pen. Nice fine point for note taking. Replaceable should the unthinkable occur.

Karas Kustoms Two-Tone Retrakt outfitted with Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill. Great pen in my favorite color.

Ti2 Techliner Red Alert and Orange Crush. The Red Alert is outfitted with a uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 mm black ballpoint refill while the Orange Crush holds a uni-ball Signo 207 0.7 mm gel refill…both excellent options.

Amy Grigg’s Apex Kickstarter pen with a Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Great on the Levenger Circa Vivacious paper in my notebook. Smooth. Dark. Gorgeous wood.

Bigidesign’s Ti Post Raw Pen + Stylus
, also with the Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Do I need to carry two pens with the same refill? Nope. I never said any of this was reasonable.

Retro 1951 Lift-Off with a Schimdt P8126 refill. It’s my newest Retro so why shouldn’t it travel with me to California?

I also have my Lamy Scribble tucked into the Hightower, should I need to do pencily things. I have not tired of this mechanical pencil. It’s a gem.

There’s no need to carry this many pens across the country. Technically I could survive with a few of the Bic Stic Queen Mary pens the hotel provides. But these pens and pencil (and pen case) make me feel secure. They’re unique, well-made, and reliable–comfortable to hold and top-notch performers. They remind me of the connections I have with the folks who make and sell them. We’ve exchanged everything from brief messages to emails to long letters. Pens aren’t just pens. They’re the people behind the pens.

And that feels like home.


This post was composed and photographed entirely with my iPhone, so excuse the lack of links (too cumbersome) and any formatting and lighting oddities. Fun fact– the photos were taken on the desk President Eisenhower used while aboard the Queen Mary. I’m sharing his suite with a friend. Pretty cool.

20 thoughts on “My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

  1. Don’t feel bad Mary. I travel with a Brasstown and two Lookouts at work. Part of me says I can make do with one pen but then again variety is nice. Some of the pens vary trip to trip but one Lookout is dedicated to an orange Render K, a gray Render K G2, and my Nock Co. Render K G2.

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    • The funny thing is, I’ve mostly been using the Pilot Metropolitan. Really great in the Levenger Circa Vivcious notebook I’m using for notes. Others have been handy for writing postcards, letters, and keeping my daily food log (in a Nock Co. notebook). I think I really brought them because of the emotional connection, not necessarily to use them all. (Which sounds extra weird when I type it out.)

  3. I love the selection you chose but I feel like I would have analysis paralysis if confronted with that many pens, how do you decide which to use for the situation? Do you carry paper specific for each pen type so that it pairs perfectly or just whatever you know to be reliable with most of the pens?

    Just curious, sorry about all the questions!

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    • The Orange Crush came outfitted with the Signo DX refill. The other two Techliners I have are set up with Jetstream refills.

      • Hi Mary. Thanks for the quick reply. I thought the Techliner’s could only handle Signo 207 refills. I’m trying to figure out which 0.38mm refill I can put in mine. Signo DX refills don’t seem to fit through the magnet properly. Maybe I need a different Techliner… More research awaits.

      • Ahhhh…I think you’re right! I’m confusing my Signo refills! (which explains why I ordered the wrong ones from JetPens)

  6. Great blog. Question: whilst not quite such a pen lover as yourself, I do prefer to write with my Lamy fountain pen. I’ve lost the lid. Has this ever happened to you/how does one sort a replacement?

    • Thanks for reading! I don’t really have an answer to the missing cap issue. Maybe ask around to see if someone has a spare? Or dig around in the “spare parts” boxes at a pen show?

  7. Great Post Mary, I sympathize and relate. On planes my choice is easier as I’m still chicken to fly with a fountain pen. On road trips I can usually get down to 2 fountains, a nice roller and a pocket rocket. Invariably when away though I wish I would have brought something else or a different pen.

    • As an experiment, this time I flew with the Pilot Metropolitan and a Kaweco Sport Skyline inked with cartridges (in a baggie in my purse, just in case), and neither one leaked a drop. I doubt I’ll be able to throw caution to the wind and NOT use a baggie, but it was a good experiment. And I know what you mean about wishing I had a pen (or pens) that I DIDN’T pack. I do the same thing with my clothes.

    • I fly with empty fountain pens, then pop in cartridges when I get to my destination. Most people fly without issue, but I just haven’t felt like taking a chance. If I did, I’d put them in a zip-loc bag, just to be safe. I’m flying to a conference in a fee weeks. Maybe I’ll experiment!

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