Travel Pens: Work Edition

I’ve been traveling more lately, and thought it’d be handy to show my favorite setup for attending work conferences or business trips. As I sat down to record this video I was literally preparing to go to a conference on the other side of the country and thought, what the hey, I’ll take you through my thought process about what fountain pens, paper, and ink I take and why.

Things that are important to me when I travel:

  • Portability
  • Ability to carry-on (when flying)
  • Durability
  • Function and reliability

Keeping these core tenants in mind for me when I travel, here are my product preferences:


Pilot Metropolitan F

  • reliable writer
  • inexpensive enough to lose and not worry about it
  • very fine nib works great on cheap paper
  • snap cap is very convenient
  • takes cartridges or converter
  • $15

Lamy 2000 EF

  • great writer
  • piston fill, nice ink capacity
  • snap cap is convenient
  • ink window is nice
  • understated, design is impressive without being flashy
  • $159.20

TWSBI Vac-700 EF

  • high ink capacity
  • ink chamber locks for flying
  • visible ink level
  • “cool” factor
  • $65

Pilot Vanishing Point EF

  • extremely convenient “click” mechanism
  • EF nib is very fine, great for cheap paper
  • Great writer
  • Takes cartridges or converter
  • $140

Lamy Rollerball

  • fallback plan, great for a backup pen
  • works well on terrible paper
  • a few color options for you
  • snap cap
  • won’t dry out like a fountain pen if left uncapped
  • most reliable on other peoples’ business cards
  • easy for other people to use (maybe that’s not good!)
  • $25.60


Filofax Notebook, A5 size

  • dividers and removable pages are great for attending different seminars
  • jot notes down quickly, organize later
  • color options will stand out from other notebooks
  • $18.95

Leuchtturm1917 A5

  • color options let it stand out
  • page numbers and table of contents are great
  • dot grid is great for all different kinds of writing
  • $18.95

Traveler’s Notebook, Passport size

  • small, rugged
  • notebooks are swappable
  • very portable, great for quick meet ups
  • $50.20


Overfilled samples

  • 7ml, plenty of ink!
  • Can reuse vials from samples or buy them in 10-packs
  • Small enough to carry on 

Diamine 30ml

  • plastic bottles, 1oz in size so okay to carry on
  • fit nicely in a ziplock snack bag
  • lots of popular colors available


  • a necessary evil sometimes
  • some standard international pens can fit a spare cartridge in the pen which is very convenient

My ink colors of choice:

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness

  • Solid performing, deep black ink
  • Great black for cheap paper
  • $19 for 4.5oz bottle

Diamine Red Dragon

  • nice red, vibrant but not too vibrant
  • stands out from the black ink on handouts
  • great for writing down ideas for emphasis
  • $7.50 for 30ml bottle

Diamine Majestic Blue

  • deep blue, just a personal favorite
  • stands out against black, but very subtly
  • $7.50 for 30ml bottle


  • Aston Case-10– plenty of room for all your pens, plus ink samples and even syringes if you want
  • Aston Slip– protects individual pens
  • Ziploc bag– always handy to stop leaks from ruining your clothes

I should mention that I have a video in my Fountain Pen 101 series called Flying with Fountain Pens that goes into detail about this specific way of traveling with pens. That said, if you can keep your pens oriented so that the nibs are pointed up when you takeoff, you’ll pretty much never have an issue.

These are the things I have enjoyed taking with me to my work conferences, how about you? Let me know in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T13:57:58+00:00 May 21st, 2015|Shopping Guides|13 Comments
  • soniasimone

    Safari and Vanishing Point are my go-tos when I travel — both have been dead reliable for me, never leaking or creating mischief. Travel is the one time I tend to use cartridges rather than converters, so I don't have to worry about an ink bottle.

  • I've traveled with a TWSBI 580 and Vanshing Point (both Med) and have never encountered an issue.
    Inks used are Aurora Black and Monte Blanc Honré de Balzac (deep turquoise ) for how they show on cheaper paper and there quick drying properties. I also take along Clarfontaine writing paper and envelopes for personalized thank you letters and The Rhodia Unlimited Notebook for quick jotting down of information.

  • I use my Vanishing Point EF as well with kon-peki ink (I love how blue it is). Sometimes if I'll be writing for awhile and don't have to worry about unposting and reposting my pen, I'll use my Kaweco Liliput fireblue EF with J Herbin Blue Myosotis cartridges (the only unfortunate part about that one, since it's too small for a converter). For paper, I use my Rhodia dot pad, Maurman Mnemosyne B5 special memo notepad (fountain pen friendly!), or my passport-sized MTN. The regular sized MTN is just too weird for me since it's so narrow, so I have a cahier-sized fauxdori with handmade inserts using Tomoe River paper and cute scrapbook paper.

  • Tom Johnson

    This is great information, Brian! I can testify to each of the pens as I have and use them all. Heart of Darkness is also a very fast drying ink on resistant paper, like my Midori Passport Traveler's Notebook. Great on absorbent papers too, and is bulletproof, so you won't have to worry about your notes getting splashed at the water fountain or an accident with your drink (once the ink has dried that is).

    Take paper towels!!! I would stuff several into a Ziploc bag so you can wipe off a pen after filling, clean up any spills, or whatever else. Without the Ziploc bag, you might not know what to do with a paper towel with wet ink on it (pocket, bag, ??). I have flown with the Vanishing Point – no problems at all. Likewise the Waterman Carene with a cartridge. For pen cases smaller than a 10 pen size, check out where you will find nylon cloth cases from a 3-pen wallet, to combination 3-pen & notebook case, a 5-pen wallet, and a pen roll. Also nice, small nylon zippered storage cases.

    If you need to identify an original document without it being evident, take a Preppy marking pen or fountain pen (or both) filled with invisible Blue Ghost ink.

    Too bad all this was not available when I had to travel. The Filofax would have been wonderful. I can testify to the Vanishing Point as I used it exclusively at a technical conference for several days and it was fantastically convenient taking notes.

  • Good point about the paper towels!! I usually end up using tissues in the hotel room, not ideal but gets the job done. Thanks for adding your insights here Tom 🙂

  • Sounds like you have excellent taste, Kenny, haha! Yeah, I almost mentioned the Custom 823, and the only reason I don't bring that one with me is I don't want to have to 'worry' about it. The TWSBI's 1/4 of the price, so I don't sweat taking it around.

  • Yeah, I'm with you. I recently juts got back from this trip and brought WAY too much bottled ink with me, even writing a lot. I just like to have options 🙂 VP ended up being my main pen, that and my Metro. And Safari rollerball…heck I pretty much used all the pens I showed here, it really worked well. Not the Vac as much on this trip.

  • Henry

    In my last travel I had the following items:

    Four Platinum Preppy Refillable markers. Usually two go into my shirt pocket and the other two as spares. Two filled with Noodler's The Heart of Darkness and the others with Sheaffer Skrip Red. After buying over a dozen different red inks Sheaffer Red has the color that I like for red. Must not forget to add cologne to the inks which the ladies seem to like.

    Next I had some Omas Ogiva pens. One with black and one with Noodler's Luxury Blue ink. These pens have a warm feel to them and as Brian mentioned in his videos, of an extremely high quality pen. It's like the pen was made out of a precious gem such as a ruby. I'm looking forward to more Omas pens in the future.

    I added the following pens for general meeting:
    Sheaffer 100 Blue, Pilot Vanishing Point Raden with Rhodium Accents and a Sheaffer 300 Brushed Chrome with Gold Trim. All pens used black ink. People don’t seem to like having a document signed using any other ink color other than black.

    I brought along three Noodler's brush pens. It's nice to have something to create a drawing or a preliminary sketch. Colors are usually red, blue and green.

    Two bottles of ink come along my trips. Noodler's The Heart of Darkness and the others with Sheaffer Skrip Red both in a large Noodler’s bottle with an eye dropper. Easier to refill my markers that way.

    I place everything in a business case along with a Rhodia pad (blank).

    So far only the Sheaffer 100 and Vanishing Points have leaked a bit. The Scheaffer in the cap and the VP at the tip caught behind the hinged flap coming out as I clicked the pen. That was embarrassing.

  • Mike P

    Hi Brian – good choices all around. I love Diamine Red Dragon but stopped using it because after a relatively short time in my pens it would clog them and "crust" over. Maybe I got a bad batch, but I found it unreliable. I only use it occasionally with my dip pen. Thanks for all of the great information you provide. Mike

  • jaz

    the pilot varsity pack has many colors, inexpensive and efficient for travel. been using the midori regular and passport size for travel. water brush, glue stick are accessories to consider.

  • NorthenLight

    If you buy a Pilot Metropolitan you get a pen case that will hold at least two ink sample vials and a syringe. Very handy for EDC and for travel.

  • Denise Rogers

    I'm with you on this, Sonia–the Safari is reliable (though I would not take my VP)–and cartridges are the way I would go. In fact, two of my very favorite ink colors in the world are in cartridges: Lamy Turquoise and Lamy Violet. The one other pen I might bring is a Kakuno or a Parker 45. The Parker takes Lamy cartridges, by the way, or you can buy Parker cartridges, though I do not like their washable blue.

  • stormkite

    I make a point (on advice of lawyer) to always have at least one pen loaded with a permanent blue ink for signing legal documents. Since fountain pens don't make impressions on the paper it's very close to impossible to determine whether a signature on a document is a fountain-pen original or a good photocopy. It's easier to 'prove up' an original in blue. (Note: I'm not the lawyer in question, or even a reasonable facsimile. Check with yours.)