Stuck inside of you may be the world’s most prolific travel writer trying to get out. But, to keep and write a great travel journal, you have to follow some basic tips to create your own unique diary to chronical your adventures, trips and travels. But, there are a few tips to follow.
Hear me out…
Ernest Hemingway was prolific when it came to writing and keeping travel journals.
He had a clarity and confidence in his writing. And these are some key concepts that you can follow to be more like Hemingway.
If you’re looking for a quick way to master keeping a great travel journal, you’re in the right place.
Here, we are going to:
- Share different ways you can keep your travel journal
- Help you figure out what kind of travel writer you’d like to be
- Give you our top secret writing tips for your journal
- Show you examples of how you can format your journal entries.
By the end of this article, you’ll have the confidence to begin writing and be inspired while you’re on your next trip.
And as an added bonus, you’ll be able to punch out awesome paragraphs in a snap no matter what you’re writing.
Here, you’ll find all the tools you need to create a travel journal that is unique to you, your experiences and your adventures.
The Warm Heart of Great Travel Writing
Before we go any further, I want to set one thing straight: one of the greatest lies out there is that you’re either a natural born writer or you’re not.
But here’s the thing, even if writers demonstrate a knack for writing early on, all the best writers had to toil and work countless hours to hone their craft.
Hemingway said it best:
It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.
So what’s this got to do with you?
To put it simply, you too can be a great travel writer. All you need is the right tools and a little bit of practice.
After high school, Hemingway became a reporter before signing up as an ambulance driver on the Italian Front during World War I. It wasn’t long before he was seriously injured and returned home.
It would be this early travel and life experience that would ultimately be his inspiration for his novel, A Farewell to Arms.
You may never write a classic novel like Hemingway and this kind of experience doesn’t happen every day. However, you can learn from him.
Your travel journal should be a personal documentation of what you experience on your trip. Don’t write about generic activities or sights.
Beauty is in the details. And your unique perspective on what you do and see on your trip will make for great writing.
Tip #1: Great travel writing is based on your experiences and interactions. Make sure to share your personality and experiences in your writing.
Should You Keep a Daily Travel Journal?
You begin a trip with the best intentions, planning to document your travels on a daily basis. But once you’re actually on the road, all those plans go out the window.
Instead, you’re stuck with a couple disappointing pages of random scribbles that don’t capture your trip at all.
Sound familiar? Well you’re not alone.
Many people who try to keep a travel journal find it hard to write consistently. And what’s worse, what they do write isn’t anything worthwhile.
But don’t lose hope. There’s a very simple way to overcome this little setback. It all boils down to choosing the right method for you.
For Hemingway, he took extensive notes while he traveled and continued to write long after his trip.
My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way –Ernest Hemingway
We’re not saying you have to follow in his footsteps but consider his methods.
Instead of laboring over writing it perfectly the first time, jot down some notes whenever you get some free time. You can document details and sketches while you sit in a coffee shop or at night before you go to bed.
Then, take the time after your trip to transform your collection of notes into a coherent travel journal.
Tip #2: Decide ahead of time whether you want to take notes, write daily, or write after your trip.
Which Travel Journal is Best For You: Hardcover or Digital?
Hemingway is quoted as stating “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
While typewriters may be a thing of the past, the discomfort associated with his quote is still very much real today.
One way to ease your discomfort is to find a writing medium that you’re most comfortable using.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘Why is it important for me to figure out which type of journal is best for me?”
The type of journal you use will impact your writing. Not to mention that some are more convenient than others, depending on your destination.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each type of travel journal.
Benefits of a Hardbound Journal:
- Easy to take informal notes and observations
- Doesn’t take up a lot of space in your bag and is easy to carry around with you
- Offers a wide range of sizes, styles, and prices
- Lets you sketch and paste other clippings and items from your travels onto the pages
- We Recommend: Don’t use a notebook with a spiral back. The spiral binding tends to snag, and pages become easily torn.
Benefits of Digital Journal Resources:
- Don’t need to pack additional items
- You can use an online journal, an app, or just type in a text box.
- Makes it easy to make edits or changes as you write
- There are templates out there that you can customize to match your trip
- We Recommend: Use the Day One Journal app. It allows me to quickly put together a journal entry and attach 10 pictures. In addition, try the 1 Second Everyday. It let’s you take a daily 1 sec video clip. Overtime, you can string together the experiences of a year into a 365 montage of clips.
Combination of Digital and Hardcover:
- You can take notes on a digital platform and transfer it to your hardbound journal or vice versa
- This will encourage you to take the time to read through and edit your material
- We Recommend: Pack a plastic baggie or manila envelope to keep train, bus or admission tickets, travel agendas, brochures, etc. Many digital journals let you upload images.
Whatever type of travel journal you decide to use, be sure to pick out a journal you’re comfortable using and are excited to use.
The more excited and comfortable you are writing in that journal, the more likely you are to follow through with your writing goals.
Tip #3: Whether your journal is a physical hardcover or on a digital platform, pick one that’s convenient and that you’re most comfortable using.
Now, What Kind of Travel Writer Do You Want To Be?
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to what you can write about in a travel journal. But it pays to go in with a game plan.
Here are some types of travel writers that you can try out on your next trip:
The Detailed Observer
This style is all about providing day-to-day descriptions and observations about the destination. Like an informal newspaper article with the 5 W’s and an H (i.e. the who, what, where, when, why, and how).
This style can capture your perceptions, impressions, and comments in the moment. It’s also a great way to give yourself a ton of material that you can edit down later to still mimic Hemingway’s minimalist style.
The Fearless Sharer (Everything)
Some writers aren’t all that interested in descriptions and observations about their destination and instead want to capture how their destination makes them feel.
Often these pieces have little description of the destination. The focus is more on the writer’s experience. Share personal thoughts, feelings, and perceptions from your trip and capture what your adventure means to you.
Keep the contents private or feel free to post them up to a blog or social media platform so your friends and family can follow along with you on your journey
The Inspirational Voyager Extraordinaire
Some of you may be motivated to travel because you want to escape your day-to-day troubles. Maybe you’re even thinking of reevaluating your entire life.
To do that, a trip might center around the traveler’s spiritual, religious, or overall health and well-being.
Keeping a journal will let you work through your issues and document the positive change your travel experience may have on you. Worked out pretty well for, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love.
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.
― Elizabeth Gilbert,
There are a ton of creative journal ideas and approaches to travel writing. If you start one way and end up with another… That’s okay.
It’s alright to find your writing voice during your travels. Heck, there’s no “rules,” except the ones you create for yourself.
Tip #4: Discover your preferred writing style while traveling. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Hey, Write Like Hemingway For an Awesome Travel Journal
We are fortunate that Hemingway left us plenty of quotes and sage advice on writing. He was a minimalist, believing a good writer could say more with less. In fact, his “Iceberg Theory” was an important part of his writing style.
Using an iceberg as a metaphor for the content, Hemingway would only provide “the facts”, or the top part of the iceberg. He recognized the importance of the area of the iceberg staying submerged under the surface.
This “underwater” portion of the story (basically what was left unsaid) would allow readers to fill in the blanks and use their imaginations. Hemingway found that it was far superior to invite the imagination of his readers into his stories.
This theory was put to the test when Hemingway accepted a bet from fellow writers on whether or not he could write an entire novel using only 6 words. The completed novel read:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
This is a perfect example of saying more with less. Is this the sad story of parents who lost a child or simply the story of a child who grew too quickly? It could even be the story of a child with far too many clothes.
Needless to say, Hemingway won the bet.
So how does this help you with your travel journal? To write an awesome travel journal, keep it straightforward and honest.
Hemingway was a fan of using short sentences. He believed writing was more powerful and effective when it was less elaborate. He also believed in writing about what you know about.
Tip #5: To create a travel journal that will rock and read like a Hemingway novel remember K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid.
TL;DR Just Write While Traveling
Don’t let your fear of writing keep you from keeping a travel journal. A good journal can start by locating a free travel diary template you are comfortable with. Choose the type of travel writer you would like to be and try out some of the strategies famously used Hemingway.
You may not win a Nobel Prize for literature, but you can document your travel experiences for your own enjoyment. Who knows, if you decide to share your writing it may just entertain others as well.
But above all else just remember to be safe, travel well and good luck writing!
Are you interested in creating a travel journal for your upcoming trip? Share some of your writing goals in the comments below and tell us which of our tips helped you write just like Hemingway.