How to Write a Holiday Diary

Updated July 20, 2017

Writing a holiday or travel diary is an excellent way to preserve the memories of a trip. Along with photographs and video, keeping a diary will add dimension to a trip, allowing recall of events once thought forgotten months and even years after it happened.

Procure a notebook, either spiral bound or perfect bound, lined or unlined. It is the best way to record feelings and thoughts. Notebooks are cheap and portable and require only a pen or pencil to use. Make sure the notebook is labelled with a name and phone number in case it is lost. Modern devices such as mini tape recorders, personal digital assistants and even laptop computers can be helpful for those mechanically inclined. The caveat here is that electronic devices can be cumbersome and there is always the danger that they will become damaged during travel and therefore unusable.

Decide when to write. Some people write as events happen and others wait until the end of the day. In her book "Travel Writing," L. Peat O'Neil recommends allowing an experience to sink in first: "Other writers, and I fall into this group, absorb the scene for a few hours, then pause and write what they've seen or felt. The intervals of observation vary, of course." Experiment with the different ways to write about the scene and find the one that works best.

Write down colours, smells and sounds along with descriptions of the places visited. This may take some practice but will be helpful in bringing the memories alive later. For example, a recounting of a visit to Tombstone, Ariz., is not complete without a description of the hot Arizona sun in a cloudless desert sky beating down on the weathered wooden buildings on Allen Street. Write down snippets of conversations along with description of the speaker. Eavesdrop on conversations. When taking photos, write down additional information about the shot. What was happening out of camera range? What were sounds and smells at the time? When was the photo taken? Write down the time.

Look outside. A traditional diary is a journal of personal reflection. A travel diary adds descriptions of settings related to one's personal feelings about the setting. Write down more than is necessary. The goal is to record details of incidents great and small that paint a picture of a place.

Record transportation schedules, entry hours and fees and contact information. In this way, the diary can function as a scrapbook, and items such as ticket stubs, playbills and takeout menus can be inserted next to a description of that event. It will help to recall a scene.


If the diary is electronic, back it up by saving e-mails or documents. Make photocopies of a journal or diary to send home before the return trip in case the original is lost.


If using electronic devices, guard valuables closely. Don't become a statistic. Don't get bogged down taking notes. A trip is supposed to be relaxing, not about completing written assignments. If it gets too stressful, stop writing.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook
  • Writing instrument: pen or pencil
  • Or, if preferred, a laptop, PDA or tape recorder
  • Camera
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About the Author

Caroline Fritz has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience, mainly for publications in northwest Ohio. She is currently an editor for a national technical magazine focusing on the construction industry. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.