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When he wasn’t redefining what it means to be a man, fighting in a war, and writing some of the 20th century’s most celebrated prose, Ernest Hemingway was traveling the world. Remarkably, Hemingway also managed to do all those things quite effectively during his travels. The itinerant novelist made his home in half a dozen countries and logged time in countless others, so naturally, he grew used to working while on the road. Here’s some choice advice from Papa on getting work done when you’re far afield.
By Matt Wolfe
Photos: Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”
— A Moveable Feast, 1964
When Hemingway began his career as a novelist in Paris, he surrounded himself with an extraordinary peer set, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. When you’re traveling, reach out to professional colleagues. You’ll make contacts and probably learn something new.
“They had made this safari with the minimum of comfort. There was no hardship; but there was no luxury and he had thought that he could get back into training that way. That in some way he could work the fat off his soul the way a fighter went into the mountains to work and train in order to burn it out of his body.”
— Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1938
When on a business trip, pack what’s necessary, but don’t cosset yourself. Working under unfamiliar circumstances can inspire creativity and productivity.
"You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafés."
“It sounds like a swell life,” I said. “When do I work?” “You don’t work.”
— The Sun Also Rises, 1926
Hemingway had a habit of spending only the first few hours of the morning writing, after which he’d dedicate the rest of the day doing Hemingwayesque stuff, like drinking and going to bullfights. The lesson: Work first, play later.
“The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.”
— Death in the Afternoon, 1932
When you’re out in the field, don’t put off your work by doing endless research. Hemingway wrote his nonfiction book Death in the Afternoon while living in Key West, fresh from a trip to Spain, where he took reams of notes.
“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”
— Letter to Harvey Breit, 1950
It’s easy to drop your exercise routine while traveling. Before you head off, make a plan staying in shape while you’re away (some gyms offer day rates to travelers). Although he was preternaturally barrel-chested, Hemingway always managed to avoid portliness.
Inspired by Hemmy—and named for the year of his birth—this work- and travel-ready cologne combines Mediterranean top notes of Italian bergamot, juniper, and black pepper blend, with a base of vetiver, vanilla, and yellow amber.
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