So I’ve been on vacation for the last couple weeks. I mean kind of — because I’m a writer, so I’m almost always working, especially when traveling. Travel is one of the things I do to recharge my writer batteries, refill the tank with new ideas and inspiration.
It’s fun for me, but it occurs that it might not be fun for those traveling with me, especially if they’re not expecting it. Here’s a list of a few things to expect if you go traveling with a writer like me.*
*obviously not all writers like me. All writers are people with different styles of traveling but heck that made for a catchy title dinnit?
1. We read all the information signs.
All of them.
You never know what kind of cool stories you’re going to find on those signs. Once, when wandering around a ruined castle in England, I found a sign by an old tower telling the spec-freaking-tacular story of the lady whose husband locked her in there. Luckily she was so popular with the locals that they sent up baskets of food for her and carried her pleas for help to the King, who eventually had her husband executed for “unnatural acts” whatever those are. She got to keep the castle. Am I going to write about this tough-as-nails, impossible-to-kill lady? You bet your sweet butt I am.
2. We take notes.
So many notes. Notes about the aforementioned information signs, notes about the smells and sounds of the place, the way the light comes in through the windows or reflects off the sand. I have a thick, battered travel notebook that fits in my pocket (barely) and is very nearly full of these notes.
3. We take lots of pictures.
Quick aside to my fellow writers — it is so useful to have a Photographer Friend. My mom is a great photographer, and The Brilliant Alyssa is too (as well as being a great writer and a wonderful human being — triple threat!). Traveling with Alyssa through Venice was great — she was mostly in charge of taking photos and while she was photographing, I was taking notes, and then we’d exchange observations at the end of the day.
4. Plan for everything to take twice as long as you think it’s going to.
Because of the aforementioned reading, note-taking, and photography, everything takes FOREVER. Resign yourself to the fact. Don’t be afraid to drop your Writer off at a location or museum and leave them there for as long as they need. There’s no need for you to die of boredom just because they need to plot out the exact floor plan of this castle/palazzo/cliff house/whatever.
5. Allow time in the evening for Decompression.
I need a solid hour after dinner and before bed in order to sort out my notes and just process what I’ve seen, what’s going to be useful, and what needs to be expanded upon. Sometimes, when we’re on a tour, I’ll make a quick note to myself, and I’ll need to clarify it that day, or risk losing the thought forever.
And for writers: try not to be a dick, okay? Ask if it’s okay for you to take notes before you whip out your notebook. Ask if you can take pictures before you stick a flash in someone’s face. If you’re going to be standing still for a while, make sure you’re not blocking traffic. Maybe you suffer for your art, but there’s no need for everyone else to suffer too.