Writing to travel, traveling to write

 

Word nerdness and wanderlust are a dangerous combination. As my husband will attest, I can’t seem to get enough of either writing or traveling. As I’ve explained about the joys of sky writing, it’s often best to do both at the same time.

Notice the world map in my cube. I can't stay in one place too long.

I keep the whole world in my cube. Notice the map.

I’ve worn flight attendant wings since 2009, and for nearly two years I’ve written (corporate communications) by day, and flown by weekend. I’ve kept those worlds separate for a long time, but decided last week to reveal my weekend super power to my marketing co-workers.

Fresh from the SLC airport (I’d worked the early morning flight back from Fargo, North Dakota) I went to the Ogden, Utah office in my flight attendant uniform. Met by some surprise and requests for peanuts, it felt great to have my two jobs – and two passions – united for a brief hour before I changed into office attire.

If you’re like me, writing is a means to pay for travel, while travel supplies ideas for writing.

I keep a world map in my office cubicle, and look at it often, day dreaming up my next adventure. In the past six months alone I’ve perched atop the Empire State Building in New York City, visited my friends in San Diego, went running in Los Angeles, spent time with my family in Phoenix, rang in the new year in Paris, went on a bike tour of San Francisco, and played with my cousin’s kids in Sacramento – and this summer my husband and I will see first-hand why “all roads lead to Rome.”

I’m not saying we all need to this much travel to be inspired writers. To be frank, I’ve had a bit of travel overload.

I do believe all writers need to travel. We need to open our eyes (and passports) for inspirational recharge, and freedom from the humdrum of daily surroundings. Explorative adventure is in our nature as creative beings.

Recently my new writing friend Meg at Word Cafe wrote about why every writer needs a solocation. I couldn’t agree more with her sentiments. In fact, we’re two peas in the same writer/traveler pod.

san francisco sunset

On my most recent solocation, I found myself with an unexpected 19-hour layover in San Francisco. What a pleasant surprise to have an afternoon to get up close and personal with the Golden Gate City.

My adventurous heart pitter-pattered on the BART train from Millbrae to downtown, relishing that familiar feeling of childlike wonder. As I watched the cram-packed cityscape slide past me, it seemed my senses were on higher alert, able to soak in my surroundings away from deadlines. For this reason, I always keep a small notepad and pen in my camera bag, ready when inspiration hits.

In downtown I practically skipped my giddy self past spring blossoms in Union Square to Blazing Saddles, a popular bike rental place.

Bike selected and helmet secure, I made my way up Market Street. I wrangled through “The Wiggle,” and stopped for a photo op with the Painted Ladies, Victorian homes featured in 90s-sitcom “Full House.” Meandering through Golden Gate Park, I saw Sunday softball games and paradise green paths. The Pacific Ocean was in sight before long. After a quick splash, I jumped back on the bike for the final push of my four-hour tourist ride to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

Big and red, the icon towered above me. No matter how many famous landmarks I see (Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower, Rockefeller Center, etc.), I still find such glee every time I encounter them in new ways. I’d driven over the Golden Gate Bridge before, but biking it was a new thrill.

About 100 yards over the bridge, I realized too late I’d taken the pedestrians-only side (oops) and had to dodge families and hand-clasped lovers. They didn’t seem to mind, and I wasn’t in any rush.

A couple hours later I was on a ferry with my bike, returning to the city, greeted by the gorgeous San Francisco sunset you see above. Inspiration, indeed.

Whether in your own city or in another land, exploring grants you a new look at life. Bill Bryson, one of my favorite travel writers, says it well:

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

Amen. Now it’s your turn to share: Where will your next adventure be?


7 Comments


  1. Thanks for the blog shout-out, Crystalee! I think writing and traveling go together like guacamole and tortilla chips. I guess you could have one without the other—but when they’re together, it’s like it was meant to be. How cool that you get to travel around, seeing new places and being inspired. Sometimes it just takes a small solo adventure to see things in a different way. I honestly believe if you had biked San Fran with a friend, your experience would have been a different one. Not better or worse. Just different 🙂

    • Meg, thanks for your great comment. Yeah, I agree that traveling solo has it’s own flavor, rather than being with someone else. Both are good, but there’s something so freeing about feeling independent and capable on your own. I love that feeling.

      Hope we get to meet in person, Meg!

  2. I literally lol’d when I read the part about being in the pedestrian lane. So jealous that you see these amazing places but am super grateful that you share the experience. Where is the painted ladies photo op?! San Fran is on my short list to visit ASAP!! Miss ya sis/love ya!!

    • Crysti! Thanks for your comment. The Painted Ladies are at Alamo Park, and I highly recommend doing a bike rental – they spell it all out how to get there. I think seeing places by bike is the way to go. It’s much more up-close than in a car, and a good workout at the same time. San Fran is the most bike friendly city I’ve ever been to!

      Love ya!

  3. I like this! It makes me want to travel and write and write and travel. Even if it’s for a day trip or weekend getaway, I feel as if a wonderful about of inspiration can emerge from it.

  4. Crystalee you are such an inspiration to me!! Thank you for sharing about all your adventures! I hope Oahu Hawaii will be one of your next adventures;) Love and miss you!!

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