I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything-quite a while, actually. That’s because I’ve spent the last month or so absorbed in health issues that have caused me to move across the country. My fiance and I packed up all of our things in a moving truck and drove from Vancouver, WA to Dallas, TX. It was a trip of a lifetime.
During our time on the road, I was reminded of why I love to travel so much. Exploring is one of the things that provides the most long term benefits to writing. Why? Travel helps you become a better person if you let it. In order to maximize the effect, there are a few things you can do.
- Take a LOT of pictures…
Your photos will help you remember the experience. Lots of artists use photography to help them with different aspects of their wok. Painters use reference images, musicians use images as inspirations, and writers have a plethora of possible uses for photography. I use pictures for inspiration boards, story boarding, reference images, accompaniment to poetry…the list goes on.
2. But DON’T live behind the lens
Your images can only get you so far. Take this photo for example:
My friend Kara took this picture when I was 15. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes of a horse show. While I love it how real it is, the angle, and the skill it takes to capture a photo like this, I love it most for the memories it evokes.
It makes me think of how my friend Lily and I spent two hours in the snow, shivering, tying to conserve warm water while simultaneously trying to get our horses’ white coats gleaming. It also reminds me of waking at four in the morning so I could be sure the horses had eaten their whole breakfasts before the first class.
It reminds me of how patient my horse was as I spent hours working his mane into manageable braids. It also reminds me of how impatient he was when he realized he had to wear shipping boots in the trailer.
It makes me remember the thrill of cantering in the big show arena where all is silent except the announcer, the hoof beats, and the sound of your own heartbeat.
This photograph brings back a lot of memories, but it isn’t the whole memory on its own. Take pictures as supplements, but be in the moment.
3. Stop Places
One of the things my fiance regrets most about our trip is that we didn’t stop at Disneyland when we went through Anaheim.
We couldn’t have-right now I’m not allowed on roller coasters and the moving van cost more than our tickets would have. But even so, that’s an experience we passed on.
We did, however, stop at a viewpoint right on the ocean, so far south it felt like we could walk to Mexico. We took pictures. We ate lunch. We laughed at Pippin as he charged after prairie dogs and tried to herd seagulls. It was a fantastic experience.
4. Talk to people
When we made it to Gila Bend, Arizona, we had already been on the road for four long days. We were exhausted. Our beds called to us, and in the morning, they insisted on keeping us tethered down with blankets. But my grandparents had other ideas. They picked us up early in the morning for breakfast and then my grandmother’s favorite tourist stop.
It was a blast. Alex and I got to pick out souvenirs that had been hand crafted in Mexico and talk to a lot of people. Some, like my grandparents, camped in the south every winter to escape the bitter northern cold. Others were travelers like us, just passing through. But all of them were human, and all of them were different.
5. Take Notes
Write in a journal. Post updates to social media. Let the world know where you are. Looking back on this trip, there’s a lot I’m glad I jotted down, whether in a Facebook status or a quick scribble with the lights off before I fell asleep in another strange hotel. Those notes help me remember a huge milestone in my life.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll use something in book 3.