How to Travel for Writing Research: Outmaneuvering the Excuses!

I’ve always enjoyed travel, but it can get more complicated with time. Basically, it’s easy to let the years go by without going. So much to do. So many reasons to not go–

And that’s actually what I’d like to focus on in this essay: some ideas on how to overcome our reasons when they start becoming excuses, when it makes sense to.

Reasons Versus Excuses

I’m in the midst of planning a research trip I’ve been putting off for far too long. My work in progress this research relates to has been at a standstill, but you know how it is: there were just so many reasons I couldn’t go.

However, in 2018 I’ve made it a point to try to articulate to myself when I’m guided by reasons versus excuses. (On an emotional level, they can feel pretty similar!)

While travel doesn’t need to be a priority for everyone, and there are plenty of circumstances under which I wouldn’t opt to travel, it can definitely inform and improve some stories–plus, I simply have the wanderlust.

And yet! Life gets busy and I’ve had to do some internal work to remobilize my love for travel. Interestingly, the internal work I’ve done fits into several tidy capsules: podcasts! I love them, and I know the ones I’m listening to right now have helped inform my decisions.

Excuse #1: Time

I work full-time and my destination is far enough away that I couldn’t make decent use of the trip on just PTO (paid time off) alone. A legit reason! But interestingly, even as I’ve segued into a job that I took based on the clarification that I would be able to work from anywhere–well, it still took me more than 6 months to make travel plans.

Even with the door open, I just had a lot of literal stuff I was caring for, so how could I leave it? I’ve also been working to become more minimalist in my to-do’s and other non-tangible areas of life.

Podcast Remedy: The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus share their journey out of the corporate world and into a simpler and more fulfilling lifestyle, and they’ll probably inspire you to streamline all the excess objects, commitments, and mindsets bogging you down. 

the minimalists podcast

Excuse #2: Travel Know-how

I’ve traveled, but I’m getting older, and I’m just not up to the whole stay-in-a-hostel thing anymore! At least, not longer than a night or two. But I also don’t have some enormous travel budget. I think this dissonance was holding me back, because I basically lacked the vision for how to travel in a savvy way without breaking the bank.

Podcast Remedy: 20 Minute Delay – Authors Gail Carriger and Piper J. Drake share travel tips that include SO MANY THINGS from frequent flyer miles to packing suggestions. 

20 Minute Delay

Excuse #3: Nebulous Purpose or Project Status

Honestly, another barrier for me was not having my work in progress where it needed to be to inform an onsite research trip. This was a good reason, but then became an excuse once I was far enough along in the project to know what I needed to know by traveling onsite–and I stayed at this point for a long time.

I think some people travel in order to get inspired, but I’ve found it much more purposeful to research online as though I’ll never be able to go first. Then, I learn a ton more just by planning the trip. And then I learn again by actually going.

Note: This implies that, even if you don’t actually go, just going through the planning motions as if you will could be a huge focusing power for your work in progress.

Podcast Remedy: Writing Excuses – Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, Wesley Chu, Piper J. Drake, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Maurice Broaddus, Amal El-Mohtar, and Valynne E. Maetani. This amazing show will help you get that work in progress where it needs to be, whether you end up traveling or not! Plus, they run a writing workshop aboard a cruise ship, so they will also help you mix things up with a writing-related travel adventure.

Writing Excuses

 

Excuse #4: Guilt Over My Priorities or Worrying Others

How do I reconcile my love of wandering with loved ones’ concern for me? And how do I reconcile that inner voice that tells me it’s not a good use of my time or energy, etc., or even that it’s selfish when I could be doing this, this, or that?

This is deep stuff, internal stuff, values-based stuff, and relationship stuff.

Podcast Remedy: Better Than Happy by Life Coach Jody Moore. She markets this podcast to Mormon moms (it used to be called Bold New Mom), but it’s really just a fantastic helping of personal awareness for anyone. She’s a boss at articulating what might be going on with our internal dialogue, relationship dynamics, and emotional responses. Plus, her episodes also sometimes pack a nice dose of following your dreams and embracing the work that entails. 

Better Than Happy Podcast Jody Moore

 

Good Luck With Your Adventures!

So there you have it! Those are a few reasons that were becoming excuses and how I leveraged other smart people’s expertise to overcome them. I could also add reasons like, oh yeah, how I don’t speak the language of the place I’m traveling to. Et cetera!

For me right now, it’s been about turning the volume down on these barriers so I can get out of my own way, follow my priorities, and move toward finishing my writing project. But I’d like to again affirm that all this is absolutely conditional on timing and other factors. You may have solid reasons to not travel (not needing to for your particular work in progress being among them). I’ve had those reasons, and I gladly cancelled travel plans because those things mattered more.

In either scenario, I wish you well on your creative projects and research, and I hope to share more details of my upcoming travels once I return.

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