Expert Round-Up Topic: What are your best travel tips for nonfiction authors and/or nonfiction publishing professionals? (Packing advice, places to find great deals, etc.)
Get advice from your contacts. If you’re planning to travel somewhere new for publishing, advertising, or otherwise, make sure to plan ahead. One of the best things you can do to level up your traveling experience is to speak with established authors who already have the experience. For example, if you’re planning to speak at a venue or do book readings at a shopping mall, you might have contacts in your circle who have previously made a visit. This is a great opportunity
to both catch up with your network and get some useful advice ahead of time before you embark on your travels.
Authors tend to write when they travel. In fact, many writers become inspired when they travel. This results in writing about their journeys or simply unwinding enough to author a new masterpiece. However, a traveling author can experience challenges. For instance, an author might need internet access which can be expensive at hotels and other vacation sites. On a cruise ship, the internet is not just costly but is also glitchy. My advice is to stay at a place where you can get unlimited internet instead of paying by the minute. Packing might also be difficult.
If you choose to take your laptop, you experience further challenges. For instance, airport security will need to scan the laptop. The laptop might also be heavy. If you pack it in a suitcase, that adds to the weight of your bag and airlines charge for extra weight. Perhaps you can get by with your iPad on your journey. Another option is carrying your laptop on the plane in a case instead of packing it. Clearly, there is much for a traveling author to consider.
DON’T TRY TO DO TOO MUCH
As much as you will want to explore and “see all of the things,” you will want to give yourself time to breathe and have flexibility. Do not overschedule your time to a point where you vacation becomes a part time job you need a vacation from. Also, give yourself a little extra time in one location to explore vs. trying to pack in 10 cities in 5 days. Most of your best breakthroughs will come when you are relaxed and completely entrenched in a new culture, not just superficially passing by.
Get outside of your comfort zone, and be willing to Say Yes to new experiences.
DON’T LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T TRAVEL
People love to give advice, even when they don’t have any experience on the subject. Traveling is no different. Traveling is “so expensive, so dangerous, there’s no time, etc.” Do not listen to people who have not left their apartment in 5 years about traveling.
MEET PEOPLE BEFORE YOU GO
Once you know the locations you want to visit, look for other writers or people with similar interests in that city. Utilizing social media to build a connection with people can be a truly rewarding experience. Some of my best adventure on the road came from connecting with locals who were excited to show me their city instead of me just aimlessly wandering around based off of the travel blog suggestions.
GET OUTSIDE OF MAJOR CITIES
Regardless of the country, lots of major cities throughout the world all start to feel similar. Where you are going to find the biggest differences and unique experiences is when you get out into the country or little villages or small communities. The major cities of the world are fantastic, and should be explored, but do not forget about “the road less traveled” because we know “that made all the difference.”
DON’T JUST WRITE, JOURNAL
It can be easy to fall into the trap of only focusing on the topic/book/article we are writing at the moment. However, sometimes we can be so focused that we don’t allow our brain to be as creative as it needs to be to create the best work possible. Schedule time to work on your #1 priority project of course, but do not discredit the importance of journaling for you while on the road.
TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF PEAK SEASONS
Not only is this beneficial from a financial position, it means there will be fewer tourists in your area, providing a truer experience of the location. Remember, you are not traveling to bring all of you into a new location, you are traveling to experience something new and let the location impact you.
Unless you are going to an extremely remote location, you will be able to purchase anything you need to. Being mobile, flexible, with the possibility of needing to buy something, is 1000x better than having heavy bags and needing logistically challenging moves just so you don’t need to go by an extra sweater on your trip. Keep it light and simple. You can always find laundry on the road.
DISCONNECT FROM PHONE AND PICK YOUR HEAD UP
The whole reason you are getting away is to break the normal cycle of life, so put the phone away, strike up a conversation, or just enjoy the sights and sounds. Your phone is a directly link to “your ordinary, everyday life” so disconnect from it so you can have a new, exciting, and different experience. Also, you don’t need a soundtrack. Unplug your headphones, turn off the podcast or audiobook, and enjoy the sounds of the city/nature/languages.
Amazon link to book.
Travel during off times. During holidays and other busy travel days, flights are much more expensive. Also, flying during the week is generally cheaper than flying on the weekends. Also, if you travel during the off season, you’ll find hotels and other accommodations are much cheaper.
If you’ve got a flexible schedule, you might find you can save hundreds of dollars by changing your flight dates by a day or two. Also, if there are multiple airports in your area it’s worth checking all of them for flights, as some might serve budget airlines the others don’t.
If you’re taking a short trip, pack light. Many airlines now charge for checked luggage, and if you can fit everything you need into your carry-on, you can save money on each leg of your trip. It also saves time at the airport.
Most of my book talks are virtual, but on those occasions when I travel, I reach out to different organizations that might be interested in having me speak while I’m in town. In particular, I am having good luck reaching out to rotary clubs and public libraries—they are always looking for folks to speak! Depending on the topic of the author’s nonprofit book, nonprofit organizations might also be interested in having an author speak to a group of donors, board members, or staff.
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned traveler or a beginner, personal safety must be intertwined with all aspects of travel. The best place to start is with the 3P’s: Proactive, Prepared, and Protected. Develop a proactive safety mindset. Understand environmental, health, communication, and cultural issues that exist where you are traveling. Start a list of risk mitigation strategies you will use when traveling abroad. Advocate for your personal safety by setting your tripwires and the actions they will trigger. Research and purchase evacuation insurance, medical insurance, and supplemental evacuation insurance like Medjet. Nowadays, all travelers should be aware of the 3P’s to avoid major financial mishaps and travel snags. This step can literally be a lifesaver.
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