The Dream of Travel Writing (vs. The Reality)

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I’ve always thought it would be crazy awesome if I were a travel writer. I love traveling and I love writing, so getting paid to travel around the world and write about it would be the ultimate dream job, right?

I’ve realized, though, that it’s not quite as simple as that.

Traveling can be stressful. It involves planning routes, catching trains, finding ways to make the most out of each place. It involves packing and repacking, trying to travel light while making sure you have something appropriate for every situation. Sometimes it involves holding your bladder if you can’t find a bathroom or holding your breath if someone in your train compartment has had too much garlic for lunch (like right this very moment, dammit).*

Then there’s the writing. It goes without saying that your stories should be interesting. People should want to read what you’ve written, and that’s the really hard part. After a while, you run out of adjectives to describe a scene. You try to write enthusiastically about some amazing thing you’ve seen but that’s difficult to do if you’re tired or hungry or in a hurry. Later you try to summon back your first thoughts and feelings about a particular place, but sometimes there’s just a limited window of time when you can translate your experience into words powerful enough to transport your reader to where you were.

Add the pressure of a deadline to all that, and…well, it’s still a crazy awesome job, but you begin to realize it isΒ a job and not just crazy awesomeness.

So: whereas before I used to say I dream of traveling and writing for a living, I’d like to edit that and say instead: I would love to travel and write for a living — I would do that in a heartbeat — but my ultimate dream is to someday have enough money to travel where I want, when I want, with the people I love, and write about it just because I want to.

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The Dream of Travel Writing (vs. The Reality)” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

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*The nucleus of this post was written 3 years ago on a train from Nice to Marseille. I like garlicky stuff myself, but there’s garlic and then there’s too much garlic! πŸ™‚ I survived, by the way.



24 thoughts on “The Dream of Travel Writing (vs. The Reality)”

  • I love this post, and completely agree about the limited window of time to accurately describe your experience, with all of the strong feelings and emotions. Trying to go back and recapture that can be really hard!!

    • Thanks Nadine! Things written on the spot tend to have a different quality to them, don’t they? I mean, you can look back later on and try to capture how you felt — and you do this brilliantly with your Camino posts, by the way — but there’s a rawness that on-the-day writings have that’s so hard to replicate later on. When you were doing the Camino, did you try to write every day? Was that a goal, or did you just play it by ear?

      • Yes, there is definitely a different quality to things written on the spot… that rawness, as you described. I can see and feel the difference in my own writing- my posts that I wrote while on the Camino just have a different kind of energy, than the ones I wrote after I came home. Each captures something, but in a different way.

        When I started the Camino, I knew that I wanted to blog as much as I could, but I didn’t make it a goal to blog every day. Just as much as possible. I would have loved to write every day (especially now, looking back), but there were some days that I got caught up in all of the other stuff: exploring towns and spending time with people. So I don’t regret my approach, though I wish there had been a few more hours in each day, so I had time to do it all! πŸ™‚

  • Oh it does talk to me, the packing and unpacking… I travelled to South East Asia for 5 months last year so that was happening everyday haha! Oh finding our home bed sheets again was quite an unexpected delight I have to say! I think if you want to be a writer, go for it. I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I made it just before I turned 30. Plenty of time, for the one who really wants it.

    • I think the constant packing and unpacking becomes a problem when you hop from city to city, and yet it’s such a blessing to be able to travel that way, and there’s always a sense of…you’re not sure when you will be able to visit the area again, so make the most of it, and if it involves packing/unpacking everyday, so be it. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the encouragement! I love your designs so what you said is doubly inspiring!

    • Thank you! I’ve just been to your blog too and I especially love your post about going to London and Paris with your family. My sister lives in a different city now so we can’t travel together as a family as often as we would like, so my memories of travels with my family are especially precious to me. I wish you and your family all the best!

    • Here’s the long overdue reply! πŸ™‚ I love to write and I love to travel and I love to write about travel. And I would still probably do all that even if I didn’t get paid for it, BUT it would be nice to earn from it, eventually. πŸ™‚ I don’t think I will ever make travel writing my sole source of income, though — I wouldn’t want my schedule/itinerary at the disposal of editors, I wouldn’t like to hop on a plane at the drop of hat just for an article, I wouldn’t want my life controlled that way. I’d like to make traveling, writing and travel-writing a part of my life, without it ever getting to a point that I would resent it for taking away my life. I hope that makes sense! πŸ™‚

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