Traveling for work or pleasure as a writer does not have to disrupt your work flow. You can still meet deadlines and experience little interruption if you plan ahead. I go out to Asheville a few times throughout the year to host writing workshops, and I travel to New York frequently. I also get stranded in New York frequently. In October I flew up to Long Island for a wedding, only to have my flight cancelled repeatedly due to Superstorm Sandy. My boyfriend drove me back to North Carolina. What would have been an entire work day lost for me turned into an uber-productive one. I explain in the first bullet below.
Earlier this month I flew to New York again to go to yet another wedding. My flight got cancelled repeatedly due to three feet of snow. For the first time in my life I took Amtrak—and I LOVE it! I already have my next Amtrak trip booked. I am planning future posts all about the wondrous writer-friendly transit that is Amtrak, but for now I will focus on how writers can make different means of travel work for them:
- Power Inverter – For as little as $30 you can purchase a power inverter that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. This is amazing for long road trips. You don’t have to race-type before your laptop’s battery dies. Simply plug it in. Having someone to do the driving while you write is key! My entire 9.5-hour road trip from Long Island to Raleigh: Billed 8 hours.
- Hot Spots or Offline Files – If you still need to research an article or send files and you are stuck in a car (or on an Amtrak train with no Wi-Fi), take time before you travel to research ways of syncing your laptop through Bluetooth with your phone’s Internet access or create your own Hot Spot through your mobile provider. Alternatively, what I did the night before I got on Amtrak since I knew the particular train I was taking didn’t have Internet, visit all the websites that you need to reference for your work and save them directly to your computer for offline use. My 10-hour Amtrak trip from New York to Raleigh: Billed 8 hours.
- Apps - I’m new to the smartphone world, but I have quickly taken a liking to the Facebook Pages App. Managing my author page and my clients’ pages can be done from anywhere—which worked out well last weekend when a disgruntled client posted multiple complaints on my client’s Facebook page. I was going out to a concert at the time, but I received the notification, logged in, removed the posts, and banned the user in under 10 minutes from their original post. My time waiting for airport shuttles, trains, or planes: Billable.
- Interview subjects - Depending on the wave of serendipity your surfing at any given moment, you may meet some interesting people. I don’t know how or why, but people talk to me. I get ideas for articles, connections to experts, and naturally, inspiration for eccentric characters, from everywhere I travel. On the Amtrak journey alone I met three interesting people that could develop into articles: One woman has a fear of flying and always takes the train – this can translate into a feature on how to cope with airplane fear. Another woman started unloading her relationship woes on me and in under five minutes revealed multiple abortion experiences, a recent fight with her boyfriend, and how she discovered she got pregnant “out of nowhere” – this could translate into articles about contraception and communication in relationships. And another lady I met has completely sold me on the city of Richmond, Virginia. She told me it’s the only city in the US where you can whitewater raft through the city—there are Class III and IV rapids. I wrote down all the unique details of the city she told me on my iPhone – this can translate into multiple features. Time on the train talking to strangers: At least 3 potential articles!
- Experience – Write about your own personal experience. Many people don’t realize there are places that specifically look for these types of pieces. I wrote about my experience night kayaking in Durham for Blue Ridge Outdoors. I wrote about hiking alone in Sequoia National Park for Mountain Hiking. I wrote about my experience as a writer for the Freelance Strategist. Many markets have sections that publish personal accounts. Time living my life and writing about it: Billable.
Do you have your next trip planned yet?