HAVE TRAVEL, WILL WRITE

Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved traveling to new places. I believe traveling and living in different parts of the world has helped shape me and my writing and impacted the way I see the world. Family outings and vacations were always a source of inspiration for me. Even at school, my writing projects would often be about a new adventure or a new place I had visited. It’s no wonder geography was my favorite subject. Whether it was a road trip across the country or a day trip to the lake, I would always come home with fresh ideas for a new story or setting for a story. Even a field trip to see a ballet would prompt me to write a story about a ballet dancer. Fresh out of high school, I wanted to become an air hostess, but I stopped growing at seventeen, and my being vertically challenged pretty much ruled that out.

When I say ‘travel’, I don’t mean flying to exotic vacation resorts. Traveling can be expensive, but as a child I was blessed to have parents who loved having fun the cheap and simple way – road trips, picnics in the countryside, visiting friends in a different region of the country and the occasional splurge on a beach vacation with affordable efficiency accommodations. Yes, our family wasn’t averse to sacrificing a few luxuries in the name of fun.

And when I didn’t travel, I would do so in my imagination, and still do. I become a couch surfer, or an armchair traveler, which basically means the same thing—just a more elegant way of slouching. While living abroad, when relocating to the USA wasn’t even in the books (I just had to throw that pun in there), I always had a fascination with the United States and everything American, and it became the setting for many of my stories. Of course, there’s no substitute for the real thing. To visit a place, you can sense its smell and feel, study its customs and history, the different styles of architecture. You meet new people, locals and visitors, and learn about their backgrounds. On a recent trip to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, I went on a self-guided tour of covered bridges, and it was such a lovely, peaceful and inspiring experience. I took a ton of photographs, feeling like the female version of Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County, although I see myself more in the role of Meryl Streep. But I digress…

I often find that in my writing I will include an element I have personally experienced, whether a recipe or a book I once read. I’ve developed a sensory memory where I associate certain smells with places I’ve visited or lived in. The smell of cut grass will propel me back to South Africa, to when Saturday was the day my father would mow the lawn, and the scent of Jasmine will remind me of the country I was born in, sunny Italy. Living in three continents through the course of my lifetime has left me with great memories. I wrote a short article once, published in a now out of print magazine, of the importance of preserving memories. It can be downloaded here.

In summary, to enrich your life and feed your imagination you don’t need expensive hotels and flights. Day trips can be socially satisfying and enriching experiences as well. You just have to make the most of whatever opportunity comes your way. And if that’s still not an option, as we saw with the safety restrictions imposed during the pandemic, in this era of virtual reality you can armchair travel to your heart’s content.

Author: Josephine Strand

Josephine Strand was born in Italy, grew up in South Africa, and is a long-time resident of the United States. She discovered her love of books when she was introduced to her town’s public library at the age of eight. At nine, she gained her English teacher’s praise with her short story The Library at Midnight. She hasn’t stopped writing since, though Misty Dreams is her first published novel. Her travels between the three continents have strengthened her love for the sea and the outdoors. When not writing or absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, she loves to cook and enjoys long nature walks.

4 thoughts on “HAVE TRAVEL, WILL WRITE”

  1. Before I got married, traveling was way up there on my dream list. I had a host of places I wanted to visit, both in and out of the US. Alaska was at the very top (I’d been in love with it since a kid), and a couple years before I met my husband I was given the opportunity to go there. Now I look back and feel like God was saying “I have different, more wonderful plans for you, but take this moment and remember My love for you.” Or something else poetical like that. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post, Josephine. We did similar trips when I was a kid, and my husband and I have done similar trips with our own children. And, yes, books and our imagination are great ways to travel as well, as is the virtual option with today’s technology. I love your covered bridge photo. I live in Lancaster County. Had we known each other when you visited the county, it would’ve been fun to meet in person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kelly. I read in one of your posts that you are from the Lancaster area and I had the same thought: it would have been fun to meet Kelly in person. But I’ll be back, rest assured! Lancaster County is one of our favorite places to visit. We had a fabulous buggy ride last time and my husband got to steer the horses (I was too scared, lol). Even though we live in a quiet neighborhood, it’s nowhere near like the countryside, and it’s nice to get away from it all for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

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