Who would know better about what it takes to be an interesting and well-received travel writer than National Geographic? They put together a list of things that aspiring travel writers should consider during their travels. As I read it, I thought these were great tips for navigating your way through life on a daily basis.
#1 Assignment: Even if you aren’t on assignment for Nat Geo, you can give yourself a task or challenge to propel your journey. This puts you on a quest, and quests are excellent foundations for stories.
#2. Ask a million questions: Learn about the place you’re in. “It’s not necessarily expertise that separates a travel writer’s trip from your own. It’s urgency, an appetite for discovery, and an absolute necessity for answers.”
#3 Hire a Guide. They know the coolest places that you might not find on your own, and become an excellent resource for questions about the location. Even if you’re at home, there are parts of your town that others might know better. Find those people. Hang out with them.
#4. Find places where you can engage, and “go local”. Wander off the maps, step into locals pubs, take a class, or accomplish everyday tasks like getting a haircut or going to church. Isn’t this what we all do day to day in our own lives? It’s the attention to what is happening that is heightened when we travel.
#5. Walk. Travel slowly and eschew convenience for opportunities to stop and interact as much as possible.
#6. Get coffee. and while you’re there, try to strike up conversations. Apps and social sharing platforms like Traveling Spoon, Couch Surfing and Meetup can help open the doors to things that are going on in the region.
#7. Take Notes. Collect things. Take pictures. There is so much going on, collecting things you can sift through later in a quiet moment can inspire new ideas or suggest a shape to your experiences.
#8 Take a Break. Don’t forget to sit still for a while. It’s a good opportunity to be still and just absorb what is around you. If you really must plan every moment, consider finding a place for sunrise and sunset and being still while you watch.
#9. Embrace Change and feel free to scrap plans when something better/more interesting comes up. Have a plan to provide initial structure, but be flexible.
#10 Let go of your emotional baggage, and strive to be in the moment while traveling. As George Stone writes in the article, “Don’t compare, don’t anticipate, don’t vacillate, don’t cogitate. Simply embrace the present possibility of having an enlightening experience that reveals something you didn’t know about the world – or about yourself.”