Monthly Archives: March 2011
Any trip can be turned into a micro-business possibility, and once this is realized there is no limit to the number of trips you can take because you know they will pay for themselves (eventually).
Yes, this means your travel does become work in a sense, but the work is minimal and as long as you are somewhere of interest to you, the information you gather for publication is information you would gather anyway … only this time you will take a few more steps.
Before the trip
The first step is, before you go and as a part of your pre-trip research, to pick a particular topic of interest and see how much information you can find via Google when it’s connected to the place name. Some examples:
- “San Francisco California wine bars”
- “Miami Florida book stores”
- “New York City dog parks”
- “Cozumel Mexico beaches”
You’re looking for a combination of personal interest for you, a location you are visiting, and general lack of coherent information available on the web. Once you find that combination, you have your focus.
During the trip
On your next trip, carry a moleskine with you, and record the following with minor notes (a few lines of info):
- Every restaurant you eat at
- Every hotel you stay at
- Every airport you travel through
- Every site you visit
- … you get the idea.
And then focus in our your topic and take more extensive notes.
- Personal opinions
- … you get the idea
- Dont’ forget to take relevant photos. Take at least two or three photos of every location relating to what you are going to write about (it’s amazing how often a photo will look good on the little camera screen, but horribly blurry or out of focus once it is blown up).
The key is not to be overwhelmed with taking notes and photos, but instead have this general note taking become a regular part of your travel experiences. It’s a good habit to be in regardless of future plans, for it gives you a great journal of your journeys (and this is something I wish I started doing years ago!).
After the trip
You’ll be assembling this into a workable document in an easy, clean, and clean manner. We’ll be covering that in a future post.
Everybody travels differently, and that is the problem with many travel books: they don’t qualify their reader ahead of time, then you find yourself lugging around a 300 page guide when you really only need 30 pages of it. In many of the same ways, you can idle away hours of your time going through this website, only to realize at the end that my personal travel style has nothing to do with how you travel.
Which is why it’s important to explain how I personally like to travel, so you can see if what I write is right for you. By all means, please share your own travel preferences in the comments section.
Before going forward, though, I have to admit something. I would be the world’s worst tour guide. Hands down, no contest. More on that later.
I’m so lucky to be married to somebody who understands this. Don’t get me wrong, I love travel with my wife and my son, and we spend a good part of income and time globe-trotting as much as possible. But some of the most significant moments in my life are when I am out on my own, walking in some of the great cities of the world, or driving back highways in a little car by myself in Italy or Australia. When I am by myself, a sense of introspection takes over and because I’m not fretting over others’ comfort or enjoyment, I can look inward to my own life. Solo travel is not for everybody, and I recognize that. What it does for me, however, is give me perspective in the big picture and helps me in ways that no therapy ever could.
Additionally, I change my mind quite a bit. Well, a lot. My family calls this “crappie flopping” referring to the way a crappie jumps around frantically when pulled from the water and you never know what direction it’s going. When I travel with the family, I have to keep this tendency in check, because frustration ensues. We can be talking about going out for pizza and a movie all day long but at the last second I want a steak and a walk. Is it a matter of me being selfish? Possibly. But I don’t see selfishness as a negative.
So travel has been described to me as a luxury by many of my friends, as if it’s something so rare and unattainable that, like buying some expensive caviar for breakfast, it should only be considered by few. I disagree. If it’s something that is important to you, make it clear that it is and plan ahead. I take about three major solo trips per year, and one of those is always the first week of January. It’s my escape to reflect on the past year and plan the next year, plus a reason to get out of a Minnesota winter and sit under a palm tree somewhere. The annual review is sacred to me, and we’ll discuss it more toward the end of the year.
Walking in cities
In terms of how I spend my time when traveling, there is nothing I love doing more than endless, fast paced, walking in great cities that I have never been to before. Dipping into stores, finding coffee shops and wine bars, exploring parks and vistas, all the while being amongst people living their normal lives, but particularly active lives. This is one of the many reasons I love Venice, Italy so much. Yes, there are parts that are touristy (and that’s a good thing, for it keeps the economy humming in the area) but in a place like Venice in particular it’s very easy to be in a real neighborhood with real people living their beautiful lives around you.
Wine, food, and coffee
Obviously my love of wine and food play into my travel, though I less and less a fan of the over the top “end all be all” meal. I far prefer a local ‘joint’ with great food and great wine, over the white-linen uber palace to gastronomy. One of my favorite things to do is find a good wine bar in the neighborhood that I’m staying in. Then at that wine bar (always sitting at the bar) I’ll ask where to go next. If I’m lucky, I can get a daisy-chain of four or five restaurants in one night, enjoying a glass of wine and a small plate at each one. As this blog develops, you’ll see this pattern more and more often as I discuss particular destinations.
Coffee shops are another love of mine, but a potential mine-field when discussing in a blog. I love to support the little guys … the quirky and strange coffee shop with a certain anti-establishment look or flair, however, often when traveling in America I go to the well known national chains. Why?? One, I know what to expect. I’m not a coffee geek, I just like a good cup of coffee. Two, consistent wi-fi service. I can’t tell you how many times I find a great independent coffee shop, buy my drink, then proceed to fuss with a picky and slow internet connection that drops out constantly. When you work via the web and write like I do, a consistent connection is essential. Thank you Starbucks and Caribou.
Observing / People-watching
I would be a horrible travel guide, because happening upon a park where the locals are doing their thing, I’d suggest to the group “Okay, let’s sit on the benches and watch the world go by for a couple of hours.” Some are frustrated when they hear I went to Paris but did not see the top sights and museums, instead spending an entire day on the hillside of Sacre-Coeur, enjoying a plate of cheese and a bottle of wine while catching up on magazines and books. But you know what? That’s the beauty of solo travel. Especially in Europe, people watching is an art and an affordable hobby at that!
It’s also one of the reasons Venice Beach in Los Angeles is one of my favorite places in America. Talk about incredible people watching! From the degenerates and drunks to the plastic surgery altered show-offs, it’s more like a circus than anything else. For the small cost of a bottle of wine I can sit in a cafe all day long watching this show in front of me!
Travel for me is about the experiences over the ‘stuff’. It’s about the photographs I take, and the people I observe and meet. And it’s about affordable fun. I don’t make a ton of money but I spend a disproportionate amount of time traveling thanks to many days of doing nothing other than what I wrote about above. When I see people standing in line for yet another meal at Hooter’s, I know I’m wringing more experience out of my travel cloth than they are.