Confession: I am a nomad. It is in my blood and my bones to move.
Remember that last scene in the 2001 movie Chocolat when lovely Vianne (Juliette Binoche) closed the shabby second-story window on that pesky yet persistent north wind, determined to finally stay put for the sake of her daughter (and also another possible rendezvous with Johnny Depp)?
“Idiot!” I cried out at my unresponsive TV set the first time I saw that scene.
Sweet Vianne. It is great to hope and even believe that a born wanderlust can break the habit of changing abodes with the change of seasons, but we all know that rarely happens in real life. If we could flash forward to the lives of Vianne and her daughter two years into the future, we would probably find them setting up shop in some tiny town in Turkey or Greece or Morocco.
But where was I? Oh yeah, we were discussing the characteristics of the nomad. And now I am left with the sobering thought of having to stay put for more than a month.
This is going to happen to me come March when I plop down for a season to finally FINISH THE NOVEL. Very cliché, I know, but what is even more so is the millions of writers that are way more brilliant than me who never finish their masterpieces. I don’t want to be that kind of writer.
I don’t think that my book is anywhere near “Great American Novel” status either. But, you know what? I don’t really care.
I would be thrilled beyond belief to just finish the darn thing by the time summer rolls around. We are planning an RV trip to the East coast then.
To finish means that the writing desk has to stay put for a while, with my butt in it.
Borrrring! Good thing I have a plan!
It involves travel magazines– lots of ‘em!
There is something different about travel magazines.
I’ve been in the publishing biz in some way or another for going on two decades now. I’ve been editor of a magazine and have written for over two dozen of them in my life. And I tell you, there is nothing that sweeps you away like a good travel mag. It is in the styling of the pages, the fancy fonts , the juicy photography, the selection of the subject matter—be it dreamy or meant as a reality-check. A well-written travel article can transport me to a completely different place and time.
Here is my formula for curing the “staying put” blues (note: this can work if you are permanently staying put too…i.e. you have rent or a mortgage… and are wanting to cook up a travel or retreat experience for yourself in the near future. In that case, just repeat the process EVERY WEEK until you get on the plane):
1.) Set aside $20 to $50 bucks NOW. Get out your calendar, pick a day and write in Barnes and Noble (or the name of your favorite bookstore) on it. Block out at least two hours for your bookstore excursion.
2.) When the time comes, go to said bookstore and selection 2-5 CURRENT travel mags. Splurge on the classics like:
Conde Naste Traveler
Travel and Leisure
National Geographic Traveler
Then go out on a limb and get some lesser known ones that fit your style such as:
Airports of the World
Pineapple (from the folk that brought you AirBnB. It’s brand new so I haven’t checked it out yet but it’s on my list!)
Whatever happens to be on the rack, has to do with travel and strikes your fancy
4.) When the time comes, pour yourself some tea, gather your mags, and also gather some scissors, a glue stick, some poster board (any size), and some sticky-notes. You might also like to have a smelly candle awaiting as well. I like vanilla.
5.) Set an alarm for the allotted time and then FORGET ABOUT THE ALARM.
6.) Light the candle and begin the excursion. This is the fun part! For me, the very act of flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine is luxurious, frivolous, and, well, something I don’t usually allow myself to do very often, so it is a real treat.
Start with the first page and take it all in. Even the advertising. This is an eye buffet, not just a piece of candy. Some images and stories will not strike your fancy. Not into Cartier watches? Skip it. Couldn’t care less about vacationing in Tahiti? Move on. Be aware of your thoughts all the while too. Be aware of your emotions. Be aware of pangs of joy as you daydream and also moments anguish as your remember the size of your bank account or your workload. Feeling a little guilty because you are fantasizing along with the gal in the magazine about a sinful getaway in Vegas? Interesting…Move on or stay there. No judgment here. It is all just fun and observation.
When a photo or ad does catch your eye, linger there like you would in the eyes of a potential lover. Read the article and savor the way the author uses words to describe not only the place but his or her position in that particular geography. A good travel writer will do this. And there are some STELLAR ones out there. Remember, the late David Foster Wallace? He used to be a Naste’ writer. So is Pico Iyer, my favorite.
With photography, the same goes. Let your eyes take in the whole scope of the photograph. Imagine yourself there. Let your mind wander. Look forward to the day when you get to see that view or veranda in person for yourself.
7.) When the time is right and you feel like defacing that beautiful piece of literature and fantasy you have in your hands, start cutting out your favorite articles and images. The articles can go into a file labeled “Escape Reading” or something like that. The images can go on the poster board. Yes, you are making a dream board too!
8.) When the alarm goes off, take out your agenda book and make another date with all your friends in those lovely mags. Sundays are my date days in this regard. Even if it is just for an hour with my hands idling flipping, when it is over, I feel like I have traveled the world.
And that’s the whole point. If you want to travel, you have to DREAM it in order to DO it….so let the folks who publish these blingy little jewels help you get there….
That is their job, after all.
Do you have a favorite travel mag? Let us know about it in the COMMENTS section below!