No amount of Internet research can replace the reality of experiencing the real thing.
The atmosphere. The people. The smells. The sounds. The places. The fear. The excitement.
If you have personal knowledge of the location, the culture and the people, you are more likely to show rather than tell in your writing. So in the name of research, we should travel as much as possible, or so I keep telling my husband.
I think we are more likely to do and try things while travelling than we would at home. Whether it’s eating different foods, hiking to the top of a mountain, getting up close and personal to flora and fauna, or doing something completely out of the square.
I make each traveling experience count and use it to soak up the world around me. So take off your shoes, roll up your trousers and cross that glacial stream high in the mountains of New Zealand. It may give you brain freeze, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Harness your fear and go paraflying or explore an ancient ruin. Let go of your inhibitions and make the most of the world around you.
Some of the best things I’ve done while travelling:
- Para-flying over the ocean in Fiji – Brilliant
- Skiing down snow covered slopes – Exhilarating
- Racing my sister on Jet skis across Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown – Hilarious.
- Scuba diving on the Barrier Reef – Excellent. Especially if you resurface due to seasickness. Amazing how many fish appear to share your regurgitated lunch.
- Patting a fully-grown tiger – Absolutely amazing, then scary when you witness your seven-year old straddling a tiger and rubbing its tummy. (A monk was with him)
- Riding an Elephant bareback – Awesome. Until you go into the river and the gentle giant decides to give you a shower for free. An experience that thrilled my children.
- Stroking a King Cobra – Daunting until the toothless attendant grins and says. ‘You very lucky lady, you touch King Cobra and live.’ But then I’ve always been lucky.
- Cancelled a two-year working holiday – Costly. It took 17,000 kilometres to realise I’d just met the love of my life. Needless to say, I threw in my job, got back on a plane and came home. We were married five months later. – Best decision I ever made.
When you travel, don’t just play the compliant tourist. Get out there. Go behind the scenes. Meet the locals and discover their culture. Allow your horizons to be broadened. Stay somewhere authentic, historical or unusual. And if there’s no hot water or the bed collapses, who cares. It all adds colour and laughter to your life and memories.
What are my favourite places in the World?
How long do you have. A fishing village in Cornwall, a medieval city in Tuscany, the Lakes in Wales, Powerscourt Gardens in Ireland, London, Venice, Queenstown, The Scottish Highlands, Melbourne, Sorrento, the Bay of Islands, Barcelona, the Daintree Rainforest, etc.
In my own travelling escapades, which now span a few years, I’ve experienced and done thin I never dreamed possible. And many of those things will and do find their way into my books. Open your mind and senses, and I guarantee you’ll have many wonderful holidays without breaking the budget.
I might just add here that I’m a research fanatic. If I don’t know my subject, I will and do use the net extensively. I’ve interviewed an Aboriginal Elder, an underworld figure, a senior policeman and the Abbott in Chiang Mai. I’ve joined a gym, spoken to a cattlemen, a horse expert and watched hours of u-tube tutorials. All in the name of research. I also get inspiration from the words in songs, movies, books, or conversations.
My husband thinks he’s taking me on a romantic holiday to Vietnam. No way. It’s research for my next suspense, but he doesn’t need to know that.