Travel is a creative endeavor unto itself. Choosing a place to go to, booking a place to stay, deciding what to see, all of these things lead to a variety of experiences, a reflection of each person and their interests. (All a reflection of creativity!) Recently I’ve been doing a bit of traveling (back and forth between Muscat and Dubai/Abu Dhabi, a trip to Istanbul, etc.) and it got me thinking about creative practice. I keep harping on the benefits of creative habits, but traveling is something that can totally take you out of any habit you have cultivated. And in this instance, I think its a good thing.
While in Istanbul I did a lot of walking. A lot of photographing. A lot of doodling and writing. I had some days to myself which allows for that reflection and dedication to art-making and art-thinking. Obviously when you travel with loved ones it is a bit different and there needs to be some compromise and deal-making if you want to spend an afternoon drawing in a piazza. Perhaps your loved one goes to the sports museum or war museum or -insert activity you don’t like here- you do not want to see and you meet up after? Or, you each take a day to choose activities. There are ways to support each other and your creativity while enjoying your traveling experience as well!
So, in the spirit of new and the novel experiences one has whilst traveling, here are a list of creative activities. Choose one, choose all, and perhaps you can even contribute to the list! How can we incorporate our creative lives into the traveling experience?
Bring a small or large sketchbook. Draw everything you see: window airplane views, inside airplane views, inside airport views, while in queues for visas, etc. We have lots of “wasted” time while trying to get to our destination. Why not make it a time that is creative! Pass the time faster and get some of that drawing in.
Print out two-four chapters of your recent novel efforts. Or, have it on a tablet with editing functions. Reread, rewrite, edit… It would be especially helpful to bring something you have been struggling with. New and strange environments can get our brains making new connections and all of a sudden a challenging problem might have a whole new perspective!
Start a dialogue with a traveling stranger about the arts. Ask them a question you grapple with being an artist or writer. If they seem interested and friendly enough to engage, you have potential market research right at your “seat number 29D” fingertips.
Pick a day of rest on your trip. Sometimes we rush to get it all in and we lose the mindful experience of just being there and enjoying the fact we’ve made it. Even a few hours of an afternoon just to chill a bit, but in context of the trip can help you see the creativity in your explorations! Use some of this time at a coffee shop or park if the weather is nice and take it in. Bring a journal/sketchbook/notepad. And a pen. Reflect! Write! Draw! Review all of those photos you have been taking. What do you note about your imagery?
I try to incorporate meditation breaks, especially during the actual travel process, when we have all of this “Wasted” time I’ve mentioned. Why not Take Ten with Headspace? Clearing our minds can make room for our creativity to come through. And sometimes we do need a serious break from creating, which is why travel can be so great in the first place!
Bring a topic or problem to mindmap about. Or an old mindmap. Or both. See how new experiences and environments help you contribute to the mindmap and idea development you are working through.
Give yourself a creative challenge. Make it a family challenge or an individual one. Use something like Instagram and select themes to try and document and explore the city you are in! Cameras and smart phones make activities like this easy to do.
On my recent flight to Istanbul from Muscat we had a layover in Bahrain. My plane, which had maybe 20 people on it out of Muscat, all of a sudden was a full flight. I was noting people as they board, wondering if I would lose my luxurious row of seats to myself, but also curious about the new passengers. I love people watching! Once our new people were seated and there was takeoff the attendants came out and asked people what they wanted to drink, you know the usual. Most people said orange juice, water, etc. Then I heard and saw a man ask for vodka. He had a particular smile on his face. His friends next to him nodded and asked for the same. Vodka. It was 9 AM.
Travel allows us to make choices that feel novel or a “treat” (I certainly hope vodka at 9 AM isn’t a habit!). How can you use the novelty to your creative advantage?
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Choose one small action to incorporate creativity into your travel experience? Try it on. How did it work? Share below!
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You bring up great ideas of things you can do and they are CHEAP. When my husband and I were in Venice last summer, completely penniless, we decided to sketch the things around us. I’m not the most creative person but I was itching to do this after watching students in Rome doing this the year before. It connects you to what you are doing in that moment but it also gives such a different meaning to travel too. Love the ideas!
Thank you Jackie! I hadn’t thought about the fact they are cost effective ideas, but you are absolutely right. I don’t see why people need to spend additional money to have fun and engage in the space around them, after all, we can spend quite a bit on just getting to our destination! And I LOVE LOVE that you were willing to give sketching a go. I have a post coming up about Urban Sketching that argues that ANYONE can draw, and it seems you already have taken in that message. 🙂 Best wishes!