Hardcore Travel Secrets for New Travel Writers

airplanes suckby Joe Wallace

Not to brag, but I am a hard core traveler. A road warrior. I balance a laptop in one hand and a map in the other. I believe it’s important to establish some cred here since lately it seems I keep running across “resources for writers” that turn out to be written by people who haven’t actually done that much writing–except for other writers. So in the words of Mick Jagger, please allow me to introduce myself (except I’m not the devil.)

I have been in the jungles of Honduras, the snowy wastelands of Iceland, and in the non-stop streets of Tokyo. I’ve been to 40 of the 50 states and I’ve flown in every type of aircraft except hang gliders, box kites and the space shuttle. I’ve written stories about Japan’s air force, Korea’s tea districts, and anti-terrorism training in Iceland. You could call me…slightly experienced.

With all that, I’ve learned a few tricks about travel–stuff every new travel writer (or traveling writer, for that matter) should know. For example–I discovered in Germany that my MacBook Pro would work just fine when plugged directly into the German wall socket. It did NOT blow up or get fried. Why? Because the transformer in the power supply was built well. I can’t say whether or not my Gateway would fare the same–I don’t trust the power supply on that one.

I learned in Japan that it doesn’t pay to buy currency in the airport–or even before the trip begins. If you must get currency, buy only enough to get you a taxi ride. Save your money and get currency from the bank instead–in the foreign country you’re visiting.

I learned in Glasgow to beware of an old taxi driver trick. “Is this your fist time to Scotland?” If you answer yes, you will be taken the LONG WAY to your final destination. I call this being taken on a “Missouri Boat Ride” after the trick Clint Eastwood played on some pursuing soldiers in The Outlaw Josey Wales. Or was it Pale Rider? I can’t remember.

The craziest travel I ever did was flying from Seoul to Seattle nonstop, renting a car and driving from Seattle to Montana. Without sleep. I learned on that trip that Starbucks will NOT keep you awake as well as a Five Hour Energy type drink. Beware the caffeine/sugar crash when you pound a four-pack of those Frappucino drinks. As I crossed into Montana in the dead of winter on the ice-covered mountain roads, I was actually starting to hallucinate from lack of sleep. Better to pull over and sleep for a bit. What was I thinking?

From Chicago to St. Louis I learned that you can use a Sprint wireless network card on a moving train. Yes–it IS possible. I’m writing THIS from a moving train, actually.

If you take Amtrak, you will discover two types of trains–one is laptop friendly with outlets on practically every seat. These are the single-decker trains. Double decker trains with sleeping berths generally do NOT have outlets in every seat–far from it. But if you do get stuck on a double decker train, go to the lowest level and find one of the changing rooms–they have outlets conveniently placed there and on short trips, hardly anyone ever uses the rooms in my experience. I’ve completely recharged in one without interruptions of any sort.

I have loads more tips like these, but I’ll save them for another post.