January 19


How to Merge Travel With Writing

By Odyssa

January 19, 2023

Time will come when I have to pack my bags and leave Vietnam, but for now, I want to gather and record as much as I can.

Whenever I travel, I bring a 'handy dandy' notebook with me. So many things happen during travel all at the same time - sensory overload from places, food, colors, culture, people. 

As someone who enjoys writing, I can't let all of these slip through my fingers. I try, as much as I can, to merge travel with writing using these four ways: 

1. Set aside quiet time to write about the day's events. 

Traveling might mean packing your days with full-day tours, exhausting hikes, and being out all day. 

When you find it, use your downtime to write about what you did during the day, how you felt and what makes them worth writing about.

This photo was taken during a group hike to Lioness Rock. This climb to the top took a lot of courage and steady knees. Hiking in Norzagaray, Bulacan, 2014.  

2. Find details in the big events.

What was the name of your boat man? How did you find that rusty bicycle that took you to a hidden beach?

The particulars make our encounters unique to us and, hopefully, fascinating to the readers. 

Here's what I wrote about traveling to Thailand last year. 

Snorkeling in the clear waters of Maldives, 2021.

3. Talk to strangers. 

Travel is the time to engage in small talk, even if it sounds intimidating. Through these conversations, you can gather useful information, make connections with fellow travelers even if it's only for a short time. 

Often, the most captivating stories are found in people, not in the sights. 

Here's what I wrote while I was in between countries.

I took this selfie on the train not knowing I was going to be late for my flight to Krabi, Thailand. Thanks to the young Thai lady sitting nearby, I found out I should take the train going the opposite direction. Bangkok, Thailand, 2022. 

4. Go small. 

Writing about a trip can get overwhelming. After ticking boxes in your list of things to do in a matter of days, it's hard to know where to start.  

Focus on one story - the local dish you tried for the first time or the friendliness of your Airbnb host - and grow your narrative from there.

I recently made a list of small joys. Read it here

A vintage-looking restaurant somewhere near Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.

"Travel brings people out of their heads and into their hearts." Gloria Steinem

Do you take note of places you visit and people you meet as your travel? Can you recall a remarkable story from a recent trip?

My book, From Where I Stand, is a book filled with poems of my trips within and outside the Philippines.

You can read a few of my travel stories here.

I am writing from Indochine Coffee, Da Nang, Vietnam.


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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