Travelling is great for story ideas

Karalee’s Post #84

To say the least I’ve had a wonderful month in Europe; a whirlwind visit to five countries in four weeks. No, it wasn’t a scheduled bus tour, but rather a do-it-yourself GPS navigated holiday in a rented Fiat 500.

It all started in Lecco, Italy at the World Junior Ultimate Championships where my son was playing for Team Canada. With over 800 athletes (all under 20 years old) and 25 countries represented, it was a spectacular event. Team Israel (boys team only) was there too, and the entire team was escorted everywhere by their own security police. My writer’s eye kept being drawn to these teenagers trying to be teenagers while being constantly overlooked by Kevlar-vested-armed police. My mind started story making, wondering how different these boys’ “normal world” is compared to my boy’s “normal world” and what if one of the boys went missing – defected, abducted, or ran off with a new-found lover on one of the girls teams…

Team Canada


And now I wonder how my son’s perception of his own world has changed, or may change or be influenced by his team winning the World Championships for the first time in a long time!

This was a great reminder that experiences that our characters go through change their lives too and alter their perspectives whether in a good way or bad. And as writers, we can choose those experiences in order to allow our characters to act and do what they do in a believable way.

After the tournament my husband David and I started our tour, taking the path of least resistance, least stress, and least of going-the-wrong-way. Put in simple terms, I drive while David navigates.

This arrangement has saved our traveling relationship and was a lesson learned over three decades ago on a road trip neither of us has forgotten, and probably innocent bystanders and the assorted drivers in other vehicles haven’t either.

With today’s technology navigating is much simpler. No need for an unwieldy map spread out on one’s lap waiting to be spilled on by one’s drink. Rather, the route is quietly spoken by Alison’s lovely nonjudgmental voice (the voice was already named in the App)  with a 2 km warning while highway driving or 300 meters in the city. David remained happy as long as the purple line (designating our Fiat) followed along the green route and he could hear what Alison was saying. That’s another technological point to remember: turn the volume up on the cell phone!

Alison did such a great job that David could relax enough to read the guidebook out loud to me or feed me sandwiches from our picnic lunch kit and even have his afternoon nap.

Relaxing wasn’t so much for me the driver. It may be that I’m a good twenty years older, but it seems like there were more lanes of traffic, more cars, skinnier roads, a much higher speed limit and a lot shorter merge lanes to get into the flow of traffic. It was enough to make one sweat sitting down with the air conditioner on high.

Then there are the Italians that rarely signal.

And cars behind that tailgate at 130 kph. Yes, tailgate!

And rain. Lots of rain.

I really dislike putting sunscreen on so I don’t mind cloudy weather. But this is Europe in the summer, and four sunny days in four weeks is I would think, unheard of! I felt like driving in the rain in summer in Europe must be like driving in the snow in Vancouver in the winter. Slow down? No way.

Although driving is more stressful than a bus tour or taking the train, it does allow one to be flexible on what route to take to “get there” and where “there” can actually be without it being on the bus or train route. We booked through Airbnb and didn’t stay in hotels. In general we had a separate suite in someone’s home or apartment and stayed in residential areas. We got a bit of the feel of how the locals live, and that’s what I like to experience.

It’s great for story ideas too.

Ballabio driveway























Austria apartment







I agree with Silk in her last post in that the internet is an invaluable tool to help research practically anything. Another tool that I find amazing and we have access to now that we didn’t have even a few years ago, is the instant digital camera. A picture of where you have been is invaluable. It can bring not only the image back to mind, but the smells and feel of the place and situation.

So of course, I have hundreds of other pictures of my trip to refer back to and possibly help create story lines in the future. Maybe even a few of security police overlooking the safety of ordinary teenage boys from one foreign country in another foreign country playing a sport to represent their own country.

Happy writing!