Traveling can seriously hurt your writing:
- Your usual writing routine might not fit into your packed travel schedule
- Travel can tire you out and make it harder for you to sit down and write
- Jetlag can completely mess up your daily routine
As a result, you might experience dry-spells of writing more often than not while traveling, and lose all the writing momentum you’ve been building up for months.
But what if that wasn’t the case?
- You could actually write MORE when you’re traveling than when you’re not?
- You could get some of your best creative writing done while traveling?
- You could get a TON of writing done while traveling without feeling like you don’t have the time to write?
I’ve been on both sides of the story. I’ve had business trips where I got barely any writing done at all, and I’ve also had some of my most productive writing trips.
In this post, I’ll share with you 5 ways in which you can write more while traveling – which can make or break how much writing you’ll get done on your next business trip.
The conventional advice on writing while traveling
If you do a quick search on Google around writing while traveling, you’ll usually find advice like:
- Make sure you schedule your writing in advance!
- Set deadlines for writing!
- Pack your laptop!
- Journal every evening!
- Find a place with good Internet connection!
And while that’s not necessarily bad advice, I feel like most of the posts out there on this subject miss the mark and don’t really address the writing challenges we face while we travel.
- What if you’re jetlagged and can’t focus on writing a really hard sales page?
- What if your travel schedule doesn’t really allow you to get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted writing time in every day?
- What if you want to write some actually useful content, and not just journal every night?
In this post, I’ll go beyond the conventional advice around while writing with traveling, and share with you 5 strategies that worked well for me while traveling – that you can try out on your next trip.
Let’s dive in!
Strategy #1: Have Fun and Easy Content Ready to Write
When I travel, I’m often a lot more tired than in my everyday life.
Maybe it’s jetlag from traveling to a different time zone. Maybe it’s spending 16 hours cramped up in an airplane seat. Maybe it’s the traffic, delays and other circumstances that take my energy and focus away that I wouldn’t usually have to deal with.
And while you CAN write while you’re tired, it’s definitely true that the more tired you are, the harder it is for you to write.
So if you’re sitting tired in an airplane seat, writing a really great blog post, sales e-mail or a sales page can sometimes feel like pulling teeth – especially if you don’t know EXACTLY what you want to write.
Because of that, you’ll either write a lot slower than usually, throw away a lot of your writing, or simply choose not to write and watch movies during your flight.
Luckily, there’s a way to avoid all of this frustration and pain.
Last time I was on a 16-hour flight to Austin, Texas I successfully wrote 12,000+ words in 4 hours of writing AND had plenty of time to sleep, read a book and watch the movies I missed out on in the cinema.
I actually got some of my fastest writing ever done on that flight, even though I took a lot more breaks than usual as I was super tired.
I worked on a long piece that was really easy for me to write and was already my head.
I didn’t have to think about how to say something or stare at a blank page, not knowing what to write. I could just sit down and write, and wrote far more than I planned on writing.
Whenever I travel, I always make sure I have plenty of “easy content” ready to write in my head – rather than writing content that’s hard for me to write (like sales funnels, sales pages and some blog posts) that would be extremely hard for me to write when I’m tired.
Here are some examples of “easy content” that’s usually easy to write, even when I’m tired:
- Personal stories and experiences (what happened to me recently)
- Topics I have a really strong opinion on (where I disagree with the conventional wisdom)
- Ideas that I already have clearly defined in my head, and I can’t wait to write
A really easy way to test if a piece of content is “easy” for me is to start creating an outline for it. If an outline just flows out of me and gets me excited to write and in the zone fast, content is usually easy.
If on the other hand I get stuck while creating the outline, that means that this piece is harder and that it’s best for me to work on it when I’m fresh and at my best.
Before your next business trip, take some time to think about 3-5 pieces of easy content you would LOVE to write while traveling.
These shouldn’t be the pieces that you HAVE to write, these should be pieces that you WANT to write and can’t wait to sit down and start writing, knowing that the words will just spill onto paper.
Another quick way to see if your ideas fall under easy content is to just think about them and see how you FEEL about them. Are you indifferent about them and feel no emotion? Or do you instantly get excited and your hands start to feel itchy about the ideas that you’re thinking about?
Pick ideas that you feel strongly about, and save the others for your day-to-day writing.
Strategy #2: Go on a Coffee Shop Tour
I got one of the coolest strategies for writing while traveling from one of my students, Steven.
Steven was on a roadtrip across the US and wanted to get more writing done. He came up with the idea of a “coffee shop tour” – he’d go to a different coffee shop in the city he was visiting every day and write for an hour or two.
As soon as I heard that idea, I loved it so much I immediately tried it out in my home city, even though I wasn’t traveling.
It became my little project for the week, and I was excited to try new coffee shops every day to see which one has the best coffee, and which one has the best environment for writing.
Then, when I went on a short trip to Vienna, I made it a priority to visit the coolest coffee shops in the city, as well as the best historical coffee shops where famous composers like Beethoven composed their music.
Whenever I travel to a new city, I look for coffee shops that:
- Are the best rated in the city
- Serve the best coffee
- Look weird, quirky and cool
- Are the oldest in the city
- Have an interesting history
- Used to be frequented by famous authors, painters and composers
I love going on coffee shop tours whenever I travel because it makes it so much easier and more fun to get writing done when you’re tired (plus, there’s endless supply of coffee!).
Next time you travel, find 5-10 coffee shops you’d LOVE to visit during your trip (depending on how long your trip is).
Pay attention to which coffee shops:
- You’re really excited to try out
- Are close to your location
- Are open late at night / early in the morning (to account for jetlag)
Then, if your schedule allows, try out one coffee shop a day, bring your laptop with you, and get a few writing sessions in.
Or, even if you’re not traveling right now, you can go on a coffee shop tour in your own city to make writing more fun and discover some cool coffee shops along the way.
Who knows, you might even discover your next favorite coffee shop!
Strategy #3: Use Jetlag to Write More, Not Less
If you move through a lot of timezones, you’ll likely find yourself laying in bed with your eyes wide open in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep.
For example, whenever I travel to the US, I routinely wake up before 4 and 5 am, which is usually 4-5 hours before I have any events or commitments.
Even though I’m usually not the most energized during those times, I’ve found that I can have some amazing writing sessions when there’s little else to do.
This is where your Easy Writing List comes in handy.
If you have a list of easy things to write when you’re tired, you’ll notice the time that would be otherwise wasted laying in bed will just fly by.
You might even end up writing more than you would when you’re not traveling if you’re not an early riser because you’ll have hours of uninterrupted time available for writing.
Additionally, you can look up some coffee shops that open early in the morning (at 6 or 7am) where you can get some coffee and continue with your early morning writing and start your coffee shop tour early in the day.
Next time you’re jetlagged while traveling, use the time as an opportunity to get some easy writing done and start your coffee shop early in the day!
Strategy #4: Get Your Most Creative Writing Done During Flights, Delays and Layovers
12-hour flights, 5-hour layovers and never-ending bus and train rides can be a pain to endure (unless you LOVE flying or riding the train), especially if you’re cramped up in a small seat with not much to do.
What’s even worse? Delayed flights, cancelled flights and missed connections and times when you’re stuck in the airport for hours on end, not knowing when you’ll be able to get to your destination.
Or, these situations can be THE situations where you get some of your best, most creative writing done.
Whenever I’m on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I get some of my most creative writing done.
I don’t know why – maybe it’s because I can disconnect from the world as I don’t have much else to do. Maybe it’s because I’m sometimes more creative when I’m tired. Maybe it’s because I’m on a journey somewhere, and that helps me dream bigger and think more creatively.
Regardless of what it is, I know that if I actually start writing when I’m on my way to my next destination.
Having your Easy Writing List ready is a game-changer here. Because it can be harder to start (and keep writing) when you’re super tired, making it as easy as possible to write will make writing a lot more fun and less of a chore.
Your easy writing will also likely lead you to some creative ideas that you might not think of if you’re trying to get a lot of hard writing done.
Another thing I love doing when I’m traveling to my destination is to come up with different ideas for what I want to write about (something that feels easier when I’m tired and censoring myself less).
Flights and layovers aren’t the only times when I get a lot of writing done.
I’ve gotten a lot of writing done while:
- Taking an uber ride to / from the airport
- Riding the train across the country
- Exploring the city on a bus or a metro
- Waiting (for a flight, bus, train, metro…)
As long as I have my laptop with me and I had some easy writing ready, I use a lot of the commute while traveling for writing (unless I’m dead tired and really just want to sleep, watch a movie or stare out of the window).
Another benefit of this strategy is that I’m using the time I otherwise wouldn’t spend very productively, and I don’t have to actually carve out an extra 3 hours every day for writing – so I can get a lot of writing done without a rigid writing schedule.
Next time you’re traveling, make sure you have your Easy Writing List created. Then, try out writing on different means of transportation.
Know that some of this might work better for you than others, so have fun experimenting with them and finding out what works for you.
- It might be easy for you to write in an uber, or you might get super car sick
- It might be easier for you to write on a flight than during a layover at the airport (or vice versa)
- You might enjoy writing on a 30-minute metro ride, but might not enjoy writing on the metro station
The key is to find out what works for you, so you can use this time for writing in the future!
Strategy #5: Take Your Laptop Everywhere
Whenever I travel, I usually meet up with my friends and clients for breakfasts, lunches, coffees and dinners.
As I do that, there’s usually a lot of downtime between these meetings as:
- I like to create a buffer between meetings so we can have great, long conversations, which means I’ll usually have some time in-between to write
- They might sometimes get stuck in traffic and be a few minutes late
- I might have to commute from one location to the other (another opportunity to write)
To take advantage of this downtime, I take my laptop with me everywhere I go – so I can whip it out and work on my easy writing while waiting for my friends to arrive.
I’ve had numerous super-productive 30-minute writing sessions this way and used the time way better than by just being on my phone.
Another thing that I like to do that I learned from one of my students, Kats, is to plan to arrive to every meeting 30min early.
This way I will never be late to a meeting even if I get stuck in traffic, and if I come there early I’ll just order some coffee and get some writing done while I wait for them to arrive.
If I carry my laptop everywhere with me, I can use the waiting time and even time when I’m stuck in traffic way more productively.
I can also use the time in-between meetings to visit another coffee shop as part of my coffee shop tour – or even meet my friends for coffee at a cool shop that they love, or a coffee shop that I’d love to visit and make that part of the coffee shop tour.
Next time you travel, take your laptop everywhere and use every opportunity you can to write more. You’ll be surprised to see that the 30-minute writing sessions add up to thousands of written words every day!
You can also use this strategy when you’re not traveling and you’re meeting with friends or clients in your city – simply take your laptop with you, arrive 30min early, and get a writing session in while you wait!
Writing while traveling isn’t easy, but if you:
- Make sure you have some easy writing ready to write
- Make writing fun by going on a coffee shop tour
- Take your laptop everywhere and make the most out of your commute time, downtime and jetlag
Then you might just end up writing more when you’re traveling than when you’re not.
If you want to take things one step further and go beyond writing in coffee shops, I created a BONUS PDF for you with 26 of my favorite writing locations that you can use to get even more writing done while traveling!
You can download that PDF for free by putting your name and e-mail in the box below.
What about you? What are your favorite ways to get writing done while traveling?
Beyond The Coffee Shop: My 26 Favorite Places to Write
Download the FREE PDF with my 26 favorite places to sit down and write - or write on the go!