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BOOKing Trips and Traveling Right
…..and Sometimes to Write.
Brittany VanDerBill is a writer friend who loves jetsetting to new destinations. Even better, she loves to write about her on the ground experiences.
…..like her trip with a college friend to Las Vegas that went sideways.
………or whether it’s really worth it to fly first class
……………. and some do’s and don'ts when traveling solo.
She is a busy, busy writer who also assists her husband on a farm in Minnesota. But she was kind enough to share some insights into her travel craze and the role that books play into it.
What’s the major catalyst behind your interest in travel?
Part of it is the novelty--it's an opportunity to shake things up and try something new. I feel like I learn things while traveling that I would have never thought to ask, and sometimes you can find under-the-radar places by accident. There are also so many places I want to explore that there's a slight sense of urgency. In a way there’s so many places to travel, so little time! Plus, traveling now and then from January to May helps me keep my sanity (I live in Minnesota...enough said).
Several months ago you booked a last minute travel excursion to Mexico. What was this experience like?
I still can't quite believe I did this! A friend had an extra room, so she invited me to Puerto Vallarta a few months prior to their trip. I said no because I'd never flown out of the country before and had never been to Mexico. And honestly, I had no real desire to visit.
I love domestic travel, but international travel makes me pause with all the pandemic-related changes and what not. Well, this winter was brutal, so by early March I was more than ready to go somewhere warm. As it happened, my friend and I had happy hour a day before she left, and she mentioned she still had an extra room available. After some 5am searching the following morning, I found a reasonably priced flight that left in less than 24 hours.
WOW, so you just picked up and went?
My husband encouraged me to go because I was waffling on whether to book or not. The deciding factor? He told me I couldn't be cranky about the winter weather if I stayed home! So, I booked my flights and packed my bags while frantically figuring out whether my credit card was usable in Mexico, whether my phone would work, and all those other international travel details one should know about before flying out.
What did you learn from this experience?
In retrospect, this was the best way to get myself to fly out of the country (alone) because I didn't have much time to think about it. One thing I learned is that I'm capable of navigating alone, even when there were moments of panic, like when my cell phone wouldn't work when I landed. And when traveling solo, I can't be afraid to look stupid or ask questions of fellow passengers. Most people are pretty willing to help, if you ask nicely.
Describe the types of books that resonate with you while traveling.
When traveling, I generally prefer fiction, but I find it tough to focus on reading when I travel. At the airport, for instance, there's just so much people-watching I can do. And on the plane, the noise and movement typically distract me. If I'm on a beach? Well, then I just want to sip my margarita and watch the ocean! But I did bring The Second Mrs. Astor to Mexico and managed to read a bit of it on the beach and on the plane.
Historical fiction tends to be my go-to, whether I'm on vacation or at home. I think that when a book is engaging enough, it can enhance travel by becoming entwined with my memories of the trip. You know how certain smells can be closely tied to memories? I think books can be that way, too. For example, I read The People You Meet on Vacation during my first solo trip where I happened to meet a lot of great people and even made a new friend. Now when I see that book, it reminds me of that trek.
Do you prefer hardback/paperback, digital, or audiobooks? Or a combination? Why?
I love, love, love print. So paperback books are my favorite way to read. It sounds weird, but part of it is the smell--the ink, the paper. And physically turning a page is just somehow more satisfying than tapping my Kindle. But I do love my Kindle because I can take dozens of books with me and download new ones wherever there's wifi. So I'm partial to both. Audiobooks are great in theory, but I struggle to sit still and listen to a book. So I generally don't go that route.
What 2-3 books are currently on your list to read before the end of 2023?
I'm in a book club (some call us a wine club, but that's another story), so I have The Measure by Nikki Erlick on my list. I'm reading Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber as another book club pick.
Ok, now I’m turning this question around to ask you and your readers: What books should be on my to-read list for the remainder of this year? Feel free to email me with suggestions!