That is a lot of words to have written down in some kind of logical order. The first draft was started in July of 2017, before we left on our trip. I knew I wanted to create something which was a record of our travels, but also to serve as a guide. There are so many details involved in the planning and management of travel which are not the stuff of Instagram photos. I struggled to find a good, ‘one-stop-shop’ of information as I worked through the early stages of our trip. In light of that problem, it seemed like a good idea to write my own guide as we moved through the world.

It was an interesting challenge to be two people in one. On one hand, I tried to be fully present to the magic of what was happening as we travelled the world. On the other hand, I was eager to include all the relevant details about the experience in my book. Luckily there were times, when the kids were apparently doing school work, that I could write. The period over Christmas in Bali comes to mind. Writing with a view over the pool, then taking a break to swim or walk along the beach. Repeat. A big chunk of words were written there.

I thought it might be fun to publish a snippet from the first chapter. I continue to write with an end date close at hand. Not because of a deadline, but rather a logical finishing point is about to be reached. Then I’ll need to do a big edit. After that, the really hard work will begin, getting the words out there. Releasing them into the wild. In what form this takes, I’m not sure yet. I’ve written the text in such a way that it can be read digitally after a quick download. But I envision a workbook with loads of photos, which is a different kind of publishing beast.

For now, enjoy some of my first thoughts. This is from the introduction, which I wrote towards the end of the trip. It was so much easier to have overall perspective in hindsight! Driving through Europe gave me a good amount of quiet time to think, balanced with research. I would read aloud to my husband, all the historical facts about the places we were passing through. Our teenagers had headphones on, so it is hard to say what they absorbed.

How does one even begin to plan a grand tour? And why do I call it that? Historically, the grand tour was a trip that Europeans of certain financial means and social status, would undertake in their 21styear, with a chaperon. The purpose was to travel to the significant cultural sights of the day in order to round out their formal education. Likely, it was a whole lot of fun as well.

I’m not sure who did all the planning for these boondoggles. Was there an agency which handled all the details? Probably not. I suspect gathering all the information required was as tricky then as it is now. In the beginning of our planning phase, I found it extremely difficult to find the information we needed. Still more challenging was how to format all that data for easy reference and analysis. Eventually, I ended up creating a master file in excel where I kept track of many mathematical pieces of data. The obvious figures which lent themselves to that kind of document. Things with numbers that needed calculations. But there were many other bits which we would need easy access to, particularly once we were on the move. I filled out certain online apps which were well designed for very specific applications. Never finding a one stop shop.

The lack of having, one source of truth, inspired me to write this book. I would have loved something which included all the idea prompts, with examples and space to fill in personal responses. A comprehensive tool, gathering all the possible details which need to be considered for an epic grand tour. Every kind of traveler will find valuable content here by picking and choosing what is most relevant. That’s OK, this is designed to be self-paced. Rest assured, if circumstances change in life, or your trip becomes more complicated, this guide probably has you covered.

This collection of ideas, resources and creative solutions is born out of my experience and research. Feel free to make use of it in whichever way feels right to you. The information is laid out in a possible order for how a typical journey might progress, through the planning phases. But each adventure is so unique and there will be twists and turns in the road, so feel free to skip around. It might take weeks or months, or even years, as it has for our family.

The prize at the end of this could be a trip of a lifetime. Or it could be the planning was more fun than the prospect of taking a big trip. (That is a thing!) Certainly, less expensive. Some people claim that the anticipation of travel is far more fun than the journey itself. In truth, I have heard that expressed in relation to extended family vacations, rife with additional interpersonal dynamics. Although, I think there is something to be said for the joy of the hunt. Gathering all the scraps of information into one place and letting your imagination run wild. That is fun, for sure.

I hope you enjoyed this snippet. A little sample of what I have created and what still keeps me rather busy on the long bus rides into the city each morning. If I am lucky, I also get some extra minutes on the train portion. The final, short bus ride is only 4 stops so I switch to my long list of podcasts. I am lucky to have this time to write, listen and learn. It is strictly disciplined and the routine helps me be consistent in a way which is not possible, left to my own devices.

Maybe I’ll be done the book at 40,000 words. It is hard to say. There is something satisfying about that kind of round number. But, who knows how many words I will lose in editing. I only need the right number of words. The count does not matter so much in the end. The one thing I am sure of is, I like what I have written in my travel book so far. I can’t always say that about everything else I have created over the years.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on creativity. Each day, I hope to get a little closer to understanding how to design a lifestyle I don’t need a vacation from. I believe that focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives is an important aspect of happiness and ultimately wellness.

There are a couple of interesting projects on the horizon in 2019. The travel book will be digitally published by the summer. A creativity retreat is on the docket for the Fall.

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See you on the internet! Or IRL, the next time we meet. Thank-you for the support and helping me get the word out to our fellow creatives.

Christine Westermark

I am a world traveller, lucky enough to have a loving family who support my dreams to learn, create and give back by designing creative content which enables a lifestyle we don't need a vacation from.

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38,841 words and counting

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