How to Keep Writing When You Travel

Whether you’re a freelance writer or novelist, it can be a romantic notion to write while they travel. You get inspiration from everything you see and perhaps some time to dedicate to your writing you wouldn’t have otherwise. This is largely why Amtrak offers a writing residency program for writers who need the time to get away.

However, romantic notions aside, it can be REALLY difficult to write when you travel. There are so many distractions to deal with and less than ideal working environments to manage. So how does a writer keep writing and still travel? Here are my best tips.

#1: Lower Your Expectations

Each year I attend a writing retreat in November for National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). I plan to conquer at least 30,000 of the 50,000 words from the state park cabin with my fellow wrimos. There’s no TV or internet, so you’d think there wouldn’t be any distractions. Except, there are distractions everywhere. The other people distract me because isn’t it rude to ignore the people you’re sitting next to? Also, once I’m there, I realize how exhausted I am now that I can sleep in without other people bothering me to wake up. If I set my word count goal to 10,000 words, I’d have a better chance of meeting the goal without feeling guilty despite the progress I did make.

#2: Invest in a Minimal Writing Set Up

When I write for work, I use an ergonomic keyboard, monitor risers, two monitors, a nice mouse, and my office chair. I have a little fan and sit in such comfort. I prefer it to working from anywhere else. When I used to work remotely or at the house of a family member, I am never as comfortable as I am working from my desk in the office. At one point, I brought all of that stuff with me. However, when you travel, you need to be realistic about what your working setup is. For me, that’s my 11-inch MacBook Air, a Disney-themed laptop case, and my charger. I compromise and accept this as my remote working setup. If not, I’d be carrying all of that stuff with me and never leave my desk.

#3: Set Specific Goals and Rewards

On top of a more realistic word count you might actually reach, try to set other kinds of goals. How many client projects do you want to finish or what sections of your novel? What are you going to do when you reach those goals? I like to reward myself with Starbucks (despite its always increasing price). In New Orleans, I had to meet a client project before the deadline. You don’t travel to New Orleans to drink Starbucks, but once I finished my project I walked over to the Starbucks on Canal Street. I sipped my chai tea latte and watched a different variation of the people I’m used to seeing. It was a lot of fun to see how people do the same things at a Starbucks no matter where you are.

What are your favorite ways to write while traveling? What did I miss? Email me at with your ideas or for assistance in your own freelance writing journey.