Today's blogpost is inspired by Blonde on a Budget's excellent post, How to Prepare for a Solo Writing Retreat. Cait (the "blonde") outlines 10 concrete steps to create a plan - and to stick to it. That last part is important, as anyone who has tried to get away to write knows (insert your own memories of sleeping, walking on the beach, or shopping when you really meant to be tucked in your hotel writing here).
A solo writing retreat is something I have thought of doing again, so as the writer-in-me stirs, the travel-agent-in-me turns my attention to possible places to escape to. I've had fun putting this together, searching for options from long weekends to long-stays of 3-4 weeks.
A historic building stay that inspiresHow can a writer stay in a building that is hundreds of years old and not be inspired to write? The Landmark Trust, a charity that offers short stays in restored historic buildings in England, Wales, Scotland, Lundy, the Channel Islands, Belgium, France and Italy, is a great way to find an old place for your retreat. Among their properties, there are castle stays, historic city stays, landmarks for walking and unusual places to stay. While many are extravagances, there are a few cheaper options (view the listings sorted by price, or check late availability if you are in a crunch). These spots are particularly appealing:
- Old Light Cottage - a retreat for 1 adjacent to the lighthouse (which also has suites) in the Bristol Channel, off the island of Lundy
- The Egyptian House, 3rd floor - 1 of 3 flats in a stunning old museum in Penzance, Cornwall
A hotel in the heart of a city that inspiresYou know yourself. You know what setting will inspire you. For me, a great spot in a city centre holds great appeal (my main Twitter handle is @citytravelbug afterall!). For you, it might be a more rural setting that appeals. Regardless, searching for affordability in destinations that appeal can turn up some interesting options. Location is important (is it close to cafes, a grocery store, inspiring walks?), as is the establishment (is the hotel known for quality service? is it quiet? will you write more if there is room service?), your room type (can you write in a "closet" or do you need a room with a view? do you need a desk in your room?), your room style (does a bright, modern room inspire you? or could you write just as well in a dated room?) and safety, of course, is paramount. Aside of that, the world is your oyster.
An extended-stay flat that inspiresIncreasingly popular in today's sharing economy, VRBO and AirBnB are sites that can help you find a long-stay apartment. I've had success doing so, booking month-long stays in Athens, Rhodes and Paris through VRBO in 2009. Just do your homework: check for reviews and watch out for scams. Or ask a travel agent to help you find something, as they have tools that consumers can't access. Here are a few that I see in my travel agent bag-of-tricks:
- Kihei Akahi, Maui - full kitchen, lanai, a/c, washer/dryer, no resort fees, no cleaning fees (wifi extra) (often has good rates, such as June 1-14, 2016 for $1630 USD, including taxes - or October 1-31, 2016 for $3422 USD, including taxes )
- Ala Moana Hotel, Waikiki - fridge, free wifi, a/c, no resort fees, no cleaning fees (often has good rates, such as June 1-14, 2016 for $1926 USD, including taxes)
- Rates vary by date, please ask me for details
A long-stay package, far away, to inspirePackage vacations let you take advantage of group rates at a range of destinations. While geared to vacationers, and you may get a suntan as part of the deal, the value can make these a win if you can find one that doesn't significantly penalize solos. I suggest a location where you'd feel like doing little else but write, or one that oozes inspiration. Aside of the obvious (Mexico), these are a few I've had my eye on:
- Malta long-stay
- French Riviera long-stay
- Thailand long-stay
- Similar packages are also available in the Algarve (Portugal), Costa del Sol (Spain) and Sorrento (Italy) - ask me for details
A long cruise with many sea days to inspireDo you enjoy cruising? Do you enjoy sea days? If so, you may want to take advantage of a repositioning cruise with little else to do but write. It's not surprising that I think of cruising as an option (my other Twitter handle is @cruisetravelbug). Every month I book clients onto repositioning sailings that just call out to me. If you can afford it, a balcony will help with that inspiration, and give you something appealing to gaze at when you look up from computer - and is a perfect spot for journaling. If your budget is tight, you can book an inside cabin, and take your laptop up to a public area to write, or treat your out-of-cabin time as the reward for a few hours of writing away in your cabin. If you play your cards right, you can include a destination from your bucketlist - as inspiration or simply as a reward.
I hope this provides inspiration and ideas for your own creative retreats.
If you would appreciate assistance in planning your own personal retreat, I have access to travel agent resources that can prove to be very helpful. Whether your trip is big or small, your budget generous or teensy, I can help with accommodations, airfare and so on. I work with creative types of all sorts, near and far. Just contact me with your quest.
How to Prepare for a Solo Writing Retreat - Blonde on a Budget
Take Your Writing Away - The Boston Writer
The Rewards of a Solo Retreat - The Davinci Dilemma
Self-directed Writing Retreats for Your Wish List - Sarah Selecky
6 Essential Tips for Your Own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat - BookBaby Blog
Suggested resources from my blogs
Travelling to Write: 5 Writing Retreats
Pietrasanta, the city of sculpture
Etruscan Italy: a self-guided tour