On a press trip last year with other travel journalists visiting Arizona, we toured the part of Route 66 that passes downtown Winslow, Ariz. That's me in the photo above, "standin' on the corner." We had such a great time. There were about eight of us, and we all got along so well. It's how I wish all press trips panned out.
But they don't, not always.
I've heard lots of horror stories on every single one I've taken. I've been fortunate enough not to run into those myself too often. Of course, I don't take many press trips. I prefer to travel on my own. But some of the stories I've heard involve writers who get so used to getting lots of freebies that they develop a certain kind of expectation. If they don't get three free meals a day, for instance, they get upset and make it known. If we're not staying in the best of the best of hotels, they complain--out loud, or indirectly to one or more of their travel partners. And one time I did wind up with a guy on a trip who couldn't get enough. The PR folks at the upscale hotel where we stayed gave us a CD to take home as a parting gift. He actually wanted and asked for the CD player in the room, too!
So, anyway, on this Arizona road trip, we started discussing and, okay, gossiping, about writers we'd heard of or seen behave with this diva-like behavior. The international travel journalists told us that the auto journalists they run into in Europe are the worst. I don't know any, so I can't speak to this. But they waxed on and on about how these writers are so spoiled and won't have much to do with other writers on trips. It sounded so ridiculous to me, because I think it's an honor to get to do what we do, to see so much, to go to so many different places on someone else's dime, to be wined and dined by the very best, to meet the chefs in person. The things a travel writer gets to do is beyond belief sometimes. And most of it, we wouldn't be able to afford on our own. It behooves us to accept it graciously, as it's offered so generously. Of course, our hosts want us to write about them. They do have that expectation on their part. But most of what they do for us is completely unneccessary. For the most part, I know I'm just seeking food and shelter so I can go explore their part of the world. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it usually is. Who am I to complain when I know one shouldn't bite the hand that feeds?
As we shared our many stories--some of them so absurd--we wound up coming up with a great idea: We should pitch a reality show starring us--the travel journalists. We thought it would work well for several reasons, but mostly because the personalities that congregate on a press trip can be quite the mix with a ton of drama! You might have your very serious journalists, you will have a diva or two, and you're certainly going to have the ones who won't stop talking. You're going to have someone who gets sick and requires special attention. You're going to have the writers who are never on time, won't be waiting in the lobby when they're supposed to, putting the whole well-planned out schedule behind schedule, making the PR people upset and in need of loud venting. You're also going to have those who monopolize the hosts' time, so you don't get to ask your own questions...and on and on and on.
Can't you just see the eye-rolling and the writers talking into the camera, complaining behind each other's backs. It could very well make good ratings.
We went on and on about this for several hours while driving in the van to our next location. We had so much fun making up the premise of the show. Of course, it might only wind up interesting to other travel journalists, so it's not likely anything commercially viable. But we had a good time fantasizing.
I like that about my work. I like that about my personality, that I'm apt to live on the playful side of life. I don't take life too seriously. I don't always "behave" like an adult. I sometimes sing where I shouldn't, talk too loud in a restaurant, and laugh harder than others in my group. I think it's one of my many quirks. And I think we should embrace our quirks.
Life's too short to forget what it's like to play. To keep moving forward, I really believe it's important to connect with your inner child.
If that's not possible for you, if you're out of touch with the playful nature inside of you, try this:
_Sing the lyrics to your favorite song backwards.
_Go for a walk, only skip the sidewalk. Instead, try walking on the curb...without falling off.
_Borrow your daughter's hula hoop and give it whirl. Do it in secret if you must, it's still just as fun.
And next time you find yourself near a sculpture that's just standin' there, hug it. Be sure to get someone to take a picture of you for posterity's sake (See photo above!).
Can you think of a creative way to get in touch with your playful side, or some ways that you already do? If so, post your examples here.