How to travel to Europe (or write a book) without breaking the bank

Reading time: About 2.5 minutes

According to St. Augustine, the world is a book — and those who don’t travel read only one page. My family took his advice to heart this summer and, funnily enough, I like to relate our trip to the act of writing. If you want some advice on how to write a book, read on…

If you’re a friend of mine or a regular reader of my Publication Coach Facebook page you’ll know that my family and I spent three weeks in Europe this summer.

Trips like that aren’t exactly cheap so how did we manage to take five of us to Europe without robbing a bank first?

Careful thinking and indefatigable planning.

We started saving our airplane (credit card) points about five years ago without even knowing our destination -– we just knew we wanted a “big trip” with the kids. Well over a year ago, I joined a house trade organization and by then we had set our sights on England, a compromise for my son who hates hot weather and my daughters who love shopping and guys in uniform (see pic). I spent many hours trolling through the site and emailing potential traders.

By January, we’d identified a possible match. It wasn’t in our dream location (central London) but close enough (Walton-on-Thames -– a 25-minute train ride from Waterloo station.) We saw pictures of each other’s homes and exchanged enough emails to ensure we felt good and comfortable.

In February we booked our plane tickets and by the late spring we had purchased five six-day London museum passes (at £88 each or about total of $650+ US) that admitted us to more than 50 paid attractions for no extra fee. The passes had paid for themselves by the visit to our fifth attraction.

While in England, we ate breakfast at home and carried a bag lunch with us every day — a plan that was universally loathed by our children who dislike sandwiches. We mostly cooked at “home,” eating dinner out only three times during our three-week trip. We walked or took the tube or trains –- no cabs except a necessary one from the airport. We did “splurge,” however, by stopping regularly for afternoon tea.

The “expensive” part of our trip, a five-day excursion to Paris followed the same rules (breakfast and lunch “in”, walking/metro, museum pass) although of course we were paying for an apartment — with a kitchen, naturally. Our splurge was crepes instead of tea. (And, on the whole, the food was better!)

In the end, the trip didn’t break our bank account and we had a fantastically memorable time.

So, what does this have to do with writing, you wonder? Well, I frequently speak with people who want to write, but then make no concrete plans for actually getting the work done. It’s all about the planning, baby!

Writing — particularly writing something big, such as a book –- requires an almost infinite amount of planning.

When are you going to write? How are you going to motivate yourself when you’re too tired or worn out? How long is it going to take you? What do you want your reader to understand? Who will your readers be? What do you want the finished product to look like? When are you going to edit your work? What is your deadline (even if only self-imposed?)

Things –- our trip to Europe; your long writing project — don’t happen by magic. Success demands powerful motivation, great deal of effort and PLANNING. Define what you want to achieve, make a plan to do it and then expect to cut corners in other parts of your life to make the writing happen.

Said Winston Churchill (who, by the way, has the BEST museum in London!): “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”

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