A Day in the Life of a Travel Blogger: Vivienne Mackie

This is an interesting topic to think about, as I have two lives really. On one level, I live at my home, and I’m an ESL teacher (when I’m at home, luckily I have very flexible hours and very understanding students). Yet, on the other level, I’m a traveler and I write about my travels. I’ve been a traveler since I first went on a trip to England at the age of eight; so the travel bug got me early!

a small sample of some of my more recent notebooks

A small sample of some of my more recent notebooks

Time-wise, I probably spend one third of it on the road and two thirds at home—physically at least. However, much of that time at home is devoted to writing about and documenting my trips; so the travel component is actually greater.

me standing at the Gold Gate in Split, Croatia

Me standing at the Gold Gate in Split, Croatia

At home, my day is relatively easy: work at ESL, do household chores and cooking, and then sit at my computer, sort out photographs from our trips, and write about the travel stuff.

 enjoying a galette (buckwheat pancake) at Creperie Beaubourg, Paris

Enjoying a galette (buckwheat pancake) at Creperie Beaubourg, Paris

On the road, it’s a very different story, and every day is pretty full, with museums to visit, sights to see, walks to walk, etc. We try to plan out what we need to see and do, plus what we want to do wherever we are. Pre-reading and pre-planning are essential to give a framework for what we’d like to do. Of course, that’s just a framework. When we get to a place and start to explore, we often find other things to do, other places to eat, and so on.

a down evening in Montmartre, Paris

An evening of down-time in Montmartre, Paris

A regular day on the road is both very exciting and quite hard. It’s exciting because things are new and different, and we’re on a quest to discover that special restaurant, that new palace/castle/museum/park or whatever. Everything is new and stimulating, and we revel in absorbing all the new information. Some aspects are planned and come out of guidebooks, but still interesting, while some experiences are totally serendipitous: We might walk past a café that looks good, go in, and be blown away by its history. This happened on trip in Quimper, Brittany: We chose a restaurant near the Faience Museum, and discovered that the building had been a faience factory and sits over a stream. There was the time we decided to go to a concert in the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and we gloried in soaring Mozart music, surrounded by stained glass walls shimmering in candlelight. Or, when we stumbled on a special exhibition that we didn’t know about, especially outdoor exhibits, such as one on Pope John Paul II in Krakow, Poland.

finding a special exhibit on Pope John Paul 2 in Krakow, Poland

Finding a special exhibit on Pope John Paul II in Krakow, Poland

We tend to focus on one country and one area in one trip, but that’s not always possible. Over a period of six weeks last year, we did a trip spanning eight countries. It was a bit of a whirlwind, and sometimes we’d wake up and wonder where we were that day. It’s also more difficult to keep the various languages separate, as we try to learn at least a few words of the language of whichever country we’re visiting.

Yet, the hardest part for me about being a travel writer/blogger is keeping all the new information up to date. I always carry a spiral notebook devoted to a particular trip, and try to jot down thoughts, ideas, and details whenever we stop for a coffee or a drink. Unless I spend a couple of hours each night writing down what we did and our impressions, it’s easy to get behind (which invariably happens). Also, it’s hard at first to know what I’ll choose to write about; so it’s important to collect lots of information and ideas.

One solution we’ve come up with is to also collect pamphlets and brochures, which I stick in the notebook, plus ticket stubs, meal receipts, etc. And we photograph all the information boards that we can, as there isn’t always time to read everything when visiting a museum or special exhibition. That way, I have the information when I need it. We’ll also often photograph menus or menu boards.

Traveling around, although stimulating and fun, is also tiring. So, we try to have a few “down” days when there isn’t too much on the day’s agenda; a time to sit in the sun and linger over a cup of tea or coffee, and just watch the world go by.

I feel very fortunate to be able to be a travel writer/blogger, and I hope to continue as long as I can.

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