5 Writing Essentials you’ll find in my travel bag

If you are a writer who loves to travel, this post is for you. Since you never know when inspiration will strike, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

Blarney Castle in County Cork Ireland

I just got back from two weeks in Ireland. Talk about an awesome trip! Ireland is truly as green as everyone says it is. It’s a thoroughly beautiful country, and I didn’t even get to see all of it. There’s no photograph that can represent the enormity of the Cliffs of Moher or the startling colors of the gardens at Blarney Castle. It’s just gorgeous.

I love to travel, and international travel is even more exciting than the regular quick jaunt to Colorado. But one thing I’ve learned about international travel, most certainly is that less is usually more.

Less is usually more

I knew that all along, of course, but it was a reminder I needed. Part of our trip included a rental vehicle, which turned out to be a Hyundai Ioniq. Sounds perfect for travel, right? Well, there were five of us. Four women and one guy. So you can imagine the luggage issues.

I’m only half joking. Fortunately everyone on this trip was familiar with international travel and knew how to make the most of a duffel bag, but the room we had to spread out was certainly limited. So before I left I had to make a list of what I was going to need while I was on the road.

I thought I might share my list with others who write in random places of the world, because you never know when the inspiration for the next bestseller is going to hit you.

5 Essentials for Travel Writers

Me, my travel buddy Hermes the Frog, and our new friend Aslan in Belfast’s C.S. Lewis Square


I have a Nikon D3500, and I love it. It’s lightweight but powerful enough to get some stunning shots, and it’s compatible with most other Nikon SLR lenses. I use my camera for capturing more than just beautiful scenery or poignent moments. I use my camera to capture images of settings or location concepts to use in novels. When I’m in museums, I take pictures of the informative panels and boards so that I’ll be able to reference them later.

I do use my camera phone (the header image was taken with my camera), but you can’t always get the feel of a location with a camera phone. Sometimes you need a “real” camera.


I love me some notebooks. They’re one of my weaknesses. If you’re a writer, never go anywhere without one. And if you can’t carry one, just make sure you have something you can take notes on. Seriously, inspiration may come at any time, so you have to be ready. If you’re traveling internationally, be sure the journal you have is sturdy enough that rough handling won’t damage it, big enough to not run out of space, and if you can get one that’s waterproof, that’s even better.

Pens and pencils

Naturally, if you bring a journal, you need pens or pencils. Use pens to take notes about things you’ve seen, figures of speech you’ve heard, details you don’t want to forget. Use pencils to sketch images of your surroundings, if that’s something that helps you. But whatever you do, make sure you have pens with caps on them, because the last thing you need is for an uncapped pen to leak all over the inside of your bag. And always bring more than one pen wherever you go. The ink will run out when you least expect it.

Small laptop

Some writers must have a laptop, and if that’s the only way you can work, go for it. But just realize that hauling a laptop around with you is usually a lot of work, especially going through airport security. So for this trip, I tried something different.

I purchased a $10 Bluetooth keyboard and connected it to my old Amazon Kindle. I found a free app for word processing, and using that setup, I was able to work on my novel and write blog posts at different points across Ireland. Was it the best writing experience I’ve ever had? No, but it was perfectly functional. And, the best part, I didn’t have to take either the keyboard or my Kindle out of my bag at the airport.

Anybody hungry for Fish n’ Chips with mushy peas?


Finally, you’ll need a bag big enough to store literature you pick up from the places you visit. And depending on the size of essentials 1 through 4 above, you may need a bigger bag than you think. Just do yourself a favor and make sure it’s still small enough to manage. If you’re in Europe, you’ll be walking a lot, so the easier it is to carry, the better. And if you can get a bag that’s waterproof, do it, especially if you’re going to Ireland or the United Kingdom.

There are a lot of other things you need to take with you on an international trip, of course. You need your passport and your visas, and you need First Aid supplies and water and clothes. Sure. But when it comes to the bag you carry around with you all day, you need to be sure it has enough space for you to carry your writing supplies with you.

You never know …

I’m so glad I brought supplies for writing on my trip. I came away from Ireland with three new novel concepts, and if I hadn’t had a place to write them all down, I’m sure I would have forgotten them by the time I got home.

So if you’re ever off to some distant destination, be sure you go prepared. You never know what amazing story you might encounter on your adventures.

Are you a fan of international travel? Where did you go, and how did that trip affect you as a writer? Did you come up with new story ideas while you were gone?

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