The Writer’s Travelogue: Going Off Grid

Me, on top of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park a few years ago.

In a couple days, I’ll be off on a hiking trip in the Smoky Mountains, and I can’t wait to get out of the city and spend some time with friends! Getting away from it all and putting yourself in new, unknown surroundings can also be great writing inspiration.

I’m really excited about this trip because one of my WIPs features a character who grew up in a setting very similar to the Smokies. While I’m out enjoying the wild, I’ll also be taking notes about details that’ll help build my world and my character. Here’s my “pre-trip” list of questions to discover:

  • What flowers are blooming in the mountains this time of year? What do they look like and smell like?
  • Besides the typical wildlife (deer, bear, squirrels, birds), what other critters are active?
  • What stands out in the sights and sounds of the woods? In early morning? At dusk?
  • How does it feel – really – to hike up a mountain ridge, stand in an ice-cold creek or feel the spray of a waterfall?
  • How many miles, realistically, can a person travel in a day? (And how many do they WANT to travel!)
  • How do group dynamics change over multi-day travel?
  • How do you describe the true colors of the woods and mountainside?
  • What are the local delicacies?
  • Any fun local terms or dialects?

Aren’t trips great? They’re a chance to explore new worlds and use those experiences to create yet another world on paper!

Check back in a few weeks for pictures and to see what I discovered.


  1. Hi Nicole,

    hope you have a fab trip. Sounds amazing and v. inspirational! I always find time away from a W-I-P is well worth it.

    Look forward to reading more of your great posts when you get back.


  2. It was a great trip, Karen! Had some amazing experiences and definitely captured a lot of details I can apply in my writing. Photos are up in the latest post - check 'em out.