Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend Wind-down : : Travel Magazines

The kids are back in school, the lawn doesn't need mowing every five minutes, the quarterly taxes are done, and the deadline is at least two months away. What's an author to do? Anne McAllister indulges in a bit of vicarious traveling.

Every time the Sunday paper shows up, if I'm not already packing for a trip, I'm diving into the travel section, daydreaming about all the places in the world I'd like to see.

I get some great ideas there -- both for trips and for books.

But even better than the Sunday travel section are those lovely glossy travel magazines I can't quite resist.

Ever since I was eight and my uncle Tom sent me a subscription to National Geographic, I've been a sucker for magazines that take me away to far off lands and enchant me with places I've never seen. Sometimes, admittedly, they are places I never want to see -- as in wherever it was that there were such gruesome looking bugs that I could barely bring myself to touch the pages of the National Geographic article that month.

But ordinarily, they whetted my appetite for travel. Mostly, they still do.

For years I had a subscription to Islands. With them I traveled vicariously to the Maldives and the Seychelles. I enjoyed jaunts to St Pierre and Miquelon, to Easter Island and the Canaries, to Santorini and Mallorca. I visited Harbour Island in the Bahamas and the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Australia. I visited Fiji and Tahiti and New Caledonia.

When I tired of islands, I borrowed my son's Outside magazine for a little more energetic traveling. I trekked the Himalayas. I climbed Denali. I kayaked. I snorkled. I went deep sea fishing. ( I ogled very nice looking potential heroes.) And I never had to leave my living room.

Even when I do leave my living room -- and actually travel -- I gravitate to the magazine racks in the places I visit. I pick up local magazines that I bring home and read cover to cover again and again. So when my mother stops over and wants to know why I have a four year old copy of NZ Wilderness magazine sitting on my coffee table, I explain that I was just re-visiting my trip. Not only do I get ideas before I go, I bring back the memories that way.

That explains, too, why I have a stack of Cornwall Today magazines covering a lot of yesterdays that I enjoy again every time I dip into them.

As I write mostly for Harlequin Presents -- and Presents books are often set in the more glamourous parts of the world (where I don't live), there is also a research angle to my relaxation.

I may only have traveled to Biarritz or Cannes or Monaco in magazines so far, but I can get a good idea of what it's like there. Someday a heroine of mine may live there. I'll have to learn a lot more about it before she does -- but the magazines are a great starting point. I get all kinds of ideas from my weekend relaxation with a glossy travel mag in my hands.

And sometimes, those ideas lead to trips. Later this month I'm off to Cannes. And then back to Cornwall for a week. See what a little relaxation can get you into?

What are some of your favorite weekend indulgences? And if you, too, read travel magazines, where do they make you want to go next?

Anne McAllister is currently revisiting the SoCal beach scene for an upcoming Presents. Sometimes a girl just has to stay home and work out of the memory bank. But with Cannes in the future, she's not too concerned.
Watch for her next book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, coming in November as an HM&B Modern in UK, and in January as a Harlequin Presents. It's a New York City book -- another of the places she loves best.


  1. Oh Anne, what a great post. I love travel magazines too. I'm a bit of a connoisseur of Conde Nast Traveller, which I scour at the newstand in Borders while my younger son is upstairs checking out their stock of Naruto Graphic Novels (don't ask!). I never buy them cos they're so darned expensive and I figure my subscription to Vanity Fair is enough of an extravagance but now I'm thinking maybe I could justify it as research and claim it on my tax.

    BTW, how comes you've done your tax return already?

  2. Hi Anne and Heidi. Had to comment on this as you've struck such a chord. Only yesterday I dragged out the Conde Nast Traveller I bought 6 months ago and ditto the architectural digest (which includes a tropical island hideaway and a sheikh's home) and decided I was going to find time, finally, to finish them this weekend. They are fantastic for sparking dreams that turn into stories.

    Also my best friend recently gave me the most marvellous book - mainly pictures - of Morocco. I could sit and gaze at them for hours and I know they'll be inspirational for a story.

    But best of all is the net and library book research for the trip we have planned this December to Europe. What fun!

    Thanks for the post, Anne. I'm looking forward to reading Antonides Forbidden Wife.


  3. Heidi, yes, Conde Nast Traveller is wonderful. I buy it when it has some place in it I'm dying to go (vicariously or otherwise). I enjoy Vanity Fair, too. Don't get to read it all the time, but did last month with the Paul Newman article.

    The tax calculations were for quarterly estimates. The big one is due when everyone else's is!

    Annie, how lovely that you're going to Europe in December. Bring warm clothes! I'm sure you'll have a great time.

    Enjoy your Architectural Digest (almost as good as a travel mag -- and sometimes, looking for the right house, even better) and your Conde Nast Travelleer, too. Morocco is one of the places I would love to visit. Not sure I'll make it in person, but maybe someday. Right now I'll settle for vicariously.

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