PHS columnist and travel writer, Jennifer Rae, is talking about her love of travelling...
My mother used to tell me I had gypsy blood in me. She could never understand why I couldn’t stay still. Why I always had to move and if I wasn’t moving to another town, I was travelling.
In my 20s (pre-realisation I wanted to make writing my career) I traveled a lot. I got on as many planes as possible and went to as many places as my small town fears would allow me to go. I travelled alone mostly. And watched. And ate. And watched. And walked. And listened. And watched.
I didn’t know it then, but I was already writing my future books.
Many places, people and events have been weaved into my tales. Exaggerated and romanticised of course. But somewhere deep in those words is a little bit of truth.
There were some places that inspired me more than others. For reasons that may surprise:
No surprises here. Great views, gorgeous men, amazing food. What’s not to inspire about Italy, right? But it was a little pizza place that inspired me in Italy. Not for the food - which was - of course - amazing. But the fact that in all the beauty of sorrento there was a dingy little place complete with plastic covered tables and deckchairs serving the most amazing pizza. In amongst the beaches and winding cobblestone laneways sat two (slightly overweight) young Australian women. Both going through some personal trauma of their own. Both talking but neither listening. Sat in an ugly restaurant in the most beautiful place in the world. That moment has stuck with me since then. I’m yet to use it in a book, but I will.
New Iberia, Louisiana
Louisiana is one of those places you rarely put on your travel itinerary, but when you do - you’re so glad. Family is king in the south. But so is the church. Watching people navigate the two is a treasure trove for writers. Morals and faith and old customs and new ways of thinking don’t blend well together at times. For the people in Louisiana it's natural and normal and just ‘how it is.’ But to an outsider, it’s a best selling novel waiting to happen.
Bondi Beach, Sydney
One of my all time places to get inspired. Again. Obvious choice. Beach, bods, sun, surf etc etc. But my inspo in Bondi has nothing to do with the beautiful beautiful surface and everything to do with the dark dark heart. I use social media as a research tool now and it exposes so much more than you imagine. All those glamorous insta posts that we all love tell a story. And the people of Bondi love to talk through social media. They talk to each other. They talk to strangers. They talk to themselves - all with the gorgeous background of bondi beach in the background. It’s a minefield of drama and intrigue. Look closely. Listen to what they’re not saying. Watch where they go and who they go with. Your next book will write itself, I promise ;)
I discovered this little gem when a friend of mine moved there. Seemingly insignificant city. A convenient place to lay over on a long haul flight. An even better place to hold an international meeting where everyone can meet without having to go too far. A hotbed of drama! Besides all the Housewives type of drama that exists in a city like Singapore with such a divide between rich and poor, there is also the sheer volume of business men and women...away from home...away from their families...spending way too much time with their workmates.
And Singapore does nightlife so goddamn well. One could get lost within the press of hot bodies in any number of restaurants and nightclubs...and no one would ever know. I also have a thing for accents and you will find every possible accent in Singapore. And if you meet a frenchman named Alexis who kisses like a teenage wet-dream - tell him I said hello ;)
Bundanoon, New South Wales
Never heard of it? Neither had I until a uni friend took us there one weekend as it was her home. We had to go visit ‘Dad’ for the night. Of course we’d all visited each other’s homes. Big, loud brash farming families who gave us too much food and who constantly shouted and berated each other until lights out when everything suddenly went quiet and oh so dark. Visiting ‘Dad’ in Bundanoon was a very different experience.
We drove in under a cloud of very thick fog. Couldn’t see a thing. Gloomy outlines of buildings lining narrow streets. Overgrown gardens. No people to be seen. Dad’s house was quiet when we approached. Until we opened the door and a small dog came flying at us yelping and barking as if he needed to be rescued. Dad’s house was old. Possibly one of the first homes built in Bundanoon and except for building a toilet inside the house, not much else had changed. Electricity flickered from single lightbulbs. Worn rugs covered unpolished floorboards. Books spilled over every surface. The fire was alight in the front room so we spent most of our time there.
Bundoon wasn’t inspiring for the characters I met or the buzz of the people. It was inspiring for the utter complete silence. We visited in the thick of winter. No one left their homes. You were left with hours of sitting in a dark room with just a flickering fire and a pile of old books for company. But somehow, strangely with a notepad and pen - this travel mad gypsy felt like maybe, she was home.
Where are the places that inspire you? Share your #TravelsWithRomance stories with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Jennifer's latest release, The Hotel Magnate's Demand, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and check out her travel writing website, for all of her