Off to London for the World Championships this week. Travel is one of my vices (I have many, most of them healthy) and London is never dull. There's the morning run in Hyde Park, breakfast at the Russian place, the death march from my hotel to the Imperial War Museum, then on to the Tower Bridge, and a night cap at the Audley — or whichever pub doesn't have a crowd spilling out the front door. London in the summer can feel hectic and overcrowded. Sipping a cold beer to end the day should be a relatively stoic endeavour — not a sardine-like ordeal with no place to sit.
Even at its most chaotic, London is a spectacular place to visit and I will enjoy most every moment. I'm only there a few days and will want to make the most of my time.
In Mammoth last week, my good friend and real estate guru John Burns made the point that travel doesn't need to be a short journey. Thanks to the Internet and AirBnB, we could work from anywhere in the world at a relatively affordable price. The output would be the same, although the location of origin would be different, and the checks would get wired into the bank same as always. Other than the daily commitment of coaching, there's nothing keeping me from roaming the globe with Callie. In fact, given the amount of research I do, it seems like I should be doing this sort of thing on a regular basis. To be sure, the writing would be better. During my work on Survivor, I was also writing Farther Than Any Man. I have to admit that writing a book about an explorer of the South Pacific was made all the more unique by having the ocean and its many temperaments just a hundred yards from the open air desk on which I wrote. Nothing like sniffing salt air and eyeing thunderheads that haven't seen land for a thousand miles to inspire a moment.
Which made me ask one simple question: If I were to travel someplace to write a book, where would I go?
I'm sure we all have a travel destination in the back of our heads, that paradise or curiosity we hold out as a carrot for the day when a project is finished, the kids go off to college, or we simply just say screw it and get on a plane. And for those that think travel is something to be done "one of these days" after retirement, I point out that almost anyplace in the world is a twelve-hour flight and a $500 plane ticket away. There's absolutely no reason not to go.
The South of France has always been a personal favorite, mostly because everything about it is spectacular. If the Queen of Sheba and I were going to disappear someplace for four months, Aix or Briancon would be the place to go.
Mammoth would also be nice, but mountain towns are like living on an island, and islands start feeling claustrophobic unless you completely give in to them.
So after the South of France I'd probably opt for Cambodia or Vietnam, if only because I've never been and I'm keen to experience new sights and smells. Australia would be awesome, though in many places it's a lot like Southern California. Antarctica, of course, would just be a checklist stop, because I can't see myself spending six months writing a book in a Quonset hut half-buried in snow. And while I've always admired Africa, something terrifying has happened on each of my visits (wrongful arrest, near drowning, wandering much too far into the wrong part of an edgy town), making me realize that unless I lease a coffee plantation in the Kenyan Highlands the visit would be constantly precarious.
Maybe I'll just do them all — purchase an open-jaw ticket and circumnavigate the globe. Last time I flew around the world it was at twice the speed of sound, in just a little more than thirty-one hours. Might be nice to slow it way down.
One way or another, it needs to happen. So my question for you is this: Where in the world would you go to write your book?