7 Fun Ways to Stay Creative on Vacation

On vacation, I like to wake up late, mainline fancy coffee drinks, eat more candy than my teeth prefer and indulge in some local booze. Productivity is not a priority. But in between all the relaxing, I also see a lot of new, interesting things, and I may just get the urge to capture some of it in a new way. Creatively recharging is a natural part of vacation, just like making a giant waffle at a continental breakfast.

If you also feel inclined to flex a creative muscle or two on train rides or rainy days while traveling, I’ve gathered some fresh ideas for you. I tried to think outside of the average creative responsibilities you may have in your job or view as part of your daily artistic pursuits. It’s vacation after all—you shouldn’t have to feel like a content farm!

1. Draw Something You Normally Wouldn’t

Pick something you wouldn’t normally think to doodle, like street signs, beer labels, local plants or statues, and try to sketch one out every day. An artist I like often paints airplane food, and it’s beautiful. No subject is too banal to be made into art!

2. Keep a Cheese Journal (Or Beer Journal, Gelato Journal, Whatever)

My friend Katie once shared her British cheese journal with me and it blew my mind. It was funny, smart and eye-opening. I had no idea one could chronicle cheese with such passion. Pick something you ridiculously love and jot down short reviews every time you try it on vacation. That could be craft beer, noodles, pizza or even foreign TV shows.

3. Find a New Subject Matter to Photograph Everyday

At the start of your day, pick something random to be your photo scavenger hunt for the day. Maybe it’s a colored doorway, an old church, a shadowy alleyway or a stray cat. Chances are, you’ll find more than one to photograph and you’ll be creating a mini photo series daily. Plus, it will train your eye to notice more colors and patterns around you.

4. Do Something With Your Hands

Do you usually spend your working life in your head, solving problems and feeling pressure to produce great ideas? Try using vacation as a time to do a little manual labor. It could be knitting, cross-stitching, handmaking noodles or just coloring in a meditative coloring book. See how it relaxes you and opens your mind up to new thoughts.

5. Try Writing in the Local Language

If you’re in a country where English isn’t the primary language, try to learn the local writing system. Sketch it out in a journal and get to know the letters or characters. Then, try writing a sentence, your name, or even a haiku in the language. You might just find that using a different language enables you to be honest in new ways.

6. Capture a Landscape in a New Medium Everyday

Download a few creative apps and try using a different one every day to capture a landscape different ways. A couple ideas:

Procreate to draw on your tablet or phone.

Scrivener to write a short story. (Try Bear for a cheaper writing app.)

Paper to draw and write in a private journal.

Tayasui Tangram to build a scene out of blocks.

7. Pick a Family Member to Share Moments With

My mom and I often send each other daily recaps, photos, and food tasting notes every day when we’re on vacation. When she went to Hawaii, she would call me sometimes just to tell me things like how good the bananas tasted there, and I loved experiencing it vicariously through her. Sharing these details with someone in our lives can help us take closer note of our experience and document it by telling it to someone else. Plus, it’s fun and easy.

Happy travels!

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Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis. She also likes to draw dogs and female protagonists.

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