Friday, July 27, 2007

Research Essentials

So what does a travel writer take with her when she's working 'in the field'? (don't I sound like an archaeologist? Maybe I should pick up an Indiana Jones hat). I have to remind myself of this each time I pack, which I'll be doing in a second, so here's what I need:

To start, I carry a carry a lightweight, roomy, waterproof shoulder bag, much like the one you see here. I put my reporter's notebook, three pens, watch, wallet, sunglasses, protein bar, business cards, digital camera, tissues, quarters (for parking meters) and cell phone into the bag. This time around, I'll also have a map on which I've marked locations I want to visit.

Bugt that's not all -- I keep suntan lotion in my car (the spray on kind because travel writing is a lonely occupation...who would do my back?), along with my iPod, decent shoes(since I generally work in sneakers) and a cardigan sweater because some of the shore restaurants set their air conditioners to Arctic.

This weekend, I'll also be packing a rough draft of the Ocean City chapter. I've spent two days typing up notes from work I've already done, and I've scoured website guides, promotional materials from the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce (which you can picked up inside the Music Pier), newspaper and magazine articles to get names, addresses and phone numbers of restaurants, shops and places to stay.

I use those notes as a guide. If something interests me, like Upcakes at Dixie's Picnic (609-399-1999, 19 8th Street, Ocean City), then I'll make sure to stop there. But my best finds are places I never heard about that I found by accident, like Katina's Gyro Restaurant Restaurant (501 9th Street, Ocean City, 609-399-5525) and Madamde's Port (324 96th Street, Stone Harbor, 609-967-3332). To find those gems, I'll park my car near the area I'll be researching and start walking, stopping in every store and restaurant along the way. I'll go in, look around, take notes, maybe take a picture, pick up any fliers or business cards, walk out, and write down what I saw. Yes, it's tedious, but it's the only way to do the research right, I think.

If it's Friday and I don't have anything else to do, why am I not on the Atlantic City Expressway on my way to the shore? A few reasons: first, I have stuff to do. I can't stop my other freelance work while writing the book -- I do have a mortgage. Second, my sister isn't coming to get my dog until tomorrow morning. And third, Guster is playing at the Festival Pier tonight, and I plan on venting some of the book-writing stress by dancing my tush off. Fa fa, fellow Gusteroids! Don't forget your ping pong balls!

Special thanks to Philebrity for pimping the blog today. Your bitterness makes me whole.

What I'm listening to: Satellite EP by Guster.

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