The side of our dryer has tickets and postcards from some places I've been to - Vatican city, Venice, Torino, Pisa, Portsmouth, Luxor, Aswan and Giza. I've stayed with locals in Italy, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France and Morocco, immersing myself in French or Italian. I've also visited India, Denmark, Austria, Eire, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. I quite often get a story out of a visit to a new place (about being a visitor). Of my published stories an SF one is set in India, a pretentious one is set in Morocco, and another's in the USA where they sit out on their wooden porches on hot summer nights. Those stories could trivially be relocated, but I have one story set in pre-Perestroika Prague that couldn't be moved.
My poetry's largely immune to influence except for the odd image. In my poetry pamphlet one poem's set in Egypt (ten years before I went), one partly in Wicklow (I've never been there; I found the name on a map), one in the USA's Badlands (I've never been to the States) and one in pre-Euro Amsterdam (been there, but may have got some details wrong). The days following my return from holiday can be productive though, while the familiar is still somewhat strange, and the new's mixing with the old.
Writers sometimes win travel bursaries. I think they'd be wasted on me unless they involve waking on trains or staying in rooms high over cities. Michael Longley wrote "People say travel broadens the mind, but I think in a way it shallows the mind. Going back to the same place year after year is an extraordinary experience: you just keep noticing things". I don't feel quite like that, but I know what he means. The following quotes from The 50 most inspiring travel quotes of all time are closer to the mark.
- "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign", Robert Louis Stevenson
- "People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home", Dagobert D. Runes
- "For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move", Robert Louis Stevenson
- "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware", Martin Buber
- "Not all those who wander are lost", J. R. R. Tolkien