Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Traveling Tips from a Picture Book Maker

Michigan School and Library Welcome!
Like many other Spuds on this blog, I travel to schools and libraries, books in tow, along with art supplies for making small picture books, folding origami, and cutting out snowflakes, depending on which books of mine are being featured.

Presenting at The American School of Bombay
Mostly I drive to schools or conferences in the Midwest area, but once in awhile I fly, going further afield. The farthest I have traveled was for a week in Mumbai, India. The closest I have traveled was just five blocks away at our neighborhood elementary school. I have presented in large gyms and theatres with plenty of room to spare and I have presented to five classes squished into a small library or even a hallway. I am adaptable.

Presenting in a school library in Minnesota
Before becoming a children's book author/illustrator, I lived in places where I did not need a car. Everywhere I needed to go I could easily hop a subway, a bus, Amtrak, ride my bike, or walk. But when I moved to Minnesota, suddenly a car was necessary and learning to drive again became a must, especially when I began to visit schools outside the Twin Cities. Before my first week-long school residency, I conferred with a friend about what to bring. Here is her advise, which I still follow to this day:
~ Bring a string or two of twinkly lights to hang around the hotel room. This warms it up and makes it inviting after a long day of presenting.
~ Bring a favorite blanket or quilt to put on the bed instead of the hotel bed coverlet. Again, a sure-fire way to make the room feel more like home after a long day's work. I also wear a lot of scarves, so I have a set of scarves that I wear, but also drape about the room, making it my own haven.
~ Candles make for a lovely way to light the evening alone, along with a glass of wine and a good book or bring a favorite DVD. (I always travel with the six-part "Pride and Prejudice" BBC series.)
~ Another friend of mine always calls the local florist and has flowers delivered to her room before arriving. Flowers brighten a room and take away the hotel smell. 
~ I like David LaRochelle's idea (see previous post) of checking out the local dining options, but I also check out the local grocery stores. Usually my room has a small fridge and microwave, making it easy to prepare my own meals. After a long day of workshops and large presentations, I enjoy a swim in the hotel pool and a "homemade" meal in my room. 

This spring I am working on such a heated deadline for a book that I have not visited any schools or libraries. As I read the posts of my fellow Potatoes and write my own, I feel my traveling shoes itching. With two new books coming out in the coming academic year, I think I will be ready to hit the road! 


David LaRochelle said...

Candles, twinkling lights, and fresh flowers...I love those ideas, Lauren! The next time I have to spend more than one night in the same hotel room, I will think about what I can bring along to make it feel more cozy.

And with two new books on the horizon, I bet you'll have plenty of school opportunities next year.

P.S. The most unusual place I've ever presented is outdoors, at the Colfax library in Wisconsin for their summer reading program. Kids showed up on their rollerblades and plopped down in the grass. It was a gorgeous day and very fun to be giving my presentation in the shade of a tree!

David LaRochelle said...

P.S. And the most unusual place I ever stayed was in my own tent, when I camped out at Jay Cooke State Park while presenting at the Duluth Public Library.

Lauren said...

I love Jay Cooke State Park-- What an adventure to camp out while presenting! And presenting in the shade of a tree on a gorgeous day sounds very nice right about now as I am tethered to my quiet studio.

Mark said...

Lauren, I love your ideas on how to make a sterile/strange hotel room feel more like home. Will definitely use some of them when I am on my next road trip!

Stephanie said...

I'm writing this in my hotel room in Salem, where I have a school visit at an elementary school tomorrow. I love the visual of a scarf and flowers and lights. But honestly, I'm just happy with a tv, a fitness room, a coffee maker, and lots of those little shampoos and soaps...Here's a new one: this hotel opened two days ago so it smells new. I'm the first person to sleep in the bed:)

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren said...

wow Stephanie- brand new beds! That does sound cozy! Good luck in Salem tomorrow-- they are going to love you!

Edie Hemingway said...

What great ideas for taking better care of yourself on an exciting, but exhausting trip! I leave next week on a 12-day road trip to KY and NC, so I intend to use some of your tips. And congratulations on your two upcoming books!

Lauren said...

Happy travels Edie! And thanks!

Travel Advise said...

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Travel Advise