The Longhand Lesson

The Longhand Lesson

Nine months on the road, and as a “digital nomad,” the most important thing I have to sort out is access to wifi. I have also discovered just how important it is to be able to write, good ol’ analog style. I carry a standard spiral notepad and a couple small spiral notepads, along with at least three ballpoint pens. The standard notepad is for blog posts and figuring out itineraries – train options, dates, arrival times, etc. The standard size is great for writing down thoughts just about anywhere – in a park, on a train, curled up in bed. It’s nice to turn off the laptop, and just write. I have written four blog posts in an hour, being able to focus without the usual distractions – email, web, Skype, etc. I also use it as a companion to web research, as a tool to get a clearer picture for complex travel steps. The small spiral notepads are for communication. Particularly when you arrive and depart from a city, you’ll have to communicate important information – to taxi drivers, ticket counter clerks, airline representatives and more. It’s great to use SpeakSheets for conversational language and greetings, but there are some critical things you just can’t mess up – like getting tickets for the right train to the right city. So I use the small spiral notepad to write down, for instance, the next five trains from Sevilla to Córdoba. That way I know my options, and the woman at the ticket counter and myself are on the same page. I can still say in Spanish, “the next train to Córdoba, please,” but having the written communication is a particularly useful aid in facilitating the transaction. I am writing this post from Córdoba, where we were able to catch a train an hour early from Sevilla. It’s a beautiful little city, and at some point will have to step out to the local papelería (stationery store) to get a couple new notebooks for the road. (image h/t Notebook Stories)
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