I’ve said on about a million panels that writers should curate their experiences, (aka refill their tanks, aka have something to write about, aka do research.) But don’t we need to recharge, too?

About seven years ago, Larry and I became cruisers.  If you had told me I do anything other than independent travel, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Cruises didn’t seem, well, us. We don’t know if we chose that first one (a river cruise along the Danube to see the Christmas markets) or if we were simply  brainwashed by the commercials on PBS.  Whichever it was, we were hooked. Mostly on not re-packing, healthy eating options and interesting lectures.

Personally, I’m determined to stay a traveler more than a vacationer. (Who’s with me?  Comment below.) Which is better for authors?  Let’s come up with our own definitions for each, but let’s also keep in mind that they are equal.  Different strokes, and all that.

Travelers like to go to places they’ve never been to before.  You’ll hear them say, “the world’s a big place.” We’ve been to Cuba, Tunisia and Algeria.

Vacationers like to go back to where they’ve had a good time.

Travelers go rogue.  Some of our favorite experiences have been when we’ve gotten in a taxi and headed to someplace not on the cruise ship excursion list. I have a post-graduate certification in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime. I knew from my studies that not one but two of the world’s Caravaggio’s was housed in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Malta. I raced there.

Vacationers go to relax.  R&R is what they want every day.

Travelers want to come back a different person.  When we went to Antarctica it took me about a month to process all I’d seen.  I, nor most people, had ever seen anything like it.  And the scale! It did not compute. Of course, I’d seen snow and ice, but not like that.

Vacationers don’t want to work that hard. See the last answer.

Travelers are okay opening up to new experiences, even if it’s difficult. Earlier this month we went to the Panama Canal. Hiking in the rainforest in Costa Rica and cave-tubing in Belize were bookmarked by views of poverty and economic disparity.  I saw it as a privilege to spend money there.

Vacationers – see the last answer.

Where do you like to vacation?  I’d love to know.



When not writing, Lane enjoys traveling—Antarctica and Oberammergau in 2022 and Panama Canal and Norway in 2023. Volunteering for worthy causes has always been a part of her life. She is the Virginia state president of the American Association of University Women and the immediate past co-president of AAUW-Alexandria. In that capacity, she was one of the originators of their human trafficking rescue program. (A portion of the proceeds from DEAD MEN DON’T DECORATE is donated to that project.)  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation. She is a graduate of Georgia State University and serves on the university’s political science department advisory board. She has a post-graduate certificate in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime.


  1. Not sure by your measurements if I’m a traveler or vacationer. If the stars were aligned, I’d go to Ireland, the land of my ancestors, every year to see what I’ve seen before and to learn something new.

  2. Lane, what an interesting distinction between vacationers and travelers! Because my books are set in the UK, my trips there are almost always research trips, i.e. I have specific places I want to go, specific things to see, and specific people to speak with. Nevertheless, I have loads of fun, and the most fun my husband and I have are often the unexpected things that happen–even the ones that upend our plans. Getting lost in Hungary and stopping for directions and having to find a common language (it’s usually German) . Having a quiet dinner interrupted by a Cornish choir on a boys-only weekend. Nope, wasn’t quiet. Finding out the building I wanted to see is closed for repairs but then meeting the most interesting old man on a walking holiday. Cruises for us are reserved for places we wouldn’t want to go on our own, like Russia. I would never want to drive there. In a hundred miles, you’ll probably see two or three wrecks. I love to travel, but I do want to make it home!

  3. Lane, how nice to have a fresh voice join us on Miss Demeanors! Here’s a different possibility. I vacationed a few times in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where I eventually set my first mystery series featuring Sabrina Salter. I fell in love with the island while relaxing and restoring my weary body and soul from a frantic law practice. Then I began traveling to St. John, where I immersed myself in the natural history, culture, weather, and geography of the island. For 35 years, I traveled to St. John several times a year, eventually living there, and never stopped learning new things. Like Keenan, I also find myself drawn to Ireland, where I have been many times but feel I could never stop learning new things about the land of my ancestry. I think for me, vacationing means the destination is incidental as long as it provides the requisite setting, weather, and comfort. Traveling engages my curiosity, intellect, and emotions and often creates a relationship between me and my destination. Vacationing and traveling are both delicious. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Very interesting take, Michele. So the enrichment doesn’t have to come from novelty. Gaining a depth of understanding about a particular place is – to use your wonderful word – delicious, too.

  4. Hi, Lane. Our favorite vacations were always to locations with the best scuba diving, and most of our exploration occurred underwater. When we got home and showed people our vacation photos, they’d go “But these are all pictures of fish!”

  5. Lane, I’m a hybrid, I think. When I was younger I travelled a lot. In the sixties I spent six months driving around Europe as Far East as Turkey and back through some, then, communist countries. Mostly it was exciting but there were some scary times too.

    Now, like others, I love to spend time in the land of my ancestors, Italy, particularly southern Italy. While Sherry and I do like to sit at a cafe and read and write, we also get out to meet people and experience the surrounding areas.

  6. Welcome Lane!
    I’m more of a traveler, using my travels as setting research. Even though Doc and I visit the UK frequently, we always include a stop in a place unexplored—which is why, while I plan to visit Cornwall again, as I know the 6th Nora Tierney English Mystery will be set there, I hope to visit Portmeirion in Wales, a place that has called to me since reading Nicola Upson’s Fear in the Sunlight.

    We’ve never done a cruise, but the river cruises look intriguing!

  7. Welcome Lane! I was recently in London, where I have been three times in the last year (because my son is there). Each day I walked 21,000 steps, which I know thanks to my phone. Even though London is familiar to me, there is so much that is unfamiliar, and so I loved walking around and looking at doors and trees and so on. So I feel like I’m a traveler, though I went to enough pubs that I’m probably a vacationer as well. (A friend of mine, Jean Glock, is the Ambassador at Large for Viking Tours and she just went to Antarctica for the first time. She’s fun to follow on Facebook.)

  8. I’m definitely a traveler, but I won’t kick a vacation in the shins, either. Over the past (too many) years, traveling has been off the table for various reasons—a small child who didn’t travel well, an elderly parent who couldn’t be left alone. Then COVID. We’re going to try to remedy this in the near future. I’ve traveled to many different and very interesting places and since I can’t ever sit still, I end up poking around all kinds of out of the way nooks and getting lost. Or mugged. But you know what? It’s all an adventure.

  9. Hi Lane, I am typically a vacationer. Find me some sand and a chair and I’m good to go! However, my amazing Aunt took me to Australia when I graduated high school and that was the most amazing trip. Going on a vacation with a traveler was such a great experience! 😉

  10. Lane–
    Your post was intriguing. For most of my government career I was definitely a traveler—spent 75% of my time spreading the gospel of tax compliance around the nation!! That wearied me and after relocating 12 times, I vowed to luxuriate at home with my pets and husband. Now I travel selectively to places and countries that pique my interest. You and Larry are much more adventurous than I could ever be.

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