[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Tawna Fenske to the site today. She has some gift ideas for travel junkies!]
Hi, I’m Tawna, and I’m a travel addict.
I’m also a rom-com author who counts on adventures to drive the creative center of my brain. From the souks of Marrakesh to stingrays in Grand Cayman to the glowworm caves of New Zealand, I’ve enjoyed some awesome travel experiences to help fuel more than 35 published romantic comedies.
Then Covid hit, with travel restrictions that left my wanderlust wilting like a flaccid flesh trumpet. I’ve not only had to find fresh sources of story inspiration, but creative ways to get my travel fix in 2020.
In case you know a travel fan facing the same challenge, here are a handful of gift ideas for the temporarily grounded voyager in your life.
If you can’t do it, read about it.
With the cancellation of our once-in-a-lifetime family vacay to Europe with the kids, I’ve turned to books as a form of travel escape.
I journeyed to the vineyards of France by reading Ann Mah’s The Lost Vintage with my book club, and snatched a taste of the land down under by reading Aussie author Amy Andrews’s Holding Out for a Hero.
Melia Alexander’s Seduced by the Soldier took me on an adventure across Europe, while Jodi Piccoult’s The Book of Two Ways is currently leading me through the tombs of Egypt. And don’t get me started on Alyssa Cole’s swoony Reluctant Royals series, which features contemporary royal romance set in countries that don’t technically exist.
My own new rom-com Just a Little Bet is a road trip romance featuring a pair of former lovers traveling the western US and quizzing his exes to settle a bet about why he’s lousy at relationships. Writing it did wonders to satisfy my travel lust as I described the forests and truck stops, hotel pools and mountain meadows that my characters encounter along the way.
If your favorite travel fan lacks the stamina for a full book these days, consider a travel magazine subscription. I’ve seen tons of great ones featuring tropical locales, small-town escapes, and everything from budget-friendly destinations to luxury getaways. Seek out publications packed with pretty pictures to inspire your sidelined globetrotter to dream big for future travel.
Gadgets and doodads and stuff, oh my!
When you’re planning an epic trip, the cost of travel-related “stuff” adds up fast. The price of international adaptors for your electronics seems small (around ten bucks on Amazon) but when you add it together with space-saver vacuum bags (I’m obsessed with these ones) and the sturdy hiking boots you need for trekking mountain trails, the cost climbs quicker than a stripper shimmying a steel pole.
That’s why it’s fun to stockpile goodies when you don’t urgently need them. Consider your travel junkie’s fantasy list of destinations. Got it?
Now assemble a list of things he or she will need for that specific adventure. A gift basket brimming with packable travel towels, the latest high-tech water bottle, and a new passport holder will not only save stress when it’s safe to travel again, it’ll give them peace of mind knowing they’ve crossed off purchases that would otherwise hit their wallets at the worst time.
Make travel meals a cinch.
In addition to being a travel nut, I’m a serious cheapskate. I once taught a workshop at the Romance Writers of America national conference titled, “Cheapskates Unite: How to do Conferences on a Budget.”
Want to know one of my biggest budget-friendly travel hacks?
Make your own meals. This calls for creativity when you’re staying someplace without a kitchen, which is common in conference hotels.
I start by calling ahead to ensure I have a mini-fridge in the room. Then I cram the extra space in my suitcase with things like salt & pepper shakers, some thrift store cutlery, protein bars, cereal, and for one memorable flight to Denver, a pound of frozen breakfast sausage. The final touch? A small electric skillet that ensures I can whip up gourmet meals in my room after a quick grocery run. I also bring an immersion water heater for tea and oatmeal packets, since I can’t stand the taste of coffee-flavored water from a hotel coffeemaker.
Author pal Bria Quinlan prefers to bring a mini-blender and hit the grocery store as soon as she lands. With some frozen fruit and a few other fixins’, she’s set for the week with smoothie-making supplies.
Find out what your favorite travel junkie loves for meals-on-the-go, then set them up with the right tools to help save time and money when they start traveling again.
For more budget-conscious travel ideas, check out my presentation from the aforementioned RWA conference.
Hook up the RV nut in your life.
While international travel is my favorite fix, the Covid era has many of us sticking closer to home.
After a summer spent researching camp trailers, we recently bought a used 22-footer that lets us continue camping through colder months. With the RV industry seeing a massive uptick in sales since the start of the pandemic, I know I’m not alone in being a camp trailer virgin.
My favorite pandemic-era travel purchase was a subscription to Harvest Hosts. With it, I have access nearly 1,500 farms, ranches, orchards, wineries, and heritage sites that allow members to park a self-contained RV for free. In exchange, you agree to purchase a bottle of wine or bushel of apples from the host.
Best of all, it means I recently fulfilled my fantasy of waking up in a vineyard with my two dogs, three cats, and husband. Now that’s a travel adventure!
About the Author:
When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA Award finalist, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit www.tawnafenske.com.
Connect with Tawna:
Just a Little Bet by Tawna Fenske, out now!
After a night of too many drinks, smokejumper Tony Warren and his best friend, photographer Kayla Gladney, come to the realization that they’re both bad at love. They even tried dating each other, but that crashed and burned, too. Now he’s got the hangover from hell and the certain conclusion he’s just a shit boyfriend. But Kayla thinks he’s a straight-up commitment-phobe.
So they make a bet—they’re going to hunt down his exes and decide once and for all why he’s so unlucky in love. Terrible boyfriend or commitment-phobe. Why does either answer feel like he’s still losing?
But between roadside burgers and late night detours, they discover some fires never burn out—like the one slowly smoldering between them. And suddenly losing feels a whole lot like winning again.