How Nerds Travel (Pt 2): Express Yourself

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since my last post, and I apologize for the long hiatus. While Marlon (Nerdcoolture) & I have taken a break from writing “nerd travel” blog posts to do actual nerd traveling, you can always find us posting about how we stay geeky on our adventures. I mean, in my case, it’s sort of the point of this blog!

That said, now seems an appropriate time to share this entry I started a while ago since it’s summer  – when many people go vacationing – and because San Diego Comic Con is coming up next week! What better time to travel in fantastic nerd style?

Last time, I talked about accessorizing to geek up your travel wardrobe in case you don’t have clothes appropriate for the destination or weather. I’d like to expand a little more on this topic because accessories are easily my favorite way to express my fandom loves and I don’t only mean outfit accessories.

RECOGNIZABLE LUGGAGE

Novelty suitcases are a simple and casual way to express yourself. You don’t even have to think about it because you’re going to need something to put your gear in anyway. Why not let it reflect what you love?

One of the best fandom things my sister has purchased is her R2-D2 carry-on luggage (from ThinkGeek). During our recent trips, the Sister has received so many compliments on it because it’s instantly recognizable as the scrappiest astromech in the galaxy! People get a kick out of seeing R2, and it brightens up some of the most stressful parts of traveling – rushing around the airport, station, etc. In that moment, we all get to share in a bit of joy thanks to a simple expression of nerdiness.

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[Photo/ @catherine]

But if novelty suitcases aren’t your thing, you can accessorize your luggage with clever tags, straps,  and stickers. There are so many cool designs and decals to choose from, you could transform a plain black case into your own fandom masterpiece.

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If artist Nilah Magruder gets her adorable Hamilton luggage straps in stock, I am so getting one.

Not to mention, if you check your bags, it’ll be a lot easier to identify your geeked out pieces at baggage claim among the sea of basic black and gray ones.

GEEKCHIC HANDBAGS

Aside from your luggage, you’re likely to have some kind of shoulder bag or even fanny pack on your travels. Here’s another accessory you can use to be nerdy. You can go with the obvious like Loungefly’s line of Disney and Star Wars purses or you can be more subtle by accessorizing regular handbags. Tie a geeky scarf or handkerchief to your purse strap. Clip on purse keychains featuring charms or badges from your favorite book or TV show. Braid ribbon in your Hogwarts House colors along the handles.

For something a bit more gender-neutral, messenger bags and handbags that aren’t obviously themed can be decorated in much the same way – with pins and patches and key chains.

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NERDY KNICKKNACKS

Speaking of keychains, your actual keychain is an unobtrusive place to be geeky and functional. I have a Lego Loki in my purse at all times because he holds my keys. Depending on what it is, it can doubly function as a photo prop.

There are also lots of choices when it comes to wallets, business card holders, and phone cases. I also like cute passport holders. One of my favorites is this one that looks like a Penguin Classics cover of the book On the Road, which I gifted to my sister for her birthday one year. Hers has been on quite a few adventures.

Of course, I’m rarely without pen and paper. There’s almost always a notebook in my bag, and while I’m a fan of the plain Moleskine, you can definitely find fancier journals for documenting your latest treks. Get a notebook that shows off your passion or decorate a plain one. The one I’m currently using features Tolkein’s illustration of Smaug!

The point of all this is that you can take your nerd love with you without having it be part of your wardrobe. Maybe you’re on a business trip and that Batman hoodie just isn’t going to cut it for the dress code, but you can still rep that love with a luggage tag or a business card holder elegantly etched with the Batman emblem. For me, having even a small reminder of the things I enjoy is comforting.

Travel can be stressful and there is always some element of the unknown to it. Having something familiar with you can be the confidence boost you need or a piece of solace in the whirlwind of being on the move. It’s like having a bit of the Light of Eärendil to light your way through the dark.

These are some non-outfit-based ways I keep my fandoms in my life when I’m on the roam. Next time, I’ll share what things I try to always fit on to my packing list.

 

Q4U: What different ways do you express your geekery when you travel? Got any traveling goods recommendations for me?

Concord & The Revolution

On this day, April 19, 1775, two skirmishes occurred between the British Redcoats and colonial militia in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. These events together are seen as the opening “battles” of the American Revolution. The confrontation that happened in Concord, in particular, would later be known as “the shot heard ’round the world,” a phrase coined by American poet and writer – and Concord native – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

And in October 2015, I visited the place where it happened with the Sister during the last leg of my U.S. History vacation. Yes, I requested and planned a vacation with my friends around seeing Revolutionary History sites, and you’ll be hearing more about that in time on this blog. Concord wasn’t originally on my itinerary and is not a place I thought I’d see given that it’s a small town and a bit out of the way from Boston, but when my friend Tracey* offered her hospitality at nearby Lowell (another historical town – an old mill town, in fact) and a ride to Concord, I couldn’t say no. She knew to tempt me with Revolutionary and literary history (and apple cider donuts).

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Why Nerds Travel (Pt 2) – “For Survival” (inspired by Marlon)

Being a nerd (or geek, whatever term you prefer) is great because it means being passionately in love with something. I think part of the reason for that passion is our subject of geek-love is often something separate and different from our normal. I love to read and write because my brain gets to spend time in another place with other people. I’m immersed in a world that is different from my daily life.

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For many of us, our nerdy passions are mind-vacations, little ways we escape our regular lives for a bit and recharge. This is exactly why I think actual travel is vital to living our best lives. I used the phrase “filling the well” in my Why Nerds Travel Part 1 post and talked about how traveling can help soothe the life-burnout. But when I revisited Marlon’s first Why Nerds Travel post, I latched on to this reason of his:

For Survival – When I see Joel and Ellie of TLOU counting small wins in the ruins of a chaotic world, I’m like “I want to capture that in my memory and appreciate the crap out of it.” Sometimes I travel for the sake of survival like if I don’t end up going on a trip to somewhere remote and obscure then, I’ll die or I’ll bite someone.

 

The Walking Dead at San Diego Comic Con. [Photo: Marlon/ Nerdcoolture]


I completely relate to this feeling, the need sometimes to physically get away from our regularly scheduled programming. Is wanderlust just instinct telling our brains it’s time to take a break?  We can get so caught up in our routines, chores, responsibilities that we forget to appreciate the little things and to take care of ourselves. Removing yourself from all your normal is like shucking a weight and breathing in fresh air.

And hey, I live so much of my life in imaginary worlds and I love them, but they are not enough. To quote the ever-wise Dumbledore,

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

And the best part about travel is that it kind of forces you to live. The nature of traveling is movement, and when you’re navigating the unfamiliar, you can’t just coast. We have to engage with our surroundings, and that in itself can reinvigorate us. The challenges we face might make us appreciate the comforts we have at home; the new dish we try might remind us how truly wonderful good food is. Like Marlon said, about traveling to survive:

The most important motivation here is to be refreshed and get centered after being jolted around from a chaotic work life.

So travel often – even if it is local. You never know what your neighboring towns have to offer or what overlooked beauty you might discover in your backyard. For example, the Sister and I finally visited this old pioneer cemetery (it’s a historical landmark too!) in our area that we’ve been passing since we were kids. This is a place that creeped me out as a child when we drove by at night and always made me curious as to what and who was in there. We never saw any people visiting.

But we decided to stop by last Sunday because we saw they were having an “open house” with goats! They’d brought in a herd to weed the grounds in an eco-friendly way and people were welcome to “walk with the goats.” This little adventure was so spontaneous and simple, but it added so much delight to my weekend!


You are the protagonist and author of your own story, and remember, the story doesn’t start until something changes the status quo. So start your journey and remind yourself that you’re on one. After all, you have to make it to the end. Fill the well.

Q4U: What do you do when you need to get away? How does travel help you survive?

Supplement:
(Music) Chasing the Sun | Sara Bareilles
(Music) Take a Break | Hamilton Original Cast Recording

How Nerds Travel (Pt 1) – Preparations

To tell you the truth, I’m a wanderer of convenience. My destinations are often based on whims, and once I’ve chosen the destination, I start digging in to see what geekery I can get up to. That said, there are destinations that call to me because of my nerd interests.

Greece, for example, has been on my travel bucket list since I was a kid because I was (and still am) obsessed with Classical Mythology. To tread through the ruins at Delphi and to stand atop the Acropolis are dreams of mine. The reason I keep getting drawn back to the northeastern United States is because of my love for the American Revolution. And then there’s stuff like – oh, I don’t know – San Diego Comic Con. 

So let’s talk how nerds make travels like the above happen.

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Why Nerds Travel (Pt 1) – Stories (Inspiration)

When MARLON of Nerdcoolture said he was working on a series of blog posts about “nerd travel,” I immediately volunteered as tribute. After all, I basically started this blog to talk about the intersection of my wanderlust and geekery, and I had recently gone on the nerdiest trip of my life (so far).

And while Marlon and I had first “met” during a remote podcast*, we really connected over the topic of planning geeky vacations. So I’m excited to be blogging about the topic in collaboration with him. A little about Marlon – he’s all about bringing the geeky into everyday life, particularly through fashion! He’s also super into the Simpsons and takes epic travel photos.

So what is “nerd/geek travel”?

It’s travel but with a geek lens! Marlon and I are exploring this idea and what it means to us individually with this series of posts. I hope you’ll stick around for all of them as we talk about what inspires us to travel, how we prepare for trips, and how we keep it all geeky!

Marlon already posted his Inspiration for Nerd Travel (spoiler: video games!) on Monday, which I hope you’ll check out. And now I’m sharing what inspires me to travel…

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