In a lot of ways, writing a novel about traveling is more enjoyable than actually traveling – more ghosts and high speed chases and fireworks, fewer lines and hassles. I’m not restricted to the present era or to my limited circle of acquaintances. I can mix magic and science and history. I get to rub elbows with the rich and famous and destroy the bad guys instead of fuming over my coffee about them. And I can go anywhere – without financing.

Half the fun of a vacation – maybe more – is planning it, and that’s essentially what writing is for me: Planning the perfect holiday. And I’m not even the first person to take advantage of this ultimate form of budget travel.

The nineteenth century novelist Anne Radcliffe wrote Gothic thrillers about heroines whose travels brought them to wild, haunted landscapes in distant lands, yet Radcliffe herself wasn’t known to have traveled extensively. Instead, her settings were inspired by the landscape paintings of Salvator Rosa, Gaspar Poussin, and other Romantic artists.

Rocky Landscape with Figures, Salvator Rosa, 17th Century

When she quit publishing, it was rumored that her vivid imagination had finally driven her insane. In reality, it was her imagination – paired with her writing habit and the artistic works of other creatives – that had allowed her to experience the world without having to leave her home. That sort of freedom is still available today to each and every one of us.

You don’t have to be a celebrity writer to enjoy the benefits of free travel. You don’t even have to be a good writer. Forget about punctuation and spelling and what other people will think about you. This isn’t writing for profit – this is writing for pleasure. Just start planning the perfect getaway, I assure you your imagination will take care of the rest.