I’m happy to announce the debut of a new feature here on Travel Rinse Repeat entitled Not Your Average Traveler, where I interview people outside the travel blogging realm who have made travel a priority and live a significant portion of their life on the road.
For the initial edition, I interviewed Rachael Sage, an American Singer-Songwriter who has toured all over the world playing her music for fans and opening for the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Judy Collins, and Ani DiFranco. Rachael was happy to share her travel tips and experiences while touring with Travel Rinse Repeat. Take it away Rachael.
On What Item She Won’t Leave Home Without
I can’t leave home without my bright red lipstick. I can be exhausted, lost, late or generally discombobulated otherwise, but applying fresh bright red lipstick makes me feel together and ready to make my next bold move, wherever I’m going or whatever I’m doing! It’s often the difference between me feeling ready to face the world, or just ready to go home and take a nap.
Her Favorite City
I lived in Dublin when I was in college and interned for The Abby Theatre. It was the place where I really shifted from writing Top 40-type pop songs on synthesizers and drum-machines to learning more about stringed instruments and folk music in general. I heard Glen Hansard’s band The Frames in a local teenie club there, and saw inumerable, amazing performers busking in the streets.
I vowed that some day I’d make it back there “on tour” when I established myself as a musician, and even though I didn’t quite know what that meant at the time, last year I was able to finally tour there and perform at some great events including Dublin Pride, which was incredible.
On Experiencing Destinations While On Tour
The key to making the most of the places we visit is becoming expert at time-management, really. Often we only have an hour or so to spare, so the main way we usually see the downtown-area is by virtue of where we eat! It can be tempting to just go to a local grocery store or eat at a hotel if we’re tired, but the more interesting route is always to ask locals where they recommend we eat lunch or dinner and more specifically, what’s their very favorite local restaurant.
You make a lot of friends this way and recommendations from passionate local residents is always the most interesting way to take in your surroundings. Yelp can only go so far in relaying “vibe” and “ambiance”!
Sometimes after our shows, we’ll go out for a drink or late-dinner with folks who’ve come to the show or friends we may already have in the area. This usually becomes another opportunity to gather a bit more sense of the local color, in a different setting, and also to find out if there’s a particularly beautiful park, interesting museum exhibit or shopping area we should attempt to hit before we leave the next day.
The Strangest Item in Her Suitcase
I’ve packed my own crazy-straws. Sometimes people give me things or I collect things that I have no use for at home, but I think, “wow, if I took this on the road, I might actually use it…” I did sip a few soy-chai-latte’s through them at Starbucks and inevitably, made some new friends.
On Coming Home
I travel so much that the idea of going somewhere far away for a vacation isn’t all that appealing once I’m off the road. Instead, I prefer to do “stay-cations” where I explore different areas of my hometown New York City.
I might spend a few hours exploring Chinatown or Soho or Little Italy, or treat myself to some theater or dance at Lincoln Center. I recently went to see The New York City Ballet and it was just so unbelievably beautiful and moving, I felt completely transported by my surroundings in the theater.
For me, walking all over New York and discovering new neighborhoods, shops, restaurants and interesting public spaces and sculptures is probably my favorite thing to do, and I’ve written many songs while walking around my hometown this way!
I almost never get homesick, really. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid going away eight weeks to summer camp. My parents did me a service, I suppose, sending me to those camps, because it really helped reformulate the idea of home for me.
These days, I have a pretty good ability to be “away” and still keep in touch with my friends and family enough, through texting and facebook. I think it’s much harder to be in a relationship with someone who leaves a lot, i.e. the person who stays home, than the one leaving…at least according to my exes!
Right now I’m single, which is just fine with me since I feel like it’s a good time in my life to be focusing more on music, touring and continuing to build my record label. It can be very draining and even depressing to always need to apologize for what you naturally love to do, when you’re in a relationship, simply because “The Road” pulls you away from that other person you love, physically.
Rachael’s Biggest Travel Misadventure
When I was travelling to France a couple years ago with my label manager, we were heading to an amazing music conference in Cannes, but it was a comedy of errors every step of the way. There was traffic en route to the airport, both of us were frisked and detained for no reason at security, and long lines were everywhere.
Then there was some unforeseen shuttle we had to take – ! – to the plane itself, and we were moments away from the departure time. We ended up literally sprinting a half-mile, it seemed, to our gate and getting to the doors of the plane within seconds of them closing. We were both panting and wheezing and it was just a crazy, stressful scenario all around – but also a wake-up call to do more cardio!!
How Travel Affects Songwriting
Years ago I wrote a song called “Swallow This Phone” that was inspired by someone I was desperately missing while I was out on tour. We were talking on the phone every night, when I first left…and then gradually, as tends to happen, the phone calls lessened and my (new) partner became a bit more leery of calling as our conversations were devolving into such sad ones where we were expressing how much we were missing each other and couldn’t wait for me to come home. It was pretty tragic! But I got a good song out of it…
More recently, I wrote the song “Soulstice” on my new album about someone I fell for while touring Europe, but of course, within a matter of days I was going to be leaving. It’s about that moment where it’s crystal clear that if you did live in the same city, you’d probably be endeavoring to share a lot more of your lives together, but you don’t, so while the connection is beautiful and magical, it’s also going to hurt like hell to say goodbye.
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Thanks again to Rachael for participating in the first edition of Not Your Average Traveler. To find out more about Rachael, her music, and her life on the road, you can find her at her website, RachaelSage.com, follow her on twitter @rachaelsage, or check out her facebook page.