A travel writing retreat with Pink Pangea

//A travel writing retreat with Pink Pangea

A travel writing retreat with Pink Pangea

Looking back at a writing-filled weekend in New England, my first trip of this kind

I had wanted to participate in a writing retreat for a while, but didn’t think it would happen anytime soon. The meetings I came across were either too expensive or too far away, even for this frequent traveler. I was hoping to find a weekend retreat that would not interfere with my schedule, but still allow me to immerse myself in writing.

Guest House Chester CT

Retreat center in Connecticut

The answer came unexpectedly, in a newsletter from Pink Pangea.

I’d been familiar with this community of female travelers for quite some time. We first connected online, then I invited them to co-host #JAchat about women in travel (see recap here). When I saw Pink Pangea’s email about a retreat in Connecticut, I clicked right away.

Besides group workshops and guided writing activities, the trip included three healthy meals per day and accommodations at a conference center surrounded by forests and hiking trails. It sounded like the right opportunity, even before I noticed information about a partial scholarship.

I happened to apply on the last day. A few hours later, I was surprised with good news – my application had been accepted! I didn’t have much time to prepare since the retreat was scheduled for the following week. Luckily, I found affordable flights to New York and arranged for a rental car at the airport.

It was going to be a long travel day, but I couldn’t wait.

THE WEEKEND

I arrived at the retreat center with just enough time to change and freshen up before dinner. Most of the group was already there, getting acquainted in our meeting room. The spacious attic on the third floor – steps away from our bedrooms – had a couch, armchairs, and lots of natural light. Tables were pushed towards the walls and seating arranged in a circle – nothing resembling a classroom.

“This will be good,” I thought to myself, as we took the elevator down to the dining room.

The buffet-style meal didn’t disappoint on that or any day of the retreat. Breakfast consisted of eggs, pastries, oatmeal, and a selection of cereal. Soups, salads, and sandwiches were served for lunch. For dinner, you could choose rice or potatoes with lean meats, tofu, or tempeh, plus various sides and desserts. On top of that, fruits and refreshments were available 24/7. We had everything we needed to feel nourished and ready to write.

writing retreat food

Lunch break

And write we did… a lot!

Our coach and Pink Pangea co-founder Jackie wasted no time getting us in the writing zone. Back in the attic, we went over the schedule and defined individual goals for the retreat. Then it was time for the first writing cue – one of many to come.

Jackie must have sensed our unease when she mentioned feedback. She made it clear that we were in a supportive environment, where the idea was to inspire and not “tear one another apart.” Instead of academic-style critique, which can be harsh, she encouraged pointing out what works in our pieces and offering constructive advice, as needed.

The next two days were wonderfully intense: doing workshops, analyzing travel articles from online magazines, and discussing the business side of writing. We also took breaks to do stretches and breathing exercises.

As the hours went on, we learned more about the group: our background, travels, writing and career goals, even our fears. It felt as if we’d spent more than a weekend together and it was hard to leave. At the same time, I was eager to apply what I’d learned to my writing routine.

writing retreat

In the writing zone

TAKEAWAYS

A few weeks after the retreat, I feel as charged as I did on the plane back to Chicago.

I never thought I could write longer pieces by hand as efficiently as on the computer, or do yoga at home. But those are some of the helpful tools that I’ve gained.

I also feel more connected to the writing community. While I know a lot of writers and bloggers, our interactions are often limited to social media. It’s not the same as sitting in the same room with others and learning from their stories, like we did in Connecticut.

***

On the first day, Jackie warned us that we might “get hooked” on retreats, the way she had (and not just Pink Pangea’s). It didn’t take me long to agree with her. Where to next…?

By | 2015-07-30T17:20:39+00:00 April 13th, 2015|STORIES|42 Comments

About the Author:

avatar
Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.

42 Comments

  1. avatar
    Maaike April 14, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I was looking at the retreats in Tuscany and Switzerland. Unfortunately it won’t work out for me time- and financial wise, but I’d love to attend such a retreat!
    Maaike recently posted..History and Royals: WindsorMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      I hope you’ll get a chance to attend a future one! Those European retreats sure sound fantastic…

  2. avatar
    balkanyrudej April 14, 2015 at 2:44 am

    I think we should organise something similar in Poland :)
    balkanyrudej recently posted..BST 2014/15. Część 2 – w SarajewieMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      Yes! I’d love to go to one in Mazury. :)

  3. avatar
    Danielle Davis April 14, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m considering going on one of their retreats also.
    Danielle Davis recently posted..Today’s On The Go Photo: Lovely Spanish Point, BermudaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Danielle. Perhaps we’ll meet at one of them? :)

  4. avatar
    Dorothee April 15, 2015 at 1:15 am

    Hi Pola

    Sounds excellent, I have been looking for something like this for a long time. Need to browse their site for more details.

    Cheers from Berlin Doro

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 15, 2015 at 1:25 am

      Hey Dorothee! :) Good timing, as they have a few European retreats coming up.

  5. avatar
    Marcin W April 15, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Seems like a very nice idea! Besides, I love Connecticut!
    Marcin W recently posted..Wieże Lodu i Gołębi, czyli perły irańskiej architektury pustynnejMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 15, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Yeah, I’d love see see more of CT next time!

  6. avatar
    Łukasz | Kartka z Podróży April 15, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Ciekawe, ale czy to przypadkiem nie dyskryminacja. No cóż, zanim nie zmienię płci, to nie dla mnie (-;
    Łukasz | Kartka z Podróży recently posted..Na dachu WarszawyMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

      Haha, pewnie są gdzieś też koedukacyjne wypady. :)

  7. avatar
    Ewa April 15, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Nice idea, I have never heard of such thing before… However, recently I’ve been writing many of my blog posts by hand and I find it much better than on the computer!
    Ewa recently posted..Łukasz Orbitowski: Zapiski nosorożcaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      That’s great about hand writing! I’ve been doing that a lot since the retreat and enjoying it.

  8. avatar
    Angela April 17, 2015 at 2:43 am

    woow writing zone and retreat center looks interesting :) I hope you had great time there :)
    Angela recently posted..VI Moje 21 urodziny w Barcelonie i dziwny powrót do domu.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      It was a great experience in many ways. Thanks, Angela!

  9. avatar
    Marta April 21, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Fajna idea :) Myślę, że koncepcja damskich podróży i ogólnie miejsc przeznaczonych dla nas dopiero się w Polsce pojawi (jak to zwykle bywa…) :)

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Chętnie wybrałabym się na Mazury lub nad Bałtyk w takich ‘pisarskich’ celach. :)

  10. avatar
    Wiola Starczewska April 21, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    We, Polish bloggers demand similar treat!
    Wiola Starczewska recently posted..Jak mieszkają polscy blogerzy podróżniczy? 34 niesamowite zdjęcia.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Hmm, I wonder if there’s something similar in Poland… I’d love to attend.

    • avatar
      Anna May 12, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Haha, I’m supporting this! :D
      Anna recently posted..How to travel with chronic diseasesMy Profile

      • avatar
        Jetting Around June 8, 2015 at 1:29 am

        Maybe that’s where we’d finally meet, Anna! Haha…

  11. avatar
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) April 23, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I’m happy to know that you got a lot out of this retreat and that you enjoyed it. I’d love to do something similar. I’d also love to see more photos of that retreat center! It looks lovely.
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Introducing The Saucy Mom’s TravelsMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 23, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks, Francesca. Let’s go on a retreat together! Maybe that would be the girls’ getaway we keep talking about… :)

  12. avatar
    craig zabransky April 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Great stuff, writing retreat…. that may be just what I need to recharge the batteries…. Stay ChargedUp, Craig
    craig zabransky recently posted..The 31 States of the United Mexican StatesMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 23, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Hey Craig. If you can find a retreat that’s not girls-only, I highly recommend! :) It’s amazing how you can get a fresh perspective just by being around other writers, when it’s not just you and the laptop.

  13. avatar
    Marta (www.podrozeodkuchni.pl) April 24, 2015 at 6:04 am

    As I see a meal was fantastic! :) and an idea of meeting is interesting!
    Marta (www.podrozeodkuchni.pl) recently posted..Restauracja Carska – BiałowieżaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 24, 2015 at 8:01 am

      Ha, their pastries are so good… :)

  14. avatar
    Traveling Ted April 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I have been on a few drinking retreats before, but never a writing one. Sounds like a great learning experience.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Five amazing National Park adventuresMy Profile

  15. avatar
    Erin Marie April 26, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Oh this looks wonderful! Wish I could have made it to this one!
    Erin Marie recently posted..Responsible Tourism: Five Travel Experiences I Wouldn’t Do Today.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 26, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      See you at a future one, Erin! Deal? :) You’d make a great retreat buddy.

  16. avatar
    lola April 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Pola I think this sounds so interesting. Pink Pangea was hosting something at the NYTF a couple weekends ago and I really wanted to participate. I definitely am at a point where I’d like to hone my writing more and get good constructive feedback.
    lola recently posted..Six Discoveries about JamaicaMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around April 28, 2015 at 1:48 am

      I heard about their workshop at NYTF and wish I could have attended! I hope you’ll find the right retreat for you, Lola. Good luck. :)

  17. avatar
    Leah April 29, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I love the idea of a writing retreat. I think there’s always room for improvement and we must hone the craft consistently. I’m guilty of not practicing what I preach. Looks like this is a great opportunity to be surrounded by talented people wanting to help one another.
    Leah recently posted..Giving Cruising Another Chance with Viking River CruisesMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around June 8, 2015 at 2:09 am

      The best this was having that supportive environment. If you ever have a chance to do a retreat, go for it. It’s a great experience.

  18. avatar
    Wapniaki Wdrodze May 13, 2015 at 3:01 am

    The first time I hear about Pink Pangea , interesting…
    Wapniaki Wdrodze recently posted..My turyści industrialni … Zwiedzamy Gliwice i Szlak Zabytków Techniki Śląska Radiostacja i Oddział Odlewnictwa ArtystycznegoMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around June 8, 2015 at 1:27 am

      Yeah, I found out about them not too long ago. Glad I did!

  19. avatar
    Miguel ~ Trip Bitten June 11, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    This sounds great. I have just started travel writing and it is completely different. I have a marketing blog and the writing style is very impersonal, so I might have to look into some kind of retreat to learn about travel writing. Thanks for this post, nice to know retreats can help. :)
    Miguel ~ Trip Bitten recently posted..A trip to the breathtaking HuangHuaCheng Great Wall with Bike BeijingMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around June 11, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Miguel. I used to organize marketing seminars, but they weren’t focused on writing. Good point about that style being more impersonal, I know what you mean. And good luck with finding the right retreat!

  20. avatar
    A long weekend in Milwaukee with BlogHouse August 2, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    […] early in the year than I wanted to invest in my professional development. That led me to attend a travel writing retreat with Pink Pangea and apply to BlogHouse […]

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