5-Day Creative Retreat in Glacier National Park

One of my favorite experiences is going on a solo trip to a place I’ve never been and bringing along with me some creative work for those times when inspiration strikes or when you simply need a break from travel.

I recently got back from just such a creative retreat, this time to Glacier National Park, and in the video above I share the highlights from that trip, the creative work I spent my time on, and the lessons I learned that I plan to apply to the next trip.

Keeping a Visual Log

I brought with me a 9 x 12 sketchbook and dedicated a page of it for a visual log.

Like I do with my bookmark notes, I folded the page into thirds to give myself some columns to work with.

Throughout my day (or at the end of it) I captured some of the highlights, which resulted in a nice recap of the trip and a reminder of things that I’d likely otherwise forget:

Glacier National Park - Travel Log Page 1

The first page of my travel log. Each hike was its own highlight. The shuttles to and from the park were nice because of chats with knowledgable drivers and other travelers, but that did take time away from exploring the park.

Glacier National Park - Travel Log Page 2

I really enjoyed that last hike up Piegan Pass because I was able to take my time and let my mind wander. I’d like more hikes like that on future trips. So great to see my wife and boys as I was walking out of the train station in Portland!

The Creative Work

Rather than having a singular creative project to work on throughout this trip, I instead bounced around between sketchnoting the ideas of others (from books, podcasts, and videos), brainstorming and drafting future videos for the YouTube channel, and planning out both personal and professional projects.

Here’s what that work looked like:

Deep Questions with Cal Newport #198 Page 1

My first page of notes on Episode #198 of Deep Questions with Cal Newport. Slow productivity = doing fewer things + working at a natural pace + obsessing over quality.

My second page of notes from Episode #198 of Cal Newport’s podcast Deep Questions.

Sketchnotes of The Mystic Cafe with Thomas Huebl

My notes from the January and February 2020 Mystic Cafe with Thomas Huebl. “Presence is where the past finds its peace and where the future is being born.”

Notion for Sketchnoters Brainstorming

Brainstorming the next steps for Notion for Sketchnoters. I want to pick back up with the development and documentation of a Notion setup that’s particularly well-suited for sketchnoters and the storing of images.

The Shape of Creativity - Video Brainstorm

Brainstorming how Mighty Networks’ “The Life of a Community” diagram can be applied to the life of a sketchnoter and the life of anyone doing creative work.

Lessons Learned

During the last leg of the train ride home I spent some time reflecting on the experience to identify what I might do differently (or the same) next time.

Here are those lessons learned:

Lessons Learned from this Creative Retreat

What I learned from my trip to Glacier National Park.

I’m hoping to take a trip like this about once a year, and these are the lessons that I’ll return to whenever it comes time to plan the next one:

  • Next time come in my own vehicle – relying on two shuttles meant rushed hikes and less time exploring the park.
  • Bring a pocket notebook in addition to a larger sketchbook – the small one is quicker to break out and less obtrusive.
  • Five days felt like the perfect length – wouldn’t want to be away from the family any longer than that, and you kind of get numb to the beauty of the place after that many days anyway.
  • Fewer hikes at a slower pace is worth it – let the mind wander, take breaks to write and sketch and just enjoy the view.

I don’t yet know the when or where of my next creative retreat, but I’m already looking forward to it.

Learn How to Take Visual Notes

If you’d like to learn how to take visual notes like those I shared above, come join us inside of Verbal to Visual.

There you’ll find a full library of sketchnoting courses and regular live workshops to help you build your skills:

You can learn more and sign up here.