5 habits of a copywriter on vacation

September 7, 2018


I’ve just come back from a three-week holiday in the UK and Europe. It was an excellent mix of family time, catching up with friends and playing tourist in London, Paris and Barcelona.

My husband says I’m a bit of a workaholic and struggle to switch off from “being a writer”. I’d usually scoff at this. I can do lazy with the best of them. But after noticing some of my behaviour on holiday, I think he might be onto something.


Honestly, when your business is ‘doing words’ and the world is full of wordy stuff, it’s difficult to stop yourself from doing work-like things. Even when on holiday. Only, I noticed that my holiday copywriter habits are a bit, well…dickheadish. Or odd.

The following five habits only seem to surface when I’m on holiday. And *I think* only do so because I’m a copywriter. The jury’s out on whether they should be taken as signs of how much I enjoy (and was missing) my work, or whether it’s because I let my guard down and turn into a bit of a prat (a fun prat, though). Take a read and let me know which you think it is.

OTT postcard messages

The idea of postcards is to keep the message short and highlight the most envy-evoking activity you’ve done. The (very selfish) goal is to make the recipient feel well-jel that you’re on holiday and they’re not, then let the glossy image do the talking. Really, writing postcards is an ideal form of text for a copywriter.

Apparently, holiday-me can’t manage this. Instead I seize the opportunity to write something and slip into a long-winded essay (by postcard standards) completed in tiny writing so I can squeeze every unnecessary detail on there. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of flowery language.

‘Dear family,
Currently enjoying the tranquillity of a quaint Parisian bar. Numerous wasps are wafting by while we sip our beverages
[who cares?! Not even a holiday highlight!]. Have walked many miles today taking in the sights and soaking up the culture. Paris is a beautiful and elegant city [no shit, Sherlock]. Utterly miffed as to why I didn’t visit sooner.
Much love,

I mean seriously. Could I sound like more of a pompous wazzark? My only explanation is that over the top postcard writing is an outlet for all the working time I spend murdering my darlings and have to rein in my desire to write poetically.

Audibly scoff at menu fails

Before getting into this one, I want to preface it by saying I can’t speak a second language. Teachers throughout high-school and college tried to help me learn French and German. Then I tried to teach myself Spanish before travelling around South America. Turns out I have a certain, let’s say, ‘je ne sais quoi’ at being totally crap at learning foreign languages. Bearing this in mind, there’s no way that the following isn’t going to make me sound like a complete fuckwit for highlighting the fails of those who at least try. It’s more than I manage.

But finding translation slip-ups on foreign menus is hilarious.

My favourite from this trip was when I was perusing a menu in Barcelona, keenly eyeing up a seafood dish. Apparently, it contained calamari, fish, muscles and ‘spawns’. Mmm, spawns.


I assume they meant ‘prawns’. It’s savage of me to take the micky, but Google translate does throw amusing curve balls in. Although my example pales in comparison to these menu fails.

Make terrible puns

Like most writers I’m a sucker for a pun. Hell, it’s why Pun Fridays are part of my world. But there’s something about my holiday brain that puts me into punning overdrive. Unfortunately, most of them are very tenuous. For example:

Said in Barcelona: “Let’s go for La Rambla down Las Ramblas before dinner.”


Or my favourite, which actually earned me a laugh and high-five from the husband: “Wow, this train route really does ‘Renfe’ the hills.”
It’s funny when you understand that we were on a train journey from Paris to Barcelona, the train company are called ‘Renfe’ and we could see the Pyrenes in the distance.

Cos it’s like ‘run for’ the hills. Geddit?


Yeah…guess you had to be there.

Monumental hopes

Do you ever look at big, impressive buildings or important works of art that have influenced culture, society and thinking throughout history, then, feeling totally inspired think, ‘Once I have returned from this holiday I will pen a headline, blog article or email notification that is a masterpiece equal to this!’

Like, the content marketing equivillent of the epic La Sagrada Familia.


*Of course* I can write some form of marketing material that is equally as inspiring as this feat of architecture. Pfft

No? Just me then?

Subedit everything

In-flight magazines, tourist leaflets, content in museum exhibitions — I can’t help but read it with a critical editor’s eye.



If I can get a pen to it, I will. I can only imagine what the person sat in the same airline seat after me made of the magazine I’d “fixed”. But honestly, if you’re going to stick an unnecessary ellipsis in the EDITOR’S LETTER no less, then you’re basically throwing me an open invitation to sift through the rest of the magazine for any other errors.

Still, was a good way to get me to read it. And pass an hour of the flight time.

Are you a writer with weird holiday habits?

Then I’d love to hear what they are. Do any of the above sound familiar to you? (I’m really hoping they do and I’m not alone in this!)

Comment below or drop me a tweet to let me know what you do.



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