What Stephen King can’t travel with­out

The Phnom Penh Post - - TRAVEL - Nell Mcshane Wulfhart

AU­THOR Stephen King has sev­eral projects out this month: Mr. Mercedes, a tele­vi­sion se­ries based on King’s first hard-boiled de­tec­tive novel; IT, a film adap­ta­tion of his 1986 best-seller; and The Dark Tower, cur­rently in the­atres. Maine’s most fa­mous res­i­dent, King prefers car travel to air, and has sur­pris­ingly mod­est re­quire­ments when on the road.

While King is best known for his hor­ror nov­els fea­tur­ing ter­ri­fy­ing clowns and se­rial killers, his own par­tic­u­lar fear is much more mun­dane. “I travel by plane when I have to – I travel by car when I pos­si­bly can. The dif­fer­ence is if your car breaks down, you pull over into the break­down lane. If you’re at 40,000 feet and your plane has trou­ble, you die. I feel more in con­trol when I’m driv­ing than when I’m fly­ing. You hope that the pi­lot won’t have a brain em­bolism and die at the controls.”

And while work oc­ca­sion­ally brings him over­seas, he’d re­ally pre­fer to stay home. “I’m not a big travel buff. I do it when I have to, and I try to en­joy it – and I’ve done more of it than I want to.”

Va­ca­tion for him means win­ter­ing in Florida – his wife flies, but he drives. “It’s so much eas­ier now be­cause you have Siri to guide you along the way and if the traf­fic gets hor­ri­ble along the turn­pike or some­thing, she’ll take you around by back ways and usu­ally there are no hill­bil­lies that are go­ing to eat hu­man flesh.” And his needs are mod­est – he stays at Mo­tel 6 and eats at the Waf­fle House. “I’m not hard to please. Give me a mo­tel room some­where near the In­ter­state with a chair out front where you can sit and read a book and I’m just as happy as can be.”

He’s not kid­ding around, ei­ther. He’s a Mo­tel 6 expert. “A tip for the lone­some trav­eller: Al­ways ask for a room on the end of the mo­tel be­cause the chances of hav­ing a party next door are a lit­tle less. Or, if it’s a three-storey ho­tel, get a room on the top floor and then you don’t have to worry about the cou­ple above you de­cid­ing they’re go­ing to go at it all night long.”

And when it comes to pack­ing, he keeps it sim­ple there, too. “I IT take the basics. And I don’t have any par­tic­u­lar re­quire­ments for sham­poos, emol­lients, any­thing like that. They usu­ally have it in the Mo­tel 6.”

Here’s what he takes on every trip:


“I’ve got to have my au­dio­books, which I keep on my iPad now, it’s much more con­ve­nient than hav­ing to drag along a CD player and ear­phones and all that jazz. Got to load in at least one or two movies that you re­ally want to see so that you have some­thing to watch. Or two or three episodes of The Amer­i­cans.”

Crossword book

“I gotta have my big crossword book be­cause you can’t al­ways read. If you’re on an air­plane flight from, let’s say Maine to Los An­ge­les, you have to have some­thing to do.”


“I’ve got this old suit­case that my wife hates that I’ve been car­ry­ing around for prob­a­bly 30 years now, it’s an old bat­tered gray Sam­sonite suit­case. My feel­ing is that if you can’t get ev­ery­thing you need into that one suit­case, you don’t re­ally need it. It doesn’t have any wheels. It’s old school.”


“I al­ways carry a cou­ple of books. There’s the book that I’m go­ing to read and the backup in case the book is ter­ri­ble. The best book that I read re­cently was My Ab­so­lute Dar­ling, which is just a knock­out, maybe the best thing I’ve read this year. But you’ve got to have at least one book by some­one that you trust. You don’t want to be caught short.”

Jeans and T-shirts

“I’m not very good with big bunches of peo­ple; most writ­ers are not. We work in soli­tude. We’re not built for the au­di­ence the way that some ac­tors and co­me­di­ans are. So I de­cided that if I was go­ing to be afraid at least I would be com­fort­able. And it makes it eas­ier to pack, too.”


While Stephen King, a Maine res­i­dent, is best known for his hor­ror nov­els, his own par­tic­u­lar fear is much more mun­dane.


Stephen King at­tends a spe­cial screen­ing of on Septem­ber 6 in Maine. at Ban­gor Mall Cin­e­mas 10

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