When I took a sabbatical a few years ago,  I set off for Europe with no itinerary, but plenty of notebooks and eyes wide open. Anything and everything that caught my fancy was recorded and composted.

Long term travel isn’t the only option, of course. Taking regular jaunts to inspire yourself is good for your creative spirit. Even a day trip can yield results if you are open to it happening.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to recharge and refresh my entrepreneurial self.

° Visit a legendary business. Long before I set foot in Rejuvenation, a lighting, salvage and home furnishings store in Portland, I was a fan. I’d been getting their catalogs and loved their storytelling as much as their merchandise.

Seeing the business in person did not disappoint.

Another happy visit took place on a trip to Minneapolis when Alice Barry suggested we pay a call on Wild Rumpus, the imaginative children’s bookstore. Somehow I had never managed to get there when I lived in the area.

These kinds of places don’t always show up in guidebooks, but savvy entrepreneurs who are willing to scout them out, often find ideas and inspiration that they can synthesize in their own operations.

° Browse at a flea market. Whether or not you’re shopping for anything in particular, a couple of hours chatting with entrepreneurial sellers can be a fine way to invest some weekend time.

If a seller isn’t busy, ask about their business. Why did they choose the merchandise they sell? Where do they find things they market?

For some sellers, it’s a little sideline, while others travel the country marketing antique, art or clothing. Most sellers are also social beings and love to share their stories.

° Make a pilgrimage. The moment that I heard that the deYoung Museum in San Francisco was hosting the largest display of Dale Chihuly’s work ever gathered in one place, I knew I had to go. I have been tracking down his work in cities I’ve visited for the past several years, but never attended such an abundant exhibit.

I have, however, flown across the country and across the ocean with the intention of attending a special exhibit of the works of artists I love or to hear a performer or author I admire.

It’s always special to visit an exhibit or attend a concert or seminar that only exists for a brief time. Making the effort to admire creativity enriches and enhances your life.

° Visit an entrepreneurial city or town. When my friend Chris Utterback was alive, I always looked forward to my visits to her in Connecticut where one of our regular amusements was to visit our favorite shopkeepers in neighboring villages.

Like flea market sellers, shopkeepers who specialize in selling things that they love are frequently eager to talk about their passions.

Large cities, too, often have neighborhoods where locals run quirky little businesses. Scout them out.

° Be a tourist in your own hometown. During my days living in Santa Barbara, I always enjoyed visits from out of town friends with whom I could share this lovely spot.

After one of these visits where I played tour guide, I realized that I wasn’t taking advantage of interesting things in my own backyard.

Every so often, get off your beaten path and go see something a visitor wouldn’t dream of missing if they came to your part of the world.

° Go on a treasure hunt. If you’re a collector, you already know the fun of treasure hunting, but if you aren’t so inclined, invent a project and see where it leads you.

Find the best taco or creme brulee within fifty miles of home. Or see if you can discover the most eccentric business in your area.

Entrepreneurial excursions can inspire and inform, of course, but the best part of taking such a trip is the possibility of encountering someone who is genuinely doing what they love.

As Danny Gregory reminds us, “When you are in the deep end of the creative pool surrounded by others full of energy and ideas and examples, you learn to swim a lot better.”


Bonus Excursion: In Seth Godin’s LINCHPIN he writes eloquently about the importance of creative thinking. “Art isn’t only a painting,” he points out. “Art is anything that’s creative, passionate and personal.” Like being Joyfully Jobless. And the upcoming Idea Safari can help you spread your art. There’s still time to join the exploration. http://tinyurl.com/3w9yxq3

Jan Dean and I became friends because of our mutual love of books. That love of reading and our joint passion for everything English kept our friendship going for over a decade.

When I did seminars in Dallas, Jan and I always planned time together — time that usually involved at least one bookstore visit.

Like many avid readers, Jan found a way to share her love with others. She is the author of The Gardener’s Reading Guide, which lists hundreds of books on all aspects of gardening.

Her passion for cozy mysteries led her to start a specialized newsletter called Murder Most Cozy, which shared news about this genre. During the time she published that newsletter, Jan led tours to England designed especially for other cozy lovers.

The Cozy Crimes & Cream Teas Tours were created so lovers of cozy mysteries could experience the picturesque English villages where many cozies are set. There were also special events with cozy authors and numerous bookshop stops.

Obviously, Jan found a wonderful niche in the vast world of books.

If you’re a bookworm, perhaps you, too, can find a way to combine your love of books with a nifty profit center. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Read for a living. There are numerous ways to turn reading time into bottom line. For instance, many newspapers use freelancers to read and review new books.

Film producers and some publishers use the services of reader’s advisers to comb through piles of manuscripts and make recommendations about those that seem feasible for production.

Kathy Baxter is a professional librarian who found several outlets for sharing her expertise. For years, Kathy was a popular speaker on the subject of books and kids delivering book talks to librarians, teachers, parents and schoolchildren..

After Kathy submitted an article about her approach to giving booktalks to Library Journal, the industry publication, her visibility as an expert expanded even more. Not only did the magazine like her article enough to publish it, they asked her to do a regular column.

Kathy is the author of a book called Gotcha! Getting Kids Excited About Books. She was also a founder of the Maud Hart Lovelace Society, a national organization that brings together lovers of the Betsy-Tacy books.

Sell books. Next to opening a restaurant, running a dear little bookstore seems to be the most popular business fantasy around. As every booklover knows, independent bookselling has become a most unstable occupation. (Of course, if you have your heart set on it and financial backing, by all means ignore this warning.)

Even in this age of superstores and Amazon, specialty booksellers with a bit of imagination can carve out a place for themselves.

Collette Morgan opened a children’s bookstore called Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis with the intention of making her store “something a corporate mind would never dream up and that a large company could never sustain.” Her bookstore sells children a good time along with books and is thriving despite competition from the chains.

Because the world of books is so huge, the key to success for a small business is to become a specialist.

For many years, Jan Longone operated a successful mail order bookstore devoted to culinary subjects, tracking down books from around the world. Without ever advertising, Jan’s Wine and Food Library, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, built a devoted clientele, that included the late Julia Child and the M.F.K. Fisher.

“This business suits me perfectly,” she says. “We’re surrounded by good books, good food, travel and we’ve made friends around the world.”

Travel, cooking, scholarly, architectural and mystery specialty shops have flourished in many places; a mail order and/or Internet counterpart could offer specialty opportunities.

Antiquarian and other book specialists also market through book fairs and other book-related events, as well as conventions, special meetings and conferences.

If you market childrearing books, for instance, setting up shop at parenting conferences is a logical way to build your business. And, of course, selling books is a natural add-on profit center for many kinds of businesses.

While booksellers may not become fabulously wealthy, most agree that one of the great bonuses in selling books is that it brings them in contact with others who share their passion — making business the pleasure it should be.