Michener was a traveling man. He started to hitchhike at the age of 12. By college, his hitchhiking took him to 45 states. During World War II, he visited 49 islands and logged 150,000 miles throughout the South Pacific as a historian and an investigator for the U.S. Navy. In 1931, he traveled to Europe under a fellowship from Swarthmore College.When Michener's writing career took off in the late 1940s, Michener began to travel again. For the next 40 years, he traveled to and often lived in the locations of all his major works of fiction and non-fiction. A massive heart attack in 1965 did not slow him down. He learned many lessons while on the road.