Let’s face it – going away on holiday is lovely, but it’s a lot of work to plan; always ends up costing you more than you’d like; and patience is always tested between family members when there is jetlag involved! So for all of you who love the idea of being transported to a far away land but don’t like the headaches, I offer a simple 3 step solution:
1) Find a tranquil spot with a comfortable seat whether that be in a park, on your deck, or at a café.
2) Pick up a travelogue (HINT: there are hundreds available at your local library!)
3) Enjoy the escapism all summer long!
Simple right? And best of all it’s FREE! So now you’re thinking, what is a travelogue and how do I find a good one. A travelogue (also called ‘armchair travel’ in library land) can either be a film or a piece of writing that details someone’s experiences while traveling. They can be humourous (such as the likes of Bill Bryson or Will Ferguson), inspirational (like Paul Coelho’s The Pilgrimage, the widely-read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert or The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara), investigative (try Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell) or simply in journal form (such as The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane or Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux)
If you’re interested in some librarian-approved recommendations, here is a list of some summer worthy travelogues to try on for size (descriptions from goodreads.com):
Incontinent on the Continent: My Mother, Her Walker, and Our Grand Tour of Italy (Jane Christmas)
To smooth over five decades of constant clashing, Christmas takes her arthritic, incontinent, and domineering mother, Valeria; a cross between Queen Victoria and Hyacinth Bucket of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances; on a tour of Italy.
Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James (David Downie)
Driven by curiosity, wanderlust, and health crises, David Downie and his wife set out from Paris to walk across France to the Pyrenees. The object of any pilgrimage is an inward journey manifested in a long, reflective walk. For Downie, the inward journey met the outer one: a combination of self-discovery and physical regeneration.
Headhunters on My Doorstep: A Treasure Island Ghost Story (Maarten Troost)
Chronicles Troost’s return to the South Pacific after his struggle with alcoholism and time in rehab left him numb to life. Deciding to retrace the path once traveled by the author of Treasure Island, Troost follows Robert Louis Stevenson to the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, the Gilberts, and Samoa, tumbling from one comic misadventure to another as he confronts his newfound sobriety.
The Longest Road: Overland in Search for America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean (Phillip Caputo)
So it was in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World (Eric Weiner)
Weiner spent a decade as a foreign correspondent reporting from such discontented locales as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. Unhappy people living in profoundly unstable states, he notes, inspire pathos and make for good copy, but not for good karma. So Weiner, admitted grump and self-help book aficionado, undertook a year’s research to travel the globe, looking for the “unheralded happy places.” The result is this book, equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and philosophical, a journey into both the definition of and the destination for true contentment.
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler (Frances Mayes)
With her beloved Tuscany as a home base, Mayes travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, and to the Mediterranean world of Turkey, Greece, the South of Italy, and North Africa. Weaving together personal perceptions and informed commentary on art, architecture, history, landscape, and social and culinary traditions, Mayes brings the immediacy of life in her temporary homes to readers.
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World (Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman)
From London to New York, Ewan and Charley chased their shadows through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, across the Pacific to Alaska, then down through Canada and America. But as the miles slipped beneath the tires of their big BMWs, their troubles started. Exhaustion, injury and accidents tested their strength. And yet despite all these obstacles they managed to ride more than twenty thousand miles in four months, changing their lives forever in the process.
Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents (Elisabeth Eaves)
Spanning 15 years of travel, beginning when she is a sophomore in college, documents Elisabeth Eaves’s insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people and cultures. Young and independent, she crisscrosses five continents and chases the exotic, both in culture and in romance.
On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads (Tim Cope)
Inspired by the extraordinary life nomads lead, Tim Cope embarked on a journey that hadn’t been successfully completed since those times: to travel on horseback across the entire length of the Eurasian steppe, from Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine to the Danube River in Hungary. A journey of adventure, endurance and eventual triumph; at once a celebration of and an elegy for an ancient way of life.
If travelogues are already your cup of tea, what do you recommend??
Happy (reading) travels!