In Charting the Waters, I mentioned two books that I picked up to get myself in the travel mindset. Last week, I set aside an hour and read through the lighter of the two: How to Drop Everything And Travel Around The World.
Overall, I thought the book was a worthwhile read. As far as actual, concrete information about travel and destinations, it was pretty light (the whole thing is only 56 pages), but it was certainly helpful in orienting my mind with respect to my future world tour.
The book did quite a nice job of selling the concept of travel. Not that I needed any convincing whatsoever, but I was definitely getting excited just reading through the first few chapters, thinking about the planning process and choosing my destinations. In particular, the book included a quote from travel writer Pico Iyer, as follows:
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.
The beginning of this quote is a little too Confucian for my tastes, but nonetheless I agree with its sentiments. There are plenty of things that can only be properly experienced in-person; a newspaper or computer screen simply won't do it justice. It goes almost without saying that travel falls into this category. And while I'm not quite done being a "young fool" in the first place (I do live in a truck, after all), travel will likely kindle a child-like awe contrary to what I've experienced in my (short) adult life.
Tips and Tricks
While the book didn't have much concrete information on travel destinations, it certainly provided me with new, useful travel information.
I've managed to pack my life into a 2' by 2' area in the back of a truck, and thus like to consider myself well-versed in living minimally and "packing light". That said, the book had valuable advice on what kinds of clothes to bring with you to maximize utility and minimize the raw weight and volume of your baggage. I wouldn't have even thought of bringing quick-drying shirts with me on my voyage, so that was a good tidbit to discover.
One of the useful things the book provided was single-paragraph snapshots of different areas of the world, broken down into 8 regions (South/Southeast Asia, South/Central America, East Asia, Europe, Africa, North America/New Zealand/Australia, Central Asia, and the Middle East). What was particularly nice is that it took the perspective of an English-speaking American, and outlined how cultures in each region are going to vary and what sort of differences Americans can expect.
Did you know that just the act of planning a trip makes people happier? Me neither, but it's apparently a studied phenomenon. This, along with tips for spotting a good food cart, where to find not-sketchy housing, how to do travel research effectively, and how to travel alone versus with a partner, are all useful pieces of information provided by the book in various forms.
All in all, the book helped me get my head in the travel game and get excited for planning my future trips. For $3, totally a sound investment.