Have you found the gift for your loved ones this festive season? If you still do not find any, I would like to suggest these 3 books from Amazon.com that you can buy as a gift, if your recipient love backpacking around the world.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts
Rolf Potts’ tome of vagabonding is an inspirational work rather than a practical guide. While the same practical information is contained in other books, this book shines in the area of travel philosophy. Travel is like a religion, where some people are incredibly fervent about it, while others just don’t understand. This book makes you realize that long-term travel is not only possible, but desirable and worthwhile.
I particularly liked the section on working for travel. As a 9-to-5 worker planning a long-term trip, I needed the inspiration to keep going. I liked being told that working will actually make me appreciate travel more. After all, to afford travel, I have to be here anyway.
Throughout the book, there are great little excerpts from famous travelers, philosophers, and explorers, as well as anecdotes from ordinary travelers. Rolf has a particular liking for Walt Whitman, and I may just have to go pick up some Walt poetry now. The literary references in this book let you know that world travel and a simple life aren’t new concepts.
The only problem I see with this book is that it may soon become dated with its references to specific websites.
The book is of a small and convenient size to take on the road.
Worldwalk: One Man’s Four Year Journey Around The World by Steven M. Newman
Stephen M. Newman, a 6’2″ 28 year old journalist decided to walk around the world with his giant backpack clinger, living only on hospitality, to see if the world is really still a good place. The fact that this is a real story, a real account makes the most impact on me.
In the ancient days, people made pilgrimages, holy quests and this is what his story was of, a modern pilgrimage. He comes across as optimistic and faces the world with a sense of humor even though some of the things he sees and the people he encounters are truly horrible.
His optimism seems a little forced sometimes, a little overzealous, but maybe that was how he really felt. Anyways, I guess nobody likes a whiner, and who would really want to listen to him whine?
During his whole voyage, there were a number of times that he did get lucky, and from his account, a lot of the people he met were friendly and kind and hospitable, and that has a lot to say about the world.
So you should read this story, he points out some interesting sociological standpoints about how people in other countries see Americans, and it makes you feel like being an American is something truly lucky to be. He was very brave, to do what he did.
It probably was a lot harder than he made it sound. You can find Steve in the 1988 Guinness book of world records as the first person to walk around the world alone.
The Practical Nomad: How To Travel Around The World by Edward Hasbrouck
I bought this book expecting to find something other than what it is. Instead of the subtitle “How to travel around the world” maybe it should have been subtitled “What you need to know before you travel around the world.”
The author is very knowledgeable and the book offers a lot of valuable insight. It’s been helpful for me planning my own global crossing. But not helpful in a pragmatic “here’s what you need to do” kind of way. It was helpful in educating me about travel industry practices, paperwork preparation, and conditions in certain areas of the world.
However, I’m a bit dismayed by two aspects of the book. Hasbrouck seems to tout train travel on almost every page. He has a real love of trains I guess. He even said on one page that given the same distance (up to about 600 miles) he’d take the train over flying because, he says, they’re more comfortable, the food is better, and you meet interesting people.
Maybe my travel experience is vastly different than his, but I don’t hold the same romantic fondness of trains. My experience has been they’re a crowded, hot, time-consuming confinement with people that looked a bit sketchy. And I consider myself an adventurous traveler. I’m not one to watch the world from the bay window of a luxury cruise liner.
It also becomes annoying how the author seems to inject his political opinion into every page, almost every paragraph. He seems to editorialize on everything – capitalism, socialism, class bias, feminism, health and disease, food distribution, etc. I happen to agree with a lot of his opinion but to have it be so ubiquitous is droning.
Overall, this is a helpful book, probably one of the better ones out there for general around-the-world information. But if you’re looking for the nuts and bolts “how to” information, find something else.