Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Review: Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?

I initially noticed this book in the travel section of the Harvard Co-op, and I'll admit the title intrigued me. I started reading the first chapter, and the idea of a playboy travel writer sounded like fun. I didn't finish the chapter, but I made a note of the book in my iPhone to get a copy. I purchased the book, and after receiving it, read it the next day, cover-to-cover. Through the first chapter, I really didn't care for the writer; the stories of public drunkenness, fist fights, and heavy drug use didn't seem all that glamorous. I really couldn't relate. Once the author ditched his job, his girlfriend, his mundane life for backpacking in South America, I was hooked. The stories of embracing life as an adventure, whatever may come, makes any working stiff's life seem like Bill Murray in Ground Hog day where he wakes up to the same nightmare over and over and over... I thought the writers observations about budget travelers and hostelling were right on the money, and it was clear he was trying hard to maintain his professionalism in the face of impossible demands. One of the biggest disappointments I came away with from this book was that Lonely Planet has to trade up to the mainstream hotel/resort travel market to be successful. The mainstream travel market is inundated with poseurs hawking resorts, cruises, and weekend getaways that aren't about discovering new people, cultures, and ideas, but are more about insulating people from new experiences. The moment you step outside of your comfort zone (your milieu), you learn something new about the world and yourself.

No comments: