I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. ~ Susan Sontag
As we journey into the month of November, I acknowledge that this is not prime travel season. But, if your goal is to make memories all over the world, why not start thinking about your next trip? The Cedar Rapids Public Library has many books that will inspire you to swap your desk chair for a suitcase and step outside of your comfort zone. The world awaits.
Syndicated columnist, Richard Reeves, is our host on this adventure. He and his extended family purchase westbound, around-the-world plane tickets and record their experiences traveling the globe.
In the planning stages, each family member is allowed to make suggestions as to which cities they will visit. These suggestions are marked using pins on a map. Following an intense family conference in which they barter and cajole to keep their pet cities on the list, the itinerary is hammered out and they are on their way. The family makes seventeen stops and the book is filled with photos and commentary from every member of the trip.
My favorite parts of the book are those in which Reeves’ wife, Catherine O’Neill, a world class bargain-hunter, wrangles for the best deals on hotels, flights and the accoutrements of travel. Her tenacity is both amusing and awe-inspiring. I also enjoyed reading about visits made to notables overseas. Benazir Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Walter Mondale, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, are two people they sit down with over the course of their journey.
So how much did this trip cost in 1995, when the book was written? $29,700. But their memories, and their willingness to share those memories with us, are priceless.
Here we meet a trio of friends experiencing a “quarter-century crisis.” (Is there such a thing?) The remedy — quit their New York City media jobs and organize a backpacking trip around the world. (Insert parental gasp of horror.)
If the Family Travels crew is highbrow, the Lost Girls are their lowbrow counterparts. While the Reeves go to presidential palaces, the Lost Girls go to parties. While the Reeves meet Benazir Bhutto, the Lost Girls meet new boyfriends. The Reeves tell their story from four-star luxury hotels. The Lost Girls tell theirs from a creaky cot in a chilly youth hostel. But that is okay. They are clearly at different stages in their lives and the experiences of both parties are equally entertaining.
The Lost Girls take a circuitous route through countries such as Peru, Vietnam and Australia. They spend time in an ashram in India. They help young girls put on a play in Kenya. While the exotic locations are front and center, the storyline is as much about personal growth as it is about travel. The question being asked is, “Who are you as a person and how can travel impact that?” I think this is as relevant a topic in your forties and fifties as it is in your twenties and thirties. In that respect, this book is for everyone.
At 560 pages it is quite a tome, but it reads fast and fun. Check it out and catch the travel bug. (The good kind.) It has been ten years since the Lost Girls took this trip. I’ve followed them online somewhat and the intervening years have been filled with picturesque weddings, cuddly babies, and new career heights. It appears as though travel served them well.
Do you have a favorite travel memoir or guide you’d like to share? Please do and happy trails!