Whether you’re planning a trip, imagining a radical move across the globe or simply hoping to explore from the couch, travelogues provide entertainment and inspiration.
The premise of Lonely Planet’s latest anthology is one upon which we can all agree: “Wherever we go, we need to eat.” In A Moveable Feast, edited by veteran travel writer Don George, eating is something to relish on trips—sometimes it’s even the point of the trip. Thirty-eight essays will take you from a hospitable yurt in Mongolia, where Stanley Stewart happily samples sheep intestines and fermented mare’s milk, to barbeque capital Kansas City, where Doug Mack and his father have some long-anticipated bonding time over a plate of heavenly ribs. The essays are short and easily digestible—A Moveable Feast would be perfect for stop-and-go reading while you’re in transit to your next destination (or for anytime you want to fantasize about being somewhere more exotic). In one of my favorite essays of the collection, Alexander Lobrano writes of getting “almost teary” as he muses on a “magical meal” in Portugal—pork and clams in tomato sauce, juicy chicken, fried potatoes and rice. You may find yourself salivating as you read about these fabulous food experiences and charming international characters, and the stories will inspire you to remember your own magical meals while traveling.
GOT THE BEIJING BLUES
There’s a lot to love about Alan Paul’s Big in China, a story about plunging into life in a foreign culture—and rocking out with a Chinese blues band. Paul and his wife moved their three young kids to Beijing after she got a posting as China bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. A journalist with a flexible schedule, Paul became one of the few male “trailing spouses” in their neighborhood in Beijing, an identity he embraced as it allowed him to pursue creative opportunities he never could have imagined prior to moving around the world. He wrote an award-winning column for WSJ.com titled “The Expat Life” and fronted a blues and jam band called Woodie Alan with three Chinese men and another American. The group rose to prominence in Beijing, and Paul writes poignantly about performing in a multicultural band that became like a second family. Besides telling a good story, Paul honestly addresses the complexity of uprooting kids, making career sacrifices for a spouse and living in a foreign land. He writes, “One of the lessons I had taken from expat life was that no one was destined to live by any single reality.” In Big in China, Paul learns that “home” is where the people you love happen to be.
THE HAPPIEST COUNTRY
Lisa Napoli’s Radio Shangri-La will undoubtedly be compared to Eat, Pray, Love—in both, women in the midst of midlife crises find peace on adventures far away from the U.S. But Napoli’s destination of Bhutan is no Bali. Americans rarely visit this small nation in South Asia because of a steep tourist tax and limited plane access, and the country is remarkably sheltered from outside influences: Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, is the only one in the world without a traffic light, and the king legalized television in the country just 12 years ago. Napoli was working for NPR’s Marketplace when a chance encounter led to an invitation to advise Kuzoo FM, Bhutan’s youth radio station. Sick of producing 90-second segments, Napoli “felt hungry for knowledge, deeper meaning, time to synthesize the world.” So she went to Bhutan in a time of great transition for the country: new king, new constitution, impending democracy. And though she initially envisioned a “media-free universe,” she quickly realized that new technologies in Bhutan meant that things were changing fast. Radio Shangri-La is as much about the charming characters at Kuzoo FM and the culture of Bhutan as it is about Napoli’s personal transformation. Readers will enjoy learning about a part of the world far different from our own, a place where success is measured not by GDP, but by Gross National Happiness.
NEW GUIDES FOR THE WORLD TRAVELER
Several travel publishers are introducing new series and destinations in 2011—here are some of the most notable additions.
•DK Eyewitness Guides: This popular series is getting an overhaul in 2011, with pull-out maps and a cleaner look. New destinations added this year include Back Roads Germany, Chile & Easter Island and Cambodia & Laos.
•Fodor’s Guides: Celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, America’s oldest travel guide company is adding Honduras & the Bay Islands, Prague & the Czech Republic, Venice & the Best of Northern Italy and Essential India to their roster of more than 600 destinations.
•Lonely Planet Discover Guides: Brand new in 2011, this series of focused, full-color, portable guides covers hotspots like London and Paris as well as less traveled destinations like Peru, China and Barcelona.
•Pocket Rough Guides: Billed as “slim, stylish and pocketable” these smaller versions of the best-selling Rough Guides are full-color and city focused—the 10 destinations include Barcelona, Prague and Rome.