Posted 27 June, 2010 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 0 Comments

About this time every year, I get the travel bug. But I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to leaving the comfort and safety of my house. (I think it’s known as “Couch Potatoitis”.) It’s not like I don’t travel–I’ve been to Canada, Scotland, England, Columbia (well, the airport, which was an experience in itself. Lots of guns.), and Brazil. Still, travel isn’t always in the cards so I have to satisfy my cravings in the next best way: books. So far, I’ve gobbled down two and plan on ingesting more this summer.

GROUNDED: A Down To Earth Journey Around the World by Seth Stevenson
NF Travel; 274 pages; purchased

Seth and his girlfriend, Rebecca, decide to leave their jobs and circumnavigate the world. Yep, the whole wide world. They set two initial rules for themselves: 1) To cross every longitudinal line, plus the equator, for the circumnavigation to count, and 2) Not to fly in airplanes. Ever. To get across the pond, Seth and Rebecca book a passage on a container ship and head off to Antwerp for the first major leg of their journey.

Crazy, right? After reading this book, I’m thinking maybe not. Air travel just isn’t all that much fun anymore, what with the random pat-downs, long lines, and the chance to catch a raging fungal infection on your bare feet. It’s harder, takes a little more effort to get where you’re going but, as Seth points out, you also get to see all the good stuff that you’re just flying over. With slow travel, the traveler has time to appreciate the world around him or her.And Seth writes about it with humor and imagery.

Most of the travel stories I’ve read, the folks did use a lot of ground transportation (cheaper, of course) but they also used planes to get across the pond. Seth provided a completely different take on around the world travel and almost inspired me to leave the lake this summer!

THE LOST GIRLS: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner
NF Travel; 538 pages; purchased

These three girls, all in their late 20’s, are feeling the pressure. Working at high-stress jobs in NYC, they’re on the road to adulthood (husband, promotions, kids, etc) and they’re freaking out. So, after a girl-bonding trip to Argentina, they decide they want to ditch it all and travel the world, so they can find themselves. In honor of this search, they dub themselves “The Lost Girls”.

Traveling 60,000 miles across four continents and through dozens of countries (many of which have never been on my itinerary), the girls never have the epiphanies or ah-ha moments they’re looking for. What they do find are deep bonds of friendship, an appreciation for what they have, and an understanding of the world beyond their front doors.

This was a fun read–I plowed through it in about a day and a half, looking forward to each step of their journey. I also liked how the book was laid out: each girl wrote about her individual experiences, with her own voice. The reader really gets to know each person and how she grew during her travels. Jen realized she was in a relationship that wasn’t good for her and that she could find love elsewhere; Holly took a more spiritual journey, became a certified yoga teacher in India, and got more in touch with her spirituality; and driven Amanda learned how to relax and enjoy her life while still succeeding.

The only thing that irked me was that Jen (Jennifer Baggett) tended to dwell on her age, how she was getting so old, and how she thought anyone over 30 was ancient. (Of course, thinking back, I probably had the same beliefs as her about age. Ah, 28. So young. So naive.) Otherwise, I really enjoyed their stories.


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