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Departures, Destinations

April 17th, 2013 · Carole M. · Staff Recommendations

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

The weather is warming up, the leaves are budding, and the breeze is pleasant. It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to vacation planning. Before deciding where to go to get away from it all, or perhaps in lieu of it, why not immerse yourself in an experience. Tucked among the Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Eyewitness travel guides in the 900’s section of the library and scattered throughout the fiction area are travel books of a different sort, the Travelogue. What separates a travelogue from a travel guide is the personal narrative. Homer’s Odyssey, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Cervantes’ Don Quixote can all be considered a form of travelogue.

Two writers travel to the same place. One writer assesses the hotels, restaurants and sights and gives his qualified opinion on the best and worst the area has to offer. The other has begun his journey as a search for something more personal, a quest for answers or possibly as an escape. This writer has purposefully or perhaps regrettably left the routine of home and the familiar behind. The people encountered along the way, as well as the situations, observations and experiences throughout typically lead the writer to a new understanding of oneself and of the world. The Irish proverb “Your feet will bring you to where your heart is” exemplifies the outcome of a successful travelogue. A satisfying travelogue will present a sense of place while also allowing the reader to gain new perspectives and understanding of the human condition.

For a humorous take on the challenges and pitfalls of adventure travel Bill Bryson tackles the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods. Foreign war correspondent Eric Weiner took on a more abstract search over four continents in his book The Geography of Bliss: One Grumps search for the Happiest Places on Earth; a solo hike of the Pacific Crest undertaken as an escape from personal catastrophe strengthens and heals the writer Cheryl Strayed in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

More expeditions of the soul:

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