Long-Term Traveler? Get some books

Whenever I visit the message boards at Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, BootsnAll’s site, or the like, I’m always amazed at the number of really basic questions travelers ask–things that are answered in any long-term travel guide. I know it’s oh so tempting to just Google around all day and see what you come up with, but while the Internet is an amazing source of information, it’s far from being concise or organized. If you really want to get all your “How do I do this?” questions answered, sit down and crack a book. It may be old school, but the people putting a few hundred words of prose together are likely to spend a lot more time on research than someone filling up a web site in order to sell advertising. I’m on both sides, so I’m not just saying this as an author. It’s just reality that a book is more permanent and serious, so you take it more seriously as a writer. As a reader, you’re going to get answers that are solid.

Which brings me to mentioning that last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Rob Sangster, author of Traveler’s Tool Kit. He lives in Memphis, I live in Nashville, his publisher is in Birmingham, so it’s a nice southern stew. It looks like we may be working on a future book project together, but in the meantime, his Traveler’s Tool Kit book is an essential pre-trip reference if you are about to set out on a journey of more than a week or two.

In the business world, there’s this concept of ROI–“return on investment.” If you surf around all day checking out free web sites, you’ll learn quite a few things and it will be useful. I’d like to think that the World’ Cheapest Destinations site is quite a good resource. But if you plop down 10 or 20 bucks for a good travel book, it will probably save you a small fortune. As in many times the price of the book. This doesn’t mean you fall into the trap that you can at REI where you buy everything in the store and then realize you don’t need half of it. But if you pick books that pull their weight, they easily pay for themselves. Here’s a link to some more good long-term travel books.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, I’m out for a few days…

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