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Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide Paperback – April 3, 2012

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Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide + Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399537325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399537325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Lowell Thomas Awards (Society of American Travel Writers): 2013 Bronze Award for Travel Book. 

"Refreshing in its intelligence, candor, good-humored self-deprecation, and insightful redemption of the much-maligned tourist, Mack's account is a trail-reblazing testament to the transformative power of travel in the modern world, and to the enduring richness of those well-trod places where authenticity, history, culture, and fame compose their own never-ending narratives."
- National Geographic Traveler (Book of the Month)

"A genial companion for the armchair traveler."
  - Kirkus Reviews

"Doug Mack addresses a common dilemma of travelers: how to see the famous sights--Paris, Rome, Venice--and not feel like one more brainless tourist. . . . Mack is invariably cheerful and literate, and he makes for good company in this breezy traipse through today's Europe."
Perceptive Travel

"Unlike travel books focused on local color or distant destinations, this amusing narrative chronicles a traveler's experience of Europe's hot spots and tourist culture. Recommended."
  - Library Journal

"In this age of Yelp and TripAdvisor, who'd have thought that one of dustiest dinosaurs of European guidebooks could inspire some of the freshest travel writing in recent memory? Doug Mack, that's who. This charming chronicle will leave you daydreaming of scribbled postcards, overstuffed backpacks and having nothing urgent to do but study the train schedule over one more cup of coffee."
  - Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu

"Whether he's out 'Frommering' or searching for his latest chocolate croissant fix, Doug Mack is always funny and thoughtful. The perfect travel companion. With one foot in 1963 and another firmly in today, Mack adroitly straddles two eras, never losing his balance. Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day is a delight from start to finish."
  - Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss and Man Seeks God

About the Author

Douglas Mack has written for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle,, and other publications. He is based in Minneapolis with a digital home at

More About the Author

Doug Mack is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis and specializing in travel, food, design, and culture stories. His articles and essays have appeared in such places as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune,, the Onion AV Club, and the Lonely Planet travel writing anthology A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World. He graduated from Carleton College with a degree in American Studies, and has since turned his attention to the rest of the world.

Please visit Doug's digital home at And while you're there, look up his mailing address and send him a postcard--he'll write back!

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Customer Reviews

And sometimes I just want to have a book.
Unfortunately, the "introvert comes out of his shell" and "beaten path is too beaten" theme becomes tiresome after a while.
Miriam Anixter
I enjoyed every chspter with Mack's insightful comments and wry sense of humor.
NY lady

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Doug Mack took a trip to Europe, but instead of bringing a current guidebook like a normal person, he brought a 1963 copy of Europe on $5 a Day. Thinking this might be a bit limited, he also brought the postcards his mother wrote to her fiance (Mack's father) during her 1967 trip to Europe.

He didn't try to live on $5 a day. He wasn't on a marathon or a gimicky challenge so much as he wanted to see how travel had changed in a half century, and how it had not changed.

Mack's adventures are mostly low-key, and he's a pleasant and observant travel companion. His experiences in 2009, along with the perspectives of his mother in 1967, and Arthur Frommer in 1963 add up to a very entertaining book. Mack found that the old guide book was often a good conversation starter, and really lucked out in Rome, when the desk clerk in a recommended hotel recalled the book and reminisced about when Elizabeth Taylor ("Do you know Elizabeth Taylor?") and Richard Burton popped in to avoid the paparazzi.

Americans traveling to Europe now are not as disconnected from home as they were half a century ago. Phoning home was a time-consuming and expensive business. Postcards might take a couple of weeks to arrive home, and letters from home came to centrally-located American Express offices. Mack tried to maintain that sense of distance by restricting his internet use to posting new entries to his travel blog, and letting his email go unopened.

Mack found a lot had changed since 1963. Most of Frommer's listed hotels, bed & breakfasts, and restaurants were gone and the ones that remained were no longer budget options.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on September 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love to travel, have no qualms about being a 'tourist' although I try to respect the local culture, and while I love to plan my trips, I find that quite often the best travel experiences are the unplanned & unexpected ones. I thought that this book would involve the author driving around Europe relying on decades-old directions - aside from the title, the tag line on the back says "prepare to get lost on the beaten path" - finding himself in places other than where he meant to be but rolling with it and creating his own experiences. However, the only things he uses the 1963 guide book for are hotels & restaurants, and when they aren't there anymore he simply goes somewhere else.
I agree with a previous reviewer that the author comes across as annoying and full of complaints at times. I also felt that he looked too much into the reasons for travel - sometimes, a person just wants to see a new place, and that's ok. He overanalyzes everything. Issues like tourist vs traveler, beaten path vs the road less traveled, authentic vs tacky have never really mattered to me, and he dwells on those repeatedly. It got old. This book felt like the literary equivalent of someone who likes to hear himself talk.
Parts of the book were entertaining and there were a few decent insights but overall I felt misled by the title and had to force myself to finish it. I wouldn't call this a bad book by any means, but I've read better. Perhaps if I'd had a better idea about what to expect I wouldn't have bought this book. I'm sure many people will enjoy it, but it was not the charming, lighthearted travel romp with the somewhat silly premise I was looking forward to.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on March 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
I belong to the generation of Doug Mack's parents. In 1975 I traveled with a group of friends to Europe and stayed for 7 months. Our guidebook of choice was Let's Go Europe, not Frommer, but we did manage the $5-a-day budget until we hit Italy (ah, the pasta!)

I saw this book at my local bookstore. Normally when I find a book I will first check whether it is available on Kindle before purchasing it. I decided to buy the paperback. Turns out the Kindle price is not much less. And sometimes I just want to have a book. Anyways... I really enjoyed this book. Doug Mack has a lot to say about how travel has changed in the past few decades. These two trips were clearly sentimental journeys for him, as he brought along the letters his parents had written to each other when his mom was traveling in Europe with friends in the 70s.

That first trip to Europe can be like falling off a cliff. You are totally dependent on yourself and your traveling companions, and hopefully the occasional kindness of strangers who don't speak your language. You don't really know what to expect. (Back in '75 one of my travel companions said, "I thought maybe the sky might be green or something.") It can be exhausting to get through each day. I was glad that Doug Mack talked about getting to the point where he was just...over it all. And yet, he was still there, in Europe, and was resilient enough to give himself a little pep talk and enjoy his last few hours.

The conceit of using Europe on $5 a Day (or E5D), as both a guide and a basis for comparison, is clever. For a while Doug travels with Lee, an acquaintance. When they set out to find recommendations listed in E5D, Lee coins the term "Frommering.
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