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Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips Hardcover – Lay Flat, October 16, 2007
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The book is organized around nine themes as described thusly on the contents page:
1. Across Water (Unforgettable voyages, from luxury cruises to dugout canoes)
2. By Road (Chasing the horizon: legendary drives and secret detours)
3. By Rail (Watching the world pass by your window)
4. On Foot (The pleasures of the oldest and greenest mode of travel)
5. In Search of Culture (Life-enhancing odysseys for lovers of all the arts)
6. In Gourmet Heaven (Seeking out the world of flavors)
7. Into the Action (Hands-on adventures for those who'd rather do it for themselves)
8. Up and Away (Flights, skyways, and bird's-eye views)
9. In Their Footsteps (Pilgrimages for readers, dreamers, and history fans)
Typical trip choices are usually described in one or two pages with color photographs and maps taking up at least half of the space. An entry contains brief advice on when to go, how long the trips last, how far ahead to plan, special packing advice, and Web sites for more information. Highlights of such a trip are also briefly described so you can get a sense of what you'll see and do. Some trips are, however, listed in as little as a paragraph.
Naturally, you have to judge a book like this very carefully. By definition, you haven't taken most of the trips!
I looked at trips I've taken that were terrific and noticed some weaknesses in the advice. Here are a few examples:
1. Each entry is treated as though there's nothing else nearby that might be of interest. As a result, you need to check the geographies to see how you might combine several trips listed in the book into one. For example, many of the New England trips are located not too far from one another and you should consider doing more than one on a visit.
2. The timing of how to enjoy other events isn't always considered in enough detail. For instance, Boston's Freedom Trail is listed in the book. But you aren't told that if you come around Patriot's Day (a Monday in April) you can also see re-enactments of the battles of Lexington and Concord and the running of the Boston Marathon on the same trip.
3. Some of the advice seemed just plain wrong from my point of view. When I went to the Galapagos, I was there for 10 days in the dry season and 4 days in the wet season. The wet season was awful! People there said to be sure to always come in the dry season (which ends around the beginning of winter in North America). The book made no mention of this issue in discussing when to go. Also, many of the most interesting things to do in the Galapagos aren't mentioned.
As a result, use this book to start dreaming a little about what you might go see. I was fascinated by some of the choices for Australia and New Zealand that I had never heard of but which looked very beautiful. But do plenty of homework beyond the book to find out what you really need to know before choosing and organizing a trip.
The book is not organized by location (although there is an index for finding specific destinations), but rather the itineraries are listed under the following categories:
In Search Of Culture
In Gourmet Heaven
Into the Action
Up and Away
In Their Footsteps
Each destination or journey entry includes a page of photos and information. A small map showing the location and route (if applicable) is included as well as a list of highlights. There is also a paragraph or two about the trip and each destination includes sections labeled: When to Go, How Long, Planning, Insider Information, and Websites. These provide some good information and tips for travelers and the website listings give the readers a way to find more details if they want to plan a trip.
The book contains a wealth of ideas and there is certainly something for everyone. Just a sampling of the trips in the book:
Sampling Food along the Mediterranean
Following Che's trip in Argentina (as depicted in the movie "The Motorcycle Diaries")
Cycling Across Transylvania
Riding the Moroccan Camel Train
Driving from Utah's Bryce Canyon to Capital Reef
India's Golden Triangle (Dehli, Jaipur, Agra)
This is a beautiful book that is very well done. National Geographic does not disappoint here!