No More Excuses! Why it’s Time For You to Travel – An Excerpt from You Can Keep Your Adventure. Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper

pr-planeIn anticipation of the upcoming release of my travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, I have modified the penultimate chapter to give you a taste of the kind of insight (and humor) you can expect.

Just a brief word of caution, I’m going to be blunt: Get out of your chair!!!

“But, wait!” you might say, followed by any number of excuses with varying degrees of legitimacy. I don’t want to hear it. If you’ve been following this blog that means you’re fully informed and therefore no longer unaware of all that you’re missing. Hear me out as I break down your excuses with both how and why it’s time for you to start traveling.

I Don’t Have Enough Money to Travel

Do you honestly think anything so lame as money would stop a real traveler from traveling? Granted, how and in what style you travel is dictated by your finances; but it should never be the determining factor to go or not go. So you don’t have much money; big deal! Most of my adult life I was just above the financial waterline myself. The key is in setting priorities. For example, which will mean more to you in another ten years – a new TV or that cruise you booked for a steal? By keeping your burdens as light as possible and setting aside a little at a time, most people this side of the poverty line can at least do something.

If money is really tight – and believe me; I know what that feels like – why not try something of short duration and close to home? Can’t afford an air ticket? Take the train or do a road trip. Maybe it’s not as exotic as you would like, but it can still encapsulate all that is good about the act of traveling; and the deposit in your memory bank will be greater than the withdrawal from your real one.

I Don’t Have Time to Travel

I’ve got one word for you – lame! Nobody has enough time to do everything they want to do, so it again comes down to priorities. Just as you would drop your loose change into a jar, scrounge up as many vacation days as you can. Budget your time so that you can steal away – even if it’s just for a weekend. No one says you have to spend half a year backpacking through Asia. I myself have never been away longer than three and a half weeks at a clip. It’s not the quantity but the quality the counts, just as it does in every other aspect of life. If traveling is really something you want to do, you will find the time to do it. I know you’re busy; I am too, but that still doesn’t count as a valid excuse. Nice try, though.

I Don’t Know How to Plan a Trip

I believe you. With so many options and variables, even those who work in the industry sometimes feel like their head is about to explode. But no one is saying you have to do it all yourself. Find yourself a knowledgeable travel agent or talk to someone who knows the drill. For example, this blog is full of ideas and advice. If you lack confidence, start with something small; a cruise, a road trip, an all-inclusive. Once you recognize that you’re a reasonably intelligent human being and that this isn’t advanced Quantum Physics, your confidence and sense of adventure can only grow.

I’m Scared

I’m not going to patronize you and say that there’s nothing to be worried about. The world is a scary, unstable place. But you know what? The same is true where you live. To overcome your fears you have to first learn why you have them. I realize this might be unpleasant. Finding the root of your fears is like giving a prostate exam – uncomfortable even if you do manage to put your finger on it. Still, all it takes is to realize that the benefits far outweigh the risk, and much like that exam, it will leave you with greater peace of mind.

Traveling is a Hassle. I’d Rather Just Read About It

OK, it’s time for me to pull out the big guns. Let me tell you about the best meal I’ve ever eaten. It was in the restaurant of a tiny hotel overlooking a valley on the Italian island of Ponza. First came the antipasto – a delicious medley of fresh olives and cheese bathed in a light drizzle of olive oil. Next came the rice balls and potato croquettes. After that the waiter brought out a heaping dish of linguini with shrimp topped by a dusting of fresh-ground parmesan cheese. Finally, after well over an hour of eating, came the main course – baked swordfish that was caught just that morning. I’d describe it further but it’s hard to see through all the tears welling up in my eyes at the memory alone. Suffice to say it was fabulous, especially when washed down by salad, dessert and a potent bottle of the local wine.

Now why would I torture you (and myself) by describing in great detail this delicious feast? To illustrate the downside of living solely through description. Maybe with lots of effort I can convey the crispiness of the rice balls; the soft texture of the pasta; the heady flavor of the wine that was likely bottled right there in the basement – but I can tell you truthfully; it doesn’t compare to actually experiencing it firsthand.

Have I made my point? Travel is the same thing. You can read about the Taj Mahal, but witnessing it in person is a whole different animal. I can tell you about how charming the Brazilian town of Parati can be, but until you’ve walked those uneven cobblestone streets bathed in half-light to the sound of a street musician, it’s all just theoretical. I know traveling can be a hassle – nobody likes being on a plane for long stretches of time – but it still doesn’t replace making the scenes you’ve heard described here your own.

I’m a Quadriplegic with Anxiety Disorders Chained to a Radiator in the Basement

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this exact same excuse (actually, I can) but if this is you, I will readily concede that your excuse is valid. In fact I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. From the sound of things, it doesn’t seem like you’ve got much else going for you.

Though I’m sure there are many more excuses you can come up with, I don’t have time to address them all. I think that in all things, anyone actively looking for an excuse can find one. I don’t feel any particular rancor toward those that do. I just feel kind of sad. Along with relationships, experiences are among the most valuable things a person can ever have. Missing out on that great adventure is akin to never meeting a person that would one day be one of your dearest friends. So don’t let that happen to you. I know your chair is comfy. I know you might already be in your PJ’s. Just start making your travel plans and leave the excuses for someone else – because I’m not buying them.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the preview of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper by clicking here and stay tuned to this blog for more release details.

The Joy of Guidebooks

Any Flavor You Like
Any Flavor You Like

When it comes to souvenirs, most people have an area of particular interest. Some go for the obligatory t-shirt or hat with the name of the destination emblazoned for all to see. Others collect spoons, bells, thimbles, or other such trinkets. And yet others are just content with the stamp in their passport to go along with photos as reminders of their trip. While I consider myself a connoisseur of all such areas of interest (with a particular leaning toward hat pins, local musical instruments and not just a t-shirt but the properly artistic RIGHT t-shirt) my first and often favorite keepsake is the purchased before I ever leave—the guidebook.

Yes, my personal library is dominated by travel guidebooks—my earliest accomplices in planning my travels. I’m not 100% sure why they hold such fascination for me. Perhaps it’s because of the promise they hold—that something inside will lead me to a decision that will take me thousands of miles from my home just to experience it in person. Perhaps it’s the validation that if I commit to buying the guidebook then I really must be going to that destination. Or perhaps it’s because I just like to look at pictures and gather ideas on how to make them my own.

Regardless of the underlying psychology, travel guidebooks are still a tremendous resource despite the overabundance of information available on the Web. Below are some of my favorites and why.

1) Lonely Planet (

It’s my impression that in the clique of travel guidebooks, Lonely Planet is like the cool kid everybody wants to be like. While other (in fact almost all) guidebooks offer more in the way of color pictures of a destination, when it comes down to cold, hard facts about even the most obscure villages in the remotest parts of a little-known country, I’ve found the entries in Lonely Planet guides to be spot on. Not only are their suggestions about lodging and sights really dependable, but there are extensive maps that come in really handy. So while I’ll usually check out three or four guides from my library for a more complete picture of a given destination, it’s usually the Lonely Planet guide that I buy—especially now that you can purchase only pertinent chapters in .pdf form. It’s also worth mentioning that they offer guides covering a lot more countries than most.

2) DK Eyewitness Guides (

If you’re more interested in learning visually than in simply reading, DK Eyewitness Guides are probably your best bet. Not only are there color photos on nearly every page, but when it comes to examining major points of interest, such as palaces, ruins or other noteworthy monuments, there are illustrated guides and cross-sections showing in great detail the buildings in question. There are also illustrated close-ups of key neighborhoods, which is some pretty useful information when on site. The write-ups of lesser towns or points of interest may be a bit limited, but the visual treat is well worth it and serves to stoke the flames of wanderlust.

3) Insight Guides (

When it comes to pictures, Insight Guides are my favorite. They strike a fine balance between information and visual stimulation. They also have a great free app that offers a daily travel photo of the highest caliber. When I’m looking for ideas I often look at Insight Guides.

Naturally there are many other guides—all with their own virtues. The key is in finding out which brand tells YOU the things YOU want to know. My suggestion is to go to your local library or bookstore and peruse your options before making a purchase. And from there it’s all bliss poring over the information that you would someday make your own. Then you too, can experience the joy of guidebooks and get a leg up on purchasing your first souvenir.

Do you have a favorite guidebook brand? Leave a comment and tell us why!