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New book by Seth Kugel

Seth Kugel, former "Frugal Traveler" at the New York Times, just released a new book:

Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious

Or if you mistrust links: http://sethkugel.com/book/

It came out on November 13th, and I just started reading it this morning. Already in the first chapter I've highlighted three passages. Here's one:

To me, a travel day that turns rainy is like a piece of chocolate I've
dropped on the floor: It's significantly less appealing, but I'll be
damned if I'm going to throw it away.

But according to the blurb at the link above, this book is about becoming a better traveler in this age of smartphones and overtourism by getting back to the spirit of the old-fashioned globetrotter.

I have a strong feeling this book will appeal to a lot of the people who read this forum. I'm looking forward to diving in deeper.

Posted by
6775 posts

Thanks! I have enjoyed many of Seth's fine columns in the NYT.

Posted by
4737 posts

Thanks, Lane. We recently began taking the Sunday NYT, and I always head for the Travel section first.

Posted by
14454 posts

On the amazon.com site, you can read the table of contents and an excerpt from the book.

Posted by
695 posts

Fyi, Seth Kugel will talk about the ideas he discusses in his new book "Rediscovering Travel" with Rick on his Travel with Rick Steves radio show next month. Seth is scheduled to appear on the program that will be released the week of December 8th. Other interviews with Seth will come to the show in 2019 (dates tbd).

Posted by
1237 posts

I read an excerpt from his book on Ibooks. It is quite good.

Posted by
248 posts

Lane,
Thanks for this post, I've just downloaded Kugel's book to my Kindle. I need something to read after I finish Dr. Charney's book recommended on this Forum by Renee.

Posted by
248 posts

I'm now part way through Seth Kugel's new book that is the subject of this Topic.
The book already has shown me that there actually may be things I could learn, from Kugel, that will help me get more out of my own travels, by giving an alternative way to look at my own approaches to travel.

I'll be interested in Rick's interview of Seth Kugel, which apparently will happen about Dec. 8th per the Webmaster of the forum.

Posted by
11798 posts

Like chocolate I've dropped on the floor. I like the turn of phrase and I agree with the thought.

Posted by
3477 posts

getting back to the spirit of the old-fashioned globetrotter

So I should purchase safari clothing and pack a steamer trunk and plan on taking ships to my destinations where I hire porters to drag my excessive luggage behind me? ;-/

EDIT: Wow. So for those not catching it, this was sarcasm, just trying to have a little fun during a not so fun day. I admit I have not read the book yet, it does appear to be a book I would enjoy. I am always looking for ways to make travel more fun, entertaining, and educational. I am not afraid to admit that there are probably many other travelers who know much more than I ever will about the topic.

Posted by
1427 posts

I'm about a third of the way through, and like Curious Traveler, I find myself doing some serious introspection regarding my preconceptions and assumptions about travel.

If anyone on this forum has ever tried to self-identify as a "traveler" and not a "tourist," this is definitely a book you should read.

EDIT: Removed my snarky comment that led to Mark's response. What the internet needs is a sarcasm font!

Posted by
1724 posts

The sarcasm marker is /s
which is like tagging a paragraph /sarcasm
the way you would tag html text as bold or indented, etc.
I've been trying to use the /s where needed,
and I'm also still a fan of the tongue-in-cheek colon - capital P
:P
or semicolon - capital P
;P

If we get in the habit, it could save some miscommunication.

Posted by
6370 posts

Thanks for the tips, could be useful here.

Only useful if everyone reading the posts understands and is on the same page. I have never seen any of those markers (/s, :P, ;P) used to indicate sarcasm and I'm sure I'm not the only one. And I don't really like the idea of sarcastic remarks being used on a forum like this because much of the time sarcasm is just thinly veiled snark or insults.

Best solution is to leave sarcasm for another time and place. If you don't have something constructive to add in response to a post, in a non-sarcastic manner, just don't bother to reply.

Posted by
1724 posts

I hear you, Nancy -- so the way to make these uses more common is to use them.
I'm not the only one on the RS Forums who is using /s or :P and doing so intentionally to
make communication clearer, and in the wider online world beyond these marks are becoming more and more common.

Posted by
1427 posts

I finished the book this morning. (I'm not a slow reader, just got bogged down with other things, such as getting ready for my two-week trip to Costa Rica starting this Saturday!!!!!)

There's another discussion about this book elsewhere in the forum. There it seems there was a lot of debate about travel philosophy. This book isn't about travel philosophy, although Seth does have one, and his point of view stems from his view that the best travel experiences involve meeting people, and that the friendliness of people is inversely proportional to the number of tourists who visit the place. So he likes to seek out places to visit that have little or no tourist infrastructure at all.

There's a lot in this book that won't shock or surprise people. Much of it is common sense, and much overlaps with the things Rick talks about in Europe Through the Back Door. But I learned a few very valuable things:

  • How to use online review sites (like TripAdvisor and Yelp) to get real factual information about a place rather than making decisions based on aggregated reviews.
  • Some good strategies for allowing chance and unplanned opportunities to alter travel plans
  • How professional travel writers are given complimentary products and services in exchange for their reviews, and how that can't help but influence the review (because even if the writer is completely honest, the hotel or the restaurant knows who they are and makes sure they get the best possible experience).
  • A sane approach to assessing risk when traveling (in spite of our complete and utter irrationality in calculating and reacting to danger).
  • A smart strategy for relying less on technology and more on human interaction and being in the moment.
  • Useful suggestions for minimizing the environmental and ecological impact of traveling.

Seth also travels to places with far far less tourist infrastructure than Rick does. Many of his stories are about Asia, Africa, and South America. Rick says he visits places and makes mistakes and figures things out so we all can visit those same places more efficiently. Seth does nothing of the sort. I can't imagine traveling to many of the places he has visited, like Tofo, Mozambique, or Quingeo, Ecuador. But his stories of visiting those places have stirred a curiosity in me to try to find places to go that aren't on my bucket list.

I also found the writing highly engaging. Seth doesn't shy away from telling the truth about questionable decisions he has made along the way. This I found refreshing.

If you're interested in reading travel books that aren't guide books, I recommend this one.

Posted by
377 posts

I'm about halfway through this book and am really enjoying it - thanks for the recommendation, Lane! I consider myself a fairly savvy traveler and review-reader, but have a learned a lot of good techniques as Lane lists. It's an engaging read, I also strongly recommend it!

Posted by
6179 posts

Lane, thanks for breaking the main points down like that and summarizing the things you picked up. I don't know why there was so much consternation in the other thread. The message of taking risks, talking to locals, not overplanning, being adventurous and spontaneous, and not relying on shilling for-profit websites for guidance, may be old news to many people here on the forum. But based on the questions that are frequently brought up here, its clear that it is a new message to many folks, especially those new to traveling. I think we have to admit that RS and his guidebooks/TV show/etc., have aged, and may not be reaching that audience.