Over my years of reviewing I have enjoyed travelling across the world with several authors, while most of us are re-thinking our holiday options, I thought I’d take another look at a selection of my favourite travelogues.
Salt Water and Spear Tips by Thor F. Jensen. Thor’s world-record circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailing canoe. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers. Patrick goes to Northeast Indian in search of the people who grow living bridges from the roots of trees. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Hit the road Jac!: Seven years, twenty countries, no plan by Jacqui Furneaux. On her fiftieth birthday Jacquie took off travelling the world on an Enfield motorbike. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
In Foreign Fields: How Not To Move To France by Susie Kelly. Susie and her husband hoped to find paradise in the French countryside. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
A Visit to Gansu Province for the Chinese New Year by Helen Wallimann. Helen visited rural China and the man-made cave dwellings known as yaodong. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Fifty Miles Wide by Julian Sayarer. Julian cycled through Israel and Palestine meeting people from both sides of a troubled region. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Among Friends: Travels in Cuba by Heather Murray. An interesting look at Cuba from the author’s multiple trips which began in 2009. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Immersed in West Africa: A Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Adventure by Chicken Bus by Janet Losole is the memoir of a family who spent three years backpacking through central America. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Toubab Tales: The Joys and Trials of Expat Life in Africa by Rob Baker is set in Mali. Rob tours the country in search of its music and musical instruments. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
From A Wonky Path To An Open Road: A short book about a long journey join Janey de Nordwall, her cat and her 1970s VW campervan as they journey around Scotland. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Adventure by Chicken Bus is a travelogue from a family of four Canadians who sold up all their possessions and went back-packing through Central America. Between 2005 and 2007, Janet and Lloyd took their two home-schooled children, then aged 8 and 5 years old, on a very long school field trip.
The family started in Costa Rica and were determined to live and travel as the locals did. This meant taking long uncomfortable journeys on ‘chicken buses’, ex North American yellow school buses that have been recycled. Janet and Lloyd were both experienced back-packers and travellers, but the extra challenge was travelling with small children.
I was fascinated by some of their experiences which often took them on a less travelled route and far away from popular tourist destinations. This way they immersed themselves in the people and the places. The turtle conservation, watching ships pass through the Panama Canal and walking around Mayan cities, which remained almost undisturbed, were some of my favourite parts.
Janet and her family travelled for almost two years; they became adept at frugal living, keeping themselves safe and planned trips, excursions and long distance travel carefully where possible. Although Costa Rica was the primary destination, the family also backpacked in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, I know very little about these countries so the map at the front of the book was a great help.
Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus.
Buckling under a mountain of debt, Janet LoSole and her family are at their wits’ end. Determined to make a drastic change, they sell all worldly possessions and hit the road. With only a few items of clothing, a four-person tent, and little else, the family visits a sleepy island backwater in Costa Rica to save endangered sea turtles.
In Panama, they bounce around like turnips in the back of a vegetable truck to reach an isolated monkey sanctuary. In Guatemala, they scale the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal.
In between tales of begging rides from total strangers and sleeping overnight in the jungle with an indigenous family, Janet endorses community-based travel–supporting local businesses and favoring public transportation called chicken buses. She also writes candidly about what it takes to travel long-term with two little girls amid the chaos of border crossings, erratic drivers, and creepy crawlies lurking at the edge of the jungle.