Book Review: 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas

Back in March, we conducted a fabulous travel giveaway contest in conjunction with National Geographic and Wyndham Hotel’s Women on Their Way program. The winner received 75,000 Wyndham points and, for inspiration, a copy of Nat Geo’s newest book, 100 COUNTRIES, 5,000 IDEAS: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do.

We received our own copy of the book, and now I’d like to share my review of it:

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book, when I heard of its upcoming release. As a travel writer and contributor myself to National Geographic’s Central Cascades GeoTourism MapGuide, as well as lifelong NatGeo publications fan, I had high expectations.

I wasn’t disappointed. True to NatGeo form and what the organization is famous for, one of the main appeals of this book is its incredible photography. If a quick flip through the richly illustrated pages doesn’t make you want to go somewhere – anywhere – then I’m not sure anything will.

Photograph by Stewart Cohen/Getty Images

But beyond the visualization and dreaming, the real strength of 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas lies in its inspiration and direction for what you want to do in those destinations, that will make travel more meaningful, enjoyable and enriching for the individual traveler. As Rudy Maxa’s introduction points out, there is no lack of travel information out there these days. Beyond the thousands of published guidebooks, we now have iPhone apps, downloadable Kindle or mobile guides, podcasts and more. The Internet alone will return millions of results, often leading to information overload. When planning a trip, it’s no longer about finding information as it is making sense of the massive amounts available.

Once you have tickets and accommodations booked and are finalizing details of an itinerary, it’s easy enough to find out the opening hours and prices of attractions, the location of a restaurant or a local tour. What isn’t so easy is figuring out what to do in a destination that will really resonate with you – what will create an experience that will ultimately define that place in your soul, so that rather than simply passing through you are really able to connect on your travels.

This is the beauty of 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas. In its pages you will find the highs and lows of a hundred countries, including climate, when to go, landscape, monuments and a Traveler’s Notebook for each destination that gives details such as document and visa requirements, average costs, region contacts and more. One of my favorite features is the “Advice” box for each country, which gives the pros and cons as well as safety information and the biggest tip or recommendation from the editors. These are the small, but vitally important, bits of information that you often have to dig through mounds of books and Internet sites to find – if you ever do.

Photograph by Frans Lemmens/Getty Images

The Appendix is full of useful quick-reference charts to help find the right trip for your interests, lifestyle, time frame or budget. My favorite part, however, is the “Themed Destinations” section at the front. This is the best place to start if you have particular activities, climates, adventures or traveling companions in mind. Do you want to take your children somewhere, encounter wildlife, trek through the jungle – or maybe the desert? Do you want to have complete luxury, or is traveling with a conscience through ecotourism or fair trade more important to you? Are you just looking for some wacky, previously unthought-of idea, such as staying in a Moroccan palace or an igloo? This is the place to start generating ideas. Warning: prepare to be double-checking your passport for plenty of visa pages.

100 Countries, 5000 Ideas is not meant to be the complete planning guide for any specific destination, but rather an inspiration to help you find where your heart most desires to go, and a setting-off roadmap on crafting your experience. Start here, and travel well and joyfully.

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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, National Geographic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas

  1. Rimi Skod says:

    This looks amaazing, I am running out to Chapters to get it!

    Like

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