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Travel Books Make Great Holiday Gifts by Dave Zuchowski

Christmas, that busy, often stressful time of year, is just around the corner. To make your often-frenetic holiday shopping decisions a little easier, here are some interesting travel books I’ve come across recently that make wonderful last-minute stocking stuffers.

Drive I-95
If you plan on driving to Florida, chances are you’ll take I-95 most of the way. As a handy guide to one of the nation’s most heavily traveled interstates, Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner, veteran travel reporters for radio, e-zines and print media, have compiled “Drive I-95,” a fun and fact-filled tome that gives travelers all sort of pertinent information on things like motels and eateries on an exit-by-exit basis.
The book is very literate giving tidbits of information on history and attractions in a style that makes for entertaining reading. The authors also include helpful hints like letting readers know they can spend the night, chow down in the mess hall and wake to Reveille in the morning on board the battleship New Jersey, just off the Camden/Woodbury Exit. The route is traced in easy-to-follow 30-mile page color maps that follow the road from Boston, Massachusetts, all the way to the Florida border. There are also indexes that chart radio stations you can listen to on route, golf courses you can play on, auto mechanics who’ll help in time of trouble, and campgrounds and independent motels and B & Bs you can rest in as well as toll free phone numbers for motel chains. New this year is a special icon that identifies pet-friendly hostelries.
“Drive I-95” is available at chain and independent bookstores as well as by phoning 888-484-3395. Price is $22.95.

The Disney Queue Line and Survival Guide
When you get to Florida and if Disney World is your goal, you might want to have on hand Kimberly Button’s “The Disney Queue Line and Survival Guide.” The author, a former Disney World and Disney Cruise Line cast member, shares her knowledge of how to pass the time pleasantly while waiting in queue lines at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
In addition to giving helpful hints on how to avoid queue lines in the first place, or at least reduce the time spent in them, Ms. Button’s 386-page book combines scavenger hunts, trivia questions, word puzzles, “hidden Mickey searches,” and other activities for the attractions and shows in Disney’s four theme parks.
Even before entering the park, the book is useful in planning a visit by offering helpful logistical tips to insure a more efficient, better organized and enjoyable Disney World outing. The book also gives overviews of each attraction, the thrill time or duration involved, what to beware of (like periods of darkness, loud noises, strobe light, enclosed space, etc.), and access for the disabled.
One other plus is the fact that many of the trivia quizzes and word searches can be enjoyed away from the park – even in the comfort of your favorite easy chair. Price $19.95.

Code Green
Want to start traveling responsibly by taking into account your trip’s impact on the environment, culture and local economy? Then world traveler, Kerry Lorimer’s “Code Green” is a must read.
In her color and black and white photo-laden text, the author discusses 82 destinations spread out over all seven continents that impinge on pressing contemporary issues such as biodiversity and the preservation of the wilderness and the natural and human heritage.
Each destination, whether it be a luxurious taste of Berber hospitality in Morocco or cruising the white wilderness of Antarctica, gets a full page treatment that includes suggestions on when to go, how to get there and where to go for further information. Also, scattered throughout the book are related short essays that touch on subjects like “Culture Shock vs. Cultural Connections” and “Wilderness Wanderings: How to Minimize your Impact on Fragile Places.”
Want to volunteer to help build a hiking trail around Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest lake in eastern Russia? Or help maintain the local economy of the Bialowieza primeval forest of Poland to prevent further erosion of the habitat for Europe’s only remaining herd of native bison, 120 bird species and 8500 species of insect? “Code Green” can help you learn how as well as inculcate a new spirit of responsible travel. Price $19.99.

The Cities Book: A Journey through the Best Cities in the World
With Lonely Planet Publication’s 412-page hard cover edition of “The Cities Book: A Journey through the Best Cities in the World,” you can take a pictorial expedition through 200 of the world’s greatest urban areas.
Just released this past spring, the book features both well-known and obscure cities voted and ranked by the publisher’s staff, authors and travelers. Paris, New York, Sydney, Barcelona and London start the ball rolling as the top five, but the list also includes unfamiliar urban centers like Yerevan (Armenia), Agadez (Niger), Thimphu (Bhutan) and Male in the Maldives.
Besides a slew of photos in glorious color that capture the cities’ inhabitants and salient landmarks, the book includes well-written informative text encapsulated in short paragraphs with heading like People, Defining Experience, Strength and Weaknesses, Imports and Exports and Urban Myths.
For instance, one of Dublin’s strengths, for instance, is its “crackling nightlife, every night of the week,” while “city-center traffic, especially on the quays” is listed as one of its weaknesses.
Urban Myths include aspects of the city that is either strictly myths, more legendary or disturbingly true. The write up describing Jaipur’s Urban Myth suggests that the city’s legendary pink color was first instituted in 1876 when Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire old city painted pink – a color associated with hospitality – to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).
The book even includes chapters on lost cities, ancient cities and cities of the future. Price is $50.

The Best American Travel Writing 2005
Last year, I was so pleased with my copy of “The Best American Travel Writing 2005,” I made sure I secured this year’s release as well. Edited by travel writer Tim Cahill, founding editor of “Outside” magazine, frequent contributor to “National Geographic Adventure” and author of eight books, this 2006 compilation of the works of 26 writers, including Calvin Trillin and David Sedaris, was described by “Publishers Weekly as “a perfect mix of exotic locale and elegant prose.”
In this year’s compilation, Cahill’s objective was to select travel stories that tell great stories. In his introduction, he writes “My opinion is that the ‘story’ is the essence of the travel essay. Stories are the way we organize the chaos of our lives, orchestrate voluminous factual material, and – if we are very good – shed some light on the human condition. . . In this book, our storytellers have blundered across the globe and come back with essays and articles that I hope will make you laugh, cry, think and perhaps dream.” Price is $14.

The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere
Beautiful color photography is just one key element that makes “The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere” a feast for both the senses and the mind. In this 272-page hard back, thirty-eight travel writers unite skillful writing with poignant photographic imagery to take you to unique and often isolated places as far flung as Bolivia’s Atacama Desert and Aappillattoq in Greenland.
While it may seem like a stretch to include urban areas in the collection, writer Janet Brunckhorst brings along her unique perceptions of Las Vegas, the city she deems solid but perhaps not real. Other writers take you on board tankers headed to Antarctica, in a bathyscaph sinking its way down into the icy, dark waters of the Mariana Trench – the lowest place on earth, on a solitary trek through grizzly bear country in Montana, and on an ice fishing expedition near Cambridge Bay in far, far northern Canada. An index at the end of the book shows readers how to get to the featured destinations, what to take along, things to do when they get there and details like the history and geography of these “places in the middle of nowhere.” Price $35.


  • Drive I-95
  • The Disney Queue Line and Survival Guide
  • Lonely Planet Code Green
  • The Cities Book: A Journey Through The Best Cities In The World
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2006
  • The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere

  • Dave Zuchowski has been writing about travel for twenty years, and his articles have made the pages of many newspapers aand magazines cross the country, including AAA, Pathfinders, West Virginia Magazine, Southsider, and Westsylvania. Currently, he is the travel correspondent for the New Castle News, a daily in the Pittsburgh area. For the past ten years, he's also been the arts and entertainment writer for the Washington County section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In his spare time, he also puts his horticultural interests to good use on his fifteen acre farm located near Centerville, Pa.

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    Author +
    Books Reviewed


    Drive I-95


    The Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook


    Code Green


    The Cities Book: A Journey through the Best Cities in the World


    The Best American Travel Writing 2006


    The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere


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