Your Journey Starts Here- Travel Resources
Welcome to the RFPL’s online Travel Resource! This list is intended for patrons to use as a springboard to discover resources that invoke a strong sense of place, aid in making travel plans, offer insight into different cultures and countries, or to simply spark a sense of wanderlust.
Fiction, Travel Guides, Memoirs and Film
The Piano Man’s Daughter, by Timothy Findley – an intriguing and moving story of life in turn of the century Canada from the perspective of a mentally ill woman, as told through the eyes of her illegitimate son.
Creation: A Novel, by Katherine Govier – a fictional account of John J. Audubon’s obsessive and treacherous journey up the Canadian maritime coast to document rare birds.
City of Glass: Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver, by Douglas Coupland – through essays and photographs, Coupland creates an atmospheric account of his hometown of Vancouver.
Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador, by John Gimlette – tracking the history of his great-grandfather, a physician on a mission, Gimlette crafts a witty yet respectful travelogue of the harsh Canadian eastern provinces.
Sacre Blues: An Unsentimental Journey Through Quebec, by Taras Grescoe – a wry travel memoir that concentrates on the social and popular culture of Quebec.
A Wilderness Called Home: Dispatches from the Wild Heart of Canada, by Charles Wilkins – culminating in a two-week solo excursion in the Canadian wilderness, Wilkins expertly relates a coast-to-coast journey through the wild and often eccentric heart of Canada.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop - an award-winning bi-lingual buddy cop movie centering on the reluctant relationship between an anglophone Ontario police detective and a francophone Quebecois cop.
The National Film Board of Canada – this website hosts documentaries and animation that one can stream for free.
Central America and the Caribbean
In the Time of Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez - an affecting fictional account of the Mirabel sisters, who led a resistance in the Dominican Republic against the dictator, Rafael Trujillo.
And We Sold the Rain, ed. by Rosaro Santos – a collection of short stories of everyday life in Latin America.
The Mosquito Coast: A Novel, by Paul Theroux - a spirited adventure tale of an eccentric inventor who moves his family to the jungle of Honduras in the hope of finding a better life.
Mexican Days: Journeys into the Heart of Mexico, by Tony Cohan – an essential and down-to-earth travelogue from San Miguel, through Vera Cruz, Oaxaca, and to the Yucatan Peninsula.
An Embarrassment of Mangoes, by Ann Vanderhoof – a life-changing account of the author and her husband’s journey on a 42 foot sailboat from Toronto to the Caribbean and beyond after quitting their professional careers.
Los Que Se Quedan (Those Who Remain) – an intimate documentary on the impact of migration on families left behind in Mexico as their loved ones travel to the U.S. for work.
Conversation in the Cathedral, by Mario Vargas Llosa – a chance meeting of a journalist with family connections to the Peruvian dictatorship and a former chauffeur frames the narrative of this political thriller.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – the well-regarded, romantic, and thoroughly postmodern story of five generations of the Buendia family in a fictional South American town.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann – the author interweaves the true account of famed lost explorer Percy Fawcett with his own trek in search of the titular city deep in the Amazon jungle.
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard – a thorough and gripping historical adventure of the true story of Teddy Roosevelt’s Amazonian expedition of 1914.
Along the Inca Road: A Woman’s Journey into an Ancient Empire, by Karin Muller – an enthusiastic and passionate travelogue of the authors 3,000 mile journey along the ancient “Inca Road” from Ecuador to Chile.
City of God – a violent yet compelling tale of two brothers from a dangerous neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.
Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer – a young writer, traveling through Eastern Europe, searches for the woman who saved his grandfather from Nazi capture in WWII.
Europe by Eurail 2010: Touring Europe by Train, by LaVerne Ferguson Kosinski
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson – a heartfelt memoir of the author’s tour of England that explores the peculiar and the endearing qualities of the island nation.
My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme – the memior of Julia Child’s years she spent in France, steeped in the culture and cuisine, that led her to success as a revered chef.
In Tuscany, by Frances Mayes – a loving combination of cookbook, coffee-table book, travel guide and memoir of the author’s adopted home of Tuscany.
Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, by Jan Morris – an expressive memoir of the city of Trieste by the author and historian.
Amelie – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s atmospheric and breathtaking love story of a young, French girl sequestered from the world.
The Third Man - the classic late 40′s noir thriller starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and the city of Vienna, Austria.
The Middle East
Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa – a heartfelt exploration of three generations of a Palestinian family and their struggle to survive in Palestine.
West of the Jordan, by Laila Halaby – alternating between the viewpoints of four cousins, this coming of age story about the social challenges that face Muslim women contains powerful imagery.
Walking the Bible, by Bruce Feiler – a spirited account of the author’s 10,000 mile journey through the Middle East and his search for the geographic roots of the Bible.
Baghdad Without a Map, by Tony Horwitz – a journalist chronicles his adventures through the Middle East featuring stops in Cairo, Libya, and Iraq.
Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesinger – the classic memoir of the late British explorer’s travels through the “empty quarter” of Saudi Arabia and his examination of Bedouin culture.
The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart – a harrowing yet meditative travelogue of the author’s walking tour of Afghanistan he undertook in 2002, shortly after the Taliban were first deposed.
Lawrence of Arabia – David Lean’s masterpiece starring Peter O’Toole.
Love and Longing in Bombay, by Vikram Chandra – through the use of story-within-story, a civil-servant narrates six stories of mystery, relationships, and corruption to the patrons of a Bombay bar.
Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri – Lahiri’s debut novel is a collection of short stories that blends Indian tradition with the complexities of American culture.
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – set in a tiny Indian river town, this mythical and intricate story revolves around a brother and sister struggling with a destructive family life.
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, by William Dalrymple – a reflection of a year spent in Delhi, with commentary on religious practices social customs, the arts, industry, festivals, and entertainment.
In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, by Edward Luce – Luce, the South Asia correspondent for the Financial Times, analyzes the cultural, political, and social forces that are shaping modern India.
In Light of India, by Octavio Paz – a collection of essays on religion, culture, art, philosophy, and the landscape of India by the Mexican ambassador to India.
Roja – an award-winning romantic adventure centering on a young woman, an arranged marriage gone awry, and a group of dangerous militants.
Sita Sings the Blues – a lovingly crafted animated tale of the Indian epic, the Ramayana, set to the 1920′s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.
China, Japan, and Southeast Asia
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan – this captivating and provocative mother/daughter relationship story is structured around three metaphoric themes: bones, ghosts, and ink.
The Samurai’s Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama – set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930′s, this story centers on the relationships of a 20-year old Chinese painter recovering from tuberculosis.
The Heart of the World, by Ian Baker – a compelling travelogue of the author’s expedition to the previously unexplored Tsangpo Gorge, widely considered one of the most inaccessible regions of the world.
The Roads to Sata, by Alan Booth – this humorous and charming memoir describes the author’s journey hitchhiking from one end of Japan to the other.
River Town, by Peter Hessler - an impressionistic memoir of the author, a Peace Corps English teacher, as he traveled for two years on the Yangtze River.
The Lady and the Monk, by Pico Iyer – an account of the author’s stay in a Buddhist monastery in Kyoto, Japan, and his relationship to a Japanese housewife locked into a traditional marriage.
Cities of the Hot Zone: a Southeast Asian Adventure, by Greg Sheridan – a journalist explores six exotic cities in Southeast Asia: Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Singapore, Saigon and Hanoi.
China Rises: A Documentary in Four Parts – a compelling documentary about the economic rise of modern China.
In the Mood for Love - a gorgeous and critically-acclaimed romance set in Hong Kong.
Nourished by the Same River – follow the link to the home page of a 20-part documentary on the Lancang-Mekong river; each episode can be streamed for free.
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe – this beloved and powerful classic follows Okonkwo, a Nigerian man, as his cultural values are dissolved by European missionaries.
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith – the well-regarded first installment of the popular mystery series set in Botswana.
Sahara, by Michael Palin – this humorous and affectionate travelogue by the British comedian features a trek through nine Saharan countries and a faithful exploration of culture, landscape, and trades.
Facing the Congo, by Jeffrey Taylor – an account of the author’s dangerous 1,100 mile journey down the Congo river.
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown, by Paul Theroux – a modern classic of travel literature from the legendary author, this book describes an odyssey across the African continent.
African Queen – the adventure classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
Guelwaar -an African film centering on a murder mystery against a backdrop of religious and political hostilities.
Out of Africa - a romance set in 20th century colonial Kenya, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, based on the book of the same name.
Australia and New Zealand
Mutant Message Down Under, by Marlo Morgan – a fictionalized account of the author’s four month “walkabout” in the Australian Outback.
A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute – an emotional tale of an Englishwoman’s courage through WWII and her subsequent Australian quest to find the man who saved her life in the jungle of Malaya.
In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson – a whimsical travelogue of the author’s decidedly rustic travels through the Australian continent.
A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia, by Thomas Keneally – a novelistic and compelling history of the foundation of the English presence in Australia.
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History - this delightful and bizarre documentary chronicles the introduction of the Hawaiian cane toad to Australia, with disastrous results.
The Man from Snowy River - the quintessential Australian Western starring Kirk Douglas.
Walkabout - the compelling story of two young children stranded in the Australian outback, and the aborigines that help them survive.
Whale Rider - a heartfelt tale of a young Maori girl struggling to fulfill a destiny unrecognized by her grandfather and her community.
Travel Guide Publishers
Fodors – http://www.fodors.com/ – A major publisher of travel guides since 1964, Fodor’s website offers much of the content that is published in their print guides, as well as travel blogs, and an active community forum.
Frommers - http://www.frommers.com/ – Another publisher of travel guides, Frommers, the original publisher of Europe on $5 a Day, has been in the business since 1957. Their website features a wealth of functionality and information including feature articles, member forums, hotel finders, and the ability to search their extensive database.
Lonely Planet – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/us - A major publisher of travel guides, the Lonely Planet website offers articles from editors and travel writers, an interactive destination database, best-of and top-10 lists, a hotel and hostel locator, and an extensive travel services guide. The site also hosts the Thorn Tree Forum, a community forum for registered users.
Not For Tourists – http://www.notfortourists.com/ – A travel guide publisher, Not For Tourists guides concentrate on American cities from a local perspective. Each individual guide is written by natives of the featured city. While primarily concentrating on dining and out of the way culture, they also include information on “secret city spots,” unique local businesses, dive bars, and cuisine that that is truly native. The website includes travel guide content, neighborhood information, and member forums.
Traveler’s Tales – http://travelerstales.com/ – An award winning publisher of travel memoirs, guides, and anthologies, Traveler’s Tales publishes 6 – 8 books a year. Their website features articles and editorials on their current titles and back catalog of over 100 works still in print.
Online Travel Magazines
Brave New Traveler - http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/ – An online travel magazine, Brave New Traveler features not only travel related articles, but also commentary and insight into life, culture, food, religion, film, music, politics, and other subjects from a travel perspective.
Conde Nast Travel – http://www.cntraveller.com/ – A luxury travel magazine from the United Kingdom, Conde Nast Travel’s website provides information on international boutique hotels, as well as offering guides and content from their print magazine.
National Geographic Traveler- http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com , an easy to navigate feature that allows for searching the magazine archive by locale name for articles and related content. – This is the official website of National Geographic Traveler Magazine, sponsored by the National Geographic Society. An authoritative source with a long history of dedication to geography, photography, and conservation, the National Geographic Society has been active since 1888. The Traveler website includes The Intelligent Travel Blog, travel articles and journalism, book reviews, and the Traveler’s Index- http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com/index-text
The Travel Channel – http://www.travelchannel.com/ – The official website of The Travel Channel cable network. Available content includes articles and travel guides authored by network personalities, all searchable by location. The site includes their programming schedule, as well as an extensive archive of video clips.
Web Resources and Blogs
Atlas Obscura – http://atlasobscura.com/ – “A compendium of the world’s wonders, curiosities, and esoterica,” the Atlas Obscura is a blog and atlas that reports on oddities and attractions around the world that expand the possibilities of travel. Founded by a collaboration of science writers, travel writers and filmmakers in 2009, this site has been featured in best-of lists for prominent publications including Time Magazine and The New York Times.
Curious Expeditions – http://curiousexpeditions.org/ – A sister site to Atlas Obscura, the Curious Expeditions blog is authored by one of the founders of Obscura, Dylan Thuras, and his wife, Michelle Enemark, who document curiosities of natural history, out-of-the-way museums, and other examples of the odd or macabre around the world.
Gridskipper – http://gridskipper.com/ – An urban travel site published by Curbed Network (http://curbednetwork.com/), Gridskipper features content such as restaurant reviews partnered with maps detailing the locations discussed in the article.
One Bag – http://www.onebag.com/ – A site devoted to the art of traveling light!
Roadside America – http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ – A blog and travel site that documents quirky roadside attractions across the U.S. The website offers a hotel finder, in addition to a Roadside America iPhone application.
The Traveler’s Journal – http://www.travelersjournal.com/ – The Traveler’s Journal hosts articles written by David Bear, travel editor for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette from 1998-2008, as well as the entire archive of The Traveler’s Journal radio postcards, which air on public radio stations across the country. The site also aggregates travel related press releases.
TravelPod – http://www.travelpod.com/ – A user-generated travel blog site, TravelPod allows users to create their own travel journals. TravelPod hosts blogs from thousands of users, and users can generate maps, itineraries, and upload photos in addition to other traditional blog functionalities.
Trip Advisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/ – Trip Advisor offers travel advice and recommendations on hotels, restaurants, cruises, vacation rentals, among other features. The site hosts a wealth of user- generated information as well as links to partner sites.
WorldHum – http://www.worldhum.com/ – A travel blog authored by world-renowned travel writers and adventure photographers, WorldHum’s mission is to host top-notch travel stories. In addition, WorldHum makes use of audio, video, and photography to explore the possibilities of storytelling, and the site offers an extensive archive of stories, reviews of travel memoirs, and other regular feature articles.
Google Maps Mania – http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/ – According to the site description – “An unofficial Google Maps blog tracking the websites, mashups and tools being influenced by Google Maps.” Google Maps Mania provides interesting content all derived from the functionality of Google Maps.
Red Maps – http://www.redmaps.com/ – Red Maps, based in New York, prints attractive, durable, yet inexpensive city maps that are easy to use and include points of interest such as hotels, restaurants, and cultural attractions.
Schmap – http://www.schmap.com/ – Schmap is an interactive resource that can be accessed either on the web or downloaded for personal use for both home computing or as an iPhone or smartphone application. Schmap integrates maps, destination reviews, and photos to allow users to design and print their own travel guides. One can also add a Schmap widget to an existing blog or website.