09 May 2010

Three's a trend

Zeitgeist! Others are hopping on the "old guidebooks make for interesting trips" bandwagon.

1. Today in the New York Times travel section: Simon Akam tours Britain with a 100-year-old Baedeker book.

2. A couple of weeks ago, on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Andrei Codrescu had an essay about finding a 1911 European guidebook. He muses:
Instead of going to places sold now to tourists, why not use the old travel books as guides and go one way or another to the places where European explorers, from Sir Richard Burton to Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould went? And not only them. One could spend a fruitful year in search of places once featured in old city guides, like the famous New Orleans city guide written during the Great Depression by writers of the WPA.
I've said before that I think willful ignorance might be the next hot travel trend, but I never thought that writers for actual respectable news outlets would be so absurd and foolish hip and sophisticated as to follow my lead (presumably inadvertently; I have no delusions that I'm an actual trend-setter) and use a seriously-outdated guidebook. Go figure.

And, actually, I rather like the idea of this becoming a genuine travel trend. I'm imagining hordes of tourists waving around various yellowed tomes, hopelessly lost but enjoying every moment.  I can support that--and I can certainly think of sillier travel trends. When we get to the point where there are guidebooks to help you figure out what old guidebook to use when you go abroad, that's when things have gone too far.

[Thanks to Eva Holland at World Hum for tipping me off about the NPR story.]

1 comment:

  1. I recommend that readers listen to the Codrescu piece, rather than just reading the text, so you can listen to Codrescu savor words like a hungry man savoring meaty bites of stew. I love his reading voice.

    Your next assignment, dear blogger, is to ponder the connection between this back-to-the-old travel writing trend and other current retro trends, like moonshining, handmade food, old-fashioned sound textures in music, etc.


You know the drill: keep it civil and on-topic, don't spam, don't run with scissors, floss. For posts older than three weeks, comments will be moderated before publication.