Bon Voyage: 19 Tips from the Best Travel Writers

July 14, 2011 at 11:45 am , by

BestWomensTravelWritingWith the summer heat wave sapping New York, I can hardly wait for next week, when I’ll be relaxing in the surf, sand and sun (with sunscreen! I promise!) on . . . the Jersey Shore! Actually, it’s lovely—you see, I’m going to this Jersey Shore, not this one. Still, part of me longs for adventure.

Luckily, I’ve been able to indulge that yearning (albeit vicariously) with the Best Women’s Travel Writing of 2011. The essays in this anthology blow me away not only with their language, but also with the amazing experiences they describe: leaving body issues behind in a public bath in South Korea, dining at cabbies’ favorite restaurants in Argentina, scoring a souvenir soccer jersey on every trip, to name just a few. There are no sunbathers among these intrepid travelers.

Inspired, I asked the book’s contributors to share their top tips, destinations and vacation fantasies.

What is your number-one summer travel tip?

When in Europe, take the trains. Rent a car if you like for a few days of poking around villages, but for distances, trains are fast, fun, romantic and relaxing.—Diane Covington, “Finding Gilbert”

Take a “digital sabbatical,” and let go of the Internet for a few days or weeks. It’s liberating even if you’re staying home.—Aubrey Streit Krug, “Going Underground”

There’s nothing worse than flying after a stressful all-nighter of packing, so I make sure I have a peaceful last evening before a trip. A good night’s sleep not only gets me dreaming about my trip, but it also leaves me with a great memory of home.—Kelly Hayes-Raitt, “Tongue-Tied”

The San Francisco Bay area is the best place to escape heat and humidity. (Lucky me—I live here!) One summer when I couldn’t afford a vacation I visited a different Marin County beach every day! It was glorious. Limantour Beach in Point Reyes goes on for miles. —Marianne Rogoff, “Common Tongues”

What must-have item is in your carry-on?

A lightweight down blanket that folds up small enough to fit into my purse. I freeze on planes! I also pack Wisp toothbrushes, fresh underwear, Dermagor face cream and a pair of high heels so I can ditch my sensible travel shoes the moment I arrive. —Marcia DeSanctis, “Masha”

A sarong. It’s great as a towel, a sheet, a beach blanket or an after-swim cover-up.—Anna Wexler, “Belle of the Ball”

My sleeping bag liner has saved me from many a shady mattress. In suspect lodgings (especially in hot, tropical countries), it creates at least the impression of a tolerable bed.—Michelle Theriault Boots, “Unsilent Night”

I always travel with a journal and pens. I don’t have the most reliable memory, so I keep lists of places, people, food, foreign phrases. Even a few words on paper preserve the memories. Those concrete details are invaluable if I decide to write a story about the place I visited.—Lavinia Spalding, editor

Acupressure motion-sickness wristbands have been a lifesaver during many a bumpy ride—from a bouncy hydrofoil trip across the Saigon River to a car trek through bone-jarring dirt roads in non-NATO controlled Afghanistan. And no side effects! —Angie Chuang, “Vice and Virtue”

What’s next on your must-visit list?

My mother and I are going to Istanbul. From everything I hear and read, it’s one of the world’s great cities. And talk about a cultural crossroads—Turkey is part of both Europe and Asia. Our rules for this trip were 1) it had to be a place neither of us has been, and 2) it had the potential to be the “trip of a lifetime.”—Erin Van Rheenan, “Up the Rio Frio One Last Time”

Domestically, I’m heading down to the Gulf Coast. I have a friend who teaches writing on an Air Force base and I’d really love a post-Katrina tour. Internationally, Buenos Aires. I’ve heard people there dance past dawn.—Nicolle Elizabeth, “Aloha, With Love”

Croatia for the wine, food and crystalline-blue waters on the Adriatic.—Marcy Gordon, “In Lardo We Trust”

The Netherlands. I’m Dutch on both sides of my family, and yet I’ve never been to my homeland.—Anne Van, “Going Underground”

Argentina! Or Instanbul! Or New Zealand! Or Zanzibar! Wait. Where is Zanzibar? I have to go look at a map.—Sarah Katin, “Naked”

I find myself gravitating to remote, untouched places, often discovered through my research on bird conservation. So next on my list is Baffin Island, in the Arctic Ocean, suspended in icy waters where the North American land mass breaks off into an archipelago mosaic. In summer it is a land of eternal light, and while we frolic on beaches farther south, scads of waterbirds and snowy owls will be breathing life into their next generation.—Meera Subramanian, “A Hundred Unspoken Rules”

What place do you visit again and again?

Peru. I cover it regularly and experience the same hit of euphoria every time I land. The Andes never cease to amaze me. Nor do the people I meet there—particularly in some of the remote, indigenous communities. And the food is ridiculously, problematically good. Expandable waistbands are key.—Abbie Kozolchyk, “Jersey Girl”

The ocean—any coast, any country. I love to see how the ocean is the same, yet also so different, from country to country.—Anena Hansen, “I Am”

Big Island, Hawaii. It’s all that lava—old and crusty black, or new and flowing red hot, it never looks the same and never fails to excite. Plus, the hiking is epic.—Conner Gorry, “Elvis Has Entered the Casa”

My friends say I’m obsessed with Paris—and that’s probably true. There’s something wonderful about roaming the streets and not worrying where a left or right turn will take me. Mais oui!—Jacqueline Luckett, “Traveling With Ghosts”

One Response to “Bon Voyage: 19 Tips from the Best Travel Writers”

  1. I have thought and have removed the message

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?