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Couch Travel Guide – how to wander when not on a trip

By on Aug 6, 2012 in Travel Feature | 0 comments

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Let’s face it. Not everyone of us has the luxury to travel each day of our lives. Even for us in the industry, actual travel is not a regular event. For the lesser fortunate majority, travel does not have to end with the summer break or that one lovely weekend trip we were able to squeeze in between all the desirable (or undesirable) mayhem.

There are many out there for whom the road is just as attractive as an annual hike in the paycheck. Ones who would gladly swap the green bills for a regular week long leave intended to explore. There is that nagging requirement, that annoying itch that creeps in now and then. Couch travel does no good at such times. But it does a pretty job in between. Easily put, here is your ultimate guide on how to still ‘travel’ or be inspired to travel, while you are actually not on a trip.

Songs of the Road

Music moves us all. And here, we want the result to be quite literal in meaning and outcome. And for those out there with a gypsy blood infusion, music promises to speak to who one really is and why exactly they cannot ever truly settle down.

... one more time! By x-ray delta one

… one more time! By x-ray delta one

The first that comes to mind is Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s Sweet Home Alabama. The notorious “Turn it up!” that Ronnie Van Zant utters right in the beginning was unplanned. He was actually asking the producer to turn up the volume on his headphones. Why I love it: As a lover of American classics, specially ones that come from the South, such regional music is what I often turn to when I am in need for some groove. As Leigh Ann Henion puts it, “this feel-good song about my homeland always picks me up when I’m feelin’ blue.”

Gene Pitney’s 24 Hours from Tulsa is definitely a song of its time. A tale of unexpected love while just a day’s drive away from the lady of an existing relationship. Interestingly, the Welsh hotel where Pitney died in 2006 was about 24 hours’ travel time from Tulsa.

And of course, how can I ever forget the distinctively wailing cry of vocalist Robert Plant in the Immigrant Song ( Led Zeppelin, a single from their third album, Led Zeppelin III, 1970). A song that was actually written on a trip. The history is pretty endearing too – written during Led Zeppelin’s tour of Iceland, Bath and Germany. In Plant’s own words:

We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be cancelled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. “Immigrant Song” was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different

Of course, there are many other beautiful tunes that really can kick in the travel bug. To name a specific few, there’s “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen, the ever popular “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty, “Truckin’” by Grateful Dead, and well, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Mary, Paul AND Peter By Epiclectic

Mary, Paul AND Peter By Epiclectic

Travel in Literature – the best books ever written

For those of us who enjoy weaving our own imagination, perspectives and views, it is literature (be it fiction or otherwise) that really cuts the deal. Travel has featured extensively in literature through out mankind’s history. Our earliest writings, even the Epic of Gilgamesh (from Mesopotamia) which is considered by most as the oldest surviving piece of literature of any kind, tells a story of travel in a form – friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Enkidu is a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh’s equal to distract him from oppressing the people of Uruk. Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain to defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian.

Epic of Gilgamesh By alternatelife

Epic of Gilgamesh By alternatelife

Coming to the best in travel literature, one of the many that take center stage is On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Amazon | Flipkart). This book should come with a clear disclaimer – it might inspire you never to settle down in any one place again. And that travel is the truest religion of all. The book is about the trip made by Kerouac and his Beat Generation friends across America in the years after the Second World War.

From New York it’s Denver, then to San Francisco and LA. Along the way are whiffs of jazz, poetry, drugs and among many other things, Dean Moriarty’s incredible thirst for life.

On The Road, Jack Kerouac By Andy Field (Hubmedia)

On The Road, Jack Kerouac By Andy Field (Hubmedia)

Then there is Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure (Amazon | Flipkart) by Sarah MacDonald. Now I never thought this book would make this list. Or any list for that matter. The reason is that after the first few chapters, all that there seemed to be was a sharp Western perspective – on and on with the whining about the poor living conditions, the apathy and poverty. Basically the type of scorn that you are sick and tired of reading, and which you really do not expect from travel writing.
However, I am pretty glad that I stuck to it. The book, at the last moment of losing it, switches over to concentrate on the author’s journey. And what tales they are! It is lovely to see how the writing evolves from one chapter to the other, how she turns from “too smart” an atheist, falls for superstition, travels through India, samples the different religions, and finally embraces theism. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea but a good read nonetheless. Also interesting to note is how the Indian paperback’s cover image of Shiva lost the sunglasses when compared to the American version.
Holy Cow : an Indian Adventure By hello_kay

Holy Cow : an Indian Adventure By hello_kay

And of course, there is the insanely popular Into the Wild by John Krakauer (Amazon | Flipkart) made into the even more popular Hollywood film. This one definitely is a one-sitting read and is often known to inspire some deep and passionate debates.
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.
Into The Wild By midnightmare.tumblr.com

Into The Wild By midnightmare.tumblr.com

Travel in Motion Picture

This part is both easy and difficult. There’s lots to choose from and there are many that inspire an intense travel thirst. To keep the fans of the smile happy, there’s Eat Pray Love. Nice potential but, according to many, while it does instill the want to travel, somewhere somehow fails to hit just that sweet chord.
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself”.
Definitely watch Lost in Translation: Bill Murray won an Oscar for his work here – harmless romance fueling the hopes in many out there. And there’s Midnight in Paris. One look and you’ll swear that this flick was made for the sole purpose of inspiring wanderlust – cobblestone streets of Paris, old cafes, you name it!
 Travel is about the spirit of it. The journey is always, as it has been said countless times, more important that the destination. Take for example, Gunther Holtorf who is on his 23rd year of round-the-world roadtrip and still going strong, and Wijnand Boon who is walking over 11,000 kms with a guitar and an iPhone.
Paris, Cafe By melissa.delzio

Paris, Cafe By melissa.delzio

 



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Travel blogger, social marketing dude, startup addict. Travelled long and far, prides himself as a proverbial vagabond. At mygola.com, Debnath, among other things, strikes up conversations with travellers and other inspired people to find that authentic story to tell.

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