100 Countries – 5,000 Ideas

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Another of the books from the National Geographic stables and is marketed as a trip advisor – Where to go, When to go, What to see, What to do (ISBN 978-1-4262-0758-7, National Geographic, USA, 2011).

The Foreword by travel writer Rudy Maxa points out that while the internet can find you places, it can become a laborious way to find the where, when, what of an unknown location.  He mentions the sagacity of having a ‘trusted friend’, and suggests that this book should be thought of as just that.

The book is so comprehensive and loaded with facts that the reader should spend some time in the second chapter called, “How to use this book.”  There are charts at the front and back of the book designed to assist you in finding the right trip for your interests and lifestyle and give you the best times to travel, as well as health and passport/visa information.

Suggestions narrow the possible destinations for the reader and the next step is to read up the 100 countries section.  Having found your holiday Utopia, you can then consult the charts for the times to go, how much living costs and study the detailed maps to see where else you might like to visit in that country.

There is one section dealing with ‘themed’ destinations.  This covers Desert Landscapes, Caribbean or Mediterranean Cruises, Traveling with Children, Marine Wildlife, Cultural Travel, Adventure, Ecological touring, All Inclusive holidays, Spa vacations or Unforgettable Nights (do you want to spend a night in an igloo, for example).

The main destinations are all well covered, but for the adventurous it is well worth reading about destinations you would not have immediately thought of, such as Botswana, French Guiana, Montenegro (you could always drop in for afternoon tea with one rather well known Thai resident), or Uzbekistan.

The vast amount of information does not end there.  There is a 20 page appendix which will tell you the right trip for your interests, the right trip for your lifestyle (you don’t travel the same way when you are 60 as you did when you were a 20 something backpacker), the relative costs (over $5,000 for a cruise to the Antarctic regions, or a mere $1,300 for a 10 day cruise around Croatia).  There is even a two page spreadsheet giving you the best time to travel in tropical climates.  In case you had forgotten, the best times in Thailand are November through to March, but avoid Jamaica from May to November because of the hurricanes and April to June in Amazonia because of the rains.

At B. 850 this is a very well researched resource.  It has far more than you would imagine and should be on every traveler’s library shelf.  I found very little at which to take umbrage, and I felt that Thailand was dealt very fairly, with suggestions on Cities and Monuments, Coasts, Landscapes and Excursions in the break-out box to the side.  With one hundred countries covered, you would be unlucky not to find your next exploration trip in there somewhere.  A very much recommended publication.