It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which normally means spending a week at the beach, taking a family road trip or train trip, or booking a vacation to a foreign country. This year, most of us will be doing our traveling from the safety of our armchair or garden—and with the help of an absorbing audiobook.
The most travel I’ve done over the last several months is a quick walk around the neighborhood. Still, I haven’t stopped dreaming of new adventures, though I’m not sure where my wanderlust will take me in the years to come.
In the meantime, as I wait for the pandemic to run its course, I’ve indulged in some virtual vacations by listening to audiobooks that transport me far from home. This summer’s motto is, Have earbuds, will travel!
Curious about Alaska but not willing to undergo a rigorous months-long camping trip to experience its treasures? Then listen to Caroline Van Hemert’s THE SUN IS A COMPASS to get a feel for what it’s like to travel through some the last remaining true wilderness left in the United States. This audiobook lets us see a world most of us will never experience: massive animal migrations, the changing tundra, biting flies, and close encounters with sea mammals. Van Hemert’s keen eye and clear writing, brought to life by narrator Xe Sands, makes us feel as if we were right there on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Step back in time, when summer meant packing up a full-size station wagon, piling in the family, and taking a road trip across the United States or Canada. Richard Ratay’s DON’T MAKE ME PULL OVER! is more than a memoir of bickering siblings and the challenge of refolding the map; this audiobook also examines how driving vacations affected the U.S. landscape, from interstate highways to roadside attractions, chain restaurants, motels, and amusement parks. Narrator Jonathan Todd Ross’s conversational delivery keeps you engaged throughout the journey.
If you like to travel, then you likely know Rick Steves from his television shows and guides. Listeners many not agree with all of Steves’s observations in this most recent edition of his TRAVEL AS A POLITICAL ACT, but the author’s overall message is sound: Travel provides a firsthand perspective on global issues and teaches us that people are more similar than they are different. This author-read account makes us think about our personal responsibility in perpetuating common misconceptions of life outside our home country and encourages us to take action and speak out against injustices. As Steves says, Keep on travelin’!
There’s much more to Mexico than beautiful beaches, Aztec pyramids, and spicy food. ON THE PLAIN OF SNAKES by Paul Theroux, introduces listeners to the many faces of the country, from its deep culture and lively cities to the dangers of the northern border and the poverty of its desert towns. Theroux made an effort to connect to and talk with the people he met on his travels, offering a personal perspective on an often-misunderstood nation. Narrator Joseph Balderrama shifts fluidly between English and Spanish and other Mexican languages, enhancing the authenticity of this contemporary travelogue.
Do you seek out the quirky when exploring a new-to-you country? If so, put Iceland on your travel wish list and take notes when listening to A. Kendra Greene read her THE MUSEUM OF WHALES YOU WILL NEVER SEE. This audiobook takes us through a handful of the many small public museums scattered around the island country. Among the “galleries” Greene tells us about is a family’s rock collection, a herring museum, a sea monster museum, and even a museum of prophecies. This is a charming look at Iceland and its people.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?