How to holiday: read travel writing

The sixth of ten posts, published each work day, on the rules I set myself to create a successful holiday. The rules work for me: I hope they’re of some use to readers to. But they won’t suit everybody. You’re v. welcome to let me know how it’s different for you – and what your own rules might be.

My sixth rule is simply stated, but needs a little explanation.

The statement: while you’re on holiday, read travel writing!

The explanation: I don’t mean one should read writing about the place you’ve gone to. I’m not suggesting that if, for example, you go to the Tyrol you should read writing about the Tyrol. 

I mean, read writing about some other place.

For example, I first read Robert Byron’s Road to Oxiana (one of my all-time favourites) whilst travelling round Austria by train. The contrast – between, on the one hand, the discomfort, precariousness, and frustrations of Byron’s journey, together with the nobility of his aim, namely to enhance appreciation of coloured Islamic architecture and, on the other, the ease and comfort and lack of my ambition of my own trip (I just wanted to have a good time) – was strong.

In fact, that is, I think, the appeal. By reading someone’s exploration of one place whilst exploring another oneself, one can sometimes get the both of best worlds.

Anyone else out there do this?


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