Travel Talk – March

Hello Travel Fans!

This month we’re going to talk about movies, specifically the movies that feed your wanderlust. That’s a pretty broad category I think – it could be a movie set in a beautiful place that made you want to visit, or one about a journey that inspired you on your own trip. A movie can be great long after a favorite trip as well, reminding you of sights and walks from your own visit.

To help you get in the mood for travel, we’re going to be showing one of my favorite movies, “Enchanted April” at Fairmount (3000 Fairmount Street) on Tuesday, March 19 at 2pm. Four English ladies escape dreary late-winter England and rent a house in sunny Italy for the month of April. The women, who didn’t know each other before, come from all walks of life and travel to Italy for different reasons – to escape, to hide, to find themselves. There is a bit of intrigue, a little mystery, friendships that grow and blossom but most of all, there’s the gorgeous Italian countryside. A perfect antidote when you’re tired of winter whether you’re coming from England or Iowa!

Other favorites to consider would include Midnight in Paris which is well worth watching both before and after a trip to the City of Light. My Mother and I loved the PBS television series All Creatures Great and Small and included several magical days in the Yorkshire Dales (where the series is set) when we traveled to England. Any Downton Abbey fans out there? A trip to Highclere Castle is probably high on your travel list. Dazzled by the over-the-top wealth shown in Crazy Rich Asians? You might be dreaming of a trip to Singapore. In other words, inspiration is all around us.

Michelle has found inspiration in movies too:

Years ago, I fell in love with Paris partly due to Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless from 1960.  Starring Marshalltown, Iowa native Jean Seberg, this French New Wave crime drama mostly takes place in Paris.  One of the most iconic scenes takes place when Seberg sells New York Herald Tribune newspapers while strolling down the Champs Elysees. 

My other favorite travel film is surprisingly, Doctor Zhivago from 1965.  I fell in love with the movie years ago with its wintry scenes, emotional music, inspiring onion-domed buildings and the all over ambiance of Russia.  This movie, has in part, has inspired me to add Russia to my list of destinations to visit someday.

Now it’s your turn – what movie has sparked your travels?

Travel Talk – Researching Your Trip

Hello Travel Fans! This month we’re tackling one of my favorite things about travel – planning your trip!

I admit, I’m pretty organized and enjoy the process of research (Hey, I’m a librarian! No surprise there!) and list making and exploring ideas. It’s akin to daydreaming, imagining all the possibilities. Of course, at some point reality takes over and you realize a sunrise hot-air balloon ride or a week at the Ritz is not going to happen. That’s when research comes to the rescue.

Before you get started, decide on a few basics. Know where you’re going (hopefully somewhere that you’re very excited to see), know what you’d like to do there (museums, historic sites, unique experiences) and what time of year you’re going. Have a rough idea of your budget (Ritz or hostel?). Are you going on your own (we’ll talk more about solo travel later this year), with family or friends or with a tour group?

OK. You’ve got a handle on the basics. Here are some resources.

Mango. If you’re going to a foreign country be sure to go to our Online Resources from our home page and navigate to Mango (listed here), an awesome language learning program that’s FREE! It’s simple and intuitive to use and will give you a strong grounding in the basics. It’s always smart to know a few common phrases. (You will need your Davenport Library card number to access Mango)  Michelle adds: After you create a profile, download the Mango app to take your language on the road!

The library. Yeah, you saw that one coming, didn’t you? We have lots of travel guidebooks at the library. While there is a ton of information online, there’s still something about leafing through a book, finding something that catches your eye, or for studying a map. If you can’t find the area you’re planning to visit, check at the desk and we’ll try to find something from another location.

Instagram. This might seem like an unusual place to research a trip, but I can personally vouch for it. Go on Instagram and do a search for your vacation spot and you’re likely to find several hashtags to follow. You can refine your search to special attractions too (#chicago #artinstituteofchicago #thebean). You’ll also probably find the local chamber of commerce or tourism board which are, of course, going to post lots of glamorous photos. For a more realistic look, dig a little deeper and look for people who actually live in the city or country you’re visiting (this will be easiest with big cities like New York or London) Before I went to Paris I started following accounts such as @paris.with.me@everydayparisian @lostncheeseland among many others. @davidlebovitz was especially helpful since he’s not afraid to show the nitty gritty as well as the beautiful all with dry wit. Accounts like these will give you a glimpse of the current weather, what people are wearing, ideas for what’s currently going on. And after your trip, they can be fond reminders of favorite memories.

More ideas from Michelle:

Flight trackers – A good way to find a reasonably priced ticket is to sign up for a flight tracking alert.  I have used Google flights with great success.  You type in your dates and location where you want to go and Google will email you when a fare decreases or increases in price.  With help from Google flights, I recently got a round trip to Europe for $513.00.  The decrease in fares are usually short-lived so you have to act fast.  

Email newsletters – Prior to your trip, sign up for travel newsletters that will provide tips and tricks on a specific region.  For European travel as an example, try EuroCheapo by Tom Meyers.  His newsletter covers relevant topics for a first time travelers and for those who are looking for more out of the way spots.  

Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind by Rick Steves

I’ll admit that my husband and I have been making fun of Rick Steves for years – in a good way of course. Sorry Rick. That said, we obviously love him as we have been watching his show on PBS pretty religiously for nearly twenty years. We love you Rick Steves! and this book is no let down. What a joyful read with deep insight and critical comparative thinking about countries he has traveled. He compares them to the United States and sheds a light of unbiased realism and intellectualism that can’t be ignored.

In the first chapter of Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind Rick Steves boldly begins “Many of today’s elected leaders have no better connection with real people–especially ones outside their borders–than those “divinely ordained” kings did centuries ago.” Rick Steves recommends traveling on purpose…..to learn and connect with people across our own borders. In his words…”travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically”. He delves into Brexit, refugees, Trump, Nativism, Terrorism, and climate change. This is a well-written perspective from a master teacher traveler. I highly recommend Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind to crack open your mind just a little bit more, or to crack open your heart and let some love of your fellow human beings enter. Don’t be afraid to travel or fear the unknown. The world is yours for the taking….be fearless and travel widely.

January Travel Talk – Why Travel?

Welcome to our first installment of Travel Talk. This month, we’re talking about the why of travel – why leave the comforts of home and travel somewhere new? What, if any, are the benefits? Why are some people compelled to travel? Why bother at all?

I consider myself a homebody that loves to travel, which kind of covers both extremes of the urge to travel or not. I’m perfectly happy spending time at home, surrounded by my books and cats and garden. I find that I have to really push myself to get up and get out – it’s a scary world out there! But when I do go I find I love it – seeing new things, experiencing different cultures, trying something that I wouldn’t at home. I come back with stories and memories that add to my life.

The reasons to travel can be as varied as there are people. It can be as fundamental as checking items off a bucket list, pursuing a hobby or interest, seeking the sun or the best snow slopes (depending on your preferences) or just a chance to say “I’ve been there.” And there are a lot of good-for-you reasons to travel too – it can make you healthier, happier and stronger. I think one of the greatest benefits of travel though is that it exposes you to different cultures, opening your eyes to our differences – and our similarities. You become a “citizen of the world” and create a stronger connection to others.

Some great books to get you thinking about the benefits of travel include

Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves

A Year Off: a Story About Traveling the World – and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

Rediscovering Travel: a Guide for the Globally Curious by Seth Kugal

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Traveling the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

So why do I push out of my comfort zone and travel? Lots of reasons, of course, but my top three would be:

  1. Creative Inspiration. Whether it’s seeing great works of art or beautiful landscapes, I find lots of inspiration for my creative side.
  2. To Learn. Learning is not just for school children. It’s an ongoing experience for our whole lives. Learning makes me happy and engaged.
  3. To Have Stories to Tell. Travel never goes without hitches or the unexpected. In the end, they all make good stories both to share and to remember.

From Michelle: While in college, I was lucky enough to spend nearly four months in Vienna, Austria on a foreign term. Throughout this trip is where I discovered my love of travel.  The ability to discover different cultures, people and places was life changing and eye opening.   I think I love to travel for a couple of reasons.  One of my first loves is art and architecture and seeing a country’s treasures in person is a passion.  Connecting art and architecture with the larger world and its history puts it in context and makes it more meaningful.  I also love the memories that travel provides.  Reminiscing about seeing a painting that was on your must-see list or remembering a funny scene on the street is a gift.  Travel is something where you never run out of options for your next adventure.

Now it’s your turn – why do you travel? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to pick up your Travel Talk notebook at any Davenport Library location!

Introducing the Travel Talk Program!

Hello! Today we’re introducing a new program – Travel Talk. With this Info Cafe program we’ll explore many aspects of travel. Each month we’ll focus on another subject with topics such as where to go, how to research your trip, solo travel, preserving travel memories, road trips plus lots more. We’ll also have a couple of special events including a movie in March and a “worst travel experience” contest later this year. Whether you’re a hard-core adventurer or an armchair traveler, you’ll find something to enjoy!

It’s easy to follow along with the program. Be sure to visit the Info Cafe blog on the second Wednesday of each month when my fellow librarian and Info-Cafe-blogger Michelle and I will introduce and discuss a new topic. If that’s as much as you’d like to do – no problem! We’re happy to have you along! But if you’d like to kick it up a notch, simply comment on the post and/or join in any discussion on that post. We’ll keep track of who comments each month and keep a running total. Anyone who makes a total of eight comments throughout the year (only one comment per month will count toward your total) will receive a small, travel-related prize in December!

In addition, we have passport-size, travel-themed notebooks available for anyone in the Travel Talk program. Simply stop at the customer service desk at any Davenport Library location and ask for a “Travel Talk notebook”. These basic little notebooks can be used to jot quick notes, keep track of your books-to-read list or even your grocery list! I’m planning to use mine to keep notes on any tips and interesting thoughts or suggestions I pick up through the Travel Talk program.

So, are you on-board? (haha – travel humor!) Be sure to stop by the blog again tomorrow when we delve into our first discussion – “Why Travel?”