Shelf Life: Wondering where to wander next?

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Keeping with the theme of the library’s team trivia night this Friday, “Around the World,” I wanted to share some of my favorite travel books with you. As an avid traveler who has visited 36 countries, I find planning the excursions to be half the fun. Here are some of my top reading picks for anyone currently experiencing wanderlust.

Lonely Planet publishes an annual “Best in Travel” book with lists of countries, regions, and cities to visit in the upcoming year. Canada is one of the top 10 countries for 2017; coincidentally, I have planned a trip to Niagara Falls this summer. I learned from Lonely Planet that 2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) and that the Canadian dollar is currently weak so prices should be cheaper than usual.

They also list Seoul, South Korea as one of this year’s top 10 cities. I lived on the outskirts of Seoul for two years while teaching English and was delighted to read that this year the city will unveil the Seoul Skygarden, an old highway transformed into an arboretum of local species.

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Russia is a 2017 top 10 “best value” bargain and I can’t recommend visiting enough. It is one of my favorite countries for its stunning architecture, the beauty of Lake Baikal in Siberia, and its delicious food. (Most people think I’m crazy when I say that, but I loved everything I ate there!)

Planning a trip with the kids? Lonely Planet also publishes “not-for-parents” children’s books about traveling, such as “The Real Wonders of the World” and “The Travel Book.” Check a few out from the library to get them even more excited about your next family vacation and traveling in general. These full-color guides have lots of photos and fact boxes so even the most reluctant reader will enjoy learning about new destinations.

Moon is another travel guidebook company I rely on. Check out their “Coastal Carolinas” book if you’re planning a trip to the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach, or Charleston. I just got back from camping in Mt. Pleasant last week and brought this book with me to make sure we didn’t miss any of the best Lowcountry sights, such as the Battery, Rainbow Row, and Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston and Charles Towne Landing in West Ashley. (It just happened to be Founders Day when we visited, so we lucked out!)

If you’re heading to Europe, be sure to pick up a Rick Steves guidebook. Rick also has a travel television series and radio show and states that his mission is “to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening.” His information on Cinque Terre in Italy was essential when I took my first international trip in 2004 and that region was just being discovered by tourists. Cinque Terre is a string of five picturesque seaside villages on the Italian Riviera coastline with a cliffside hiking trail that links the villages and offers spectacular views of the colorful towns and harbors.

A classic travel book that I own and you’ve probably stumbled upon before is “1,000 Places To See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz. It is divided into regions so be sure to flip through it before planning your next journey, as it lists lots of wonderful festivals and experiences. Some of my favorite places I have visited from this book are Luang Prabang, Laos; Delos, Greece; and Hill Country in Texas.

I hope I’ve inspired you to start planning a trip somewhere new or at least to read about a new place! Come to Black Coffee in Tryon with your friends or family this Friday, April 21, at 6 p.m. to participate in the library’s free team trivia night and test your knowledge on the seven continents. Awesome prizes will be awarded to the winners!

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian at Polk County Public Library. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.