A step-by-step travel-advice handbook for inveterate stay-at-home readers.
Rome acknowledges early in her engaging nonfiction debut that many introverted, compulsive people avoid travel entirely whenever possible. As frequent travelers know, even the most meticulously choreographed voyage is an invitation to chaos; things go missing, unfamiliar food and drink carry the whiff of peril, and strangers often misbehave. In this book, which Rome characterizes as part travel guide, part self-help book, and part memoir, she offers help to unlikely world travelers by advocating the traditional stoicism of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. In addition, she provides tips for the modern-day “STOIC”—an acronym that stands for “Solo Traveler who is Obsessive, Introverted, and Compulsive.” She recounts her own travels as a STOIC in exotic locales such as Varanasi, India; and Angkor Wat in Cambodia as well as her adventurous readings of the great stoic philosophers. Her goal throughout is to empower the introvert, intriguingly stressing the freedom that such travelers can have by striking out alone, “placing us at a huge advantage over introverts trapped in a tour bus group or held hostage by friends they thought would be great travel companions but have turned into their boss or their parents.” Throughout, Rome periodically pauses to reflect on larger philosophical concepts, such as the stoics’ views on good and evil. The end result is an oddly inviting mishmash of genres. Overall, this book is unlikely to make many hardcore introverts dust off their passports, but it will get them, and many other readers, to reflect on the nature of modern travel, particularly when taking solo journeys.
A thought-provoking, if frequently digressive, philosophical travel guide for reluctant travelers.