Drawing on the author’s experiences as a seasoned traveler, this handy guidebook helps people with stagnant lives enrich themselves abroad.
Although Ennis spent part of his childhood in Ireland, the Virginia-based writer didn’t become a serious globe-trotter until he finished a master’s degree. Inspired by his adventurous friend John, Ennis found himself transformed not only by travel, but also by ambitious language acquisition. Most of the book consists of straightforward advice, from how to pick a destination to budgeting and studying a new tongue. Ennis says he’s conversational in five languages besides English—a process he started in his mid-30s—and his earnest enthusiasm is infectious. But Ennis also intertwines an episodic fictional story about Mark and Hannah, a loving couple who have become mired in routine. When Hannah meets a Dutch visitor at work, she becomes enamored of Holland and convinces Mark to plan a vacation there. They learn basic Dutch, study the history and culture of the Netherlands, and plan an itinerary that appeals to their interests. In preparation for the journey, they even start to cook Dutch foods in their own home. Ennis peppers his book with color photographs of famous locales, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and the canals of Venice. He caps each chapter with a simple exercise—“Mental Voyages,” he calls them—and starts each new section with a rousing quote from a famous author, such as Mark Twain and Ayn Rand. While Ennis writes with pride and authority, he refrains from filling his text with self-inflating anecdotes. He shifts the spotlight to Mark and Hannah, whose believable narrative demonstrates the positive effects of travel and reveals how even a short excursion to a friendly (and stable) country can powerfully bolster a relationship. The book may be short and breezy, but it’s a resource readers could very well revisit again and again.
Sincerely written and full of sage advice—an astute guidebook for first-time travelers and people stuck in a rut.