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8 Funny Travel Books

June 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Travel Gear

There is nothing better than finding a reason to laugh on the road. The following eight books are some of the funniest travel books ever written. The list includes something for every sense of humor and range from the Victorian period to the present day.

1. The Innocents Abroad (Mark Twain)

The Innocents Abroad was Mark Twain’s witty account of a grand tour of Europe and the Holy Land with a group of travelers in the 1860s. Unlike his better known masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s travel book is based on true events. Twain provides humorous and controversial observations about the people he encounters at each of the locations including Italy, France, and the Holy Land. In addition, Twain gives interesting insights into the human condition. He also pokes fun at elitism.

2. In a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson)

Bill Bryson is one of the funnier modern-day travel writers. He manages to bring humor to his readers with a combination wit and thoughtful observations. In a Sunburned Country is one of the rare books that manages to poke fun at a country [Australia] and honor it as a great destination at the same time. Bryson’s run-ins with dangerous local animals and take on Australian rules football were particularly funny.
julie-falk-badlands Badlands National Park, South Dakota Badlands, South Dakota © Julie Falk

3. Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World’s Worst Places and Asks, What’s Funny About This (P. J. O’Rourke)

Holidays in Hell follows the travels of P. J. O’Rourke to what he believes are the hellholes around the globe. Unlike Bryson, O’Rourke’s observations are harsh and won’t win him any friends in the countries he wrote about. If political and cultural opinions given in a no-holds-barred manner work for you — this travelogue will have you either laughing or steaming. Note that it was written in the 1980s so some of the material is dated.

4. Travels with Alice (Calvin Trillin)

Travels with Alice is one of the funnier travel book you’ve never heard of. While Trillin is a well-known humorist, this gem is his only foray into the travel genre. The book consists of fifteen essays that follow Trillin and his family as they travel in search of the elusive treasures of Europe and the Caribbean. It provides funny insights into traveling with family along with unique observations about each location. The Gelati Fever chapter was a favorite in the book.

5. The Clumsiest People in Europe (Todd Pruzan)

The Clumsiest People in Europe is more about laughing at the author and the time period than chuckling about the cultural slurs that are tossed around in this Victorian period children’s guide to the world by Favell Lee Mortimer. No country or group of people escaped the nastiness of Mrs. Mortimer from the French and Portuguese to the Australians and South Africans. Makes one happy to be living in the 21st century.
Waiting at 34th Street New York City subway © Jens Schott Knudsen

6. There’s No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled (Doug Lansky, Editor)

The only collection on this list of funny travel books, There’s No Toilet Paper. . .on the Road Less Traveled is a nice way to gauge which writers give you belly laughs. The short stories range from Failing to Learn Japanese in Only Five Minutes to The Art of Riding a Third World Bus. Most of the stories are light hearted and focus on the mishaps of each writer verses culture judgements. The tale about getting locked in a Dutch bathroom is priceless.

7. Westward Ha! (S. J. Perelman)

Westward Ha! is a humorous jaunt around the world taken by S. J. Perelman (wrote for The New Yorker) and caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Perelman’s command of the English syntax is astonishing and the addition of Hirschfeld’s art will have you smirking throughout.

8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

Far from a traditional travel guide, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is considered to be the funniest science fiction book ever written. Penned by Douglas Adams, this adventure follows Arthur Dent, an average British citizen, on a myriad of space adventures. Travelers will get a kick out of the crazy and thought-provoking situations that Dent finds himself in throughout the book. Too bad we can’t all put a Babel fish in our ear to allow the brain to understand every language in the universe.

Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links.

gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.


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8 Great Movies for Paris Travelers

February 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Travel Gear

Paris, France offers its visitors one of the extraordinary urban playgrounds. Travelers seeking culture, romance, and flavorful cuisine flock to the “City of Light” to engross themselves in all things French. A perfect way to get a taste of Paris before running off to enjoy it is through film. Enduring Wanderlust has assembled eight great movies for travelers or lovers of Paris.

1. Before Sunset (2004)

Director: Richard Linklater
Protagonists: Ethan Hawke (Jesse) and Julie Delpy (Celine)

Jesse: “What do you think were the chances of us ever meeting again?”

Celine: “After that December, I’d say almost zero. But we’re not real anyway, right? We’re just, uh, characters in that old lady’s dream.”

Ever meet the person of your dreams while traveling? Before Sunset sequel to Before Sunrise, is about the second meeting of Jesse and Celine. The two characters, initially, had a brief love affair after meeting on a train to Vienna, Austria. Nine years later, the two met again at Jesse’s book reading about the romance, at Shakespeare & Co in Paris. With just a few hours before Jesse’s plane leaves for the United States, Celine takes him on a stroll through Paris and a walk through memory lane. In addition to showing the beauty of Parisian life, Before Sunset delves into the ways in which the protagonists recall events along with the difference between the idealism of our 20’s and the realism of the next stage of life.

Each person we meet in life, traveling or otherwise, provides a piece of our life’s puzzle. As Celine says, “you can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details.”
shakespeare-and-company-paris.jpg Shakespeare & Co, Paris © KTyler Conk

2. Amélie (2001)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Protagonist: Audrey Tautou (Amelie)

Amélie: “I like to look for things no one else catches. I hate the way drivers never look at the road in old movies.”

It’s the details of Paris that make it such an alluring destination. Jeunet’s film provides a visual masterpiece with a focus on the musing of eccentric Amélie and her Montmartre neighborhood. A single waitress, Amélie spends her time attempting to help Parisians fix their lives. In the process, she realizes that it’s her own life that needs to be altered. Travelers will see a lot of their own quirkiness in Amélie’s character. They’ll also appreciate her father’s longing to travel along with her attempts to motivate him to follow through on the dream using a garden gnome.

3. The Dreamers (2003)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Protagonists: Michael Pitt (Matthew), Eva Green (Isabelle), and Louis Garrel (Theo)

Isabelle & Theo: “We accept you, one of us! One of us!”

The ultimate experience in traveling or living abroad is being accepted as part of the local community. In The Dreamers, Matthew manages to become part of an unusual Parsian family. He originally went to the City of Light, as an American exchange student, with an obsessive love for the cinema. Set in the turbulent May 1968 Paris, Matthew befriends Isabelle and Theo. We learn that the two siblings are a little too close for comfort. Along the way, Bertolucci infuses the film with his love of Paris. In the meantime, his audience slowly falls in love with the city and cinema itself as the characters interminably refer to and act out great film scenes.

As Matthew states, “I saw a movie at the cinémathèque française [and] I thought, “only the French…only the French would house a cinema inside a palace.”

4. Breathless or À bout de soufflé (1960)
breathless-godard.jpg Breathless © Indie Wech

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Protagonists: Jean-Paul Belmondo (Michel Poiccard) and Jean Seberg (Patricia Franchini)

Patricia: “I entered this world on the Champs-Elysees, 1959. La trottoir du Champs Elysees. And do you know what my very first words were? New York Herald Tribune! New York Herald Tribune!”

As with Matthew of The Dreamers, Patricia Franchini is an American studying in Paris in Breathless. A student of journalism at the Sorbonne, Patricia meets Michel. Michel is a young troublemaker who has an affinity for American cinema and petty theft. Along the way, Michel’s troubles escalate leading to the shooting of a police officer. He turns to the alluring Patricia to provide him with shelter during the storm.

Godard, one of the leading directors of the French New Wave of cinema, provides travelers with one of the great films set in Paris. Filled with drama, it gives viewers a taste of Paris in its hectic and revolutionary days.

5. 2 Days in Paris (2007)

Director: Julie Delpy
Protagonists: Adam Goldberg (Jack) and Julie Delpy (Marion)

Jack: “Can I use this thermometer?” [thermometer in mouth]
Marion: “I usually don’t use this one in the mouth. I mean…”
Jack: “Oh, come on! What is wrong with you?”
Marion: “What? It’s a French thermometer.”

Julie Delpy (Marion) returns to direct and star in a tale of a New York-based French woman in love with an American (see Before Sunset). Two Days in Paris chronicles the couples’ trip to Europe including their soujourn to France. Marion and Jack follow the trail of many travelers who take off, across the globe, in hopes of rekindling their relationships. Unfortunately for this couple, Paris is a tougher cultural experience than Jack can handle. Filled with humor and intellectual banter, 2 Days in Paris is a worth a watch.

6. Paris Je T’aime or Paris, I Love You (2007)

Directors: Twenty Different Individuals

Carol: “Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I’d never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn’t know what.”

Paris, Je T’Aime is a tribute to the City of Light. Twenty directors filmed segements of the movie detailing every aspect of Parisian life. This Ode to Paris delves into the human experience with a connection to their urban jungle. Though there are melancholy segments in the film, viewers walk away with a true feeling that Paris penetrates the core of its inhabitants and visitors. The film may be best for those returning from a trip to Paris. It stirs up all the small joys a traveler experiences in the city.
arc-de-triomphe-paris.jpg Arc de Triomphe © Gennaro Salamone

7. Last Tango in Paris (1973)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Protagonists: Marlon Brando (Paul) and Maria Schneider (Jeanne)

Paul: “I’m awfully sorry to intrude, but I was so struck with your beauty that I thought perhaps I could offer you a glass of champagne.” “Is this seat taken?”

Jeanne: “No.”

A controversial film starring Marlon Brando (Paul) playing an American expatriate in Paris. Paul is struggling to cope with the suicide of his wife. That episode fills the protagonist with grief and aggression. The outlet for his emotions is French woman named Jeanne. Paul proceed to be involved in an intimate relationship with Jeanne. The arrangement calls for no names to be exchanged. Paul continuosly demeans the young French woman over the course of their meetings.

When Jeanne is finally ready to end the affair for a traditional marriage, Paul reveals his love for her: “you ran through Africa and Asia and Indonesia, and now I found you. And I love you. I want to know your name!.” Jeanne responds with a simple, “Jeanne.”

Last Tango in Paris isn’t ideal for all travelers, but it’s a masterpiece in filmmaking and character studies.

8. Ratatouille (2007)

Co-Directors: Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava

Remy: “What are you eating?”
Emile: “I don’t really know. I think it was some sort of wrapper once.”
Remy: “What? No! You’re in Paris now, baby! My town! No brother of mine eats rejecta-menta in my town!”

Ratatouille is perfect for families traveling with young children. It’s also wonderful for adults who are passionate about French cuisine. It’s an animated tale that stars a rat named Remy. Remy has dreams of leaving the sewers of Paris to become a well-respected chef in Paris. Putting his life on the line, Remy manages to win the hearts of the kitchen staff along with the members of the audience.

The film engenders a love for the underdog along with a feeling of passion for French delicacies. It also succeeds in reminding us of the magic of eating at the family table growing up. Don’t let the animation fool you. This story is human at its core.

Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links.

Read about 5 Great Arts Festivals That You Can’t Miss.
gennaroeditor.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.


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Do I need a money belt?

December 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Travel Gear

Money belts provide for a peace of mind when traveling to developing countries or big cities across the globe. It allows travelers to safely place their credit cards and cash under their clothing so that pick-pockets are unsuccessful in grabbing them in the middle of busy transportation hubs or tourist destinations.

Another tip is to spread your money and credit cards to several pockets so that a successful pick-pocket only takes a small portion of your travel currency.

Consider the Rick Steves Money Belt for the superior quality of its fabric.


Purchase: Money Belt

Editor’s note: This article contains an affiliate link.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.


Receive our free content by e-mail directly to your inbox or through an RSS reader.