Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel cover

If you’re bored with the usual sightseeing holiday — hunting down famous places and buildings and checking them off your “must-see” list — then you could try mixing it up a little. Jump on a local train and stay on it until the end of the line. Find a wandering dog and follow it. Buy an 18th-century guidebook and use it to plan your itinerary. There are a lot of ways to make travel surprising again, and a lot of them are gathered in The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel. This is my kind of travel book.

My own forays into experimental travel have been comparatively minor. While living in Australia I have had a vague plan to travel to all the Big Things built as tourist attractions — the Big Potato, the Big Banana, the Big Prawn, the Big Peanut. There are a lot here, but I’ve still never gotten to the most famous of them all: the Big Pineapple up in Queensland. Anyway, my tase for Big Tourism waned after visiting the ultimate Big Thing in Japan. There’s a hillside which has the Japanese character for “Big” written on it in enormous strokes — the “Big Big”. Once you’ve seen the Big Big, all the other Bigs seem anticlimactic.

I also recall trying to create a travelogue for my feet — holidaying and coming back with a lot of scenic snapshots of my feet in various exotic locales. This was inspired by a few inadvertent foot photos, the result of my photographic incompetence. The Foot Travelogue is reminiscent of the classic “Garden Gnome Tourist” stunt, made famous by the French film Amelie and recently the subject of a bizarre and amusing auction. But the convenience of carrying around your own feet instead of a garden gnome cannot be overstated.

If you think travel should be unpredictable and stimulating, maybe this unique travel guide is for you. Next time you see somebody wearing a horse’s head and trying to hitchhike to Tibet, don’t ask what drugs they’re taking — ask what book they’re reading.

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