Whether your loved ones are armchair travelers or real-world travelers, consider one of the new travel books out this fall as a gift. They range from big lush coffee-table books to travel-themed tales about marathons and food.
First, the big guys. Lugging these tomes on an airplane may put your luggage over the weight limit. But if you’re tucking gifts under your tree or shipping from an online retailer, these beautifully illustrated hardcovers are ideal for folks who like to dream about faraway places as well as for those looking for real-world ideas.
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World, from Lonely Planet, US$50
The folks at Lonely Planet started with a list of the United Nations’ 192 member countries, then added nearly 40 places that do not get their own UN seats, like Caribbean islands, Antarctica, Tibet and Taiwan. Each destination gets photos, description, map, lists of top things to do and see, plus recommendations for ways to experience the place through books, film, food and music.
Where to Go When: Italy, from DK Eyewitness Travel, US$40
Italy remains the fifth most popular international destination for American travelers (according to last year’s statistics from the US Commerce Department), but when is the best time to go? “January through December,” according to Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, who wrote the foreword for this book. It offers recommendations for every month of the year. February travelers might choose between the Calabrian town of Scylla or the lagoon islands and basilica mosaics in Aquileia, while July visitors might consider the Umbria jazz festival or the hilltop spa town of Sarnano.
Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips, from National Geographic, US$40
For the worldly road-tripper, this book offers itineraries from US 1 on the coast of Maine or Big Sur in California, to the Silk Road in Central Asia and the outback in Australia. The book is divided into eight chapters by type of trip (such as mountains, coasts, cities, history), each offering a detailed selection of itineraries and top 10 lists. For foodies on the road, the top 10 include Hermann Wine Trail in Missouri, pumpkins and chocolate in Pennsylvania and pick-your-own fruit in Idaho. For European lakeside drives, the top 10 range from England’s Lake District to Italy’s Lake Garda and Sweden’s Lake Vanern.
Unexpected USA, from Travel + Leisure, US$25 (softcover US$15)
This book offers great inspiration for those who want to ferret out unexplored corners and surprising places in the US. A road trip through the Midwest is recommended as a way to see great architecture and design by Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava and Mies van der Rohe on a route that includes Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Other chapters look at an into-the-wild trip in Alaska, a barbecue quest from Kansas to North Carolina, and why Walla Walla, Washington, is the “next great wine destination.”
Next up, the big picture in paperback:
Make the Most of Your Time on Earth: 1,000 Ultimate Travel Experiences, from Rough Guides, US$30
This second edition adds 200 suggestions to the original edition. Organized by region, it is a load of fun. Try laughter yoga in Mumbai, platypus-watching in Australia, whitewater-rafting on the Nile, lassoing reindeer in Lapland, a tapas crawl in Madrid, and in the US, eating bagels in New York, hang-gliding the Outer Banks in North Carolina and cruising the Inside Passage in Alaska.