Best Travel Books of 2020 That You Need To Read

With several countries still closed and vacation plans coming to a halt, the need to travel is at an all-time high. If you are looking through old travel pictures, feeling nostalgic about places, or still trying to plan a trip for the near future, you’ll definitely get the travel blues. The pandemic has everyone on the edge of their seats, and eager to book the next flight out of town. However, who says you can’t scratch that travel itch while in lockdown?

Books are a fantastic medium to introduce yourself to new worlds, cultures and people, all from the comfort of your own home. Even if you’re not an avid reader, lounging on your patio, book in hand, while sipping a refreshing drink, is a great way to unwind or easily expand your knowledge. With the pages transporting you to a new world and life, this pastime takes your mind off of any current worries you may have.

Specifically, travel books take our imagination on endless miles that’s just as transformative as a physical journey. While self-quarantining, pick up a travel book to transport yourself to unbelievable locations, or simply cradle your wanderlust and be inspired. By the time traveling is safe again, you’ll have ideas for your next hike, drive, or even bike!

Here are a few travel books I recommend for the summer of 2020…

Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide by Sarah Baxter

Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide by Sarah Baxter. Illustrated by Amy Grimes.

Hole-in-the-wall places can be as unique and fun as going to the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. Author Sara Baxter is a travel journalist who wrote for Wanderlust Travel Magazine and The Telegraph. From her travel experiences, she compiled a list of the world’s most beautiful and unknown destinations for people to discover. From ancient gateways to underwater monuments, Hidden Places instantly transports its readers to cities with meaningful stories. The Black Forest in Germany, the Turban Oasis in China and the Kaisertal Valley in Austria are a few examples.

From the USA to Ethiopia, 25 countries are illustrated through colorful pages and descriptive details. For your next awe-inspiring view or moments that’ll take your breath away, check out this travel book.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

travel book
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

This charming memoir tells the story of an Australian woman with a great fear of the ocean. But one day, the man of her dreams decides to voyage across the globe on his small boat. To save her relationship and conquer her fear, she takes the plunge and sails across the Pacific for one year. While traveling, they encounter tropical landscapes, welcoming natives and have thrilling adventures. 

Love with a Chance of Drowning is an irresistibly, funny tale about the risk and rewards of living and the need to get out of one’s comfort zone. It’s a great read for someone wanting to overcome their travel fears!

The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney

travel book
The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney

In 2016, Iain Maloney moved to a rural village in Japan. Maloney, who is a native Scot and now a foreigner or “gaijin” in a small Japanese village, talks about his experiences of trying to fit in and finding acceptance in the Gifu Prefecture. He learns the language, attempts farming, and even grows his own garden, while under the guidance of his neighbors. 

As a travel book, The Only Gaijin in the Village enlightens the readers with aspects of Japanese tradition, history, language and politics that were never highlighted before. It also asks the question, “what truly makes a home?” With his sarcastic humor and unique personality, Maloney describes a side of Japan that is rarely seen and speaks about the positive benefits of immigration.

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

travel book
The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jane Ashford

This novel narrates a story of two women. One searches for her missing brother, while the other hides from the truth of her past. Though both characters seem completely different, fate draws them together and takes them on a journey from London to Spain.

This novel dives deeper into the wildlands of the Camargue to the highest peaks of Spain’s ancient mountains, as both women discover a new understanding of themselves. The Snow Gypsy also plays out relationships among the British, Gypsies, and Spanish, making this travel book thrilling and informative.

Time of Birds: Reflections on Cycling Across Europe by Helen Moat

A Time of Birds by Helen Moat

Leaving her day job, Helen Moat and her teenage son set out to cycle across Europe in the new novel. While this is a story about familial relationships, A Time of Birds also touches on topics of forgiveness, understanding and self-discovery. As Helen and her son pedal through Europe’s great forest and waterways, they make new friends and find a sense of belonging in unexpected places.

This travel book narrates the importance of going to new places, meeting new people and enjoying the little moments along the way. It is a must-read for those wanting a meaningful journey and for keen cyclists!

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar

If you’re still nostalgic of your last trip to Italy, then this book is a must-read. Hisham Matar is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who fell in love with Sienese art more than 25 years ago. A Month in Siena depicts the relationship between art and life during Matar’s month-long stay in the Tuscan city.

With beautiful illustrations, the inhabitants and culture come to life through recollections of food, conversations and artwork. For those who love to learn the history of a city and have an in-depth look at the lives of the people in Siena, A Month in Siena is the book for you.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

Greetings to Learn From Other Cultures

In America, what’s a common way for a person to greet someone? A usual “Hi! Nice to meet you!” followed by a handshake is what many would think of when asked that question. What started as a Greek symbol of peace has became an everyday action now, but how do you feel about the new elbow bump that’s becoming commonplace with social distancing?

With COVID-19 still a concern, you may be wary of exchanging physical contact. So instead of the usual universal greeting, why not take a look at how other cultures greet each other? Though the handshake has been a long tradition in American life, learning and trying out different new ways to greet people can be a fun, unique experience, while also helping you build stronger bonds with people from various backgrounds. It may even come in handy on your next business or leisure trip!

1. Bow

bow greeting
In Asia, a bow is appropriate for all social settings.
photo courtesy of TripSavvy

In Eastern Asian countries like Japan and Korea, bowing is a common greeting. Though everyone greets by bowing, the meaning of the gesture can take on different forms. It can symbolize respect, sincerity, humility, and remorse, depending on the context of the situation. Increase the emotion behind the greeting by bowing lower than the other person.

For a Japanese bow or “ojigi,” men should have their hands to their sides, while women would place their hands onto their laps. During the bow, make sure to lower your gaze and avoid eye contact. The neck and back should be a straight line. In informal situations, a 15-degree angle bow is acceptable, but during formal situations, a 30-degree angle bow is expected. In Korea, however, numerous bows or “konsu” are practiced. They vary from casual and respectful, to “belly-button” bows. Each gesture has different guidelines to follow for specific settings a person may be in. 

Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation and the difference between the two cultural bows!

2. Shaking Fist

I tried out this fun greeting, and it’s super easy! Try it out next time you’re with friends!
Photo courtesy by Mental Floss

This greeting of shaking your own fist in the air is common among the Kanuri tribe in Niger. The Kanuri tribe belongs to the Saharan Branch of the Nilo-Sharan, and its lineage traces back to the medieval Kanem-Bornu Empire. As farmers, fishers and traders, it’s common to encounter the Kanuri people in Southeast Niger. Instead of smiling or waving, shaking fists is a formal greeting!

To correctly do this, raise your hands at eye level and then form them into fists. Then, shake your fists while saying “wooshay!” which translates to “hi!”

3. Wai

For the wei, the higher your hands symbolizes the amount of respect shown.
Photo courtesy by Koh Samui Sunset

The wai, pronounced  “why,” is exclusive to the people of Thailand. The wai complements the Thai word “sawasdee” which means hello. However, it’s recommended to not gesture the wai to people who are younger than you, as age plays a major role in social ranking in Thailand. Instead, give them a nod and smile. Use the greeting to say goodbye, to apologize, and to pay respects to spirit houses, temples or shrines!

To wai, place your palms together with each finger touching its counterpart. With your hands at the center of your chest, bend your neck toward your fingers. As your neck is lowering, rotate your hands to where your index figure will touch your nose. The higher you place your hands, the more respect is conveyed.

4. Tongue Out

greeting
This Tibetan greeting will make kids chuckle.
Photo courtesy of Home Exchange

Across the globe, children often stick their tongues out when making fun of each other. As adults, we refrain from this as it is considered rude. In Tibet, however, it’s quite the opposite, and is actually a formal greeting. The tradition stems from the 9th century during the rule of Tibetan King Lang Darma. Known for his cruelty and black tongue, Darma is an infamous figure in Tibetian history.

Tibetans fear Darma’s incarnation and stick out their tongues as a greeting. If the tongue is not black, they are deemed not guilty of evil deeds, and are not incarnations of the malevolent king. When you visit Tibet, you don’t have to worry about being impolite since the greeting is actually a form of respect!

5. Namaste

namaste greeting
Namaste symbolizes unity and good energy.
Photo courtesy of Stuff

During this time of social distancing, namaste has become the go-to method across the globe for greeting people. The action is a customary, non-contact form of Hindu greeting predominately found in India. The meaning behind the custom is to welcome guests, relatives, or to acknowledge strangers. It expresses courtesy, politeness and gratitude, while also acting as a salutation and valediction. Derived from the Sanskrit language and meaning, “I bow to the divine in you,” namaste is the highest and most respectful greeting in the world!

To say namaste, hold both palms together with forefingers posing upwards. Bring your thumbs close to your chest. Close your eyes as you bow, and say “namaste” loud and clear. For an example of how to correctly observe this greeting, watch this video from Hemalayaa.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

A Complete Road Trip Guide During COVID-19

Due to the Coronavirus, the closing of numerous states and countries have put a pause in many people’s travel plans. Though it may be a while before the tourism industry takes full flight again, the United States is beginning to ease its quarantine restrictions as states make plans to reopen. That being said, family-friendly, affordable and fun summer getaways can still be enjoyed, while abiding by CDC’s health guidelines. Now is the best time to start planning for practical road trips you and your loved ones can experience, and here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for your upcoming road trip.

Heath and safety reminders at Rock City Gardens

Pack An Essentials Bag

An emergency bag is important for every road trip you take, especially during this time. When preparing your kit, remember to gather any over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and Benadryl, so you’re ready to combat any health symptoms you may experience and avoid an impromptu trip to the store. To save money and avoid too many stops, pack granola bars and energy drinks along with other non-perishable foods. 

Your main essentials to pack to help you practice good hygiene and ensure your safety include –  sanitary items such as gloves, wet wipes, at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and face masks. Use disposable gloves when pumping gas or entering rest areas. Wear a face mask whenever you leave your car to protect yourself and those around you. Be sure to regularly wipe down surfaces before and after touching them, and you’re ready to go!

The Ultimate PPE Care Package includes all the essentials you need for travel

Get 10% off Ultimate PPE CarePackage with code: GOEATGIVE10. The ready-to-go travel box comes complete with reusable and disposable face masks (including KN95 Face Masks), hand sanitizer, flushable wipes, safety glasses and several pairs of gloves.

The Riverview Inn is tucked away in the historic Lookout Mountain

Stay In Places Where Social Distancing Is Easier

With new regulations in place, several hotels, Like Extended Stay America and Hyatt, have also implemented new policies on how they will maintain social distancing and sanitize their facility. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines provided by the American Hotel & Lodging Association

Before booking a room, call the hotel or visit the website to see what COVID-19 protocols are in place. When checking into your hotel, also ask to decline housekeeping to reduce the number of people entering your room. Try to avoid densely populated locations that are popular “tourist areas,” such as Las Vegas or New York. Also, now may be a good time to stay at a short-term vacation rental, condo, or AirBnB that will limit frequent contact with others. 

Set ground rules for traveling together

Travel With People You Are Quarantined With

Some say that the best part of a road trip is the company they bring along. When planning for your destination, consider who to travel with. It is best to choose people you’ve been in constant contact with or have been self-quarantining with. Such individuals can be family members in the same house, roommates and significant others. 

Establish social distancing rules that everyone follows before, during and after the road trip. Make sure everyone is on the same page with protecting themselves and potentially exposing others. It’s important to pick people who can earnestly self-quarantine themselves and can guarantee they will not come into contact with others after the trip.

Wash hands after visiting and touching public areas

Disinfect Frequently During The Road Trip

The CDC released a disinfection guide for everyone to follow good hygiene practices for any situation. When making stops for food, gas and resting, bacteria is easily transferred from outside surfaces and to those around you. With your road trip kit packed and ready to go, make it a habit to wipe down the inside of your car and surfaces that you may touch often – such as gas pumps, car door, restroom fixtures, handles, and your phone. Wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face. It’s also a good idea to disinfect your room when checking into your hotel.

Plan ahead and be a smart traveler

Preplan Your Locations and Activities

With several businesses and attractions being closed, there’s a good chance that your typical summer activities are on hold. However, The National Governors Association created a terrific resource to show which states are under stay-at-home orders. For your road trip, prepare for closed theme parks, boardwalks, beaches and parks. Map how many rest stops you may take, and be on the lookout for any toll collection sites that require either cash or card. Also, know which restaurants allow on delivery/carry out, have limited dine-in services, or are reservations only by checking online and calling. It’ll save you the hassle once you hit the road!

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

New Standards in Hotel Stays Post Coronavirus

Has cabin fever got you down? Are you looking to book your next vacation for later this summer, during Thanksgiving, or pushing it out to 2021? If you are concerned about staying at a hotel and want to know what they are doing to ensure your safety, health and hygiene, this post should give you some good insight. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) which represents the global Travel and Tourism private sector, has unveiled a range of new worldwide measures to restart the travel sector. Based on these mandates, hotels across the world are already making key changes before they reopen. Here’s what to expect…

Reduced Capacity

Though not required to do so, most hotels are planning to fill approximately 60% of their rooms. This will allow them to have more lag time between check-ins so they can thoroughly clean each room and apply more resources toward existing guests. Speculations are that cost of hotel per night will go up. However, more travelers will choose to stay longer at one destination.

hotel

Use of Technology

You may not be walking up to a check-in desk, having small talk about how your journey was, and waiting for the agent to allocate your keys anymore. The WTTC encourages hotels to integrate technologies to enable automation. These are contactless check-ins, keyless entry, and automated payments.

hotel

Cleaning

Extensive new cleaning practices are in place for protection against potential Covid-19 viruses. Before guests arrive, all rooms are deep cleaned. The same cleaning protocols are applied during every guest change over. The most frequently used areas, such as bathrooms, and most used devices and appliances like TV remote controls will receive particular attention. Disinfectant dispensers are placed throughout the property, especially at all important contact points. Some hotels will pre-schedule your housekeeping time.

IHG is offering individual guest amenity cleaning kits, as part of their  Clean Promise program launching on June 1, 2020. They will also appoint on-property Clean Champions to continue building the culture of clean instilled in IHG hotels around the world. 

hotel

Limited Dine-In

To limit the number of guests in hotel restaurants, capacities will be significantly reduced. Tables are 6 feet apart. In order to provide sufficient space for all guests, the opening hours of restaurants and other hotel facilities will be extended. Everyone should use no-contact, delivery room service. Self-service offers, such as buffets, are reduced to a minimum. Wherever possible, food and beverages are served to guests by staff wearing protective masks.

Social Distancing

Signage and guidelines posted around the hotel will remind guests of social distancing rules. Marked paths in common areas and hallways will control the flow of traffic. In public areas, such as in the restaurants, corridors or gyms, all employees will keep a distance of 6 feet between them and the guests.

Personnel Training

The new protocols will be enforced with the staff first and training is underway. Daily temperature monitoring, social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures, including handwashing and the use of masks and gloves will be practiced. Training by independent auditors is also likely.

Entertainment and activities

Many travelers enjoy using the spa, swimming pool, play golf, or watch live shows at resorts. For the next few months, only events involving a small number of participants and without close contact will be made available. Golf or tennis, for example, can take place, but football tournaments cannot. Spas are adapted so you or the therapist are the only people in the room fitted with HEPA filters. Childcare is organized to new standards. Such standards are in line with the requirements of the destinations and guests’ countries of origin.

Hotels, from MGM Resorts International to Marriott International are outlining their comprehensive health and safety protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to deter the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees and rapidly respond to potential new cases. Make sure to check the website of the hotel for what they are doing, before booking your stay.

Why You Need To Keep Traveling

In the midst of global pandemic, I say this – Keep Calm and Keep Traveling! I am sure if you are watching the news or are on social media, you are overwhelmed with all so much information about coronavirus thrown at you constantly. How do you make a decision to keep your travel plans or stay home?

Think about this… After 9/11, did people stop going to New York?

There are knife, shooting and bombing attacks in Paris almost every year. Does the city appeal to you any less?

Has there been any decline in travelers to Mumbai after a series of attacks over 4 days in 2008?

Do you know about the SARS coronavirus that lasted 2002-2004 in China and Hong Kong (which was an epidemic, not a pandemic)?

Has the cholera that killed over 4,000 people in Zimbabwe in 2008-2009, or the swine flu in India that took over 2,000 lives in 2015, altered your travel plans?

The flu effected 35.5 million in the U.S. across 2018 and 2019, which led to 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths.

I am sure all of these events did bring attention to a particular place and you may wisely chose not to travel there during the chaos, but eventually things normalize.

Here are some reasons you must keep traveling…

Many summer jobs include working at restaurants, beaches, national and amusement parks.

Keep Your Jobs

Most major airlines and hotel chains have reduced 15% or more capacity, which also leads to internal cost cuts. This may not mean much to you as a traveler, but if you have anyone working in the travel industry – directly or indirectly – they could get affected by lower wages, hiring freezes, and potential layoffs.

Where are recent graduates and college students going to work?

Save Your Investments

If you have investments, retirement funds or savings, they will be impacted too. Not just the travel industry, everyone has an impact from a slowing down economy. We are already seeing worst stock market crashes since 2008.

Don’t Waste Resources

Over the past few weeks, I have heard from countless restaurants, farmers markets and growers from Seattle to Italy about how they have beautiful, fresh spring vegetables and fruits going to waste. We are throwing away perfectly good food, while some are starving.

Think about how much the food industry relies on travelers (as well as locals dining out) to consume produce.

Some mom and pop businesses rely entirely on tourism.

Care About The People

Almost 15 million Americans work in tourism and hospitality—in hotels, amusement parks, art museums, and restaurants—making it the fifth largest industry in the country. Canceling travel and events has a trickle-down effect that harms economies, from locally owned hotels, restaurants, travel advisors and tour operators to the service and frontline employees who make up the backbone of the travel industry and the global economy.

Travel Smarter

Currently, the WHO has no travel or trade restrictions to international destinations. CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. Airlines and hotels are offering a flexible cancellation policy. Travel insurance companies are willing to work with this new threat.

Be an informed and smart traveler.

It is important to realize that our actions and their impact are connected to our own homes, communities and the world. While it’s important to remain vigilant, it’s equally important to make calm, rational, and fact-based decisions. My recommendations include traveling to closer to home destinations, taking shorter trips, opting for refundable bookings, and maintaining proper hygiene at all times (even when not traveling).

  • Go on road trips.
  • Explore national parks and outdoor recreation areas.
  • Rent a camper.
  • Take shorter flights.
  • Wipe down airplane seats and tray tables with alcohol sanitizers.
  • Limit movement on the plane. Wash hands after touching overheads and visiting restrooms.
  • Avoid touching your face and contact with coughing passengers by whatever means possible.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Wear a face mask only if you are showing symptoms.
  • Maintain food hygiene.
  • Get screened after every trip or whenever possible.

Don’t cancel your summer vacations or winter breaks. In fact, use this time to read more about the places you want to visit, choose responsible tour operators, and take advantage of discounts. Use travel agents to make your bookings as they have more leverage on making changes and cancellations, without much hassle to you.

Go Eat Give offers customized itineraries and bookings through our connections with hundreds of small tour operators worldwide. Contact us at info at goeatgive dot com to book your next cultural, culinary or sustainable trip.