The title of the book Around the World in 80 Documentaries had instant appeal for me. I consider that the first seeds of desire to travel were planted by watching some of these documentaries. As a high school student, watching Michael Palin travel around the world, I hoped that I could someday follow.
I liked the format, split into regions; it allows the reader to, perhaps, dip into an area of interest rather than the intention being to read from cover to cover. Each region lists and describes a selection of documentaries that would give you a good appreciation for the culture, landscape and architecture of the countries. From this you will no doubt form your own short list of ones to watch.
In part two, the author discusses the possibility of ‘armchair travel’ as a viable alternative to expensive and environmentally damaging actual travel. This is an interesting concept! While I fully appreciate the reasons for suggesting this, I can never totally accept it as an option. Travel has a sensory experience that no documentary can replicate (yet!) and to not experience that would not give you the full or alternative experience. The author offers this advice as a veteran traveller himself, having the hindsight of all the traumas of travel. Yes, the armchair traveller can avoid security, queuing, being ripped off, but, isn’t that the whole reason for travel in the first place?
This tone of this book reminds me of the Alain De Botton book ‘The Art of Travel’ which I read early on in my travelling hobby. I think that any avid reader, but reluctant traveller would definitely enjoy this as an alternative to the real thing. Any keen traveller would enjoy the reminders of some great documentaries made about our amazing world, but I doubt they would seriously think about putting away their suitcase! I certainly won’t.