Book Review: “My Itchy Travel Feet” by Donna L. Hull

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When it comes to travel guides, I’m a serial-dater.  I flit from one to the next. No one book seems to fulfill all of my needs. At least that’s been my justification for turning to multiple titles to satiate my travel desires. Where one book provides me with excellent detail and how-to service information, another entertains me for hours with well-crafted anecdotes of unforgettable dalliances in foreign lands. Another travel book may woo me into considering new destinations, while another flirts with my escapist tendencies, and on it goes.  Donna Hull’s “My Itchy Travel Feet – Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas” however, passes my three-part litmus test of successful travel guides: Does it inspire me to visit a specific destination? Does it provide me with necessary service (how-to, where, when) detail? And, perhaps most importantly, does it does it entertain and engage me?

Donna Hull scores on all counts – in one single book.

Boomer-friendly inspiration

Hull urges Boomers to get off the couch and onto the hiking trail or into the mini-van. She chronicles, in playfully pithy prose, her forays (with photographer husband Alan) into Northern Italy, coastal California, Hawaii, Asia and New Zealand. She roots the reader on the spot, whether it’s on the precipice of a canyon or seated in an Italian bistro.  Hull eschews the notion of a Best Before Date for Boomer travel.  It’s never too late, and she makes it all seem do-able. In in the section on “Nature Adventures,” for instance, she charts out short, easy hiking trails for the uninitiated in Arches National Park, yet also points to more challenging, off-the-beaten paths for the seasoned hiker.

Great information

Hull packs in heaps of travel tips without sacrificing her entire book to a series of  bullet-point lists. When chronicling an excursion to Needles Overlook in Canyonlands National Park, she writes:  “Remember to stay until dark because the best sunset photos come at the end of the sunset (as long as you brought along a tripod for stability.) After retracing your steps back to Moab, there’s just enough time for a beer and burger before hitting the sack.” Her “Boomer Travel Tips,” at the end of most chapters, are precious nuggets of insider advice for boomers-on-the-go.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Hull tells it like it is. When she writes of her leisurely Hawaiian trail ride on top of a horse named Papa on the Big Island, you know she’s had a good time. When she describes her claustrophobia-inducing experience on the Great Wall of China, you feel her angst. Hull writes subjectively in an authentic voice. It’s this writer’s honesty that makes the book trustworthy.

Blog-to-book blooper

The endless references to ‘boomer traveler,’ ‘boomer adventure,’ ‘your next boomer holiday’ etc. become annoying after page three. Admittedly, SEO criteria for a blog, which birthed this book, may make such repetitions a must for successful search engine rankings. But they’re irksome in book format.  Lesson learned: A blog cannot morph into a book without a few tweaks.

A boon for boomers

Kudos to Donna Hull for speaking directly to the boomer traveler. She’s whet my appetite for at least three new destinations and return visits to a few others. I’m itching to read more.

 

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by Doug O'Neill

Baby Boomer Doug O’Neill is the Executive Editor of Canadian Living magazine where he also produces the weekly Travel Talk blog. He’s a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) and of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Doug also writes a quarterly column, “Tooling Around Toronto,” for Buffalo Magazine.

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