I’m not often (or ever!) asked to review books, however I love reading and so was more than happy to accept when Sarah Tiedemann asked if I would review Traveling with Baggage: A Guide for the Hesitant Hiker. This isn’t a literary blog, and I’m not a literary expert, therefore I am looking at this purely as a lover of the outdoors and travelling.
From the outset the premise of this book intrigued me. I don’t suffer from anxiety myself, however I know people who do, and I know the crippling effects it can have. I am very aware how lucky me and Luke are, in that both our mental and physical health allows us to get outside, to travel to inaccessible places and plan adventures that others might find intimidating. I hope that I never take it for granted.
The aim of this book is simple; Sarah wants to “encourage you to get out of your comfort zone” and experience the very many benefits of travelling. By laying bare her fears, and sharing how she overcomes them, she hopes to encourage even the most apprehensive to hit the road. Although there is some general travel involved, there is a heavy emphasis on hiking. Likewise, although it is mostly relevant to American travel, there are lessons here that are applicable the world over.
The book starts with a little background, which is great for understanding how the author’s anxieties began. I’m sure there are lots of people who will sympathise, for many of us our childhood experiences and upbringing can have far reaching consequences.
My favourite section of the book is the second part, where Sarah explains why it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone. It’s always great to be reminded why we do it, why we travel and why we get out on the trail, even if it is sometimes a bit scary! “Life is simple when we remove the things that don’t matter” really resounded with me, it’s become a bit of a motto.
The next bit then walks you through strategies for dealing with many different scenarios and dangers, with plenty of advice and tips to make travel possible. There are various topics covered, including the weather, wildlife and creepy crawlies. I found this section quite hard going to read in one go, especially as some of it isn’t applicable to the UK, however it does make a great resource to dip in and out of when needed. Also, it’s always worth remembering that travelling and hiking can involve an element of danger and your life can depend on being prepared.
The final chapter is a great call to arms for all hesitant hikers. There is no excuse, there are coping strategies aplenty and the benefits to your body and soul are unparalleled. This book really made me smile and reminded me why I love travelling. It also reminded me that it is not to be taken for granted. If you know any apprehensive travellers, do them a favour and give them a copy of this book!
“Don’t deny yourself those memories. If you want them, work to create them”
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