By Pam Saylor
If you’re looking for a “travel guide” bulging with “must-see” destinations and tips on where to eat, what to see, and what to do, this isn’t it. But if you want to step into a year-long trip with a gentle, authentic narrative covering adventures in nine countries and two continents, managing diabetes Type 1, and rekindling romance along the way, then dip your toe into Braving the World: Adventures in Travel and Retirement.
The author describes how she and her husband’s Bel Sogno – Beautiful Dream – of living in Italy and traveling for a year originated and came to fruition, and what they learned in the process, both as individuals and as a couple.
Along the way, the “confirmed list maker” and “organization nerd” author provides detailed descriptions of travel adventures and challenges, particularly as it relates to traveling abroad with diabetes (Type 1). Like:
- Booking an apartment in Rome via Spotahome
- Electronics in Europe.
- Setting up banking and financial arrangements and on-line bill-paying.
- Medical and pharmaceutical supplies and prescriptions.
- Packing. What to bring and what to leave home.
- How to get a visa (how do you get a non-tourist visa, anyway?)
- Slow-moving security lines in-country.
- Sprinting through the Lisbon airport to catch a connecting flight to Rome.
- Landing in Rome and encountering a cranky ATM machine and an equally cranky employee at a Vodafone store.
- When in Rome, BYO shopping bags at the grocery store! And use gloves when selecting produce.
- Beer in Rome? Who knew?
- Sometimes being cheap backfires (Hi, Pompeii.)
- A “side trip” to Egypt
- “Soul cities” and “memory markers.”
- “Diabetes exhaustion.”
Also The Wonderful World of Tipping. The “daily cash spending allowance.” The “Beast from the East” London blizzard. How “well-equipped” rentals in Europe don’t always mean “well-equipped” by U.S. standards. There’s also the Clash of The Type A/B Personalities and how the author and her husband learned to adapt.
Lessons in appreciation and gratitude.
Packed with practical travel tips and observations, this book transcends your average travel tome. Rather than endless pages of facts and figures, there’s a warm personal element that makes the narrative limber, lithe, and engaging. Think of it as a travel/memoir/autobiog hybrid.
Some readers may find the many references to medical care, prescriptions and medical supplies tiresome. There are times when the narrative seems overly verbose and effusive. (By the time the traveler’s get to Amsterdam, I’m about done.)
But overall, the writing has an ebullient, almost whimsical quality to it that’s both winsome and witty. The style is nimble and thorough, yet friendly and conversational. Like you’re sipping coffee around the kitchen table and swapping travel stories with old friends.
Saylor writes wistfully about the loss of a planned 2020 trip to France due to COVID. She remains optimistic, however, inspired by “a spark of adventure from our travels.”
Ending her year-long travel adventure on a high note, Saylor concludes that she came home “more optimistic about the world and the people in it. That was the best discovery from our year away from home.”
You might want to grab a suitcase.
Our Rating: 4.0
Braving the World will be available on Amazon on May 1.