11 Great Spring Break Reads


Spring break is just around the corner. Yes, under all that snow and ice tulips, crocuses, and daffodils are waiting to punch their way through. Hard to believe, I know.

Are you planning a getaway to speed up the arrival of spring? Here are 11 great Spring Break reads. Perfect fodder for beach blankets and sun umbrellas, or curling up with as you wait patiently.

  1. Mornings in Mexico
  2. Tiger Shrimp Tango
  3. Hawaii: A Novel
  4. Beautiful Ruins
  5. Travellers Tales Cuba: True Stories
  6. The Book Thief
  7. Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico
  8. Lakeside Cottage
  9. The Wives of Los Alamos
  10. The Invention of Wings
  11. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

If you’re winging away, enjoy your trip!! If you’re stuck at home, take solace; I am too!

Wishing You Could Escape the Polar Vortex?


Some of the coldest weather and most gripping polar blast in decades has hit North America from the Midwest to the South and East this winter. The dangerous weather has led to vast disruptions; from school closures to cancellation of flights, forcing most of us to cuddle under our hoods and houses to protect our bodies from the instantaneous frost-bite.

The polar punch has also meant a rise in the number of travellers (including a number of my friends!) seeking an escape to the warm weather places.Travel reports indicate that early this year, there has been a swelling in the number of people looking to escape the Polar Vortex for warmer weather destinations. Bookings to destinations such as, Orlando, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles together with farther south destinations such as Mexico, Hawaii and Cuba has seen a phenomenal rise.

This rise in bookings has also means there has been a rise in the number of holiday deals and packages to places such as Cancun and Punta Cana in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Have you been checking out the deals? They’re hard to resist!

If you’re looking to escape to Havana, Cuba you’ll get to enjoy the warm weather while having a holiday of a lifetime. A friend just returned from Cuba and reports it was warm and welcoming and that the food was amazing. This surprised me because I had heard that the food in Cuba was lacking. Now, it’s back on my list!

Check out the book Time Out Havana; the book not only previews Cuba’s checkered political past but it also offers a perspective on all-things holiday about Cuba. This includes places to enjoy sightseeing, beaches and information about hotels, restaurants, shops and bars in Havana.If you take the time to get off the resort, Cuba rarely disappoints. It offers exciting attractions such as music filled bars and a view of the narrow streets of Old Havana. You can also experience some of Cuba’s greatest, and luxurious resorts located at Varadero; the narrow peninsula filled with white sands amid the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Right now, that really sounds like heaven!

Mexico City is another great option. It boasts a lively art scene, a number of amazing eateries, and hotels that attract millions of holiday makers escaping the cold. It is a world class city worth a stop in on your way to the beach!

The Time Out series also has a book on Mexico City. It will help direct you if you intend to make a short, or extended vacation, to Mexico. The book, in a nutshell will offer you a glimpse into the holiday and travel information offered in, and around, Mexico City.The bonus section includes information about the best of Mexico; from the stark beauty of Baja and the stunning jungles of Chiapas to the colonial legacy of Oaxaca, along with other details on eateries where you can enjoy authentic Mexican tacos and tortillas – authentic because your in Mexico!

Hawaii is hugely popular this year. I can’t count how many friends and colleagues are there right now soaking up the sun, exploring the volcanoes, and enjoying Mai-tai’s on the beach! If you’re heading that way to you should check out Stacy Pope’s, 2011 book, Honolulu & Oahu: A Great Destination. It goes beyond fancy descriptions of snorkel cruises and instead provides handy information about the best that Oahu and Honolulu have to offer. It offers insights about Oahu’s hotels and cafes plus the stunning sunny beaches and hidden trails.

I think that the only downside to trying to escape the grip of Old Man Winter is that everyone else is doing it too. That shouldn’t stop you though; I’ll take a warm, crowded beach over shovelling icy sidewalks any day!


How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental

Cover_500-187x300One of the benefits of running a travel book site is promoting my own travel book!

I’m not only an avid reader of travel books, I am also an avid traveller. I’ve visited 20 countries in the last five years and am hoping to add 6 more in 2014 when we take to our bikes and cycle around mid-western Europe. You can follow all my travel adventures on my travel blog; One-Giant-Step.com

Over the years we have stayed in many accommodation styles. Hotels, hostels, beach huts, temples, ryokans, train compartments, B&B’s, desert camps, and, of course, apartments.

We stayed in our first apartment accidentally while visiting Santiago, Chile in 2009. The hotel we had booked into also managed a short term apartment block down the street and offered us a one bedroom apartment instead of a traditional hotel room. We hadn’t even realized that such a thing was possible but were super happy we said yes as soon as we laid eyes on the beautiful living room, kitchen, and balcony that we would be able to enjoy for the next three days.

After that we looked for vacation rental apartments whenever we were going to stay somewhere for three days or more. We’ve rented apartments in Victoria, Canada; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berlin, Germany; Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan; Toronto, Canada; Chiang Mai and Hua Hin in Thailand; and Saigon, Vietnam.

In How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental I reveal all that I know about renting short-term vacation rentals around the world.

I help travellers discover the benefits of renting short term apartments, houses, cottages, or bungalows versus paying for regular hotel rooms and whether they are a good fit for this option.

I discuss the importance of, and how to set up, a list of criteria to use when looking for a property to save time, frustration, and hassle.

I teach how to go about finding the perfect vacation rental, how to find rental websites, and how to use them so that the process isn’t completely overwhelming.

I show a comparison of some of the top vacation rental sites out there and see which ones are recommended.

I answer all the questions and concerns travellers have so that they’ll feel comfortable and confident in the process and will be sure that have found the perfect vacation rental.

And I outline the exact process I use to book vacation rentals myself. If this process works over and over for me I know that it will work for all travellers.

I think that many people don’t realize that using vacation rentals is possible, or they think it is stressful and overwhelming to search for and select an apartment or house that will work for them. How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental is for exactly that audience; to show that vacation rentals are easy to find and that the selection process is also easy as long as you create a criteria list and keep yourself from falling down the rabbit hole.

Are you planning your summer vacation, or know someone who is? This might be the perfect opportunity to have a different experience this time!

Books and Travel in 2014


Are you looking to plan your travel adventures for the new year? Travel books can be a great way to explore destinations from the comfort of your couch. These books allow you to learn useful information that will help you get the richest experience from your travels. The problem with the mainstream travel guides is that they only tell you so much about each place. They focus on breadth rather than depth. They also don’t focus on the most important part of travel, which is the experience of the traveler. Below are three of the best travel books for those looking for literary and travel adventures in 2014.

Are you someone who just recently acquired the travel bug? Then you should check out The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton. This book is based on the author’s various experiences traveling the world and provides some great information for those who are just getting started with their travel endeavors. What really separates this book from other books on the market is that it focuses on the how and why of travel. This book is not just another big reference collection. The author writes in a tone that makes you feel like you are discussing travel with a close friend. With that being said, he covers plenty of destinations in this book. Are you a warm-weather traveler? If so, then you will love the dozens of tropical locations filed under great winter getaways. On the other hand, those who prefer cold-weather vacations will love the outlines of the world’s premiere locations for winter sports.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to Long Term World Travel by Rolf Potts is the one book that changed my life. This book differs from the mainstream guides in that it was written with more independent travel in mind. This book doesn’t highlight the ten best beach resorts or the world’s best ski lodges. What this book does highlight are things like how to schedule time off to travel, how to finance your travels, and how to make spending money while traveling. This book is a great companion for anyone who is looking for a more holistic and personal experience from their travels.

The third and final book you should check out is The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux. Paul Theroux has been traveling the world for fifty years and this book is a collection of his experiences. What makes this book even better is that it features timeless travel articles that the author himself has used throughout his travels. Paul Theroux is a man who has quite literally seen and done it all, which makes this literary peak inside his mind such an excellent read.

These three books are just a small selection of the dozens of travel books in TheGlobalBookshelf. What separates these titles from the pack is that they provide intangible value that goes way beyond the scope of the mainstream travel guides. They are truly a great read for anyone looking to plan an exciting adventure in 2014.

Wishing you much travel and adventure in 2014!

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you, and your family, all the best in the holiday season. I hope that 2014 is filled with travel and adventure!

Last year I compiled A Travellers Christmas over on my travel blog One-Giant-Step.com; great stories of how travellers celebrate Christmas on the road. Worth reading again this year!

Travel Magazines Now Available on The Global Bookshelf!

TGB_TravelMagazines_Blog-176x300 Travel magazines are such a great source of inspiration, and now we have a travel magazine section on The Global Bookshelf!!

Here are a few of the great travel magazines available – AND there is still time to subscribe to any of them as a last minute Christmas gift or stocking stuffer!

AFAR is a unique travel magazine that emphasizes the meaning found in the journey above all else. Every issue carries readers away to and from every nook and cranny of the world, taking them to the real experience of travel. AFAR is written for those who to seek to completely immerse themselves in the culture of their destination.

National Geographic Traveler Discover a wealth of vacation ideas for the U.S., Canada, and overseas destinations. Each issue of National Geographic Traveler features superb photography, lively stories and features and a wide range of practical travel advice. This award-winning bimonthly publication has everything you need to plan the perfect trip.

Islands Escape to the world’s most seductive getaways. Islands Magazine takes you there…in six spectacular issues a year. From the Caribbean to South Pacific, from Tahiti to the Greek Isles, Islands Magazine explores the most beautiful and exotic places on earth. You’ll want to pack your bags after each issue that sparkles with outstanding photography.

Travel and Leisure breathes new life into your time away from home. Inside you’ll find reports on both vacation and business travel, including a wide range of local and international destinations, leisure time pursuits, restaurants, wine and spirits, hobbies, and entertainment. Departments and features present a blend of both travel, romance and value.

Look here for more great travel magazines. Do you know of any others we should add?

25 Literary Gift Ideas For Travelers On Your List

Is there a globetrotting traveller on your Christmas list this year? We’ve got you covered so sit back, relax, pour a cup of eggnog and get yourself all gifted up with this list of 25 gift ideas for travelers that will definitely put you on the ‘nice’ list.
Travel Books

Of course books have to be at the top of the list!! For this list I’ve chosen travel photography books; inspirational images, iconic scenery, and stunning captures will be welcome under any travellers tree. Of course, if your traveller has a destination in mind then a quick search of The Global Bookshelf main catalogue should find something destination specific.


1. Travel. A gifted travel photographer, Andreas Bitesnich brings a raw closeness to his images. Featuring scenes from around the world, this book is the ultimate coffee table tome.

2. Photo Trekking: A Traveling Photographer’s Guide to Capturing Moments Around the World. If there is one thing that I know most travellers wish they could improve it’s taking better pictures of their travels. Part travel inspiration, part photography instruction, this book shows what to look for to get a great shot and discusses camera settings to pull it off.

3. LIFE Heaven On Earth: The World’s Must-See Destinations. Beautiful images from around the world in a classic LIFE photography book. Great inspiration for those wanting to add such great pictures to their own travel photography albums.

4. Chasing A Dream is a little different from the other travel photography books in that it also tells the personal story of the author Carla Coulson as she leaves her corporate life to travel the world and record what she sees.


kindle.jpg 5. You know, the number and variety of Kindles that are available is overwhelming. From a simple Kindle e-reader to the backlit Paperwhite to the all-encompassing, wifi enabled, Fire tablet; it seems there is a Kindle for every need and budget. My advice, as always, is to get the one that does what you need and not to worry about the bells and whistles your traveller may not use.

Kindle Accessories

6. The Verso Artist Series Kindle Cover is a classic looking cover that will keep your Kindle dust free and free from scratches as it knocks around in the bottom of your bag.

7. It’s late but you’re jet lagged after that 9 hour flight. Your travel partner is not having as hard a time of it as you and is sawing logs oblivious to your wide awake status. Do you turn on the light to catch up on your reading or lie quietly and keep waiting for sleep to come? This Belkin Clip On Reading Light is a great solution. It’s a nice compact reading light that will let you pass the time without waking those who are lucky enough to be able to sleep.

8. This would be my choice, a Kindle Lighted Cover. A Kindle cover and light all in one! No trying to clip the light or worrying about batteries; this integrated cover and light seamlessly plugs into your Kindle to create a unified unit. Easy to use, convenient, and stylish.


Bookmarks are such simple, and portable, gifts for travellers.

bookmark 9. These Olina handmade wooden bookmarks are beautiful, handmade, and functional.

10. Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave is represented in this metal bookmark. Great for book lovers and Japanese art fans.

11. As a digital dictionary bookmark, this version has practicality all sewn up.

Book Lights

12. Book lights can often be too heavy for regular soft cover books but this lightweight clip on book light stands up to late night testing and will help any traveler get over that pesky jet lag.

13. I like that this Mighty Bright book light flexes out over the pages to fully illuminate what I’m reading. If I’m going to use a light it may as well light up the whole book.
Book Savers

Letting books rattle around in the bottom of a suitcase or backpack is the fastest way to ruin. These book savers will keep the covers intact, protect the spine, and prevent the pages from fanning.

14. Simple but functional, the neoprene Book Glove also provides a bit of protection from dampness.

15. This leather book cover is the ultimate book station with pockets, zippers, and snaps to hold everything the traveling book lover might need.


Great for listening to audio books, or listening to music on long flights, headphones are an indispensable travel item.

16. Noise cancelling headphones are the Cadillac model for sure. Reducing, or eliminating, outside noise while delivering the crisp, clear, sounds of what you do want to hear.

17. For a small easily packable version, earbud headphones work best. They take up almost no room, are more discreet, and are generally less expensive. Some have built in microphones too so that taking calls whether on a phone, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangout is super easy.

Travel Journals

Gift Ideas For TravelersDoes the traveller in your life journal as they jaunt? These beautiful blank books are the perfect gift!

18. This Passport Stamp Travel Journal is perfect for keeping track of stories while on the road and has a back cover pocket for storing those little pieces of paper souvenirs that always get lost.

19. The beautiful map imagery on the Old World Journal is inspiring on it’s own.

20. The Everywoman’s Travel Journal covers all the bases. With lined pages for journaling, unlined pages for sketching, as well as tips and tricks for travelling that are not limited to only the women travellers in your life although the beautiful, feminine, cover may be more suited to you sister or mother than for your brother.

21. And then there is the classic Moleskine. Many a traveller have filled these ultimate journals with stories and sketches, inner thoughts and revelations, lists and itineraries. Minimalistic, simple, and utilitarian; this is the ultimate travel journal.

Travel Book T-Shirts

T-shirts are the ultimate packable travel item. Everyone wears them, they pack super small, wash easily, and go with everything. T-shirts with travel book themes on them are even better.

Gift Ideas For Travelers22. This On The Road by Jack Kerouac representation is my favourite.

23. The Old Man And The Sea by Hemingway is a close second.

24. For some, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is the ultimate travel book and for those, this t-shirt would be the ultimate travel book gift.

25. My plan is to spend more time in Europe next year so this Germany t-shirt is high on my list but the company has a number of options available.

Stay tuned next week as we find some great gift ideas for the Armchair Traveller on your list!

Book Review: All The Pretty Horses

all_the_pretty_horses I picked up All The Pretty Horses when I thought I was going to be heading to Mexico for the winter.

I wanted to start with a novel that had a historical bent to it so I could work my way forward in my Mexican book reading. Set in the year straddling 1949 and 1950 it meets the historical criteria I was looking for without delving too far back in time.

It’s a western, with an austere feeling. That isn’t to say there isn’t lack of detail (in fact I might say just the opposite) but I really got the feeling of being in the middle of the open range in northern Mexico.

The story traces the path of the main character John Grady as his Texan family buries their patriarch and he discovers that the family ranch will be sold. He meets up with his friend Lacey Rawlins, inexplicably picks up the runaway drifter Blevins and the three of them cross the border into Mexico with a half assed plan of working as migrant cowboys.

What follows is a tale of mishaps, with serious consequences, a love story, also with serious consequences, and a friendship that barely endures the outcome.

I liked it, and didn’t like it. I picked it up, and put it down, and picked it up, and put it down.

The dialogue was not well punctuated and I often had to reread passages to understand who was speaking, because it kind of made a difference to the story.

Some of the dialogue was in Spanish, but not all of it. I liked the effect of being reminded that, although the book is written in English, the story actually takes place in Spanish. It gave me a chance to practice what little I know of the language and yet, even if I couldn’t figure it out, the context was clear enough to continue.

It really gave me a sense of the difficulty of living such a life. The uncertainty of employment, the barrenness of the landscape, the reliance on friends and the tenuous nature of those same friendships. I’m fascinated with the idea of homesteading and ranching, of relying only on ones-self and having to get by. This book painted that picture for me.

Am I glad I read it? Yes, I am. Would I recommend it? If you’re interested in Mexico, or the southern United States, at all I think it’s worth reading. There maybe a border separating the two countries but this book shows that a border is just an arbitrary line and that life is the same on either side.