Review: The World Awaits by Paul Otteson

184. The World Awaits by Paul Otteson
Publication: Avalon Travel Publishing; 2nd edition (January 30, 2001), Paperback, 250pp / ISBN 1566912431
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel
Read: September 2010
Source: Library
Summary from Amazon:

The World Awaits is your guide for planning an extended, independent, international journey. You’ll get practical information on visa requirements, web addresses, phone numbers, and more. Organized in three parts sequentially matched to the entire travel experience, The World Awaits also examines issues of goals, passports, shots, packing, budgeting, tickets, route planning, and life on the road. With The World Awaits, you’ll learn just how much travel can inspire, reveal, educate, and transform.


This book threw me for a loop for the first 100 pages or so. It read a bit like a self-help/motivational book, and since I don’t like those kinds of books I was prepared to give up on it early on. (Not that self-help books don’t ever have anything good to say, it’s just the tone of them that I take exception to.) The first half of the book is all about establishing what sort of traveler you are: are you an all-inclusive resort sort of person? Someone who likes to hit the major cities and move quickly? Or do you like to go off the beaten path and travel slowly? While Mr Otteson says that all sort of travelers and ways of travel are fine, he makes sure to point out that slow, “threading” (what he calls the “take things as they come” way of travelling) is the best way. And I’m sure it is, but the way he said it irritated me.

I hate travelers who are holier-than-thou with the way they travel, and while I’m not saying Mr Otteson is trying to be holier than me I am saying that he’s pushing his philosophy of travel really hard in this book. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing (or his philosophy), and I know he has to have a theme for his book to tie it together and everything, but it was, well…annoying. Just a little. It reminded me of my dad when he pushes doing lemon juice-keyan pepper fasts and Tony Robbins seminars, and that’s not a good thing to remind me of.

Anyway, for the second half of the book it went into a more how-to mode, talking about what to bring and how to bring it, etc, stuff I probably don’t still need to be reading but which I find interesting. I mean, I MAY need to know what sort of sleeping bag or tiny portable stove to bring with me one day, right? Well, maybe not. But it’s fun to read about.

The real problem with The World Awaits is that it’s already almost 10 years old, and in a field where stuff is changing rapidly from year to year anything that hasn’t been updated in at least the past three years seems outdated. The World Awaits, for instance, doesn’t talk about electronics at all, when today there’s a whole subset of travelers who make money from the electronics they take with them on their travels.

But basically, if you ignore the stuff that’s outdated, the lesson in The World Awaits is to take time to get to know the place you’re traveling to and the people that live there, and to not freak out about everything. Those are good lessons, I think. I just wish they had been taught in a way that didn’t piss me off.


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0 thoughts on “Review: The World Awaits by Paul Otteson”

  1. >>I hate travelers who are holier-than-thou with the way they travel.

    Dude, me too. I have figured out what kind of travel works for me (it is the kind where I do one Event a day, and spend the rest of my time in coffee shops reading and people-watching), but I totally respect people who can be energetic and do a zillion things in a day and Get the Most out of their travel. It’s different strokes for different folks and it takes all kinds to make a world, and I don’t know why people gotta be acting like they’ve discovered the One Best Way.

  2. I keep having to look twice if I am really at the right blog with your new layout. I love it, but I just need some time to adjust I think 😉

    This sounds like no book for me and I really don’t like it when people try too hard to push a philosophy on you.

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