While the majority of Americans wither away their vacation days on Arizona golf courses or in Florida theme parks, seasoned journalist and adventurer Robert Downes’ new book, Planet Backpacker, proves that some Americans yearn for more. Born out of his travel blogs, Downes’ narrative is an honest, no-nonsense account of a regular “Joe” tramping the “global highway” through Europe, Egypt, India, and Southeast Asia.
Downes is understandably baffled by the lack of fellow Americans out in the world. “It made me wonder if Americans are simply afraid to travel in the Third-World, imagining terrorists hiding behind every espresso machine outside our borders.” According to him, the average backpacker is much like himself: “Just regular folks of modest means who have the gumption to go.”
Planet Backpacker is a pleasant read, a bare-bones travelogue with astute observation and interesting insight written in a conversational tone free of the arrogant superiority found in much of today’s travel literature. Downes stays away from exhausting hyperbole and instead fills his pages with sincere and humble prose that immediately captures the reader.
Whether he’s cycling through Germany or ambling across seaside India, a tangible respect leaps off his pages, not only for the cultures and landscapes he experiences, but also for every type of traveler he encounters. Whether you’re an adventurous backpacker with the gumption to explore or a less intrepid, espresso sipping homebody, this book is for you.
Planet Backpacker, Robert Downes, The Wandering Press, 2009