At the global launch of The Traveler’s Handbooks, Janice Waugh, the series founder and author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, was joined by fellow expert authors Jodi Ettenberg (The Food Traveler’s Handbook) and Shannon O’Donnell (The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook) for a panel presentation and question-and-answer session about the inspiration behind the new series that claims to “offer a fresh take on travel with inspirational stories, hard-earned knowledge, practical advice, and surprising tips.”
Although the survival, independence and even legitimacy of mainstream travel guidebooks have increasingly been called into question, The Traveler’s Handbooks series doesn’t set out to supplant them. Rather it is presented as a companion resource filling a gap in travel publishing.
“Traditional travel guides focus on a destination in terms of where to stay, how to get around. In contrast, The Traveler’s Handbooks focus on how you choose to experience the world and the merits of that choice,” commented Waugh, who is the presence behind the Solo Traveler blog as well.
“While traditional guidebooks provide a great overview for a specific destination and its history, as well as where to stay and what to do, the handbooks focus on the ‘how to’ of the experience itself,” agreed Ettenberg, the voice of Legal Nomads. “They are not destination-specific; they can be used the world over. They demystify travel and appease fears in ways that guidebooks cannot.”
The Traveler’s Handbooks series therefore banks a bit on the notion that niche now matters. After all, the number of travel niches seems to grow by the day, part of the slice-and-dice approach to tourism marketing that helps penchant-specific travelers find suitable destinations and experiences.
“The trend toward more niche trips such as culinary tours or volunteer trips speaks to a desire for people to connect through a specific travel style,” explained Ettenberg. “The Traveler’s Handbook series provides a framework to do so independently. The handbooks enable us to present our respective travel niches based on our own lessons learned, but also through the many interviews and tips from other experts that are included in each book.”
Thus the five handbooks currently available help travellers pursue specific types of immersive and experiential travel, from tracing a foodie path from plate to plate or exploring the world solo to finding international volunteer opportunities, taking a career breaking or travelling in luxury on a budget.
Each handbook is written by a traveller who is an expert in his or her niche. Along with Waugh, Ettenberg and O’Donnell, the latter of whom founded A Little Adrift, are Jeffrey Jung (The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook), host of The Career Break Travel Show and the publisher of Career Break Secrets; and Sarah and Terry Lee (The Luxury Traveler’s Handbook), a journalist-editor-marketing team of long experience, including work on Sarah’s LiveShareTravel, a luxury travel blog.
The handbooks really are “written by people who have lived their lives by travelling in a unique way,” commented Ettenberg. “For example, Shannon (O’Donnell) has volunteered extensively in her many years of travel and I’ve eaten my way around the world for the last 4.5 years. As a result, the handbooks enable us to present our respective travel niches based on our own lessons learned, but also through the many interviews and tips from other experts that are included in each book.”
With five handbooks ready to be printed on demand, there’s certainly plenty from which readers can choose, but Waugh and her colleagues don’t plan on stopping there.
“We expect to roll out more Traveler’s Handbooks every year,” promised Waugh. “Think of the title, The ________ Traveler’s Handbook. It’s very adaptable. We are accepting suggestions from interested authors on our website.”
The Sky’s the Limit Traveler’s Handbook?
Published by Full Flight Press, which was was set up by Waugh for The Traveler’s Handbooks series, the current editions are available in paperback (US$16.99) and eBook (US$9.99) versions from online bookstores like Amazon and iTunes.
Bookstore browsers will therefore be stymied in their search, but “We’re working the channels where we will have the greatest opportunity for success first,” said Waugh. “All the authors have online communities and online colleagues. The books are available through many online outlets. A click to buy strategy makes most sense at this point. The bricks and mortar store may be in the future when the brand is more established.”
For determined shoppers, each book’s table of contents is available online, as are sample chapters. Given the pedigree and enthusiasm of the authors, you’re fairly certain to get what you pay for:
“You may want to see it as a volunteer, or through the local food, or solo. You may want to take a career break and need advice on how to negotiate, plan and return from one. Or you may want to plan luxury travel that you can afford. Each Traveler’s Handbooks offers advice and travel stories on unique ways of experiencing the world,” concluded Waugh.
If you will be in London on November 1, stop by the European launch of The Traveler’s Handbooks, in conjunction with London Travel Massive, co-hosted by Travelllll.com.
Featured Image: The Traveler’s Handbooks
The handbook author panelists (left to right): Jodi Ettenberg, Janice Waugh, Shannon O’Donnell: Ethan Gelber