Review by: Dave Zuchowski
Most people travel for the fun and adventure of it all. But three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, Karen Schaler, has come up with a novel approach to globetrotting and seeing the world. In Travel Therapy: Where Do You Need to Go? the author breaks new ground by tackling the subject from the aspect of using travel as a therapeutic tool.
The first reporter to be embedded with troops in Bosnia in 1995, Schaler later covered the war in Afghanistan with a combat Apache helicopter unit in 2007. Back home from her latest assignment in that war-torn country, she found herself stressed out from the experience. Three months after returning to the U.S., she stumbled upon the concept for her first published book.
“The idea for Travel Therapy popped into my head when I was going to spin class at 5:30 in the morning,” she writes in the acknowledgments section of her book. “I was grumbling about some stress in my life and said out loud ‘I need some Travel Therapy. I need to get on a plane.’ Since I was talking to myself, it’s surprising someone didn’t strap me to a therapist couch and take away my passport.”
Mixed with her strong inclination for wanderlust were her own previous experiences of travel as a stress reliever, as relief for the breakup of a relationship and as an attitude adjustment following several illnesses that were never completely diagnosed. Why not write a resource book for people like herself who could benefit from some time away from their ordinary place of abode?
“When I went home and Googled the words ‘travel therapy,’ I couldn’t find even a single book written with the concept I had in mind,” she said.
With some experience as a freelance travel writer behind her, Schaler started on her project in late 2007 putting together over 100 suggested travel destinations meant to help readers overcome stress, the loss of a job and the pain of a relationship breakup. Divided into 11 separate chapters, the book also helps people discover places where they might find romance, firm up sagging family relationships, and lend a helping hand via a “volunteer vacation.” For those who’ve put off a long desired trip, there’s even a chapter entitled: Just Do It!
To help readers hone in on a destination appropriate to their own personality and likes and dislikes, the author includes a short quiz that opens each chapter. For instance, Chapter One, entitled “Heartbreak Hotel,” which concerns those afflicted by a relationship breakdown, has a quiz tailored to determine if they’re more fitted for a daring destination that pushes them forward, an action adventure to sweat out the pain or a soothing spa escape meant to heal wounds.
“We’re all different, so I came up with the quiz idea to determine what ‘type’ the reader might be to help him or her pick the right destination,” said Schaler. “This includes a list of destinations to avoid.”
The author claims to have visited 95% of her suggested destinations, the majority of which she researched in the last two years. The remaining 5% are on her to-do list, and information included about them in her book came from like-minded friends and family who’ve already made the trip.
Schaler also claims to have taken about a third of the stimulating color photos included in her book, with the remainder coming from fellow travel photographers and journalists.
Along with a novel idea for a travel book, Schaler is also the first author to have a theme song written specifically for her new tome. The song can be downloaded at the website ‘ traveltherapytrips.com.
“I think today’s bad economy will actually help sell my book because, with our current lack of time and money, we can’t afford to pick the wrong trip,” she said.
Karen Schaler’s Travel Therapy: Where Do You Need to Go? is available at most bookstores with the suggested price of $19.95. The 247-page paperback is also available at Amazon.com for $13.57.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Zuchowski has been writing about travel for twenty years and his articles have made the pages of many newspapers and magazines across the country, including AAA, Pathfinders, West Virginia Magazine, Southsider, and Westsylvania. Currently, he is the travel correspondent for the New Castle News, a daily in the Pittsburgh area. In his spare time, he also puts his horticultural interests to good use on his 15-acre farm located near Centerville, PA.