I suppose my first real experience of travelling was backpacking around the world on my own aged nineteen. It was an eye-opening experience, mired by heartbreak, but one that would whet my appetite for adventure and far flung destinations and has stayed with me ever since. Given my unending love for literature, it therefore makes sense that a travelogue – the fusing together of books and travel – is one of my very favourite sorts of reads.
I first heard about Departures by Anna Hart when I was back in London, but alas, the book arrived the day after I flew back to Sydney, and so as soon as I touched down in the land of Oz, I swiftly sourced a copy. I had a number of pressing reviews to write, but as soon as I had a gap in my reading repertoire I spent a lazy couple of days curled up in bed reading Hart’s account of a life well travelled.
Predominantly a memoir of Hart’s extensive travel, she recounts everything from a childhood spent in Singapore, to student-life in Scotland, to a safari with annoying American tourists and beyond. We learn about a how a horrific accident in Thailand left her wheel-chair bound, how she landed her first job at FHM, and how a press trip to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina inspired in Hart a new sort of journalism and a desire to both travel and write more widely. She touches on the rise of the digital nomad – having had first hand experience as a remote worker in both Bali and LA – and speaks fondly about finally finding a town in the most unlikely of places, in which she wants to settle down and stand still for a while.
And as well as a pacy and quick-witted tale of travel, there was also a plethora of genuinely useful advice weaved into her story: from how to travel on a budget and what insurance to get, to the importance of talking to strangers and which friends make the best travel companions.
More than just a travel memoir, Departures is a fascinating exploration of friendships, relationships and mental health and will no doubt inspire its readers to travel more widely, with a greater sense of curiosity and with a desire for boundless adventure.
Have you ever turned up on a post-heartbreak holiday hopelessly unprepared and been forced tosleep on the floor wrapped up in a curtain?
How about that eagerly-awaited solo adventure when you had to be airlifted home?
Or what about the time you went to a fascinating European cultural capital and neglected to visit any of the world-renowned sights because you were in the bar?
Well, Anna Hart has been on all those holidays, and more. As an avid traveller and then travel journalist, she’s spent most of her working life on a plane somewhere, and over 10 years writing about the places she’s ended up. In Departures she brings all of that knowledge together with the signature warmth and wit of her journalism. Anna is here to show that even the experts get it wrong, and how to get it right . . .
About Anna Hart
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