BOOK REVIEW – SPECIALTY TRAVEL INDEX
SPECIALTY TRAVEL INDEX: The Special Interest & Adventure Travel Directory
Risa Weinreb (Editor)
Publisher: Alpine Hansen Publishers San Anselmo, CA
After five minutes spent with a copy of SPECIALTY TRAVEL INDEX I knew it was a magazine that entertains, piques the reader's curiosity, has the ability to source the dream trip, and turn the traveler's dream into reality.
I am the very fussiest of travel magazine readers: I need to be entertained and transported to a destination through the words of a gifted, seasoned travel writer. My taste runs towards the adventurous in stories, and I want the piece to include the hard information that will allow me to get an idea of cost and book the trip, if I do decide to go.
I am difficult to please where travel publications are concerned. I turn up my nose at all but the most famous newspaper travel sections and sneer at publications that can't make their websites armchair travel vehicles as well as traveling tools. I always take a travel magazine to pass the time on flights, and I demand it be packed with real material, not just page after page of pretty photographs and fancy Smirnoff Ice advertisements. I even demand the advertising material suit the publication's scope and be helpful to the prospective traveler. I need the magazine to keep me occupied for hours at a time, as well as spur me to plan my next trip. The magazine must have a long shelf life and be a research tool. And, I want to be fascinated by what I read!
Book it yourself Danno
On my last trip, I picked up a copy of a magazine that I'd erroneously perceived was only for travel agents. At the front of the magazine I notice both a Geographical and an Interest/Activity Index that corresponds with advertisers. It is comprehensive, a whopping 130 pages. This index offers the prospective traveler some pretty unusual trips and is keyed to short informative bites describing the tours, or properties. These bites will either spur you to get more information by contacting the operator by telephone, fax, e-mail or Website, or send you back to the index for more ideas. The index is valuable as a dream catcher. It reveals a wealth of travel ideas for the sophisticated traveler, as well as for those with unique and far-flung tastes. The listings are not just the usual Academic/Educational, Dive, Gay, Golf, Rail, Spa, and Jungle Expedition listings, though they are there, but cutting edge travel ideas as well. I see Mystery Tours in Bolivia, Britain, China, Ireland, or South America; Aerobics in British Columbia; Bullfighting; Boxing; Brewery; Biblical Tours; Butterfly; Bridge Tours in China and Europe; Castles; Gold Panning; Llama Packing; Shamanism, and Shipwrecks. I've put Brown Bear Watching in Russia on my list of where to adventure to next. I test the system by accessing the magazine's own Website. With a click of a button I've now e-mailed the tour company to send me brochures. Easy as pie, I've contacted the company directly through SPECIALTY TRAVEL INDEX'S access information, located right on their website.
Armchair Traveler's Delight
I'm ready to be entertained. I browse through and see that the feature stories are well chosen and nicely crafted. They are easy to take, interesting and unusual, just as the tour operators that advertise in the magazine are. There is an article about the secluded and fascinating world of the Geisha's of Kyoto. I learn that geisha girls are not prostitutes, but skilled entertainers that pour tea, dance and flirt mildly for rich businessmen who pay a G-note for an evening. I now know that a geisha girl outfit is considered risqué by the length of the unpainted nape of her neck that she leaves exposed. It is fascinating stuff and I shall spout that trivia at my next cocktail party. Those cultural tidbits will be a conversation starter. In-between is a humorous piece on the Hemingway festival in Key West; an eco article on family travel in Costa Rica; fishing in Labrador; a visit to the famed Cambodian World Heritage Site Angkor Wat; exploring the land of the Navajos on American ground; a fascinating cultural and historical piece set in a Muslim country, Morocco; snorkeling with whales in Canada; a nudist vacation in Crete complete with a photo of bare backsides; and more.
I see that the next issue will feature American Heritage Tours and Animal Tours, perfect for summer vacation. I like what they offer. One trip "Dorsal Delight: A Dolphin Training Workshop in the Bay Islands" notes that the dolphin center has a "restricted private area" for dolphins that are tired of human company and want to be alone. I'm intrigued. And Food and Wine Tours are on the roster as well. My taste buds can travel the planet. I'm already looking forward to the next issue.
SPECIALTY TRAVEL INDEX has entertained me. I've devoured a few of the stories, but have many more to go. Shelf life (enough to read) makes my purchase money well spent. It registers that I'm finally pleased with a travel magazine. STI is a trip idea spinner and I can read about what I love best, unique travel. I put the magazine down, but only to turn on my reading light so I can throw myself back in-between the pages of my new favorite travel magazine, a double-duty publication that entertains, is a dream weaver and makes booking a breeze. Where will I go next? The possibilities through STI are not just fascinating, they are endless.
Subscriptions cost $10 per year for two jam packed issues. To subscribe, e-mail Specialty Travel Index at firstname.lastname@example.org.