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The Big Trip: Lonely Planet’s guide to gap years and overseas adventures

Iona Salter

Wed Aug 24 2011

Lonely Planet, The Big Trip, Cover Artwork

YEARS of study under your belt? Check. A longing to get out and see the real world? Check. A brand spanking new Lonely Planet guide? Check.

For years, young gap year travelers have made up a large share of Lonely Planet’s readership. The Big Trip – to be released in Australia in September – is a guidebook aimed specifically at youthful nomads.

A quick flick through the book’s pages shows it cuts no corners in the pursuit of Gen Y appeal. The pages are littered with “BTW”s, “whatever”s, and even the odd S-bomb – while still managing to provide a wealth of useful traveling tips FYI.

Without losing Lonely Planet’s avowed mission of writing for independent travelers (i.e. you are unlikely to find any Contiki Tour endorsements), The Big Trip is aimed at those with little or no travel experience.

It breaks down need-to-know information in a simple way – from how to apply for a passport to how to buy insurance.

But at its core, this is book for young people who are far from home, navigating unfamiliar lands. And this is something every international student can relate to.

At times more self-help book than travel guide, The Big Trip contains more personal advice than your average LP guide. From putting your parents at ease (“explain that this trip could help your career”) to handling travel romances (“you’ll probably collide with that crazy little thing called love on the road”), this book is far more than a guide to where to sleep and eat.

It’s also written with the knowledge that this generation of young globe-trotters are forging a whole new era in travel. Like Jack Kerouak over half a century ago, many of us may be “on the road”, but we are on Facebook as we traverse it.

Yes, gone are the days when a postcard took two weeks to reach home, and a plane ticket a visit to a dodgy travel agent to book. But rather than lamenting the passing of this much-romanticised era, The Big Trip encourages young travelers to get the most out of it, and to take caution where it is due. Among its pages you will find tips on earning cash out of your blog, using the web to find travel buddies, and avoiding cyber scams.

The latest addition to Lonely Planet’s list of titles may not provide the nitty-gritty of travel information, like how to say thank you in the local language or how to get from A to B. But for the young, restless and indecisive, The Big Trip gives tantalising glimpses of what a gap year adventure could be.

Like a trip to Europe:

“You’ve probably heard of the big name destinations – London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona – but swilling a pint in a corner pub, devouring your éclair in a café, refuelling with coffee in a little-known piazza or tasting tapas after a night of drinking will really let you feel like these ‘brand names’ are your own.”

Or a meander around Latin America:

“Whether you find yourself taking a siesta in a hammock on the Mexican Riviera, or trekking along the ancient Inca Trail, you could easily amble around [Latin America] for months and never tire of it.”

Enough to make you want to pack a bag on the spot, isn’t it?

The Big Trip will be available in Australian bookstores for $29.99 from September 1.

We are giving five lucky readers the chance to win a copy of Lonely Planet’s The Big Trip. For your chance to win, tell us on Meld Magazine’s Facebook Page a destination you would most like to travel to in your gap year and why. Closing date for entries is Sunday September 4, 2011. Winners will be picked in a random draw.