Brooklyn was never known for its rural landscapes — though there are many of them, if you know where to look — but when I was growing up there I knew of a place that made my hometown seem pristine: The Meadowlands. The vast, swampy section of northwest New Jersey, a wasteland that you could see from Manhattan, had a reputation as a dumping ground for everything from toxic chemicals and refrigerators to — we believed — dead bodies, possibly even that of teamster Jimmy Hoffa. Continue reading Pet Travel Book Club Goes to the Meadowlands→
Here are the Ten Perfect Gifts for Travelers who Read, hand-picked by me in 2009. Here are some updates in prices and availability of suggestions still good on a list that has shrunk from 10 to 9.
1. USA Book
Lonely Planet lays out the whole country in gorgeous, and sometimes unexpected pictures in The USA Book:
A Journey Through America. State by state, it covers all 50 of them and demonstrates the amazing variety to be found on a virtual road trip covering the territory from Hawaii to Maine and Alaska to Florida.
Originally $39.99,(now selling for $10.99 at
Amazon . 256 pp, full color,
hardcover, 14” x 10”
Released September 2009
Publisher: Lonely Planet
2. Time’s Great Discoveries: Explorations that Changed History
This truly scrumptious book should be inspiring travelers for generations to come. In one fascinating story after another it tells about archaeological, geographic, geologic and even space exploration discoveries that change our concept of man’s past present and future on this earth.You will be right there with the explorers of the past, and shooting into space with the explorers of the future.
Take my word for it, every traveler on your list will be enthralled. with TIME Great Discoveries: Explorations that Changed History (Published in 2009) $10.99 at Amazon  .
3. Periscope Book Light
This nifty invention,Periscope Deluxe , folds your book or Kindle in a soft leather cover and lights your words with a strong light on a flexible arm. The size for hardback also will fit trade paperbacks–two slots to accommodate all standard sized books. The smaller one, for small paperbacks and the Kindle, also holds a pad of paper, and leaves a pocket to store a passport, ticket or other papers. I have been using one that the publisher sent me to review and I am delighted. Prices range from $34.95 to $59.95. [December 2018: Special package at the Periscope website of $19.95 for two sizes for books.]
4. Select Wisely Cards
What a find for travelers with allergies–particularly food allergies. Go to the web site, tell them what the problem is, they will make a set of cards in any language you specify.
Do you have an allergy to wheat products? Is your problem onions, or seafood, as pictured here? Or do you have a serious medical condition such as asthma or diabetes that may demand emergency care? Select Wisely has you covered, in any language you need. They add new laminated cards frequently, so be sure to check their web site.
$14.99 per cards. [December 2018]
Order at the Select Wisely (selectwisely.com) web site.
5. A Year’s Subscription to Dream of Italy
What a great gift this publication would be for the reader/traveler who is in love with Italy . Whether they are planning a trip, or just dreaming, Dream of Italy will fill the bill. Kathy McCabe’s much praised magazine, Dream of Italy, comes in print or online editions, and right now she is offering a special DVD along with each subscription. See the details by following the link below. Subscriptions $27-87 for print memberships or digital(December 2018 price).
This line is featured in the new movie Up in the Air which also partners with American Airlines and Hilton and Sprint. Wow! talk about product placement!
[December 2019 update. Looks like the “7” is only being sold at outlet stores or on Amazon at this late date. Check out the TravelPro website for newer versions of the same bag.]
7. For the Road-Tripper, a AAA Membership
We have given this gift in the past to give ourselves peace of mind when our sons travel with their families. We know they will have roadside assistance if they needed it. They can get reduced prices on car insurance and discounts from many merchants. They love the discount prices at hotels and restaurants. And don’t forget the FREE maps and travel advice.
I have been taking road trips for longer than I want to talk about–and my AAA card covered me all those years. I also take advantage of getting an emergency spare key made and passport pictures taken, and I always buy their U.S. road atlases.
Go to AAA.com and put in your zip code for your home state. Prices range between $53 and $119. If you already have a card, associate memberships are cheaper for people who live in the same household.
8. Am I Boring My Dog? And 99 other things every dog wishes you knew
A book for the dog lover in your family.
We’re talking about the TRAVELING dog lover in your family, too, because the entire 8th chapter is devoted to tips for travel with your dog.
If you have not yet stumbled upon the delightfully funny and educational blog, Will My Dog Hate Me?, you might want to drop in there to get a flavor of the kind of well-researched but entertainingly presented information in Am I Boring My Dog?. Edie Jarolim, veteran travel writer, hesitantly adopted a dog from a friend who is a dog rescuer, even though she was wracked with worries. How do I know if I’ll be able to take care of a dog? How do I know what to feed it? How do I know when it needs a veterinarian? Will it hate me?
She did what writers do, she researched the heck out of her questions and then put the whole thing in a book to help other people. Am I Boring My Dog lists for $15.00.
9. Electronic Reader: Kindle or Nook
There I said it. Electronic reader.
Now, before some of us are even through debating “paper or electrons” we have a choice of delivery systems. Will it be Kindle By Amazon or Nook by Barnes and Noble? (Will the next one come right out with it and be called “Cozy”?) I refuse to enter the shootout and pick one right now, but here are some reviews that may help you decide.[December 2018 note: Of course this information is outdated, but this gives you a starting point.]
Disclaimers: Publishers furnished me with review copies of USA and Great Discoveries. The manufacturers of Periscope and Select Wisely supplied me with sample products for review. The publisher of Dream of Italy has supplied me with a year-long subscription to her magazine.