Eat. Pray. Love. Plus 3 Other Books That Inspired Our Transformational Travel

by Janis on August 13, 2010

The new movie, Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts opens in theaters today. We will see the movie, but I have mixed feelings about a Hollywood interpretation of a book that inspired following long-held dream – quitting our jobs and traveling without a plan.

After reading an excerpt in the O, the Oprah magazine, I bought Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia in early 2006, devouring Elizabeth Gilbert’s story of a year-long travels and search for life answers in Italy, India and Bali. The book sucked me in. Unable to put it down, I read it cover to cover in one Saturday. The idea of using travel to transform one’s life from one period to another was compelling, and a reminder of a dream.

The “Traveling Jones” set sail from New York for a European summer adventure

The “Traveling Jones” set sail from New York for a European summer adventure

Within a year, we had given notice at our jobs, without knowing where or when we would land work again. Over a four-month period, we sold, gave away, threw away or stored our belongings, and then flew to New York, to sail to Europe. We set up this blog, and made our budget last for nearly five months of European exploration, from the Black Sea to the Polar Ice Cap. More on that here.

While Eat. Pray. Love. was the most recent inspiration for our transformational travel journey, it was not the first. The book joined other favorites on our bookshelves.

First, there was First We Quit Our Jobs: How One Work Driven Couple Got on the Road to a New Life by Marilyn J. Abraham. Having traveled to Alaska for the first time in 1996 and then later the same year meeting Jeff, who was born and raised in Alaska but living in San Francisco, I was particularly intrigued by the travels of these career-driven New Yorkers who quit their jobs and travel across Canada to Alaska and back through the southern and midwestern  states in a twenty-nine-foot Winnebago named “Sue.”

Then, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Running Away from Home: Making a New Life Abroad, by Rosanne Knorr. This was a “how-to” guide for mid-life escapes to foreign countries. It covers all subjects from “The Psyche Behind the Escapee” to “How to Pay for your Getaway” to “Safeguarding Your Health Overseas.”

This practical guide always made such an adventure seem doable and responsible.

In 1999,  just as the Dot-Com Boom was reaching its craziest peak in San Francisco, Bay-area Marin county resident David Elliot Cohen published ONE YEAR OFF: Leaving It All Behind for A Round-the-World Journey with Our Children.

One day we realized one day that we would never be able to afford Russian Hill view condo, and leaving it all behind for world travels and new adventures might not be a bad plan.

Instead, we moved to the Seattle suburbs and bought a home, selling it four years later for a high-rise apartment in downtown Seattle.

And when Eat, Pray, Love came along, it was compelling reading — re-stimulating a desire to break away from life’s daily beat – and seek out a new adventure.

Transformation travel, as we called it, didn’t completely change our lives. But it led to new cities, new jobs, this blog, and lifelong memories. As well as fueling – rather than dampening – our quest for exploring more of the world.

Has a book impacted your travels or given you travel inspiration? Please share in comments.

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