Off the Map – Dreams and Magic

23 January 2012 in Reviews, Traveling


Lately when I wake up, my new favorite thing to do is drink a cup of coffee and read by the window. Dan insisted that I read Off the Map, saying that it was a good book and that I would really like this one since I have been enjoying travel books.

Off the Map is a true story about two good friends, Hib and Kika, that bought one-way tickets to Europe and were planning on spending their summer traveling before settling down in Prague and Barcelona. They would travel all over Europe hitchhiking their way from city to city, country to country, with all of what they owned on their backs. Their goal was to prove to themselves that it was possible to make their dreams come true on their own terms, without using other people’s maps, money or clocks. They would stay in squats, empty buildings, bushes, fields and at the houses of friends they made along the way. They would spend a little time helping out at a Bed and Breakfast in exchange for a place to stay. Then they would hitchhike on to the next city or country looking for another squat to stay at. For those who don’t know. A squat is a reclaimed abandoned building where people attempt to make use of an otherwise wasted structure. Some of the squats they encountered were really nice and organized like a community and others were dirty, crusted with layers of filth and broken glass with not much of community except for putting on shows.

This book was very inspirational in many ways. They talk about living their dreams and being dreamers, doing what makes you happy and how magical the world around you can be. The people that helped them get to where they needed to go, the people that helped them find something to eat, the people that put a roof over their heads when they couldn’t find a place to stay on their own, were so grateful to help them out. They didn’t judge them or ignore them even though they were days over due for showers and may have seemed intimidating by their looks. This makes me look at my own life and think about how many times I should’ve helped someone that needed it but just smiled and walked past. I know I can’t help out the whole world or everyone that needs something, but I can do my best to be a good person. I also admired them for backpacking and staying in squats or abandoned buildings, fields or whatever. It is all about the adventure and living in the moment. They could’ve stayed in hotels and rode in cabs but chose a “street rat life”. A good quote is, “So why am I living this life of self-imposed exile? Because you get what you pay for. Pay a lot and you get an expensive life. Take what’s free, and you get freedom.”

Another book I recommend reading. Thanks Dan.

Dan here. I read the book along with Lindsay. Literally, right over her shoulder. She is such a slow reader! Obviously I’m kidding, but we did hand it back and forth over the course of a week. I had read the book once before and that’s why I recommended it to Lindsay, but I only recalled it as a travel journal. Upon reading it again I found it to be so much more. The writing is well crafted, whimsical and at many points philosophical. I feel I have found another pair of kindred spirits who find no purpose or reason in abandoning their dreams. They, like us, have lifted the vail of both self and societally imposed restrictions of what, as adults we’re allowed to do. There is so much pressure to go with the flow – get married, buy a house, have children, stick to a career path or a job, and set what little is left of your income aside for retirement. Only then can we openly and honestly pursue our dreams and passions. For some this adds up, makes sense and is a path to fulfillment. But for others like Lindsay and I, we prefer the unconventional method of pursuing our dreams and passions now. Like the authors we’ll gladly abandon comfort and security for adventure and new experiences. At first this can seem a ridiculous and impractical notion, but put into practice we’ve found in the long list you make of things you believe you can’t live without you end up missing nothing. We only miss the people we had to leave behind.

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23 January 2012 Reviews, Traveling

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