In his role as publisher of multiple major magazine titles, Michael Clinton has had plenty of opportunity to indulge his enthusiasm for travel. Having traversed the planet many times, Clinton details his decades of experiences in a series of short essays in The Globetrotter Diaries – Tales, tips and tactics for traveling the 7 continents. Part travel tales, part adventure, part sumptuous imagery and part helpful hints, Clinton’s essays capture the sheer joy of travel and his boundless energy and enthusiasm for different cultures, exotic locations and fascinating ways of life.
All less than ten pages in length, Clinton’s diverse diary entries cover all seven continents varying from his first backpacking ventures in Europe to times in Paris to meet the executive of some of the world’s leading luxury brands. In an easy-to-read, engaging and relaxed tone, Clinton’s essays cover both the familiar – Paris, New York, Rome – and the less known – Antarctica, Iceland, Argentina and Namibia. Some travel is undertaken in high levels of comfort while others involve climbing Ben Nevis (Scotland), running a marathon in Buenos Aires, clambering stairs to a Bhutanese monastery or wandering the wilds of the Mekong River (Cambodia/Vietnam) on a small boat. Each capture a delightful essence of a city or region and even the most familiar places include tips for hidden nooks off the standard tourist trails or little jewels of advice to maximise a travel experience.
Clinton’s best writing is in places removed from our familiar western culture – Africa, Asia, Antarctica and South America. In Africa (“the place where you can see mankind in a different way”), Clinton is mesmerised by large groups of elephants and struggles up the challenging Kilimanjaro. Clinton describes “the experience of watching the world in transition yet again” when writing of China and south-east Asia, contrasting the traditional villages and values with the progress of the modern world on historic cities in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are seen as lively nations emerging into a new world, Clinton notes the dramatic changes after separation from the Soviet times ”that a free people can create miracles for themselves”.
In discovering Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow are included as the major cities but the heart and rich cultural history of Scotland is only truly captured when Clinton climbs Ben Nevis and ventures to the highlands and islands. “My first action upon arrival on the Isle of Skye was to breathe. It just seemed …the purest air on earth”.
Clinton loves Nepal describing it as “a purely indigenous place” never having been dominated by a foreign power (unlike most countries on Earth). His Nepalese ventures lead to an imagery-laden chapter covering a Hindu cremation, Kathmandu temples, trekking the Himalaya and exploring Chitwan National Park.
The book includes forty to fifty crisp black and white plates which add to the rich imagery of Clinton’s writing – the stark ghost-like tree trunks in the Namibian desert, the icy magic of an Antarctic iceberg, a Bhutanese monastery perched precariously on a cliffside and a sole farmhouse on a bare Icelandic wilderness.
Additionally, along with personal travel ventures are a handful of essays filled with Clinton’s advice gathered from year’s of travel experience– the best places for New Year’s Eve, what to do when stranded at an airport, adding personal travel to any business trip and filling in time on long-haul flights.
Ten or so close colleagues and super-experienced travelers have included their favourite five travel tips – some a little trite but intermixed with some true gems.
The book can be read as a series of essays or referenced for a single article on a specific location. It indulges a deep passion for travel. “Travel is intoxicating. Having the privilege of seeing the world and making it a life priority will expose you to things that will change your perspective and give you memories that will serve you for a lifetime”. I highly commend the magical mystery tour that is The Globetrotting Diaries.