ALL POSTS IN [Travel Books]

Reese Witherspoon stars in film adaption of Cheryl Strayed's Wild memoir.

Reese Witherspoon stars in film adaption of Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ memoir. Fox Searchlight

Don’t walk alone. It’s a familiar warning for all travelers heading into dangerous, crime-ravaged countries — and for female travelers when they go … well, anywhere after sundown. Cheryl Strayed makes a daring move by walking alone somewhere dark, terrifying and ultimately unknown: the wilderness.

From the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, all the way up to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington state — a full 1,100 miles — Strayed hikes solo in her best-selling, Oprah-approved memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. And now, only 2 years after the book was published and then translated into 30 different languages, her words come to life on the big screen in the highly anticipated film Wild. Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon loved the story so much that she not only signed on to play Strayed, but she also is a co-producer after optioning the film even before the book’s release.

Hollywood stars aren’t the only ones attempting to re-create her journey; throngs of fans inspired by Strayed’s story are hitting the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the country’s longest and wildest thru-hikes, in record numbers. The Pacific Crest Trail Association is embracing the growing interest — about a 30% increase in the number of hikers this year alone — by sharing Strayed’s exact route and inspiring Wild stories.

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Whether you’re headed to the beach or are just lounging in your backyard hammock, summer is the perfect time to escape with a good book. Our summer reading list includes quintessential steamy beach reads and quirky family memoirs, but all of our picks also have us wanting to pack our bags for summer vacations of our own — from sexy Spanish beaches to the wild Amazon rainforest.

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Andrew McCarthy (not taking a taxi) in Canoa Quabrada, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Andrew McCarthy

We (ahem, me) all fell for Andrew McCarthy onscreen in ’80s classics such as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, as he often played the sensitive, pensive and soulful guy. These days, in reading Andrew’s travel memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, it isn’t hard to see him again as that same thoughtful and conflicted drifter.

Living a life in Hollywood’s shadow hasn’t made Andrew any less relatable as the characters he often played onscreen in his younger years. He is just like us: vulnerable, fearful at times, and looking to escape to a place, at least for a moment or two, where “no one knows who you are or where you are.” He’s the guy you could find yourself sitting across from on a train and talking with for hours about travel.

I did get to talk to Andrew about travel, maybe not on a train, but on the phone while he was at home briefly in New York. Find out how Andrew changed his label of “Brat Pack” actor and “‘80s heartthrob” to New York Times best-selling travel author and National Geographic Traveler editor-at-large. Plus, learn what his travel fears are … and why he hates travel stories that involve taxis.

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