Book Review · Books

Overland: Travelling with No Plan by Richard Kaufmann [BOOK REVIEW]

Overland: Travelling with No Plan by Richard Kaufmann [BOOK REVIEW] 

Honestly, I can’t recommend Overland enough, if you love to travel!

Reading Overland was an adventure in itself for me, because of multiple reasons, which I will explore in more detail below. Reading Overland in the way I did made me experience this book in the most adventurous way and understand the points it makes so much better. 

About The Book:

Overland: Travelling with No Plan by Richard Kaufmann [BOOK REVIEW] 

Honestly, I can’t recommend Overland enough, if you love to travel!

Pages: 222

Genre: Travel, Nonfiction

Publisher: Raz el Hanout

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts:

I am so glad the author, Richard Kaufmann, agreed to send me a copy of this book. The first bit I loved about it was the design. The book cover looks amazing, as well as the pictures inside the book, that give life to the places and characters in the stories. But aside from this, the book also comes with a big map and a postcard, both also looking gorgeous. The map shows the travel lines between major cities and more information about the journeys too. 

“One does not travel in order to arrive, but for the sake of the journey itself.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When I started the book, I was preparing for a holiday. A 2-week road trip to Skopje, Macedonia in a car. According to Google, it takes 26 hours of driving (in one way). I was planning to finish Overland and write the review before we head off. And then the first paragraph of this book changed my plans. If I am about to travel so many hours, Overland would surely be the best choice of book to bring with me.

I am so glad I made that choice, and although this delayed my reading process and review (so sorry, Richard), I will forever cherish the connection this book now has with my road trip. What was supposed to be a “drive to get there” because a road trip in its fullest. My boyfriend and I decided to drive and stop in a lot of places throughout Europe, and explore a little bit of each country before we reach our destination. 

Overland focuses on travelling slowly, mostly using the train as a transport mode.

Richard begins his story by talking about his adventures and why he fell in love with travelling. Going to Morocco with one plan and ending up with a ton of memories, new friendships and stories to tell. Then travelling to Iran via train and meeting Anna, who will later on become his wife. I loved how well described the places and people are in this book. I can feel the culture, I can almost smell the cities. Everytime I read about an adventure, I want to travel and experience that too. 

A very important message that is shared in this book is about how holidays are perceived today by the majority of people. People book a flight, and then wait until they reach the destination for their holiday to start.

“I think that we should free ourselves of the idea that the holiday doesn’t start till we reach our destination, and that the happiness we find there ends with our departure.”

Through the stories in Overland, we can see there is more to travel than the actual destination. Travelling to a certain destination is an adventure in itself. I know my road trip with a car can’t compare with train or bus travels, but I saw so much more out my window than I would have if I was inside a plane. If I was on a plane, I would never have driven past Frankfurt, and seen a bridge above the motorway that happens to be a runway, and actually see a plane taking off right in front of me whilst I was driving. 

The book also explores travelling without a plan, and travelling with as little planning as you can manage. Usually, we are very quick to moan if something we’ve been expecting from our holiday is not there. But what if we don’t have any expectations? What if we just have our destination in mind, and then take things as they come? Imagine all the places you can see, all the new interesting people you may meet. How many adventures have we missed by sticking to our holiday plans? 

I am a very organised person, and having no plans would stress me out immensely. But after reading Richard’s stories, I know it’s possible to plan little to be able to relax, but also leave a lot of free space for memories to just create themselves on their own accord. And that’s where the real fun is. 

Honestly, I can’t recommend Overland enough, if you love to travel!

And even if you don’t, it will prompt you to book your next holiday. It has so many amazing stories that feature slow travel. A lot of tips about the locations, organisation, planning, budgeting, culture, etc. It has amazing quotes, mentions of books, movies, and music. It even has a little bit of petry included, that I quite enjoyed!

About The Author:

Overland: Travelling with No Plan by Richard Kaufmann [BOOK REVIEW] 

Honestly, I can’t recommend Overland enough, if you love to travel!

Richard Kaufmann, born in Dresden in 1985, is a freelance copywriter and author. He gained a BA in International Communication Management in Amsterdam, and after many years in marketing for a range of internet start-ups, made his great journey to Iran in 2014. Back in Berlin, he founded the magazine transform with a series of illustrators, journalists and friends, and then became its editor and director. Today he lives and works in Leipzig.

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Trains always hide special stories

How many memories can one postcard from Scotland bring? How many waves with a hand from the window is this card from /u/DavesCardousel worth?

It reminded me of a trip when I was young. It was 2005, and I was 9 years old. I was going to a summer vacation with my grandparents to their village, Demir Kapija, which is far from Skopje some 110 kms. We were going by train.

I still remember the morning like it was yesterday. A 9-year-old girl, so excited about the summer that’s coming, I was running around the house and smiling, and telling stupid jokes, and telling everyone to hurry up, because we might just miss the train, even though we have probably 6 more hours until then. I couldn’t eat, and I always ate. A lot. Time passed so slowly, and I couldn’t do anything else then wait.

We went there finally, and I saw all the trains arriving and leaving all the time. It was so magical. All the locomotives doing those loud sounds that made me look with my eyes wide open. With my backpack on me, I was running from one side, till the other, catching the looks of people, looking people hugging each other, love birds waving at each other, wet shirts from wiped tears, a lot of promises that they’ll see each other soon. I saw it all. I saw a girl crying because her loved one went with that train. I could see it in her eyes. She hated the train. I know she did. I saw parents hugging each other as they saw their children leave. They hated the train too. Trains often mean goodbye. That’s why we hate them so much. But trains also mean new beginnings. And that is why I love them.

The trip to Demir Kapija was a brand new beginning for me. Three months to a place that I knew, but never spent more that a weekend there. Three months without my parents, and three months without my friends from school. It scared me, a lot, but I knew I’d love it. I sat inside, and there were three girls from abroad, going to Athens. One of them was sleeping, the other one was at the window, waving at people, and the third one I loved the most. She was coloring something in a coloring book. She was so uninterested in the other people. She was lost in her own world, and I saw myself there. I didn’t know much English then, I only knew a couple sentences, so I told her my name and age, and she told me hers too. I asked her in Macedonian if I can color too, and she looked me without being able to understand. I think she saw my eyes sparkling when I looked at the coloring book, so she just handed it to me. I couldn’t describe how happy I was. I started immediately, and lost myself. After a while, I stopped and she was sleeping, so I just putted the coloring book and pencils on the table on the sides, and went to see through the window.

Oh the nature my country hides… The green fields, full with grass, and the yellow fields with corn and wheat. I loved it. I was looking with my eyes wide open, I didn’t want to miss a single thing. Horses eating in the fields, donkeys and cows too. The river Vardar on the side too. I loved the wind going in my face, blowing my hair behind. I laughed so much. And I loved it. I knew then, that this summer would be great.

The girls, I never saw them again. I don’t even remember their names, except for the one with the coloring book. Una or Tuna… I know I might see them again, and never recognize them. And that’s okay. That’s a part of the destiny train trips bring. And that’s why I love them. Because at the end of the day, it’s not the name of the people that matters, but how they made you feel.

David, thank you!