American travelers don’t sit down and take the pandemic.
They show an increased interest in hiking, biking, and other outdoor excursions.
Even respected 94-year-old wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough visited the great outdoors during the pandemic.
In a recent 60-minute interview, Attenborough states that “people who have never heard a bird’s song suddenly become excited, excited, supported and inspired by nature”.
And outdoor escapes as easy as a long walk seem to be accompanied by another basic requirement: the travel guide.
Sales of hiking and camping guides have increased, consumer analysts say.
“It’s been a very, very good summer for road trips, camping, driving, and traveling at home,” said Kristen McLean, industry analyst at NPD Books who monitors retail trends.
Overall, tour guide sales are declining with essentially no European and global travel for Americans, says McLean, speaking by phone from her Miami office. However, she says, “Maps and atlases have sold well,” as have guides at parks, campsites, hiking, ecotourism, and family trips this year. Other retail trends give a clue as to where these brand new cards could be Covid-era leading travelers. For example, sales of hiking boots have increased by 10%, according to NPD data.
According to the NPD BookScan list, “The Camping Logbook” and the “SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Survival Anywhere” were among the top-selling travel titles in the US through mid-September.
At Field Notes, the Chicago-based maker of notebooks and related stationery, President Jim Coudal says the three-packs of National Parks notebooks “got out of here in March.
“I think a lot of people have planned, taken, or dreamed of road trips while they were stuck in their home. I know I have. “
Veteran long-distance hiker Barney Scout Mann, whose Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail was just published by Mountaineers Books, says we were already in a nascent golden age of hiking when everything changed. “Covid-19 just hit the afterburner on an already fast moving jet,” he says.
Mann refers to figures from the American Hiking Society, which show that in 2013 34 million Americans hiked and 9 million backpackers.
“Walking is the most natural thing we do,” says Mann.
And right now it can also be the safest. As Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, suggested on CNN just before Labor Day weekend, “Get on a trail; breathe the fresh air. “
Many seem to Dr. Faucis Rx to follow.
US travel guides have been selling well in the past few months, according to Max Phelps, outdoor sales director for the National Book Network, which sells Falcon Guides.
Phelps, working via email, writes, “Information on regional destinations that are accessible by car and where social distancing is less or no problem is currently of considerable interest.”
Falcon Guide buyers have shown particular interest in mountain towns in the Rockies, particularly the northern Rockies, and Maine.
At Book Beat, an independent bookseller in suburban Detroit, co-owner Colleen Kammer says employees have seen a similar increase.
“In late August, before Labor Day, people wanted books on the Upper Peninsula,” says Kammer, referring to Michigan’s sparsely populated northern areas, a place of natural beauty.
Such travel guides are not exactly Somerset Maugham, but they long for wide horizons and follow in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, whose essay “Walking” was published in 1862. Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was made a hit; and Robert Taylor, the first African American to hike both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails.
The urge to explore is ancient. And rare and antique travel guides are becoming increasingly popular, says Lucinda Boyle, travel specialist and shop manager at Shapero Rare Books in London, via email.
“I always take a few printed travel guides with me when I travel, an old one for history and a new one for current cultural information,” she says. “My personal favorite is the Baedeker range of manuals.”
Baedeker’s famous travel guides were founded by Karl Baedeker in 1827 and published by four generations of his family. They covered dozen of countries in three languages. Baedeker was taken over by MairDumont, the German travel publishing group, in 1951 and is one of the various brands.
In many ways, ancient travel guides have stood the test of time – even during this strange period.
A Baedeker travel guide to Canada published in 1907 provides inspiration for contemporary travelers looking for fresh air.
The sports section of the guide introduces the snowshoe clubs of Canadian cities, each of which wears the distinctive uniform of a brightly colored blanket coat. Snowshoe hikers, it is said, “to trudge across the snow on a clear, moonlit night … is an extremely attractive sight.”