Exploring Books

A Passion for Travel

By Kevin Wierzbicki  |  Photography Credits: Book cover – Peter Parkorr. Author in London – Margarita Samsonova.
Author in Malawi – Courtesy of Sabina Trojanova.

The American South is high on the travel list in this new book that explores unforgettable destinations.

​When Sabina Trojanova’s parents took their baby daughter on her first family vacation, they had no idea that they were also giving the toddler her initial taste of what would become a lifelong passion as well as a vocation. Trojanova is now a successful travel writer and photographer, blogger, and author of the new book “#Wanderlust: The World’s 500 Most Unforgettable Travel Destinations.”

“I’m very fortunate to have parents who’ve always prioritized travel,” Trojanova says. “I wasn’t even two years old when I first set foot on a plane on a trip to Mallorca. Our family holidays set the stage for my future career by showing me that the world isn’t a scary place and there are kind people everywhere.”

​Of course, it took a while before young Sabina could fully grasp the passion that was developing inside her. “I really caught the travel bug when I started exploring on my own,” Trojanova explains. “I moved to London (from her native Czech Republic) when I was 17, then to Moscow two years later, closely followed by Beijing, and it snowballed from there.”

By now that snowball has rolled all over the place, including the 500 global destinations that Trojanova highlights in “#Wanderlust.” She’s able to write about so many places in the book because each destination is described in a brief vignette that’s accompanied by a photo, taken either by Trojanova herself or one of her Instagram pals.

Broken into chapters including those focusing on beach escapes, cultural immersions, urban jungles, and postcards from the edge, “#Wanderlust” has plenty to offer foodies, art and music lovers, train lovers, and adventurers of all sorts. It is a drool-worthy collection meant to pique interest in places like Belarus, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Bolivia, and hundreds of places in between.

One of the destinations that Trojanova features in “#Wanderlust” will especially resonate with DeSoto Magazine readers.

“Memphis is one of my favorite cities in the American South,” Trojanova enthuses. “I went on a road trip back in 2017 visiting Nashville, New Orleans, and Birmingham, and I have fond memories of the region. I was in Memphis during the Beale Street Music Festival and enjoyed exploring the city’s musical history by visiting places like Sun Studios and Graceland.”

​Trojanova says her favorite part of Memphis, however, was the Cooper-Young neighborhood with its diverse population, street art, and incredible restaurants. The Beauty Shop restaurant and Café Ole with its live music and inexpensive Bloody Marias both were mentioned in the book.

​New Orleans and Nashville both get some love in “#Wanderlust,” as do Gatlinburg and Charleston.

As to all of the exciting and exotic destinations that Trojanova covers in “#Wanderlust,” the African nation of Malawi is especially dear to her. “I’ve traveled quite extensively around East Africa over the course of six months,” she says.

​The natural beauty of the region — from the lush forests of Uganda and Tanzania’s sandy coastline to the rugged Ethiopian Highlands — stole Trojanova’s heart.

“I ended up extending my stay there by a full month,” she says. “Not only is Malawi stunning with waterfalls, lakeside beaches, and lots of greenery, but the locals are also extremely welcoming. The country also attracts a very laid-back and adventurous travel crowd so you get to meet many interesting people while there. I’m actually organizing a group trip to Malawi in 2022.”

One thing about “#Wanderlust” is that its text goes beyond “see this, do that.” One chapter where Trojanova offers some really valuable advice is the section on volunteer travel.

​“Voluntourism is a contentious subject and rightly so,” Trojanova states. “There are many ways of getting it wrong and unwittingly causing more harm than good. The volunteering chapter comes with a short guide on how to avoid this, but it’s a topic that requires a fair bit of consideration.”

She tells volunteers to contribute value and not to perform tasks that can be done by skilled locals. Her tips also include avoiding short-term work stints with children and other vulnerable individuals.

​“The best place to volunteer depends on your particular skillset,” she says. “Personally, I like to offer my photography skills and social media expertise, training that can benefit organizations long after I’m gone.”

Trojanova likes to give back, wherever she might be hanging her hat. She’s run a women’s space at a refugee camp in Greece and has recently worked in her adopted hometown of London helping to find new career opportunities for homeless Londoners. She tries to center much of her traveling around learning from people of other cultures.

​Able to speak seven languages, she still runs into language barriers occasionally, but she finds that a language barrier may really be something else. “Often they’re cultural barriers disguised as language barriers, things lost in translation despite everyone using the right words.”

And about the word “unforgettable” in the book title, Trojanova says, “Not a single one of the countries I’ve visited was what I expected it to be! No matter how much you read about a country or how many pictures you see, every country will find a way of surprising you.”

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