A Bad Case of The Travel Bug

Book Title/Author: 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the Word by John Higham

Publisher/Year Published: Alyson Books 2009

How my grubby hands got a hold of this book: I won this via a giveaway on Goodreads.

Why I read this book: If I’m not traveling myself, I won’t pass up a chance to live vicariously through others whilst they are having a journey of a lifetime.

One thing you should probably know about me before I proceed with my review. I suffer from wanderlust, the travel bug, or whatever name you feel compelled to call it. If I could explore the world for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy camper. That being said, you can imagine how giddy I was when this book showed up in my mailbox. I immediately got the goosebumps like I do before I travel caused by that feeling of exploring the unknown and the thrill that there may be an adventure in your immediate future.

I started this book and within a page or so I already had one question. Can I join this family? I mean, for real, this family is kickass. They spend 10 years meticulously planning and saving up for this “World-the-Round trip” (and yes, that’s World the Round) in which they will travel around the world for 52 weeks with their two children that are 8 and 11. That would be enough to make most parents break out in a sweat and bring them to their knees with anxiety. And did I mention that for a good chunk of this time they will be cycling via tandem bikes from London to Istanbul with children and luggage in tow?

This decently thick travelogue is set up like an itinerary with excerpts of the family’s personal journal entries placed in various parts of the stories. There are also added goodies that were included. The book is set up so that at different points you will come to a place where you an go on to Google Earth to visually be a part of their trip. You’ll see pictures, videos, and additional text. I found myself checking out a few of them (and will probably check out more at some point) but found it a little distracting while reading to stop and get on my computer. And the likelihood of someone reading this all in front of a computer is pretty slim. Really cool feature to the book but the novelty wears off after awhile.

Anyways, this book is exceptional. I mean it. The Higham family adventure is one of the best vacations I’ve had from the comfort of my plush little chair. John Higham carefully creates a scrapbooks of sorts as he balances recounting the sights and the scenery (and some interesting facts along the way!) with the family’s personal thoughts and experiences as they face the unknown and explore some of the most beautiful places in the world. He touches delicately on the frustrations and annoyances in traveling with one’s family (such as how two adults can have alone time??) and shares the joys of experiencing the world and growing together as a family. Alot of travelogues I’ve read drag in places but he really knows when not to linger on one country for too long and how to balance reflection, descriptions of people and scenery, and insights on history and culture.

Whether he is describing eating ham sandwiches for months, the challenge of “luggage Tetris,” or homeschooling kids on the road–be prepared to experience the good humor that the family maintains throughout. I’m not sure I could find the humor in French campgrounds with no toilet paper or being stranded in remote places. But somehow this family is able to face defeat, give it a swift blow to the groin and keep on pedaling through some of the biggest hurdles and trials that one could face whilst traveling.

The best part about this book, for me, is that this family seems to be navigating by the same principle of travel that I believe in. Traveling is so much more than snapping photographs in front of historic sites and staying in posh hotels. True, those are all elements that can make a great trip, but traveling is really about the rich experiences with other cultures and viewing the world as one gigantic classroom. It’s, as John Higham points out, “about discovering how people all over the world are similar, yet different in profoundly subtle ways, and how because of those very differences we were always able to find something to eat, something to wear, and somewhere to sleep.”

It helps you to realize that at the end of the day “humankind in all its wonderful weirdness is the same all over the planet.”


*This is being reposted as it didn’t make it’s way over from Blogger in the move*

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I love to travel and always longed to travel this way but it scares me too much. I have to know where I’m going when and where I’m going to sleep or I freak! Not very adventurous, I know.

    Luggage Tetris. Hee Hee. Yep, we’ve all been there!

    • Haha sometimes it DOES freak me out too! I understand that. And yes…luggage tetris! When I read that I was like OMG PERFECT TERM FOR IT!!

  2. Sounds like such an incredible read. I love traveling but I don’t think I’d ever be able to plan for 10 years towards a trip, I’d be too impatient. The family sounds like a wondrous bunch of people to spend time with and kick back, relax, go around the world with, have laughs; I just want to pick up the book now and feel it for myself. Wonderful review!

    • Haha right? It would be such a long wait!! I think about ten years of my life and wow..yeah that’s a lot of time! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Like you, I love to travel. And when I’m not lucky enough to be traveling, I like to read books that transport me. Good travel writing is fairly easy to find. Truly excellent travel writing is a rare thing, but I’m about to special order this book for myself because it sounds like we have similar tastes when it comes to travel lit. Thanks for this review!

    • Oh yay!! I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think when you finish. And I so agree with you…I tend to find good travel writing but it’s so hard to find that WOW travel writing.

  4. I have this one on my shelf! I usually get the travel blog around this time and try to satiate it with books because, though I really do want to travel, it’s expensive (of course) and I’m a homebody who needs a crowbar to be pried out of my house. I’m reading this today!

    • I hate how expensive travel is1! That and barely any PTO is what keeps me from doing all the travel I want to do. THANK GOODNESS FOR BOOKS!

  5. I love to travel and I love books about other people travelling and going off and having adventures – this sounds like a great book!

    • Travelogue and books about travel/road trips really are just so great to me! If I can’t have an adventure myself, might as well read about one until I can!

  6. I will have to read this. I love memoirs and travelogues also. That is a fascinating way to travel the world on a bicycle.

    • I couldn’t believe that they did it with small children! Any other good travelogues you’ve read and would recommend??

  7. O.M.G. This book sounds absolutely perfect for me because, like you, I LOVE to travel. I definitely want to give this one a read – and hopefully go on a similar trip around the world with my family one day!

  8. Anne Sabol says:

    I love traveling and travel writers, Peter Alison is my favorite though.