Book review of Clean Breaks by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith

If you’ve ever travelled yet felt you didn’t quite get the best out of a place, then Clean Breaks, by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith, will open your eyes to a different way to travel. This book’s for anyone who had a packaged holiday experience or spent a long weekend ticking off the ‘must-see’ sights, only to feel vaguely dis-satisfied. It’s for all you out there who want to leave a small environmental footprint and leave something good behind, whether it’s a local community that’s economically stronger or a smile on the face of a new friend.

Experience the world in a new way

Clean breaks is about maximising your experience of the local surroundings, people and culture, while minimising the environmental impact of your stay. The book covers 500 travel experiences, organised into 14 different regions of the world. It’s both a book to dip into for those ‘Where shall we go next?’ moments and also a practical guide to local contacts who can make your Clean Break a reality.

Short experiences to dip into

Most of the experiences are things you can do in a day or two and build into a wider trip. The emphasis is very much on going local and staying in smaller scale accommodation, or with organisations that will benefit the local community. In between the regional sections there are interesting pages on different travel themes, such as travelling by train or cargo ship, or carbon off-setting and eco-labelling.

It would take you a lifetime to experience all the things in this book – I can only assume it’s the by-product of years of travelling by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith and that a great deal of research has gone into finding these wonderful experiences. But even if you try one or two I’m sure you’ll come back feeling inspired.

Here are some of the travel experiences featured that took my fancy;

Tannourine Cedar Reserve on the Lebanon Mountain Trail

Tannourine Cedar Reserve on the Lebanon Mountain Trail

Lebanon – a long walk through the mountains of Lebanon

This was something I got a taste of when I spent a day treking in Lebanon earlier this year. If I went back, I’d definitely want to walk at least some of the Lebanon Mountain Trail that runs from North to South of the country. You will pass through rural mountain areas, valleys with orchards of fruit trees and stay in the homes of local village families. For more information see the Lebanon Trail Website.

Brazil – Learn to dance in Rio de Janeiro

Staying in locally run guest houses, you’ll spend your days learning how to dance the different styles of Samba and other dances from ball-room to funk. Then spend the nights putting your new moves into practice at local nightclubs where all the best local dancers hang out. The local company that organises the dance break helps to fund a community centre in one of the shanty neighbourhoods of Rio. For more information, contact Jingando Holidays

Trericket Mill Bunkhouse in Wales

Trericket Mill Bunkhouse in Wales

Wales – stay in a Bunkhouse Barns in the Brecon Beacons

The national park of the Brecon Beacons in Wales is a mecca for lovers of the great outdoors, and if you want something more substantial than a damp tent over your head, you can stay in a network of bunkhouse barns. These are normally in restored stone barns or farm buildings with a self-catering kitchen and showers, staying in bunk-bed rooms. I’d love to spend a few days walking from one of these barns to the other taking in the amazing mountain scenery and perhaps taking in a spot of canoeing or climbing at the same time. One of the barns featured where I have stayed and which I’d highly recommend is Trericket Mill near Talgarth. For more information, contact Boots Bikes Bunkhouses or read more about our stay there here.

South Africa – Ride a bike in a township

Take a bike tour round Masiphumelele Township visiting the creche, craft shops and healer before finishing with lunch in the home of one of the local women. The money from the cycle tours goes to support a bike workshop which provides and repairs bikes for the community. For more information contact Adventure Without Limits.

I’m sorely tempted to keep this book for myself, as there are so many great ideas in here that I’d like to try. It’s the sort of book you can refer to time and again when you’re planning a trip to add that extra magic to your travels, and it would be a great gift for any traveller, especially one with an environmental conscience (I hope that’s most of us these days). However, it will be going out to one of you and if you’d like to enter the draw, just leave me a comment.

Many Thanks to all of you who left comments.

You can buy Clean Breaks, by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith from Amazon and all good book shops

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  • Reply
    October 7, 2009 at 2:42 am

    What a great idea for a book! I certainly would be interested in winning this one, since my entire travel philosophy is built around not worrying about the must-sees (for example, it troubles my mind not at all that I didn’t take my kids to the Louvre when we were in Paris last summer).

  • Reply
    Mark H
    October 7, 2009 at 3:37 am

    What an excellent concept for a book. I have always subscribed to the philosophy that you should leave any place that you visit in some way better than when you arrived. It seems that the authors live that idea in full. They also probably have a better understanding of a place that they visit than by simply seeing the must-dos.

  • Reply
    Fly Girl
    October 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    This is exactly the kind of travel that I enjoy the most. I like to feel connected to a community and benefit them in some way. What a timely book topic, it connects with the whole eco-awareness and sustainable tourism trend. I’ve actually experienced the Rio idea, although not in an organized tour.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Sounds like my kind of holiday. Thanks for enlightening me that this concept exists 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I really like the idea of traveling “green;” I’ll have to pick up a copy of the book.

  • Reply
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