When not out and about in the world, I am a modern armchair traveler—vicariously visiting the corners of the planet online. I’ve spent whole evenings in South America via GoogleEarth on my iTouch; am addicted to the TravelandLeisure.com and NYTimes.com slideshows; and check in on my bookmarked travel blogs with religious regularity.
Right now, TheAccidentalExtremist.com, a collection of tales of trips gone bad (or somewhat awry) by writers both amateur and celebrated, curated by adventure writer Christian DeBenedetti (with whom I worked at National Geographic Adventure magazine), has me hooked.
DeBenedetti, who launched the website in January 2009, has a knack for picking stories that make you feel like your super-cool best friend just returned from the most amazing—and harrowing—trip and is telling you all about it, down to the most intriguing detail, over a delicious craft beer (another area of DeBenedetti’s expertise).
I love that traveler-writer Rachel Robert’s struggles with her "FOMS" (Fear Of Missing Something); in “Beetle Bedlam,” she bargains emotionally with herself about whether to continue on a trecherous Croatian mountain road in a barely functional, glittery purple VW Beetle. I also couldn’t stop reading Brad Wetzler’s account of hanging with hobbyist hobos and eating too much sausage in the Czech Republic, and was touched by Graham Markel’s slightly disturbing story of cliff jumping in Thailand. I haven’t read every entry, because I'm saving some for later.
Laura Teusink is the associate managing editor at Travel + Leisure.