Fathom Founders Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba teamed up during the pandemic to write their second travel book.
MORE THAN A TRAVEL BOOK
By Cassandra Csencsitz
Anyone seeking a dose of American pride need look no further than the pages of Travel North America (and Avoid Being a Tourist) by the founders of Fathom, Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati. Offering "travel trends and destination inspiration for the modern adventurer," it is equal parts travel book and guide to life, a where's-where of our rich continent woven with an urgent call to exist "more responsibly, sustainably, and gently." Taken together it is a most hopeful and moving portrait of the magic and majesty of our country that feels timely indeed.
And as travel books go, it is anything but traditional, organized by how we think about travel instead the usual checklists that can now be searched exhaustively online. You might research by season, interest, or emotion—your current craving for nature, art, or a slower pace—discovering our country and yourself as you read. With a focus on eco-travel, the book itself is a sustainable effort, earning a foreseeable place on the shelf instead of disposable yearly guides.
So whether you are making your travel comeback this or next year, or even managed some adventures in lockdown, the pages of this book are a virtual road trip that, on the heels of our global pandemic and domestic tumult of recent years, should stir welcome feelings of pride. For the natural world we have to celebrate and protect, for the gentle souls behind our human feats that create the best of American culture.
Enjoy this glimpse of our country's better angels, and Happy Fourth of July!
All Senses Go: Travel After COVID Is Alive
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then there's nothing like a lockdown to make us long for travel with outsized emotions—reassessing our priorities and renewing our vows to cherish every trip. As we step from our homes like Dorothy into Oz, whether we are taking mini nearcations or tackling our furthest-flung dreams without further delay, we have all learned what travel means to us and are likely reexamining how we will spend every second of our precious future vacations.
Jeralyn and Pavia beautifully summarize Fathom's enduring travel philosophy in their book's introduction:
"A decade ago, Fathom made its internet debut. We seeded our travel website with a few personal stories...What made these stories Fathom stories? Well, they were all rooted in discovery and serendipity and offered a quirky alternative to the straightforward, envy-inducing travel writing and glossy luxury hotel coverage that dominated travel media at the time. Many of the ideas and the situations that inspired us—slow travel, wellness travel, multigenerational travel, going off-grid—never felt like trends; they just felt right. What was personal for us turned out to resonate with many others who also found that DIY, custom-made travel was a fun, cool, and thrilling way to explore near and far. It turns out your instinct and curiosity are usually better guides than Google spreadsheets and someone else's checklist."
Reframing Travel: A Continental Shift
Change is slow, and changing a worldview is seismic. With Travel North America, the second in their Avoid Being a Tourist series, Fathom emerges as a leader in how the world should and will travel. While keeping the tone light, their commitment to mindful travel is restated throughout the book's pages, noting as many cultural and philanthropic institutions as top stops for food, drink, and pampering. In Fathom's smart and stylish footsteps, going anywhere interesting and thoughtful becomes sexy—from lesser-known destinations to noteworthy Human Rights Centers.
Reading this book felt intuitive, like a road-trip itself, with discoveries stumbled upon as you traverse the continent in a single page. And with writing that thrusts you into the scenery, you are going to wear out your pen noting places you just have to go—and your brain prioritizing when! Take this on the Catskill Mountains of New York:
"The scene: solitude and fresh mountain air. Fill up a thermos, stoke the firepit, and take a seat in an Adirondack chair outside one of the beautifully minimalist two- and four-person A-frame cabins at Eastwind in Upstate New York."
Paired with vivid photography, hundreds of descriptions inspire respect for the vast industry and determined individuals behind these extraordinary places. And alongside all this poetic inspiration, the book is packed with helpful outside-the-box lists of "Essential Travel Tips and Hacks." Might we say that "Look Nice When You Travel" and "Make Your Luggage Stand Out" are among our favorite bits of their advice?
Alongside her newest of three, co-founder Jeralyn Gerba, whom we featured personally last summer, takes a cue from Wordsworth in this field of yellow.
New vs. Nostalgic: Where On Earth to Begin?
With a pent up year+ of travel and all the attending dreams, where to go first is a very difficult choice indeed. While many of you reading this have doubtless made those first travel decisions—likely starting with friend and family reunions—it's a joyful thought experiment and one this book lends itself to well. I love indexes, and because the book isn't organized by place, the index is an easy way to zero in on your prospective destinations both near and far from home. I recommend a healthy supply of Post-its and using the index to flag pages on everywhere you long to revisit and those that have been on your travel wish list. In doing so you will make many new discoveries between.
Unless you have the luxury of traveling for a living or make the best of frequent work travel, yours will be a lifelong balance of going places you've never been and revisiting beloved places from your past. Wherever may be far and dear to you, this book is like a compass that will nudge you in the right direction, no matter where you go first.
IN THE NAME OF THOUGHTFULNESS
From putting you in the shoes of more mature travel companions to reminding us to be aware of imbalanced trip planning contributions in group travel, a non-preachy but persistent refrain throughout Travel North America is to simply be more aware of others—of all others. Dreaming more broadly, I couldn't help but note this ethos as the key to not only making America actually great again, but ushering in a new era of globalism. To read this book is to meditate on more than how you want to travel, but how you want to live. With travel as a mindset for daily life, being able to cultivate more thoughtful behaviors when traveling always proves you can do it at home.
With extensive recommendations from scenic hikes to stylish hotels for every budget (and bandwidth), this book shines brightest when delivering on its goal to help us think differently about travel in deeper ways, as a new form of escapism. What if our lessons of the past year really stayed with us, translating into rewired thoughts and behaviors for the long-term better of ourselves and our planet? Spreads on 'Gardens of Contemplation" and "Giving Back," among others, make it clear that you can have your fun and grow meaningfully, too.
To travel right now is like the new Mastercard Priceless campaign, a giddy reengagement with smiles and skin through handshakes, hugs, and cheek kisses. Sure, we're all still a bit dodgy and protective of our own dance space, but as someone who has made her travel comeback, I promise you do not want to miss this chance to rub shoulders with the first wave of post-pandemic pilgrims rediscovering the world.
So don't let rumors of soaring fares and spare bookings deter you from traveling this year. As the pages of Travel North America demonstrate, there is someplace for everyone at every time of year. And if you haven't booked your travel comeback, first buy this wonderful book, then fire up your search engines or play "spin the globe," and find the lucky place you will always remember as your first trip back to the world.
After our collective year less travelled, Jeralyn finds her way.
FATHOM + STEAMLINE
We are grateful for our friendship with Fathom since they first covered our founder's slow stay in Sri Lanka of 2018 and Kenya in 2019. And just last month, we were delighted to collaborate for a giveaway of our Hunter Green Vanity and their new book, pictured here alongside our own Travel Journal.