The best travel guides offer truly local insights on the cities or areas they cover, particularly tips on worthwhile places, experiences and events that visitors might otherwise miss. But even the best guides rarely proffer their insights in a memorably charming, humorous and unique way.
However, in this reviewer’s opinion, Traveling Savannah: A Girl’s Guide, a handily pocket-sized new travel guide to Savannah, Georgia by lawyer and Savannah native Meredith Leigh Gaunce, offers just such a blend of local insight and unique charm.
In her one-page introduction, Gaunce explains that she set out to write her guide because she realized that “while there are a myriad of generic Savannah travel books with cool sites and restaurants, there are none geared specifically toward women”. As the back-cover description says, “No boring history in here – just the fun stuff needed to plan the ultimate girls weekend.”
Gaunce has not let any establishments “purchase a spot” in the book, deciding to stick purely to her own personal knowledge of shops, restaurants, events, theaters and spas. As a result, the book is truly an independent travel guide, very much reflecting one woman’s view of her favorite city. But it is important to note that one thing missing in the guide is that it does not feature any reviews of, or tips on, accommodation in Savannah, so if you’re planning to visit the Georgia city, you’ll need to research your accommodation options on the Internet or in another travel guide.
As a man, this reviewer perhaps isn’t the most-qualified person to write about a book written specifically for women. However, he feels the sunny humor, dozens of custom-painted watercolor illustrations and many valuable tips about Savannah that cram Traveling Savannah: A Girl’s Guide make it a worthwhile, fun browse for women and men alike. A glance at the book might help husbands and boyfriends visiting Savannah with their partners find out where their significant others might suddenly have disappeared to …
While many men might not be fascinated by Gaunce’s enthusiastic descriptions of shoe shops, designer boutiques, bridal salons and stores selling personalized stationery, it’s a fair bet that many female visitors to Savannah will find her views on such establishments to be of distinct interest. And many men will be quickly won over by Gaunce’s tongue-in-cheek takes – and the practical information she provides – on Savannah’s best neighborhood restaurants, cafes and events.
The reviewer’s favorite passage (on the subject of highly recommended barbecue restaurant ‘Blowin’ Smoke’), is one of many such asides Gaunce makes: “My hubby and I threw a couples’ baby shower there for some friends of ours and called it a baby-Q. I thought it was quite the clever name, but some people said it sounded like we’d be roasting babies on a spit. I find those people to be truly disturbed.” There probably aren’t many travel guides that would include such a paragraph, but it made this jaded travel-guide-reader laugh and appreciate the book all the more.
No review of Traveling Savannah: A Girl’s Guide would be complete without mentioning a feature that really sets it apart from the pack: the custom-painted watercolors of Savannah scenes by illustrator Erin Salzer Hanna (a landscape architect and graphic designer by day) that accompany just about every entry in the book. Painted in a folksy style, Salzer’s many watercolors make the guide perhaps the most charmingly illustrated travel book this reviewer has ever seen.
Copies of Traveling Savannah: A Girl’s Guide can be purchased direct from author Meredith Leigh Gaunce by visiting the website www.traveling-girls.com, or by e-mailing her at meredithgaunce(at)gmail.com. Retail-priced at $17.95 (shops wishing to stock the guide can buy it for $12.00 wholesale), this 130-page, soft-cover book isn’t the cheapest travel guide you’ll ever find. However, girls, the tips it provides and the laughs it’ll give you will make it a terrific book to put into your purse if you’re on your way to Savannah.