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Movie Review: A Map For Saturday

In 2005, Brook Silva-Braga quit his job at HBO in New York City to go backpacking around the world. 

Only Brook wasn't your typical backpacker. 

He had a background in video production and planned to create a documentary about long term travel based on his year-long experience.

I had a sneaking suspicion that watching A Map for Saturday after my own 'round the world trip would be pointless, and sure enough, there were few surprises. 

On the other hand, Brook did a great job of capturing often-overlooked downsides to long term travel, such as burnout and the concept of five-hour (or disposable) friends.

I recognized scenes and cities from many of the countries he visited, including Australia, Thailand, Nepal, India, and a variety of western European countries. 

I even stayed in the same Original Backpackers hostel in Sydney (2008) that's shown early on in the film. 

In that regard, it was like taking a stroll down memory lane.

Brook's adventures did happen to coincide with several noteworthy news stories, which made the documentary more interesting. 

He arrived on beautiful Koh Phi Phi in Thailand a few months after the tsunami, thus capturing the scenes of backpackers helping to clear debris. 

And he was in Nepal at a time when there was greater concern about travelers' safety due to the Maoist resistance.

Rent this movie on Amazon Video if you want:

  • A well-edited, honest, inside look at the modern backpacker lifestyle.
  • A way to kill time keep yourself inspired until you can take your own trip.
  • To reflect on travel experiences you've taken in the past.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

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Friday 29th of October 2010

Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It's very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

The Backpack Foodie

Sunday 13th of June 2010

I watched "A Map for Saturday" - twice - in the months leading to my 9 months trip. At the time, I found it profoundly inspiring, and I was often in tears as it echoed my own yearning to quit my job and see the world.

I've now come back from my trip, and although I haven't rewatched it yet, thinking back on it there was very little of Brooke's experience that mirrors my own. I strayed well clear of the tourist circuit most of the time, and I traveled with my spouse. My trip was also focused a lot more on connecting with locals, a dimension I find sorely lacking from Brooke's film. It's really more about the young RTW backpackers scene, which mostly sticks together on the party hostel route, and that was definitely not what I wanted out of travel once I hit the road.


Wednesday 9th of June 2010

Hi Megan - congrats on your RTW trip!


Wednesday 9th of June 2010

I really enjoyed this documentary. It really helped keep me motivated to save for my own trip, and watching it again a few days before I left, (most of) my doubts evaporated and I knew that I was making the right choice. Highly recommended for those considering their own trips, but yes I agree that once you start travelling there are few surprises in it.

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