An award-winning journalist’s eco-adventures across the globe with his three traveling companions: his fiancée, his OCD, and his chronic anxiety—a hilarious, wild jaunt that will inspire travelers, environmentalists, and anyone with mental illness.
Silver Award, 2020 Nautilus Book Awards, Memoir & Personal Journey Category
Gold Award, 2020 Benjamin Franklin Awards, Travel Category
Most travel narratives are written by superb travelers: people who crave adventure, laugh in the face of danger, and rapidly integrate into foreign cultures. But what about someone who is paranoid about traveler’s diarrhea, incapable of speaking a foreign tongue, and hates not only flying but driving, cycling, motor-biking, and sometimes walking in the full sun?
In Baggage: Confessions of a Globe-Trotting Hypochondriac, award-winning writer Jeremy Hance chronicles his hilarious and inspiring adventures as he reconciles his traveling career as an environmental journalist with his severe OCD and anxiety.
At the age of twenty-six—after months of visiting doctors, convinced he was dying from whatever disease his brain dreamed up the night before—Hance was diagnosed with OCD. The good news was that he wasn’t dying; the bad news was that OCD made him a really bad traveler—sometimes just making it to baggage claim was a win.
Yet Hance hauls his baggage from the airport and beyond. He takes readers on an armchair trek to some of the most remote corners of the world, from Kenya, where hippos clip the grass and baboons steal film, to Borneo, where macaques raid balconies and the last male Bornean rhino sings, to Guyana, where bats dive-bomb his head as he eats dinner with his partner and flesh-eating ants hide in their pants and their drunk guide leaves them stranded in the rainforest canopy.
As he and his partner soldier through the highs and the lows—of altitudes and their relationship—Hance discovers the importance of resilience, the many ways to manage (or not!) mental illness when in stressful situations, how nature can improve your mental health, and why it is so important to push yourself to live a life packed with experiences, even if you struggle daily with a mental health issue.
With mental illness impacting the lives of millions of people, this timely book will inspire people to step out of their comfort zones and take the road meant to be traveled. Hance proves that we all have baggage--the question is, do we leave it dusty in a closet or do we take it out in full view for others to see?
About the Author
Jeremy Hance wrote a popular blog for three years for The Guardian with over two million views. He is a columnist (and former editor) for Mongabay, one of the most highly respected environmental news sites in the world. His work for Mongabay on the Sumatran rhino will appear in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019. His work has also appeared in Huff Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Ensia, Yale E360, and Alert: Conservation, among other publications. He has given presentations at conferences and zoos and has interviewed with NPR's Living on Earth and The Escape the Zoo podcast among others.
"Insightful, hilarious, and inspiring, Jeremy Hance makes a fabulous guide both to the famously wild places he travels--and the even more exotic lands of a mind gripped by mental illness. The travel stories are wonderfully vivid, and the humor kept me laughing. But at its heart, this is a book about facing fear. That's what makes it important and unforgettable. I loved it."
--Sy Montgomery,New York Times Bestselling Author of The Good Good Pig and The Soul of an Octopus
"Jeremy Hance has written a deeply personal and very funny travelogue. This is an eloquent account of the conflicts that arise when one’s two strongest desires are to go absolutely nowhere but also go absolutely everywhere. Thank goodness the latter wins out more often than not."
--Jonathan C. Slaght, Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, author of Owls of the Eastern Ice
“Jeremy Hance writes with an exhilarating honesty that will make you wipe your brow after reading. He is a man on a mission to save the world—reporting on conservation’s front lines—all the while surviving an unseen inner battle that is nothing short of eye opening.”
--Paul Rosolie, Conservationist, author of Mother of God, host of Eaten Alive
"Everyone who travels has the jitters about things that could go wrong. The world-hopping writer Jeremy Hance has written this perfect book to show you that you're not alone in your travel fears, that there are ways to get over it before it gets over you--and that, in the end, a lot of what we fear is pretty damn funny. Read. Laugh. Breathe."
--Carl Safina, Author of Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace
"Few writers can crack Sumatra—most don’t even dare. But Hance strolls right into the steaming hot island of rainforests, volcanoes, tigers and tapirs, and nails it."
--Greg McCann, Author of Called Away by a Mountain Spirit