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Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals: Adventures in Love and Danger

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  48 reviews
From salsa dancing in a rum-induced haze and struggling to exercise in Colombia (the guerillas were using the track again today), to crossing international borders unconventionally and dodging bombs in Lebanon (the good news was that they were small bombs), Wendy somehow manages to find herself in the midst of hysterical, adventurous, and often illegal situations. Case in ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by Three Rivers Press
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65th out of 306 books — 170 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 493)
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Wendy Dale
Jul 24, 2012 Wendy Dale rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favorites
What can I say? Kind of biased here.
Wendy Dale has a lot of guts. She details the good, bad, and ugly of her journey and doesn't hold back even when it's less than flattering to herself…and one could argue that there are many of those moments.

There's a lot of humor in the book. I particularly loved the "latte" conversation on page 57. Classic! I also enjoyed the several times when she addressed her reader directly. She writes with a very matter-of-fact, conversational tone.

The important message that I took away from all of the cra
Interesting book...ask the author to lend you money, she is very trusting.
I'm hoping that this book is in some part fiction. I hope she's not really that gullable, and I hope those aren't really her parents or she's adopted. Traveling the world is one thing...
So I guess what I'm saying is that the choices made by the author bugged me while reading. Odd little story.
Yelena Malcolm
Sep 26, 2007 Yelena Malcolm rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: chick lit fans
I generally shy away from travel literature penned by women as, in my experience, a lot of it gets into the author's personal romantic trysts and angst and strays from the adventure and information I find worthwhile in travelogues. This book purported to be different: a tale of fulfilled wanderlust and off-the-beaten-path locales.

Which it sort of was, until the author gets laid for the first time at which point the entire book devolves into her concerns about the man, then men, she loves and goe
Aug 16, 2012 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy travel memoirs
Recommended to Judy by: no idea
Travel memoir, or memoir in general, is a genre that I have not previously read. I started reading Bill Bryson's books in the last year, and now it seems like half the books I read are memoirs of some kind, particularly travel (for my money he is the very best of the travel genre). I enjoyed this story for the most part; it is more memoir than travel memoir, as the author ends up in some unlikely places, but more of the story is about her relationships, her attempts to get employment, her childh ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer by: Mike Latza
Shelves: read-2012
This is a memoir that starts out being about travel but really ends up being about a lot of other things. Wendy Dale spent the first 25 years of her life being the uber-adult, a reaction to her transient and often slightly chaotic childhood. However, a daring trip to Lebanon to visit a friend gives her the travel bug and she soon finds herself buying one way tickets to several Latin American locales. Unlike many who visit Costa Rica, Dale doesn't spend much time hitting the beaches but instead f ...more
I almost put this book away a couple of times but eventually I decided I needed to know how everything worked out. Wendy Dale combines stories of her dysfunctional childhood & family with tales of her travel adventures and then gets down to the nitty gritty of the book's title. She falls in love with a Colombian man who has been incarcerated in a Costa Rican prison and she is determined to prove his innocence and free him. Wendy is an extremely funny and descriptive writer and I enjoyed thos ...more
Aug 14, 2007 Jen added it
Of COURSE I have a bookshelf titled "Quirky and Fun"---and this book fits the bill. Keep in mind, however, that this is coming from someone who has a long history of meeting people on airplanes and then getting to be good friends with them. I have never, however, dated anyone I've met on vacation, nor have I ever been involved with a man (or men) in prison, unlike our fearless heroine here.

This fun little read is great for the summer season of travel. While you're waiting because of yet another
Travel lore books are quickly becomming one of my favorites...I can travel without leaving home and with no expense! I loved her style of writing, putting the reader right in the thick of things, even the personal things happening in her own life. Loved this book!
This book grates. It basically boils down to, "Most people do this, but I do this other thing! My life is so crazy and interesting!" Yeah, not so much.
Jason Heilpern
I enjoy travel books. Especially those that are honest about life on the road. Not all travel stories end with fruity drinks on a tropical beach. This book offers a different kind of adventure with a different kind of live story.
Kayla Chapin
This is the book I'd like to write one day. (Or maybe I wouldn't LIKE to write it, I just see myself writing it.) Relatable.
This book probably would have worked better as a series of essays. While some of her descriptions, of her visit to rural Central American dentist, or Christmas with her free-spirited and vagabond parents, are fun and hilarious, the story gets bogged down at other times and too often diverts into deeply introspective reflections on why she feels compelled to wander the world.
H.E. lent me this book. The author is one of his friends and gave him a signed copy, and like him she's smart, world experienced, political, and very funny. The book reflects all that and more.

I found myself laughing out loud in a lot of places, so if you like travel, writing, and humor, I recommend reading this book.

Finished reading July 14, 2007.
This was an interesting autobiographical book. I enjoyed it and was entraced by it, but also frustrated by the author's seeming to take for granted things that were handed to her that others would have given their right arm for. I won't fault her - or anyone else's - naivete, though. I could relate to that, and to her in that regard.
Jul 25, 2011 Tori added it
2009- From reading the back of the book, I was expecting this book to tell funny stories about the narrator's travels, and that IS how the book started out. Then it switched over to her romance with a Columbia in a Costa Rican jail. I may not have traveled as much as the author, but I'd like to say I have a lot more common sense.
Interesting novel. I'm not sure it was funny, although it's touted as humor. It was more vulnerable and painful than funny. I finished it on the plane, coming back from another state which will be my new home in two months, and I thought home really is where you are internally as much as externally. Location isn't everything.

I really enjoyed this book. Humorous and well written. I enjoy Wendy's conversational style which made me feel like she is a friend. A very Adventurous one, not afraid to follow her heart and the roads less traveled. Bravo.
This was the perfect summer read. It is more of a "what not to do on vacation" travel guide and does so with hilarious and unbelievable happenings to the main character. I would definitely recommend it to those who love to live vicariously through the crazy (and not-recommended) travels of others.
Katie Holmgren
I enjoyed this book until about half-way through. It was entirely too drawn out and sometime felt humorous and other times like she was struggling to show some genuine emotion. It took me a long time to get through the last third of the book,..would have rated the first half much higher.
funny book written by an American woman with wanderlust. she ends up stuck in south america with no money and no passport, but eventually finds her way back to the States. it's a great read for anyone who has ever felt the siren call of far off destinations and other ways of life.
I didn't really enjoy the author's personality (and at some points, her sense of humor) so I had a difficult time getting into this book. However, the sections pertaining to the legal system of Costa Rica and the general state of affairs in Colombia are engrossing.
Aug 07, 2007 Cheri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are depressed because their friends have such adventurous lives
This book made me laugh out loud. I enjoyed the smart writing and biting humor.

My friend gave this to me to read after I felt small and insignificant next to the great travels and deeds of some of my friends. Maybe it's great to be stuck at home after all!
I really liked this book at first, but she made some decisions that I thought weren't that great. We all make foolish choices in the game called love, but there were a lot of red flags that I think she missed. It was okay, but the last part really dragged on.
I gave this 5 stars for the travel adventure, the author's excellent writing, and her lack of ego. But I almost had second thoughts when she brought her romance / man troubles into the picture. Overall, though, still a fine piece of writing.
It started out great, but eventually I grew tired of her general ditziness and diatribes regarding past vacation experiences. It felt like I was reading a travel journal where I wanted to punch myself in the face afterwards for reading it.
Maneka Deanna
May 31, 2008 Maneka Deanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maneka by: who likes to travel or who has been to cuba or costa rica
I read this book when I was living/teaching English on an indigenous reservation in Costa Rica. I identified with so many things she was speaking about both as an ameriacan and someone living in another country. I loved this book.
Jul 05, 2007 Sascha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travel humor lovers
This book reintroduced me to the fun of travel essays. Although the book is not quite as funny as Bill Bryson's most famous, it held its own. Wendy Dale helped me go to places I would not likely go on my own and then she reminded me why.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in 3-4 sittings. Laced with tongue-in-cheek humor, it was an easy read. This book really resonated with me for the connection to travel and self-discovery. Highly recommend.
Apr 17, 2007 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travelers
I picked up this book expecting comedy, and that is what I got for the first few chapters. After that it got a bit more serious than what I expected, but overall it was still entertaining. Ends of kind of a downer.
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Wendy Dale is the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated television feature, The New Adventures of Mother Goose. She has worked as a corporate writer, a public relations consultant, a speechwriter, a desktop publisher, an ad copywriter — and there was even a brief stint as a celebrity journalist. Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals has been reviewed by Outside, Playgirl, Time Out New York and ...more
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