Author of '1,000 Places to See Before You Die' lives for travel

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2007

DALLAS - Ever since her family's clunky station wagon pulled out of their upstate New York driveway when she was 4 and headed to the beaches of Atlantic City, Patricia Schultz has been hooked on travel.

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Her wanderlust eventually led to the runaway hit "1,000 Places to See Before You Die," which remains on best-seller lists four years after its publication with 2.5 million copies in print. The book that covered sites across the world from Egypt's pyramids to low country cuisine in South Carolina even inspired a TV show on the Travel Channel.

This summer, Schultz offers travelers a closer look at the United States and Canada with "1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die," highlighting everything from Christmas in New York to Texas' sprawling Big Bend National Park.

"People have always loved to travel. People will always love to travel. It's as old as mankind," said Schultz while in Dallas on a summer book tour. "It's to remove yourself from the same-old same-old, the day-to-day-ness of everyday life, to recharge, explore."

While growing up, her family usually took yearly vacations along the East Coast, not too far from their home in the Hudson Valley. Her horizons began to expand with a monthlong trip at the age of 14 to the Dominican Republic, where she stayed with the family of a high school friend.

"The more you travel, the more you realize that you've seen nothing," said Schultz, 54.

In college, she spent her junior year in Spain. Before heading back to Georgetown University, she visited Italy, her mother's homeland, and fell in love that country. After graduating in 1975 in linguistics, she headed to the airport for Italy. After taking various jobs to support her travels, she began travel writing in 1985.

"I have been traveling really since forever," said Schultz as she had coffee in Dallas' swanky Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel, which made her list.

She began work on the first "1,000 Places" book in 1995, finishing up about eight years later. She then began work on her second, completing it in about four years. Both tomes clock in at around 1,000 pages, providing succinct descriptions of her picks along with historical and cultural context and useful "if you go" information, such as locations and cost.

"I wanted to create kind of a mixed bag that was the predictable and the unexpected - the once-in-a-lifetime kind of five-star African safari but also the sunset stroll along a protected beach that's yours for the cost of nothing," said Schultz, who when not off to far-flung locations makes her home in New York City.

"The format really gives you a great sense of place in a short burst," said Margot Herrera, senior editor at Workman Publishing.

Schultz said that she's visited about 80 percent of the locations in each book, a statistic that usually elicits one of two reactions from people: half can't believe that she's not been everywhere on the list, the other half are amazed that she's managed that many.

For the places she hasn't visited, she relies on advice from people who live there and fellow travelers. She said her picks include everything from historical sites that everyone should see to places that simply bring pure enjoyment.

"I think you need disparity and I think you need levity and I think you need to know that you're just going to have a good time," she said.

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