Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Devon Costantine. She and her husband, Stephen Barna, met five years ago through mutual friends, and now they’re more than halfway through a year of non-stop travel. They’ve road-tripped through New Zealand, journeyed across Oceania and Asia, wandered through Europe, and circled back to explore the East Coast of the United States. Today, Devon discusses the entertainment she turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
“All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
Even though I still prefer the turn of real, printed pages in my hands, I had to trade in my paperbacks for an iPad when we left to travel the world. One of the first e-books I read was Anthony Doerr’s “All The Light We Cannot See” — a beautifully written novel about a young German boy and French girl whose lives intersect as WWII overtakes the continent. I’d sneak in reading time while we were camping across New Zealand or cozied up in a tent by the Tasman Sea.
Stephen and I had visited Paris two years before, and, after finishing the novel, I was drawn back to France, wanting to see Saint-Malo, a city in Brittany where the novel unfolds. We finally drove down to the walled, seaside city in July. Saint-Malo is more than just a main location in the novel; it’s a powerful narrative element of the story. Exploring its stone ramparts and compact streets felt, for a moment, like we’d stepped into the world of the book.
Since we’ve been on the road, we haven’t watched many movies or TV shows. It wasn’t until I realized that our rented studio in Skradin, Croatia, had a television with Netflix that I started watching “The Crown,” a drama about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Even as we explored the beauty of Croatia and nearby national parks, I would look forward to the end of the day when I could collapse into bed and watch the royal family’s life unfold while Stephen edited photos.
It’s the kind of show you can easily get caught up in, as the main characters navigate political and personal drama in a life both glamorous and duty-filled. As a traveler, I especially enjoy stories that offer glimpses into another country, as this one does with the United Kingdom and its history. It reminds me of our own trip to London, when we stayed just steps away from Buckingham Palace.
“Youth” by Glass Animals
Stephen added this song to our road trip playlist, and we played it again and again as we traveled across Europe. It’s upbeat and sultry and melancholy all at the same time — the kind of song perfect for every mood while on the road. We could roll down the windows of our rental car and blast it as we drove across Slovenia. I had the melody stuck in my head all the way from its charming capital, Ljubljana, to the picturesque Lake Bled. It rained our first day there, but we woke up the second day for a sunrise hike that led to us laying in our hammock beneath the summer sky and playing this song on repeat.