A Map for Saturday

Don’t watch this documentary unless you are ready to quit your job. It’s about the joys and woes of long-term traveling. It’s impossible to watch this fun film and not confront the fact that you are here instead of there, out on the road, soaking up the mysteries of the world, with all-you-can-eat $3 dinners and $5 rooms, backpacking around the world for a year, as the filmmaker himself did. This kind of vagabonding is more a state of mind than a state of motion. Something weird happens when you travel longer than 10 days, and that wonderful transformation (which no one can explain to their family when they return) is what this superbly written, fabulously edited, deeply personal and wonderfully likeable documentary is all about.

This film explores the mellow subculture of (mostly) young people who trek along an invisible international traveler’s circuit. There’s a kind of endless distributed global party going on every day of the year (plainly visible here), and to join it all you need is a ticket to any country and the address of the local hostel. I was part of this mind-set for many years and boy, does this film nail the peculiar delights of perpetual cheap travel. Not just the highs (everyday is Saturday, each new person an instant best friend), but also the lows (always saying goodbye, and loss of connection).

This DVD won’t give you the how-to specifics of vagabonding. For that I recommend First-Time Around the World. A Map for Saturday works best as an orientation course, offering inspiration on why to tackle this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s the next best thing to having a good friend come back and tell you what really happens when you find yourself at the other end of the road.

-- KK  

A Map for Saturday
Brook Silva-Braga
2006, 90 min.
$25 with shipping, DVD
Available from the filmmakers’ website

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Filmmaker Brook keeps track of his expenses for one day in Laos. He starts out with his $5 room shared with fellow traveler Kym.

You have to get used to the squatty potties in Asia. The bucket of water on the side is used to flush the toilet.

A game of beach volley ball on the sands in Thailand. Hanging around for weeks sipping cold beers at sunset is part of the plan.