I discovered PassportMaps.com at just the right time. My book, a travel memoir called Crocodile Love, was nearing completion and I was scrambling to find professional quality route maps. I never really considered going to press without the maps. My previous five titles are all travel guidebooks with Avalon Travel’s Moon Travel Guides series, where my writer guidelines proclaim, “Maps are to guidebooks what butter is to pound cake.”
And though this new title was a travel narrative, not a guidebook, it was still hard for me to abandon my maps. Luckily, I didn’t have to. In addition to maps for the book’s interior, I also needed a large poster map highlighting our route to use during presentations. Passport Maps has been able to help with both. I typed in my route information then they created a map showing our trip. They can also help tell the story of your trip, using thumbnail photos and a bullet list of destinations designed into the map (some samples from their gallery). Most people do a version of these, then frame and hang it on their wall.
As both a map nerd and a storyteller, I was immediately intrigued. I began working with Scott Lussier, fellow tranquilo traveler, who started PassportMaps.com 15 years ago. “I was learning how to make maps on computers for work. As a practice exercise, I made a map of the Study Abroad trip [I’d previously taken]. I printed it and hung it up, delighted with my little memento. Some friends liked it and I made a few more.”
The rest is history. I asked Scott a few more questions about his unique service for travelers:
Joshua Berman: How are maps and storytelling related?
Scott Lussier: In my mapmaking college class, one of my main semester themes I harp on is that our main goal as a mapmaker is to tell a story. Every map tells a story, whether its a simple thing like “the fire hydrants are here, here and here” or a complicated theme like “here is my wonderful trip and all the details of where I went.” I emphasize this with my clients when we’re building a Passport Map as well. I want to know the feelings and small details and I want to get them on the map. I want to capture the things they want to remember in 10 years. The really great maps I make are the ones where people allow their emotions to come through.