Paper Maps, No Apps Book Review from @kleffnotes

Johnny Welsh has been a professional bartender for twenty-five years and even in a full bar he notices the ever present appearance of smart phones. People tune out and stare deep into their screens ignoring the world going on around them. In Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Guide, Welsh did a bit of thinking and planning and decided to take on an unplugged experience. He and his girlfriend, Kristy, collected maps and contacted friends and set off on a road trip with no help from their phones once they were on their way. This is a story of their adventure, mostly, off the grid and how they did it all with paper maps and no apps.

To begin the book, Welsh explains that there were a few small stipulations for their journey. Once a day, in the morning specifically, he would check his business email to verify information for impending radio interviews, Kristy would take photos with a Nikon camera, and prior to leaving they did book a few things. Admittedly even before smart phones most of these things would happen. I remember my parents very specifically packing cameras and film for trips, I even sometimes packed my own, and they would go through AAA to set some things up or they’d call hotels in advance. Though we did take a few road trips to California to visit family that resulted in some very odd sleeping situations because we just drove until everyone was too tired to keep going. If there wasn’t a hotel in the area we tried to stop we would just keep going, that’s how we managed to make it in three days one year. Enough about me, Welsh’s journey is broken down initially by days, the trip itself spanned roughly 16, with highlights about stops and interactions the pair had. There are fun facts from the couple about various places they went and the photographs of their adventures are a delight to see.

As their journey unfolds they experience a variety of things from surprise bowling alleys, to attempts at drinking poolside that are thwarted by bouncers, and the decision to spend Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. As someone who has been to Vegas three times, I even proposed and was proposed to there, I can’t even imagine the heightened levels of intoxication that must happen when a holiday falls during a visit there. Welsh is a consummate storyteller weaving humor throughout his recollections of the trip while also lightly emphasizing that technology is turning us into zombies. After the details of the trip he includes tips for reducing your technology time, examines technology addiction, and details his own concerns about phubbing people, a term he invented. He also includes something I love, a location list for those who want to check out the places he and Kristy stopped by. Paper Maps, No Apps is a fun read that will keep you laughing as you travel along the road with the tech free couple. You can enjoy the adventure for yourself by getting your own copy of Paper Maps, No Apps today.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog,, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.


One thought on “Paper Maps, No Apps Book Review from @kleffnotes

  1. We did have some long days/nights on the road when returning from California, but always eventually found a place to sleep overnight, even if it wasn’t until in the wee hours of the morning. AAA books typically helped us find at least one interesting site/place to stop and visit each day when we were headed to Sacramento, and fairly typically one place to stop and eat. I might just have to check out Welsh’s book, based on your interesting review.


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