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One genre of book I love reading and will always read is solo female travel memoirs. Travel memoirs in general, too, but I prefer solo female because I relate to that more.
So, when I was trying to pick my 2021 book club themes I decided to include it. Whether you’re part of the club or not, these are some amazing books you should definitely pick up if you’re looking for a little adventure.
If you’re interested in trying Audible, you can get your first month free which includes a free audiobook! This is a great option if you want to listen to books more. If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd! You can get your first month free there.
Lauren Juliff, one of my favorite travel bloggers, hit rock bottom years ago and decided to leave home to travel the world. She was suffering from debilitating anxiety, an eating disorder, and just had her heartbroken. She had also never eaten rice or been on a bus. What better time to leave it all behind for bad luck on near-death experiences on the road. Not only that, but she falls in love and tries new food with the whole world opened up to her now.
This is one of my favorite solo female travel memoirs and I re-read it every couple of years.
Amy decided to quit her job to backpack around South America where she finds herself on the receiving end of some over-the-top and seemingly unnecessary advice. She shrugged it all off. At least until she ran into trouble.
This is one I’d love to read this month, especially because I just love Latin America.
Kristin left her job and steady boyfriend at 26 to travel through Southeast Asia on her own.
This is a collection of stories and experiences from her first year on the road where she made new friendships and found that not only did she travel the world outside, but traveled the world within.
This is probably going to be the first one I read for February!
If you’re looking for a short read, this is a good one for you. Jennifer was 19 when she was tasked with caring for her grandmother during her final days battling lung cancer. Six days after she died, Jennifer was left dealing with the aftermath of a murder-suicide that took her only remaining family member leaving her alone in the world.
This shares how solo female travel helped her heal from a traumatic event while she rediscovers the woman she always dreamed of being.
Amy has left her pleasant narrow life for one rich in experiences with panpipe playing Zen masters, nighttime jungle boat rides, Incan ruins, Patagonian glaciers, accidental volcano climbs, and even Giardia.
At the center of it all is a quirky surfer with wacky bits of wisdom and one real question: can you ever go home again?
I loved this one and would highly recommend it!
Chandi is determined to embrace life and follow her heart after a divorce and traumatic illness so she decides to do Italy’s historic pilgrimage, the Via Francigena, and walk forty days to Rome. Even though she was weakened by her illness, she carries a nineteen-pound pack, two journals, and three pens over the Apennines and through the valley of Tuscany as she traces the ancient pilgrim’s route.
Robyn Davidson sets out to cross 1,700 miles of Australian Outback with just her dog and four camels. Not only does she fend off the wildlife, but also lecherous men.
She learns to care for her camels when they are skittish or injured. She comes out of the trek a courageous woman driven by a love of the Australian landscape, indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away her old self.
This feels a bit like a classic solo female travel memoir because I’ve seen it around for so long, but it was published in 2014. I really enjoyed this one when I read it. It wasn’t my favorite but it’s still pretty good.
Kristin was a sitcom writer that wasn’t ready to settle down so instead she traveled the world alone (most of the time) for several weeks every year where she fell in the love with the planet and a few locals.
We get to meet Israeli bartenders, Finnish poker players, Argentinian priests, and “Kristin-Adjacent,” a slower, softer, and sluttier version of herself at home.
This is another one I’ve had for a while and would like to try and read this month.
This is split into four parts, each set in a new city and season over one year, highlighting different aspects of the joys of being alone and the ways it can enrich their lives.
This is a little different than your typical solo female travel book. Instead of setting off on a journey around the world, Audrey sets off at age 60 to paddle the southeast coast of Alaska alone in an inflatable kayak.
This is another one I think of as a “classic” even though it’s just from 2013. I really liked this one when I read it years ago and may even read it again.
To celebrate her 40th birthday, Kristine sold her house and quit her job to travel the world alone. She thought it was nothing more than a six month vacation. She moved around on and off the beaten path through Africa and Asia to Hawaii and Alaska.
This sounds like my kind of book: solo female travel and walking an obscene distance, 10,000 miles that is.
Sarah’s journey took her through the remote Gobi Desert, into Thailand on foot then to Australia by boat where she finished her trek at her favorite tree.
She survives the mafia, drug dealers, thieves harassing her nightly for weeks, subzero and scorching temperatures, wildlife, dengue fever, tropical ringworm, and more on her incredible journey.
This is one I would really like to read!
I actually found this at my library book sale a couple of years ago and got it but haven’t read it yet!
Over 36 days, Melanie hiked 1,100 miles on the Ice Age Trail around Wisconsin. This is the story of her adventures along the way from small towns to forests and prairies, farms to geologic wonders carved by glaciers.
Open Mic Night in Moscow: And Other Stories from My Search for Black Markets, Soviet Architecture, and Emotionally Unavailable Russian Men
Audrey is a Russia-obsessed American writer and comedian who set off on a solo journey through the former Soviet Republics including Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Serbia, Russia, and more.
It involved kidnappers, garbage bags of money, Russian men, Chernobyl, and insane asylum themed bars in Kiev. This is a fun but strange memoir featuring hilarious and emotional stories about home, love, loneliness, and independence. This is another one I’m very much looking forward to reading.
Helen Thayer will be opening and closing this list. Polar Dream is about her incredible journey in 1988, at the age of 50, when she was the first woman ever to travel to the magnetic north Pole on foot. She traveled with her husky Charlie to one of the most remote and dangerous regions of the world.
This is the story of their trek together facing polar bears, unreal temperatures, and a storm that destroyed almost all of their food and supplies. So buckle up and start your long walk around the world (through books) at the top of it.
Kira followed the 1927 route of Ivan Champion, a British Explorer, through Papua New Guinea on foot and by dugout canoe. She stays in villages that still practice cannibalism, met leaders of OPM, the separatist guerrilla movement, and took an epic trek through the jungle.
This one sounds really interesting and combines two things I love: solo female travel and far flung places! You can find another edition (and Kindle edition) here.
This takes place over 15 years starting as a sophomore in college. Elisabeth has an insatiable hunger for the rush of new experiences and meeting new people as she crosses five continents.
It’s more than a documentation of conquest of men and countries. It’s a journey of self discovery.
While this was also published in just 2011, it feels like another classic solo female travel book. I have it at home but still haven’t read this yet.
Kate spends a year in Latin America spanning ten countries, three teaching jobs, and countless buses. This is her solo journey from Guatemala to Argentina where she struggles with language, romance, culture, service, and homesickness. She follows the route outlined by Paul Theroux in 1979 in his travelogue The Old Patagonian Express.
I read this one over the summer and you can see what I think of it (and Sola) here.
Her first life-changing trip was solo to Australia as a young graduate. Over the next 30 years, Rosita became enchanted by travel and visited some of the most remote parts of the world where she carried little more than a beat-up backpack and a diary.
Here are nine journeys from nine different moments in her life spent exploring the world, sharing how these experiences and the people met along the way can shape the course of a life dramatically.
This is another one I’d like to try and read this month!
Rita leaves an elegant life in LA on the verge of divorce at at forty-eight to follow her dream and travel the world. She lived in a Zapotec village in Mexico, explored the Galapagos Islands, saw orangutans in Borneo, saw trance healers and dens of black magic and more as she rediscovered the joy and exuberance hidden by many as we become adults.
This is another one I haven’t read but would love to now that I know about it! I’m not sure if I will this month but it’s on my TBR now.
I read this one a couple of years ago and really liked it. Laura is facing her life head-on: divorced and childless in her thirties. She always found solace in travel and hits the road again.
She travels the world, always on the lookout for “the one” who might become a lifelong companion. After a terrible incident on assignment in the South Pacific, she becomes afraid of traveling and worries the one thing that gave her so much pleasure in her life, and her career, is gone.
Soon she realizes the most important journey she needs to make is an internal one.
Have you read any of these solo female travel memoirs? Which ones? Have you read a different one?