We’ve well and truly entered an age of female empowerment, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m dubbing this the year of the wander woman.
Over the past few years women have tipped the scales to become the majority of travelers over men. We’re taking more active adventures, and saying no to sipping cocktails on the beach. And we’re not letting age be a limiting factor (the world is now being taken OVER by amazing traveling grandmas).
Some women are doing it solo, some are traveling with their families, and some are dragging along their husbands (lucky guys!). Some have quit their jobs and sold everything, while others travel while holding down a job and a mortgage.
Women these days who want to travel aren’t letting anyone tell them how it should be done, they’re making their journey their own. But even better, they’re writing about it to inspire the rest of us.
If you’re looking for a great travel memoir to add to your summer reading list, make sure you pick up one of these; brand new titles from kick ass women who haven’t been afraid to follow their dreams.
I’ve been absolutely captivated by their stories!
Book List: Inspiring Travel Reads From Kick-Ass Female Authors
Everything You Ever Taught Me
By: Person Irresponsible (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
Person Irresponsible’s story is about being a woman in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Since she couldn’t afford the Ferrari, and couldn’t be bothered having an affair, she went from perfectly locatable in the Cotswolds, UK, to utterly bewildered living in the wilderness of America when she set about walking from Mexico to Canada.
“Everything You Ever Taught Me” charts the real journey of forty-something female in her fourth year of sobriety. Though this is not a drunkalogue – it’s a record of everything she learnt in the rooms of AA that got her ‘practising the principles’ in a quest to walk 2,650 miles across America, following the Pacific Crest Trail.
The book chronicles her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail during the 2020 pandemic, and it doesn’t pull any punches.
It tackles the topic of women’s drinking and offers real insights into the life of alcoholic recovery. It will give you a real, raw account of what it’s like to hike the famed Pacific Crest Trail, as well as the quirks of navigating a foreign country, and it’s written in a way which is both side-achingly funy, and refreshingly honest.
Solo in Salento
By: Donna Keel Armer (Amazon / Barnes & Noble / DonnaArmer.com)
Donna was raised never to lie, but she was desperate to break out of a life haunted by a wretched past, a loss of faith, toxic relationships, and a slow sink into domestication.
Her life had stalled after an extensive and stressful management career in public and private sectors and early retirement. She craved time away from everything and everyone, including her loving husband. To give herself permission to take a personal journey, she lied, telling everyone she was traveling alone to do research for a historical fiction she intended to write.
While in Otranto, Donna learned how to master the complexity of a recycling system in a country where she didn’t speak the language. In the process, she discovered by applying these same trash rules to her own life she could sort, recycle, and discard the personal garbage that had plagued her over a lifetime.
The book’s universal themes of personal growth and travel invite you to come along. Active travelers, solo travelers, courageous wanna be travelers, and armchair travelers enthusiasts alike will be drawn into the magic.
The Italian-American community as well as anyone who has traveled to or wants to travel to Italy will relish this transformational story filled with music, mosaics, mysterious sacred places, culinary delights, and the possibility of being kidnapped.
➤ Check out Donna’s blog
The Unlikeliest Backpacker
By: Kathryn Barnes (Amazon / Blog / Instagram)
“You’re going to do what?”
That was the response Kathryn was met with when she told her mum she was going to hike from California to Canada. Kathryn, the girl who’d quit Brownies at the mere mention of camping, who bailed out of Duke of Edinburgh, who up until now had considered Mai Tais by the pool an adventure.
Disenchanted with modern city living and inspired by adventures she found in the pages of travel books and blogs, Kathryn set her heart on the adventure of a lifetime: uprooting to the wilderness to hike along the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
With little practical experience, Kathryn set off with backpacking partner and husband Conrad, embarking on a 69-day adventure, walking 935 gruelling miles and climbing 166,000 feet – the equivalent of scaling The Shard 163 times. How hard can it be?
Kathryn Barnes’ entertaining memoir proves that you don’t have to be special, or an experienced adventure junkie to put your life on hold and disconnect from the modern world. Pushing personal boundaries beyond the predictability of daily routines can have surprising consequences.
➤ Check out Kathryn’s blog
Follow Kathryn on Instagram
Apple Island Wife
By: Fiona Stocker (Amazon / Website / Twitter)
What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who’s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis?
In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped sticks to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.
This charming and hilarious tale captures the tussles and euphoria of life on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Quickly they had to adjust to new ways of living.
No longer could they just flick a switch for warmth. Now they had to split logs, stack them and light a fire. Drinking water didn’t come from the local authority but straight off their roof, with traces of possum poo.
Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona is a modern-day adventurer in alternative living. What she has written is an everywoman’s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.
Having recently followed her lead and actually moved to Tasmania ourselves (would you believe, around the corner from her!), I found myself laughing out loud, having lived an eerily similar tale!
➤ Check out Fiona’s website
➤ Follow @FionaCStocker on Twitter
Tag #AppleIslandWife With Where You’re Reading
Fire in the Belly: A Memoir of Falafel, Flings, and Shiny Things
By: Zaina Brown (Amazon / Website)
Burned out from the Manhattan hookah lounge hamster wheel, bellydancer Zaina decides to travel to Cairo for a few months of cultural immersion. Time away from New York makes the idea of returning to her old life unbearable, so Zaina reaches out to a famed Lebanese entertainment agent.
He quickly sends her off to Bahrain for a bellydance contract, the first of many around the Arab world. Performing on stages in luxurious hotels is a dream come true, but nightlife in Arab countries is an underworld rife with pimps, hookers, and a cast of seedy characters.
On top of it all, Zaina’s life is in the hands of an elderly, unpredictable Lebanese man, and she’s always just one misstep away from losing everything.
Between work assignments, Zaina sets out on solo travels in sub-Saharan Africa and the less trodden corners of Arabia. She spars with the police in Somaliland and Western Sahara, disguises herself as a local woman for a tryst in Yemen, enters the rebel-held zone in Côte d’Ivoire, and witnesses the sudden start of the Egyptian revolution.
Zaina learns to seek safety in the kindness of strangers, and to ignore their well-meaning concern. While changing countries at a rapid pace, romantic relationships bloom, then crash and burn.
Fire In The Belly is a captivating story about the price of ambition, the flipside of dreams, and a young woman’s passionate quest to discover the world. It is “a rare, brutally honest and gritty glimpse into the life of a foreign bellydancer in the Middle East, and the adventures of an intrepid world traveler.” – Tamalyn Dallal
➤ Visit Zaina’s website
Follow Zaina on Instagram
Sihpromatum: I Grew My Boobs in China
By: Savannah Grace (Amazon / Website / Twitter)
Not a new title, but one of our all time favorites, and if you haven’t heard of “Siphromatum” (Sip-row-may-tum), this is definitely one to add to your reading list.
In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace’s world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that she and her family (mother, 45; brother, 25; sister, 17) would soon embark on an incredible, open-ended journey.
When everything from her pets to the house she lived in is either sold, given away or put in storage, this naïve teenage girl runs headlong into the reality and hardships of a life on the road.
This is not a journey to semi-exotic locales protected from the local culture by a veneer of private transportation, scheduled meals, and ritzy hotels. The family lives and travels as the local people do, a distinction that generates fascinating and unusual experiences rich in multicultural insights, as told from the perspective of a budding young author with a traveler’s eye for detail.
Built around a startling backdrop of over eighty countries (“I Grew my Boobs in China” relates the family’s adventures in China and Mongolia), this is a tale of feminine maturation – of Savannah’s metamorphosis from ingénue to woman-of-the-world.
Nibbling roasted duck tongues in China and being stranded in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert are just two experiences that contribute to Savannah’s exploration of new cultures and to the process of adapting to the world around her.
The first installment of her memoir series, “I Grew my Boobs in China“, is the beginning of an intensely fascinating, sobering, and emotional memoir of Savannah’s introspective and innovative family adventure.
➤ Visit Savannah’s Website
Follow Savannah on Instagram
A Maverick Himalayan Way
By: Mary Jane Walker (Amazon / Website / Blog)
Kiwi adventurer Mary Jane Walker had no particular intention of visiting the Himalayas, till one day some friends invited her on a cheap trekking trip. So began a deep engagement with the region and its peoples and a series of return trips.
Mary Jane visits and treks Pakistan’s north-west frontier, Kashmir, Dharamshala (the abode of the Dalai Lama), high Himalayan Nepal (the Annapurna, Manaslu and Everest regions), and Sikkim.
She also explores central India, Pakistan’s north-west frontier, Mumbai, Kerala and Kolkata, and takes a trip to the ecologically sensitive Chitwan region on the border of Nepal and India.
She discusses the history and social conditions of the region’s peoples including the tragic 2015 Nepal earthquake, and makes many surprising discoveries: such as the fact that ancient coins minted in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) once bore the image of the Buddha—and, even more remarkably, his name in Greek letters!
Follow Mary Jane on Instagram
THESE BOOKS WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL! ↓
Good one to add to the list is ‘pants of perspective’ by Anna McNuff, who runs (!) the full length of 3000-km Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand.
Thanks for the heads up Karin! Looking it up on Amazon now, that can be my next read – sounds amazing! Appreciate the recommendation :)