Traveling solo is one of the most empowering things you can do. It pushed you out of your comfort zone, forces you be (almost) completely independent and you learn a lot about yourself in the process. That being said, there can certainly be moments where you could use some encouragement or validation that you made the right decision. A good book can do these things and more. For example, when I travel by myself, the book I’m reading is often my travel companion, dinner date and shield against any unwanted attention.
Personally, I try to choose books that inspire me, but still have a great story line to keep me interested. No matter the destination or kind of travel you’ve decided on, a solid book can be a key item in your carry on. The following are my top choices for the perfect books to keep you company on your next solo trip:
“Neither Here Nor There” by Bill Bryson – The way the Bill Bryson writes is hilarious and perfectly self-deprecating, especially when relaying his travels through Europe. I read this book when I was also traveling alone through Europe and it made me feel 100% better about the looks I got after people realized I was the loud American in the restaurant/store/museum. Not only did Mr. Bryson help me laugh at some of my travel faux pas, he also made me want to extend my trip another six weeks to hit some of the countries he wrote about.
“The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost” by Rachel Freidman – Sharing stories of her travels through Ireland, Australia and South America, Rachel Friedman is funny and completely real about what it’s like to be a woman in a strange country. This book is so relatable; you feel like you’re hearing these stories over a cup of coffee with a friend. Reading about someone else’s solo travel can remind you about why you planned your own trip in the first place.
“The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry” by Kathleen Flinn – Flinn’s account of getting out of the corporate world and dropping everything to go to cooking school (Le Cordon Bleu) in Paris is the dream for anyone who ever felt trapped by an office job. Her story will make you want to get out into the world and find some new and exciting experiences.
“A Cooks Tour” by Anthony Bourdain – I think this book is essential travel reading, especially if you have an affinity for food and handsome older men. Bourdain has been the foul-mouthed travel expert we know and love for quite some time, but this book was the start of his wayfaring ways. The way he describes each place makes you want to immediately book a plane ticket there and see for yourself.
“Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey – Of course everything Tina Fey does is hilarious, but this autobiography is particularly funny and moving. It’s a very honest account of her personal trials and triumphs mixed with her standard wit and charm. This book is the perfect accompaniment to any trip and will keep you laughing until it’s done.
“Wanderlust” by Elisabeth Eaves – Ms. Eaves knows exactly how it feels to be completely overcome by the urge travel. Detailing her life of love and adventure, her story is completely relatable and will validate your every wanderlust-y whim. This book is the perfect companion for any solo-traveler.
“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman – This book was written as Neil Gaiman traveled across the United States, and this adventurous spirit is evident on each page. It’s a fictional story that mixes science fiction with mystery and US Travel into the perfect adventure-filled, gripping and intriguing tale.
“Girl Boss” by Sofia Amoruso – Who doesn’t want to be a girl boss? This book will make you say, “To hell with it, I’m going to do whatever I want”, and so you should. Sofia Amoruso’s tale of how she started her empire is inspiring and funny and keeps you interested till the end. It’s a perfect book for anyone striking out on their own.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson – This cult classic is wildly entertaining and a perfect justification for any crazy decisions you may or may not making. I love the manic way that Hunter S. Thompson writes and this particular story makes me want to jump on the next flight anywhere and go crazy.
“Shutterbabe” by Deborah Copaken Kogan – This story is so badass and inspiring; there’s no other way to describe it. The author is a photojournalist who broke into the industry in the late eighties and, as a young woman in a male-dominated field, totally took it by storm. Her stories are amazing and captivating and I wish she would write at least six more books.
What kind of books do you like to read when you travel? Which are your favorite books to bring on solo trips?