Yesterday, I was discussing the joy and/or necessity of traveling alone, which I wholeheartedly believe in, but recently, I finished reading a book on the subject that I thought was really useful Time to Take Flight, by Jayne Seagrave.
As a younger woman, I found Seagrave’s tone to be endearing. She speaks with the authority of an older sister, or college professor, making suggestions without getting preachy or didactic as she discusses her own travels and also provides advice for other women–young or old–looking to begin venturing out into the world on their own. Seagrave’s book is full of great advice and packing tips as well as information on specific cities both stateside and abroad, that would-br travelers may like to visit. I actually can’t wait to loan this book to a student who wants to venture forth in the wild, because Time to Take Flight is an excellent companion for female travelers of any age.
To anyone who is really into traveling alone, I would also recommend the book Wild, of course, by Cheryl Strayed. At this point it has really become a classic must-read for women looking to test their limits against mother nature, as well as those who simply wish they had that kind of courage (like me!). Far from an instructional manual, Wild is the compelling memoir of Strayed’s real-life hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. (In my part of the US, we do the Appalachian Trail). What I love about this book is that the narrator is imperfect, and thereby completely relatable. She screws up throughout the memoir over and over again, and somehow that process of screwing up helps her to find a piece of herself that she needs. If you need strength and courage to tackle any obstacle (travel-related or otherwise), Wild is definitely an empowering, uplifting read.
These two books are both extremely accessible, easy reads, but if you’re looking for something more challenging, you might want to check out Travel as Transformation by Gregory Diehl. This relatively unknown book is a Kindle-only read. It amounts to a collection of essays kind of like those you were assigned in college, but the upside is that these essays are all about the way travel and experiencing culture changes our worldview. Diehl believes that we have many selves, and it is foreign places that unlock the doors to those parts of us that are hidden. Travel as Transformation is one of the more thought-provoking reads that I have experienced as I consider the role of travel in my own life.
The truth is, there are as many books about travel as there are places to visit, but I love reading them just the same. If you have any recommendations for must-read travel books, please share your ideas in the comments. It will be nice hearing from you. Until then, bon voyage!