When I was but a little child, I had already a strong desire to see the world. Whenever I met a travelling-carriage, I would stop involuntarily, and gaze after it until it had disappeared; I used even to envy the postilion, for I thought he also must have accomplished the whole long journey.
- Ida Laura Pfeiffer, Visit to Iceland
The above words were written by Ida Laura Pfeiffer, one of the first women explorers to travel alone around the world in the 1800s and then write about it. Solo-female travel, while not new, is becoming more widely accepted and encouraged, partly in thanks to women travelers sharing their stories through their memoirs.
Setting out into the world alone, while adventurous and exciting, also offers us a precious gift hard to find anywhere but the open road or deserted trail. Solo-travel invites us to be transformed, to reflect, and to learn about ourselves and the world around us. If you have been considering a solo-travel adventure or are just looking for a new great read, check out our list of inspiring travel memoirs written by female authors.
1. Wild By Nature
Author | Sarah Marquis
What We Love | If you loved Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, you will again fall in love with National Geographic Explorer Sarah Marquis and her solo-hike memoir, Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot. Beginning in Siberia, Marquis writes of her 3-year, 10,000-mile journey on foot, traversing 6 countries and finishing in Australia. Marquis is no stranger to marathon solo hikes, having previously hiked from Canada to Mexico, through the Andes, and 8,700 miles around Australia. Her book, released early 2016, tells the incredible story of her adventure while showcasing her resilience, wit, and courageous spirit. More than anything, Marquis is another fantastic example of women living wild and completing challenging expeditions.
Reviews | “A vibrant epic, this wondrous book is, at its core, a story of resilience. Marquis is industrious, and I recommend this book to all people seeking to discover the massive magnitude of their own potential power. A triumph!” - Aspen Matis
Price | $11
Author | Lauren Elkin
What We Love | Lauren Elkin was born and raised in the suburbs of New York before moving to Paris in 2004. In her most recent book, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, Elkin explores the cultural history of women writers and artists who have found inspiration in exploring the street of large cities on their own terms. A flâneuse, a woman who is said to behave like the historical masculine figure of privilege who strides the capitals of the world with abandon, is defined by Elkin as a purposeful, ingenious woman liberated and creatively inspired by city walks. Based partly on her own life, as well as the lives of historical and prominent women, Flâneuse is a must-read in 2017.
Reviews | “At a moment when women’s rights have come to significant national attention, Flâneuse also reads as a document of resilience, one that celebrates female figures fighting to be seen . . . Blending historical analysis, literary criticism, and memoir, Elkin seeks to re-define the concept of flânerie itself, and to reclaim the city for its women wanderers.” - Arnav Adhikari
Price | $16
3. Imagine Wanting Only This
Author | Kristen Radtke
What We Love | One of the most anticipated graphic novels of 2017, Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This is a breathtaking blend of written word and illustration. Beginning with the death of her beloved uncle and an encounter with an abandoned mining town, Radtke’s memoir is fueled by her lifelong fascination with ruins around the world and the people and places left behind. A graphic tale that explores abandoned cities, buried towns, and desolate locations, she seeks to answer the questions, “Why are we here, and what will we leave behind?”
Reviews | “I was continuously struck by Radtke's unending and unapologetic explorations of the ruins that litter our lives and puncture our curious and very personal understandings of home. This book is beautiful, intelligent, and very much alive.” - Claire Tobin
Price | $15
4. Bleaker House
Author | Nell Stevens
What We Love | Determined to write and finish her first novel, Nell Stevens traveled on a fellowship to Bleaker Island - a windy, penguin-occupied place belonging to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. Stevens quickly learns her romantic ideals of writing in a desolate and distraction-free environment come at a cost, and her fiction novel quickly turns into a memoir about writing a book in a freezing guesthouse with terrible internet and little food. Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World is clever, original, and a delightfully creative nonfiction tale.
Reviews | “Nell Stevens takes you on a wild ramble across the landscape of the writing life, and at the end sets you down somewhere entirely new and unexpected. This is a romp of a book, a genre-defying feat of the imagination, and pure pleasure to read.” - Alison Pick
Price | $15
5. At Home In The World
Author | Tsh Oxenreider
What We Love | Have you ever wondered what it truly means to be at home? Tsh Oxenreider explores the meaning of home in her latest memoir, At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe, while backpacking the world for nine months with her husband and three kids. From China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England and more, Oxenreider ponders the meaning of place while captivating readers with her honest, intimate approach to narrative. Her own story challenges nomads, vagabonds, and anyone who has ever felt out of place to engage and wrestle with the concept of home.
Reviews | “A beautiful reminder of how travel shapes us, how beautiful the world is, and how parenting doesn't need to mean the end of adventuring.” - Shauna Niequist
Price | $10
6. The Yellow Envelope
Author | Kim Dinan
What We Love | Kim Dinan’s second travel memoir, The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World, shares of a beautiful giving experiment and the transformative power of generosity. After uprooting their lives to backpack the world, Dinan and her husband receive one last gift before departing Portland: a yellow envelope with a check and the simple instruction to give the money away during their journey and share about the experience. Dinan’s words are uplifting, moving, and powerful in this beautiful tale of self-discovery through travel. Without sharing any spoilers, readers won’t be surprised to learn generosity has little to do with money.
Reviews | “The Yellow Envelope is an intriguing and riveting tale of Kim's travel adventures. I was especially intrigued by her process of self-discovery which is tightly woven into her experiences. She talks openly and honestly about earth-shaking moments, marital doubts, and quiet insights...often in the tone of sharing secrets with a best friend.” - Rita Golden Gelman
Price | $12
7. All Over The Place
Author | Geraldine DeRuiter
What We Love | Geraldine DeRuiter describes herself as the type of person who has no sense of direction and is terrified of pigeons, therefore she should eat nachos at home rather than travel the world. But when she is laid off from a job she loves, DeRuiter decides to tag along with her husband, who travels frequently for work. Her first book, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft, tells of her wonderful, transformative, and sometimes terrifying experiences. A hilarious and candid memoir, this read is for anyone who wants to laugh, cry, and read about what it's like to travel the world with someone you already know and love.
Reviews | “Geraldine DeRuiter’s All Over the Place is a travel memoir of sorts, but I’d enjoy reading pretty much any topic she wanted to cover. Her voice is funny, witty and warm, and her stories sparkle. This book is a travel companion you’ll be happy you brought along.” - Lauren Graham
Price | $14
Author | Melanie Radzicki McManus
What We Love | A memoir about adventure, nature, and solo-hiking, Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail tells the story of Melanie Radzicki McManus’s journey on what is known as The Ice Age Trail, a 1,100-mile foot path through the state of Wisconsin. Harrowing, hilarious, and profound, McManus’s story is fit for adventure junkies and wilderness wanderers alike. If you want to be both wildly entertained and deeply impacted, pick up a copy of this recently published memoir.
Reviews | “Melanie Radzicki McManus’s Thousand-Miler is an absorbing and enlightening first-person account of a thru-trekking adventure...a congenial, adventurous, and inspiring trek through America’s wilderness, with broad appeal.” - Susan Waggoner
Price | $14