11 Inspiring Solo Female Travel Books That Any Woman Should Read
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If you are hesitant about traveling solo, these solo female travel books will inspire your wanderlust and show you the way.
I have put together this article with the help of amazing solo travel bloggers who shared their favorite books about traveling solo.
You will find stories of adventurous women who decided to leave the comfort zone of their conventional life for an uncertain but exciting life on the road, to learn about new cultures and create new connections, but most of all to find their truth.
Whether you are in a difficult moment in your life and you need some motivation or you just want to enjoy a good reading these books are for you.
Sometimes we just need a little encouragement from others that have already walked their path and shared their experience. Through travel books or solo travel quotes, we may find inspiration to daring greatly as well.
If you are looking for more adventure travel inspiration for couples instead, I have got you covered as well!
Read on and pick your favorite story!
From the prologue
"I love that I am but one of the millions of single girls hit- ting the road by themselves these days. A hateful little ex-boyfriend once said that a house full of cats used to be the sign of a terminally single woman, but now it’s a house full of souvenirs acquired on foreign adventures. He said it derogatorily: Look at all of this tragic overcompensating in the form of tribal masks and rain sticks. But I say that plane tickets replacing cats might be the best evidence of women’s progress as a gender. I’m damn proud of us. Also, since I have both a cat and a lot of foreign souvenirs, I broke up with that dude and went on a really great trip."
Inspiring Solo Female Travel Books
1. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Goldman Gelman
Recommended by Julien Casanova of Oaxaca Travel Tips
Tales of a Female Nomad is a true story turned into a book to inspire solo female travel. On the edge of divorce, author Rita Goldman Gelman decides to leave her comfortable life in Los Angeles and set off on a solo adventure.
Only it’s the early 1980s and her nomadic travels look very different than today, which is one of the reasons I think this is an inspiring book for solo female travelers.
There is no internet, no cell phone to stay in touch, and no travel blogs to lead her on her journey.
Instead, she is guided by her intuition and fueled by her desire to experience a different way of life.
Her travels begin with living in a Zapotec village in Oaxaca, Mexico. While initially seen as an outsider, she is quickly embraced by the community.
And this theme continues through her travels as she wanders the globe while learning from individuals and their cultures.
The lessons from her travels are ones that every type of traveler can embrace, though I think they are particularly potent for a solo female traveler following in her path.
2. Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves
Recommended by Martina from PlacesofJuma
In the book “Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents” by Elisabeth Eaves, the author writes about her travel experiences that span a period of about one and a half decades.
The book is primarily about a journey of self-discovery, about trying to find yourself far away from home and also about searching the feeling of being home.
A situation that spoke very much from my heart personally. Really well written also, entertaining and on a very personal level.
Inspired by her childhood sweetheart Graham, she too feels drawn to faraway places in her youth. Actually, she started to move from one place to the next.
She spends a year abroad in Cairo and later does a government internship in Pakistan. After that, her wanderlust is unstoppable, and she gets lost in a long list of romances and places.
Actually, each new adventure is also marked by a new man.
What I really liked personally were the parts where the author wrote about the place. Where of course the parts about her love life were also very entertaining.
A nice book, especially if you are suffering from wanderlust.
3. Beneath the Smiling Moustache by Belinda Lara Robinson
By Louisa Smith, Founder of Epic Book Society
In 1990, solo female traveler Belinda Lara Robinson was just 22 years old and eager to leave her small town in Australia to see the world.
The plan was to backpack across Europe and see a new country, with unique history and culture that was different from back home.
When she ends up in Istanbul, something terrible happens; she’s hit by a bus. Far away from home, and in the days without social media and easy access to the internet, Belinda was very much alone.
After being let down by the Aussie government, it was the kindness of the Turkish people that helped her heal – both physically and emotionally.
Beneath the Smiling Moustache is a comical yet emotional story of one woman’s courage, bravery, and determination to see the beauty in other cultures.
It also offers a unique insight into the life and culture of Turkish people, at a time when tensions were rising in the Middle East.
In 2018, Belinda Lara Robinson was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. It was her dying wish to release this book that tells the story of the most memorable time of her life while solo female traveling.
Throughout her life, Belinda was an avid traveler and always wanted to see, learn about and empathize with cultures outside her own.
Beneath the Smiling Moustache is her legacy and an incredible story of warmth and compassion. Belinda Lara Robinson passed away on February 7th, 2020.
4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Contributed by Anu Agarwal of Destination Checkoff
Wild is a remarkable story of a young woman’s journey of hiking more than 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail alone in an attempt to find herself.
The book is a memoir and the story is about the author herself and her quest as a solo hiker and traveler.
It truly depicts the struggles of solo travel like boredom, and loneliness; as well as the joys associated with traveling alone like courage and discovering one’s own companionship.
Wild is a heartwarming and inspiring read.
Inspired by Wild, I chose Big Island, the land of volcanoes and rainforests as my journey to explore and experience the power of nature.
In my Big Island itinerary, I explored the historical Kona region, the lush rainforests of Hilo, the sacred Waipio valley, and the powerful volcanoes of Volcanoes National Park.
The black and green sand beaches were very unique. I did several hikes on the Big Island inspired by the hiking story in Wild.
Traveling solo is a therapeutic experience and allowed me to clear my mind and connect with myself. I felt humbled in front of the immense power of nature.
In a hurry? Click on the picture and go straight to Amazon!
5. West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Contributed by Victoria from Guide your Travel
West with the Night is a uniquely inspiring book about an independent woman who takes her destiny into her own hands and sees the world in her own way.
Set in the 1930s, this memoir follows Beryl Markham who breaks records as a pilot and even crosses the Atlantic completely by herself just like Amelia Earhart.
However, Markham’s story isn’t nearly as famous although her story is just as impressive. This book is an exciting read and inspiring for anyone hoping to travel alone for the first time.
Today, it’s easy for women to do just that (or at least it should be) although it was nearly impossible and completely unheard of during the time of Beryl Markham.
Her love for the African continent and many incredible destinations make her and her story truly unique.
6. Tracks by Robyn Davidson
By Emily from Wander-Lush
First published in 1980, Tracks is something of a bible for solo female travelers. The novel had a resurgence of popularity after the film adaptation starring Mia Wasikowska was released in 2013.
Penned by Australian author Robyn Davidson, Tracks is an autobiographical memoir that recalls her epic journey by foot across the Land Down Under.
In 1977, Davidson walked 16,800 miles through the remote Western Australian desert, accompanied by her dog and four camels.
Described as an ‘odyssey of self-discovery, the novel recalls how Davidson pushed her body and mind to the limit during her solo journey, fighting against the elements and overcoming incredible hardships.
Quite incredibly, the walk wasn’t an attempt to seek fame or fortune – Davidson never even intended to write a book about her experience, rather she embarked on the journey to prove something to herself.
Solo travelers will relate to the sense of complete independence and solitude Davidson experiences.
But, as is so often the case, a huge part of the story ends up being about the people you encounter along the way – in this case, photographer Rick Smolan who accompanied Davidson on several stages of the journey, and more consequentially the Indigenous Australians who guided and helped her along the way.
7. Quiet Escapes, by Emma Thomson
Contributed by Carley, Home to Havana
For a unique take on solo female travel, pick up a copy of Quiet Escapes by Emma Thomson.
Sharing unique details about 50 tranquil escapes, from lodges in Guatemala to unique retreat experiences in Italy and the world’s first “quiet park” in the depths of the Ecuador Amazon rainforest, Thomson’s inspiring travel tales will inspire wanderlust for any solo female traveler.
Beyond just identifying cool new destinations and experiences in travel, Thomson’s collection of stories has much more to offer solo travelers.
While solo travel can sometimes get a bit lonely, many of Thomson’s travel experiences speak to how to embrace the quiet, zen moments of travel.
Her stories specifically identify destinations perfect for embracing solitary moments and that help you incorporate more of this into your day-to-day life upon returning from travel.
Whether you follow her destination recommendations or not, you’ll love her book and find it an inspiring read as you plan your next solo trip.
8. What’s wrong with you? by Ana Bakran
Contributed by Gaby from Under Flowery Sky
Ana Bakran is a Croatian hitchhiker that made alone a splendid adventure from Croatia to Bora Bora. Even more amazing, she did it twice.
The second time she only hitchhiked boats in French Polynesia and explored the islands. It wasn’t the only reason to return as she decided to write the book What’s wrong with you?.
I heard about Ana Bakran through another Croatian hitchhiker. It sounds absolutely astonishing how she doesn’t answer concretely questions about money.
Ana Bakran was a successful bussiness woman and attended University in the USA. When her business company went down, she decided to go into hitchhiking adventure.
Today Ana Bakran lives in French Polynesia, at Nuku Hiva Island. Her hitchhiking story turned into a love story. She was very cautious about having a relationship during her journey so it was possible when she finally ended it.
Travelling from Croatia to Bora Bora lasted four years. Ana was travelling slowly, sometimes even finding occasional jobs.
She also became vegan on the road. I was very happy to receive her postcard from French Polynesia after buying the book.
What’s wrong with you? is a perfect guidebook for all hitchhikers, especially women. It’s also an invite to follow your dreams, wherever they lead.
9. Nowhere for Very Long: The Unexpected Road to an Unconventional Life by Brianna Madia
This colorful memoir follows Madia, a wanderlusty young woman who buys and moves into a bright orange van with her husband and two dogs.
She chronicles her travels around the beautiful deserts of the American Southwest and her adventures in the van.
Unlike the recent van life movement, Nowhere For Very Long doesn’t just focus on the glamorous moments of nomadic life, but equally serves up the frustrating or painful ones- from breaking down on the side of South Dakota (… and, also in Wyoming) to sleeping in a parking lot that was so bitter cold, her water jugs froze.
Throughout the book, she grapples with her relationship and her place in a world she doesn’t quite fit in.
When she transitions from traveling as a married woman to a solo traveler, she discovers that she’s able to find herself, despite the uncertainty of her life, in the slot canyons of Utah and the dusty backcountry roads of the United States.
Madia’s story resonates with me- I long to explore the wide open spaces of my country, living a nomadic life, and focusing more on experiences than material things.
In fact, I had my own solo adventure in Utah, exploring Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park on my own.
I planned the trip specifically because I knew the epic vistas and sweeping landscapes of Utah would be one of the best places to clear my mind and recenter myself after a grueling year at my job.
But, like Nowhere for Very Long reminds us, the real self-discovery happens along the journey- from figuring out how to change a flat tire by myself on a long stretch of abandoned highway to making friends with another solo traveler, bonding over our tired feet from the day’s hikes, and love of hoppy beers.
10. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
by Mariellen Ward from BreatheDreamGo
While recovering from a painful divorce, writer Elizabeth Gilbert proposed the idea of a lengthy trip to Italy, India, and Bali to her editor with the intention of rediscovering herself, healing, and writing a book about her journey.
She traveled by herself – though with the financial support of a hefty advance – and wrote Eat, Pray, Love on her return.
Eat, Pray, Love is more than a best-seller, it’s a publishing phenomenon.
The book, published in 2005, has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been read by many millions more.
Women, especially, have found inspiration in author Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert’s personal journeys across Italy (eat), India (pray), and Love (Bali).
The book supports the idea of a personal (or spiritual) quest – which some people find selfish – and describes how she healed, learned, changed, and found a new love while travelling solo.
Eat, Pray, Love basically gives women travellers permission to do something – travel – for their benefit alone, and to value the healing journey.
The more we are able to heal, and become more aware and conscious, the happier we will be. And the happier we are, the better we will be as lovers, wives, mothers, daughters, and friends.
Of course, Eat, Pray, Love is also a travelogue, and you will get to eat pizza in India, meditate at a Yoga ashram in India, and live in a villa surrounded by rice paddies in Bali.
Eat, Pray, Love in India is mostly set in a Yoga ashram, though, so you won’t actually learn that much about the country.
11. What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
Contributed by Rachel Grenis of Caribbean Uncovered
There’s no more empowering solo female travel book than Kristin Newman’s “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding“.
In her memoir, “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding”, Kristin Newman, a Hollywood sitcom writer, takes readers through her journey of solo female travel in her thirties.
She candidly discusses the struggles and rewards of this lifestyle choice, inspiring others to follow their heart – even when it doesn’t match societal norms.
Although solo travel can be tough at times, Newman highlights the ways in which it has enriched her life, deepening her understanding of both herself and the world around her.
Her story is a reminder that life is short and that we should all live in accordance with our own values and desires.
After reading this inspiring story, I took off on a two-year solo travel adventure and attribute this book to feeling brave and empowered enough to do so.
Whether you’re considering solo travel or simply looking for an empowering read, “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” is sure to inspire.
Inspiring Solo Female Travel Books: Final thoughts
Each one of the above-mentioned stories teaches you how to get out of your comfort zone and break with social stereotypes about what your life is supposed to be.
They teach you how to own it, instead, to ignore what others expect from you and listen to the inner voice that pushes you through your limiting beliefs, and propels you to go out there and make magic! I hope you will allow yourself to listen!