Women's Travel Writing
I have always found that after the jet lag has worn off, the bags are unpacked, and the souvenirs distributed, that what lives on for me are the stories of experiences in adapting to different cultures. People who love to travel will appreciate the stories shared by these authors in their travel memoirs.
Following is a list of some of my favorites that are worth a read:
The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World. After a thrilling trip to South America, Jen, Holly, and Amanda, three Manhattanites in their mid-twenties, decide to climb off the career ladder for a year to travel the world. Traveling 60,000 miles across four continents, Jen, Holly, and Amanda push themselves far outside their comfort zones to embrace every adventure.
Without Reservations: the Travels of an Independent Woman. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steinbach took an extended leave from her newspaper job to travel around Europe in search of spontaneity.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Elizabeth Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.
The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen. In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it's hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen--the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground--would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil.
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks: One Woman's Hilarious Adventure into a Country and Culture Not Her Own. Polly Evans’s itinerary for China was simple: travel by luxurious high-speed train and long-distance bus, glide along the Grand Canal and hike up scenic mountains. It didn't quite work out for her, as she got to know China in a way she’d never expected and would never, ever forget.
Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto. Two years out of college and with a degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Victoria Riccardi left a boyfriend, a rent-controlled New York City apartment, and a plum job in advertising to move to Kyoto to study kaiseki, the exquisitely refined form of cooking that accompanies the formal Japanese tea ceremony. She arrived in Kyoto, and left a year later, having learned the language, the art of kaiseki, and what was truly important to her.
Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road. The 25 women contributors to this volume (including Anne Lamott, Ellen Degeneres, Sandra Tsing Loh and Sarah Vowell), share stories of their comical, bizarre, and unforgettable adventures which include being chased by a herd of 50 African elephants, and getting bitten by a goddess-possessed healer in Kathmandu.
Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India. When twenty-something reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her job in New York City and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country.
Dork Whore: My Travels Through Asia as a Twenty-Year Old Pseudo-Virgin. Fresh out of the Israeli Army, twenty-year-old Iris Bahr decides to follow the footsteps of many before her and backpack through Asia. Only unlike the average traveler, she has more in mind than just seeing the sights: she is on a desperate mission to lose her virginity.
3 mph: The Adventures of One Woman's Walk Around the World. In 1974, as a 12-year-old growing up in Minneapolis, Polly Letofsky was inspired by a Minnesota man who had become the first man to walk around the world. Twenty-five years later, she left her home in Colorado, to begin her life-long dream to walk around the world.
Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone. Great travel writing has always been about the person making the trip as well as the things he or she encounters, and Mary Morris's category-defying 1988 memoir was an instant classic as much for its candid revelation of the author's turbulent emotions as for its sensitive, unglamorous portrait of a Latin America most tourists never see.