On my flight back on Sunday, I finished Lauren Juliff’s travelogue How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a disaster-prone backpacker. This is the first travelogue I’d sunk my teeth into in a while, but I recently became totally obsessed with Lauren’s blog Neverending Footsteps and wanted to both support her writing and see what her whole story was about. Oddly enough, I heard about her blog from a tweet from the Matt Kepnes, the author of the this travel book review.
One of the things I love about Lauren’s blog that comes through in her memoir is her openness and ability to discuss embarrassing and debilitating issues with humor and humility. When she set out to travel the world, she was 23 and had almost no real-world experience. She suffered from anxiety and hypochondria, and yet she decided to start her travels in Eastern Europe before heading to Southeast Asia. At every turn, disaster strikes. She has unfortunate oral surgery in Thailand, practically dine-and-dashes a Chinese locksmith, and eats the saddest nachos ever made. Many of her adventures are hilarious, while others are scary, like the time she was molested by backpackers in Laos. Yet, she puts all of her cards on the table.
When people set out to travel, especially long-term solo travel, there are so many things that can be scary. But Lauren’s memoir shows that even though sometimes terrible things happen on the road, there’s still beauty and adventure in a life that’s lived on the edge. She has the opposite personality from the stereotypical backpacker, and this giver her a perspective that’s so different from many other travel writers.
My main criticism is that at times the editing was a bit iffy. The stories are all funny or poignant, but everything could have been reigned in a bit. In addition, the kindle version had some number formatting issues.
If you’re considering setting out on some longer solo travel jaunts, this is a great way to get over any residual fears you may have about traveling alone.
I really enjoyed reading this travelogue, and I’d like to put a few more on my list. What are some travelogues you’ve enjoyed over the past year or so?