Last year, I asked for your travel questions. The first request was for advice about solo travel for women. One problem with that. I rarely travel solo, so I wouldn't be able to provide definitive insight based on experience. Until now!
Craig and Linda Martin's Indietravel Podcast has just published their The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide by Stephanie Lee, and Craig and Linda -- whom I had the pleasure of meeting last month -- were kind enough to provide me with a review copy along with an interview with the author.
Who is this book for?
This is a book specifically for women who don't have extensive travel experience, particularly solo travel.
"Siblings for their sisters. Parents for their daughters. Anybody who might be up for an adventure."-Stephanie Lee
While the Girl's Guide is geared more for women, it contains plenty of solid -- some surprising -- information for all people planning on striking out on their own.
What type of travel?
Budget. Stephanie's entire year of travel cost 15 thousand Australian dollars. Even so, she leaves enough room to treat yourself to a good dinner or spa treatment.
One of my favorite parts of the book is Stephanie's break down of what she spent and where plus another full section on how to save money prior to your trip and while on the road.
What was most useful?
Her packing checklist. You'd think after four years of travel, I'd be a well tempered packing artist. Alas, no. So Stephanie's well-tried list of everything you'll need plus warnings of what you won't need -- no matter how much you think you will -- sang out to me.
My packing downfall? I am a total and utter product whore. I always think I'm going to need far more than I do. The bare bones toiletries list in the Girl Guide is extensive enough to assuage any fears I have that I might find myself out somewhere in a dry wind without enough lotion or lip balm, yet short enough to actually fit into one bag weighing 15kg or less.
I love that she includes one travel luxury item. Meaning, something we all know we don't really need and shouldn't bother bringing along, but we want to anyway. Hers is a hair dryer. Mine would be nail polish. What would your luxury item be?
What information surprised me?
I didn't expect to see a gadget overview paired with advice as to whether it's worth taking said gadget along. Here, she discusses laptops, e-book readers, smart phones, music players, mobile phones and digital cameras.
Another section I didn't expect? How and why you should use Google tools on your trip. I use Google every day for work but hadn't thought of how useful an iGoogle home could be for travel when set up properly with currency converter and translator among other tools.
I was also surprised to find a discussion of the types of bags you can possibly take. Usually, it's assumed you'll be carrying a backpack. Discussion follows of what pack to take. Done. The Girl's Guide discusses other possible options.
What about Couchsurfing?
I often see people recommend Couchsurfing as a way to ease the burden on your travel wallet. And yes, this is very much one of the benefits of being on the website, but too often, people forget that Couchsurfing is a community. Stephanie gets that. "I had many experiences I would never trade for the best hotel in the world even if I could afford it," she says.
Because Stephanie is an experienced couchsurfer, you can trust her tips for finding hosts and being a valued part of the community
How does this e-book appeal specifically to women?
Stephanie discusses safety in a practical way designed to support your travel without being overly cautious or frightening. She mentions each of the countries visited on her trip and provides straightforward evaluations of comfort levels, ability to go out at night as well as what to do if you're feeling threatened.
She also includes an entire section dealing with loneliness, eating on your own and how to find community and center yourself when homesickness hits. For me, someone who is well traveled but rarely travels alone, those tips provide a brief glimpse at how wonderful the challenges of solo travel can be.
Any questions? Leave yours in comments below?
Or if you want the book for yourself, head over to the Indietravel Podcast Girl's Guide page and Buy It Now!