In support of International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a look at some of the most inspiring travel memoirs written by female travellers. Whether they’ve made us laugh, cry or feel inspired to seek our own life-changing global adventures, here are 6 of the best travel memoirs written by women:
Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America
Recommended by Amy:
Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America aims to break the stigma of female solo travel. Written by Amy Baker who also blogs at Amy Baker Writes, it encourages women to unlock their deepest travel desires without worrying about what other people think. The book details Amy’s travels around South America, while blissfully ignoring the over-the-top advice she received from family and friends.
“What struck me when I decided to go travelling on my own was how much advice people wanted to fling my way - not all of it useful,” Amy told us. “Much of it was a list of reasons to stay at home, as well as all the dangers, diseases and awful people I might encounter. If I hadn’t travelled before, I might have been scared off and believed what they’d said, that the world wasn’t mine to explore.”
We asked Amy what she wanted readers to learn from her memoir, she told us: “The importance of forming opinions about yourself and the world, based on real, first-hand experiences. We’re bombarded with so much information telling us what we should think, be, want and have, that it’s difficult to distinguish your own opinions from the opinions of others. Travelling solo really gives you time and space to work out who you are, what interests you and what you care about achieving. It gives you a different perspective on life and a different kind of confidence. Once you know that you’re capable of navigating your way around a continent, it opens your eyes up to other parts of life you can be more confident in.”
In Search of Silence
Recommended by Carrie-Ann:
Recommended by Carrie-Ann Lightley, In Search of Silence is a travel memoir written by Poorna Bell after travelling around India, New Zealand and Britain after losing her husband to suicide. Carrie-Ann found that reading about the rawness of Poorna’s mental and physical journey helped her to face her very own.
“I discovered this book during my own trauma recovery journey - following my husband’s critical illness - and though our stories are very different, so much of Poorna’s writing resonated with me,” Carrie-Ann told us. “This memoir shows us travel through the eyes of someone who, rather than trying to escape life, is pushing her comfort zone to learn what she really wants from life. To break her own rules, to forgive herself and to define what happiness really means to her. To discover that, ultimately, we can’t look to others to fix how we feel inside.
“We can all learn so much from this book and I feel privileged to be able to say that it’s helped me to find happiness again.”
Recommended by Dulcie:
Tracks is the remarkable travel memoir of Robyn Davidson which chronicles her 9 month, 1,700-mile trek across the wilds of the Australian outback in the 1970s, with only four camels and a dog for company. In between dodging snakes and taking care of her camels when they get injured, Robyn’s story sheds light on self-discovery and transformation.
Dulcie from That Festival Life told us why she recommends Tracks, “Robyn is a feminist icon. A strong spirited adventurer with an enviable single-mindedness and an inspiring motivation for travel. She travels purely for herself, not for fame or fortune. She undertook this journey back in 1977 and was revolutionary at that time, not just as a solo female traveller but also in her progressive views on Australian society. I found the courage she displays and her descriptions of transformational experiences incredibly inspiring and would recommend this book to anyone who wants the motivation to face their fears!”
Love With a Chance of Drowning
Recommended by Torre
A popular suggestion on our list, Love With a Chance of Drowning was penned by Torre DeRoche, author and travel blogger at Fearful Adventurer. Torre’s memoir documents her time at sea after falling for a man who is about to sail around the world. Terrified of open water, Torre faces her fears out on the ocean on a thrilling, terrifying and life-altering journey.
Torre told us what inspired the book: “I wanted to show readers this behind-the-scenes world of what it meant to be an adventurer. Sometimes bravery is weeping for half a day straight because you’re exhausted. Sometimes courage is loving with a wide-open heart despite knowing you’ll lose someone. There is nothing courageous about being closed, apathetic, stoic and fearless. Courage is living fully with your heart wide open, pressed up close to the pulse of life - despite all your very normal, very human fears.”
Torre explained why it’s important to hear the voice of female travellers, “Female travel writing tends to be more vulnerable, with a rich emotional vocabulary for describing universal themes like loss, love, desire, shame, oppression and self-actualisation. Those of us who have bought into the idea that courage means being a hardened, stoic Viking who never cries, mistakenly believe that this kind of writing is fluffy and girly. But sharing your vulnerabilities is a sign of emotional intelligence and the world needs this kind of openness to better understand itself.”
Recommended by Flora
Travel blogger and book lover Flora from Flora The Explorer recommended The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. At the age of thirty, Amy finds herself moving back to her childhood home in Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands after struggling to beat her alcohol addiction. Soon after, Amy starts to find hope and self-forgiveness by exploring the wildlands of her homeland that she hasn’t seen in over a decade.
“Over the course of the book, she meticulously documents her self-imposed estrangement from the modern world while also rediscovering her strong connection to nature, which results in a deeply personal, honest and, at times, rather painful read,” Flora told us. “I love Amy’s ability to write evocative travel narrative about a place that’s acutely familiar to her and to also combine that with her personal struggle. At its heart, The Outrun is both a recovery memoir and a love letter to the raw nature of Orkney - and Amy’s vulnerability and honesty are truly inspirational.”
The Shooting Star
Recommended by Shivya
From her small corner of India to conquering the world, Shivya Nath’s travel memoir The Shooting Star outlines her personal journey of change from being a quiet Indian girl to a free-spirited traveller. As well as detailing her transformation, Shivya’s memoir also sheds light on her battles, achievements, relationships and life-changing adventures while exploring far-flung corners of the earth.
Shivya is inspirational, not only because she encourages others to break out of their shells and travel the world without limits but because she is a big advocate of responsible travel. She even launched The Shooting Star Collection - a sustainable travel-inspired clothing collection that raises money to grow forests in Uttarakhand, India.
“I believe that our travel choices have an impact on the places we visit,” Shivya told us. “On my part, I try to contribute to the local economy, prefer public transport, avoid plastic bottled water and other single-use plastic, say no to unethical animal attractions, consume no animal products, prefer to eat what grows in the region, ask for permission before photographing people and try to form my own opinions of the places I visit and the people I meet.”