Book Review: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook

solo_traveler_cover

First-time solo travel can be challenging. Choosing a destination…planning the trip…figuring out a budget…and staying safe once you’re there. But if you do it right, it’s enjoyable–and incredibly rewarding–which is why so many travelers, myself included, travel on their own.

If you’re new to this type of travel, there’s a book I recommend that could make your experience easier and better. The name: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook (2nd ed.). The author: Janice Waugh of Solo Traveler.

solo_traveler_cover

If you’ve never traveled solo, I have no doubt you’ll find this book useful. Janice shows you how to take baby steps as you plan that first trip—and later, how to kick it up a notch when you want more adventure. I think this is important because not everyone is ready to jump right in.

Janice leads you through the basics steps of the solo travel process, from the initial planning stage to when you’re actually at the destination. The handbook covers everything from choosing accommodations and minimizing culture shock to dining out and taking self-portraits.

She’s honest and realistic about all aspects of solo travel. She talks about the many advantages of it and of the rewarding moments–the way you tend to meet people when you’re on your own and the incredible hospitality found around the world. She shares personal anecdotes about her trips and experiences, which adds a nice personal touch.

She also prepares new solo travelers for what can go wrong–scams one might encounter along the way, for example–and teaches you how to spot and avoid these situations if possible. She highlights and thoroughly explains the “priorities of safety: your person, your documents, your money and your stuff.”

This is important for many reasons. Although I often hear people saying, “Anything can happen anywhere, even right in your hometown,” I do believe that a woman traveling solo is more likely to be a target than at home. The risks involved must be acknowledged, considered and prepared for–and Janice does all three.

Twenty pages into this book, I thought, “I wish I’d had this when I took my first solo trip. It would have made it so much easier!”

I also found myself nodding my head, saying, “She’s so right.” I saw myself in her stories, living the same experiences. Entering situations. Taking risks. Not knowing how it would go. And then, things working out well–even better than imagined.

Janice Waugh

Whether you’re new or relatively new to solo travel, this guide is an excellent resource. It has all of the advice and tips that you need—all in one place–and will undoubtedly help make your first or next trip a great one.

Near the end of the book, Janice says of solo travel: “…the more I’ve done it, the more experience I’ve accumulated, the more extraordinary my travel has become.”

That’s been the case for me, too.

And, I hope–if you try solo travel–for you, too.

Your Thoughts re: Solo Travel

I’ve been a mostly solo traveler since I started traveling 20 years ago, and I absolutely love it. I have more encounters with the locals when I’m on my own and enjoy the freedom to do what I want day to day. It takes time and energy to negotiate with another person and most often, I’d prefer to just make my own decisions.

Have you ever traveled solo and if so, did you enjoy it? If not, why not? If you’re an experienced solo traveler, do you have any advice for anyone new to it? Also, why do you opt to go on your own? What’s the best thing about it for you?

6 Responses to Book Review: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook
  1. Jeruen
    July 2, 2013 | 12:54 am

    I haven’t read this book, and given your review, I somehow wish I knew about this when I started traveling solo in 2007.

    In 2006, I was visiting my parents who were living in Prague at that time, we were eating in a Colombian restaurant, and I remarked how nice it would be to visit South America. My father immediately told me not to go, or else I would be kidnapped. I guess to spite him, I planned my first solo vacation the next year.

    I originally wanted to go to Machu Picchu, but soon realized it was a little complicated: flying to Lima, then to Cusco, then a train to Machu Picchu. Too complicated for a first time solo in a place I didn’t speak the language. So I decided to go to Quito for a week, as a practice trip. I bought a guidebook, and planned my week-long stay in Quito seeing the city, plus doing daytrips to places like Otavalo and Mitad del Mundo. That was 2007.

    I have replayed that trip over and over again, seeing things I would have done otherwise, given my current experience. But I guess that’s the learning process, right? I found solo travel rather easy for me, simply because I was used to traveling already, growing up with a diplomat father. But I am sure most people who don’t have my atypical background would learn a lot from this book.
    Jeruen recently posted..Year 9My Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 2, 2013 | 1:47 am

      Hi, Jeruen. Sounds like Ecuador was a perfect choice for that solo trip! PS…that country holds a special place in my heart (long story there for another time–in fact, it’s another book I’ve got planned–just about Ecuador).

      My first truly solo trip outside the U.S. was to Spain. The first week I wasn’t solo; I stayed with British friend in Madrid. We traveled to the southern coast and after that, I was on my own. I did the equivalent of couch surfing. Back then, there was an organization called Servas (open doors for travelers). It was great. I spent time in Sevilla (hot as hell in July–yikes), Granada (one of my fave cities), went through Portugal and spent a week in a small village in Galicia. Then, back to Madrid for a bullfight. Loved that trip!

      There were some challenging moments–like getting stuck in a crappy room in Portugal (my fault for waiting until the last minute). I ended up in an old lady’s bedroom (she stayed on a mattress in the kitchen). Her room was dusty, dirty and full of religious icons and doilies and was beyond unpleasant. Fortunately, I had my ‘sleep sack’ with me and some antihistamine.

      The next day, I ate rabbit casserole and drank some fantastic wine and all was well again.

      :)

  2. Nick (theboywander)
    July 2, 2013 | 11:55 pm

    I might have to check this out. My first 9 months of travel I spent mostly with friends and after returning home I realised I needed to travel solo, so the next trip is booked for myself.
    I think solo travel forces you to get out there and explore a bit more instead of taking comfort in conversation with your friends.
    Nick (theboywander) recently posted..Indian food burnsMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 9, 2013 | 9:50 am

      Hi, Nick. I agree that solo travel gets you out there exploring, etc., which is great. If you do your next trip solo, perhaps take some language classes and do a homestay. It’s a great way to get to know the culture and meet some locals at the same time.

      Enjoy!

  3. Hogga
    July 4, 2013 | 12:17 pm

    i’ll have to check it out. thanks!
    Hogga recently posted..Honging the KongMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 9, 2013 | 9:48 am

      You seem quite advanced as a solo traveler now… PS: I like that ‘Honging the Kong.’ Funny!

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