Traveling alone as a woman is exhilarating—and often intimidating, at least at the beginning. If you’re longing to travel alone but you’re hesitating, books can provide the perfect push to get you booking that first journey.
As an experienced solo female traveler and avid reader, here are the six best travel books by women that are my personal favorites! Happy reading and happy travels!
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1. What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
This is one of my favorite books about traveling alone as a woman – the title alone tells you it’s going to be an irreverent look at being a woman traveling alone. Newman is a sitcom writer so the book is hilarious, but it’s also a very insightful look at love and relationships as a single woman in her 30s.
As all of her friends are settling down with husbands and babies and houses, she decides to take herself on extended trips around the world and experience all kinds of flings and “vacationships” with the men she meets, from Iceland to Israel and beyond. It’s a fun, fast read but also a surprisingly poignant one, and it will definitely inspire you to think about your next trip differently as you uncover your travel self. Buy it on Amazon.
2. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy
Dervla Murphy biked from Ireland to India with just herself and a few necessities (including a little pistol) in 1963. Her journey was exhilarating and exhausting as she biked through blizzards in Bulgaria, the remote and hungry mountain regions of Pakistan, and the beauty and proud ancient tribes of Afghanistan.
I am a housecat who refuses to go on even a small hike so it’s not that I dream of following in Murphy’s exact trail, but her bravery and openness to new experiences and cultures is so inspiring. And if she can bike through some of the most intimidating terrain in the world alone 60 years ago, setting off on your own solo journey suddenly feels a whole lot less intimidating. This is one of the best books to read while traveling alone because it reminds you what we’re all capable of when we want it badly enough. Buy it on Amazon.
3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Of course, any list of solo female travel books would not be complete without Eat Pray Love. And as a writer, I have to say this one has an unfair reputation as a bit of light, silly chick lit. Gilbert writes eloquently about how difficult it is to break out of the lives and roles expected of us as women and her search for a different way of living. (The movie, on the other hand, is very fairly rated as terrible!)
While a lot of the book is definitely driven by Gilbert’s wealth and privilege (I too would love to spend a year traveling based on a huge book advance), that doesn’t really take away from the perspective she offers here. Read it with an open mind and see what you think! Buy it on Amazon.
4. The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman
While the books I’ve recommended so far are written by older writers, if you’re in your 20s and just starting to figure out your life, this is the book about traveling alone for you. Friedman was a well-behaved and accomplished college junior when she suddenly decided to move to Ireland for a summer solo.
She felt lost and alone at first, but braving a new country solo built up her confidence (that’s why solo female travel is so incredible). It made me wish I’d done the same thing in my early 20s! Read this one if you want to travel alone but you’re not sure where to start—and my list of my favorite solo female travel destinations is another great starting point. Buy it on Amazon.
5. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
Steinbach, on the other hand, takes her 4-month Europe jaunt alone while she’s in her 40s to rediscover what she wants and loves, without other people defining her. She travels through England, Italy, and France experiencing the beauty of Europe and the freedom that comes from traveling alone.
While this book is definitely geared to an older audience (no backpacking memories or hostel love stories here, but she does buy a very expensive silk dress in Paris), it’s a serene and easy read, and inspirational if you’re looking for a more sophisticated take on female travel memoirs. Buy it on Amazon.
6. Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasure of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
Rosenbloom writes beautifully about exploring four different cities by herself—Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and her own city of New York—and what she learned in each. But what sets this apart from other books about solo travel is her inclusion of psychologists and sociologists who provide an expert perspective on happiness and fulfillment that compliments her personal experience.
If you’re looking for data to justify why you have a yearning to travel alone, or want to read about the lives of artists and innovators who found inspiration in their solitude and solo journeys, this is the perfect book on solo travel for you. Buy it on Amazon.
The Best Female Travel Memoirs
All of these books about traveling alone are memoirs, giving you insight into the experiences of other solo female travelers. I hope they inspire you to start traveling alone and exploring the world around you, whether you cross an ocean to get there or just head to a different part of your town for the day!
More Solo Female Travel Resources
- How to Dine Out Alone While Traveling
- My Complete Guide to Solo Female Travel
- My 5 Favorite Places for New Solo Female Travelers