When Stephanie Lee began planning her solo round-the-world trip, she struggled to find resources that spoke to her as a young female who wanted to travel on her own. Upon return from her trip, she compiled the answers to all of her questions for future travelers. The result is The Art of Solo Travel, an e-book for women on how to plan and take a solo trip around the world.
Lee breaks her book down into six parts:
The first part, Why Travel Alone?, helps women weigh the advantages and disadvantages of traveling solo. Before leaving home, women will have to sever ties with home and work, and tell family, friends and significant others about the decision to travel the world alone. Lee provides solutions to these dilemmas and also tackles the question on where to go and for how long.
Preparing to Go deals with the logistical issues travelers must contemplate before leaving, such as what and how much to pack, getting vaccinations and travel insurance, and what to do about credit cards. Lee also provides an easy-to-follow, logical packing list broken down by clothing (though some would same she packs too many clothes), cosmetics/toiletries, shoes, miscellaneous items and optional items. She also devotes a whole section to electronic gadgets, including a discussion about whether to pack a laptop, smartphone and e-book reader.
One of the biggest concerns travelers have is not having enough money to travel. Lee’s chapter on financial planning, Travel More, Spend Less, begins with ten easy ways to save money before even leaving home. The suggestions are basic (take your lunch to work versus buying, take public transportation versus owning a car) but are good reminders nonetheless. She then provides detailed information on how she traveled for a year on less than $15,000 with specific breakdowns on exactly where her money went.
The fourth section of Lee’s book, Flying, Sleeping, Eating, Living, is basic travel advice that any traveler could use, solo or not, such as what to wear on an airplane, how to go through customs and security, information on the different types of transportation options available and notes on how to cook on the road. This section also includes information about couchsurfing, the global craze of crashing in other people’s homes for free. Lee does a good job of providing a detailed description on how to make couchsurfing work for the around-the-world traveler, whether male or female.
Finally, her book finishes up with a section she calls Resources. This is simply a list of helpful websites on accommodations, transportation and the like, though she seems to have missed some major sites, such as the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and the forums at Matador Network and BootsnAll.
One of the things I most enjoyed about Lee’s book was her ability to weave her personal experiences in with practical advice. Instead of just dispensing good information, she describes how and why she learned and applied certain things in her particular situations. By getting to know Lee through her writing, the information she provides is believable, as if you’re listening to a personal friend talk about her worldly travels.
While I applaud Lee’s efforts to write a book that is much-needed in the marketplace, I am concerned that she wrote this guide based on one trip from the perspective of one woman. Though it has sound advice and she covers a wide range of topics that are important considerations for women who would like to travel alone, I think the contents of the book—particularly the section on where to travel—would have been much stronger had she consulted with other women who are considered versed in the subject area.
I would have also liked more specific information on her budgeting. Later in the book, for example, you find out that she utilized couchsurfing, but I would have been interested in knowing how she found inexpensive lodging beyond that and which forms of public transportation she found to be most economical.
This book is a good for women who would like to take an around-the-world trip, and it’s worth buying if you need help with basic travel advice, but I would also advise people to spend time browsing other resources written by women who travel solo as well before embarking on an around-the-world adventure.
I was given a copy of this e-book for review purposes, but the opinions are entirely my own.