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20 Inspiring Books About Women Traveling: What to Read While Waiting for Your Next Big Trip

best womens travel books

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There’s nothing like a good travel book to keep you occupied while waiting for your next big trip! Not only that, but a good travel book can also inspire your future travel destinations – or they can help you to understand a destination you’ve traveled in greater detail.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best books about women traveling the globe to help fill your reading list. For more details on the individual books, scroll past the first section of this post.

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The Best Books About Women Traveling

A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller

by Frances Mayes

Cleopatra's Needle
Cleopatra's Needle: Two Wheels by the Water to Cairo

by Anne Mustoe

eat pray love book
Eat Pray Love

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Grandma Gatewood's Walk
Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

by Ben Montgomery

How NOT to Travel the World
How NOT to Travel the World

by Lauren Juliff

Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce
Lois on the Loose

by Lois Pryce

Love with a Chance of Drowning
Love with a Chance of Drowning

by Torre DeRoche

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi.
Maiden Voyage

by Tania Aebi

No Baggage book by Clara Benson
No Baggage: A Tale of Love and Wandering

by Clara Benson

Radio Shangri-La book
Radio Shangri-La: My Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

by Lisa Napoli

tales of a female nomad book
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

by Rita Golden Gelman

The Best Women's Travel Writing - series
The Best Women's Travel Writing

by Lavinia Spalding

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost
The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost

by Rachel Friedman

lost girls book
The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unexpected Detour Around the World

by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, Amanda Pressner

Traveling with Pomegranates book review
Traveling with Pomegranates

by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Wanderlust: A Love Affair With Five Continents
Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents

by Elisabeth Eaves

Without Reservations book
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

by Alice Steinbach

what i was doing while you were breeding
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir

by Kristin Newman

where the pavement ends
Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman's Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China & Vietnam

by Erika Warmbrunn

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild

by Cheryl Strayed

Books About Women Packing Light

No Baggage: A Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Benson

No Baggage: A Tale of Love and Wandering book

Ok, this one is right up our alley at Her Packing List. While I haven’t read the book yet, I did read her essay about her incredible trip years ago, which then further inspired me to take that trip where I packed nothing but a 12L handbag!

But Clara has taken the story further. While the tale of going on a 3-week travel date with an OKCupid match (and packing nothing but a tiny purse for the adventure) sings throughout the book – there’s a deeper story involved discussing the struggle to leave both physical and emotional baggage behind.


Books for Solo Female Travelers

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

eat pray love book

You’ve seen the movie, and you may have already read the book… but just in case, this one gets a mention because it’s a story many women travelers can relate to. Raise your hand if you decided to travel after a big, messy break-up!

Eat Pray Love has been reviewed on HPL in the past. Guest author, Nancy, related deeply to the story:

Single again and sitting on a plane to Toronto, I was scanning the movie selection on my flight. The top pick: Eat Pray Love. I watched. I cried. I got it. I picked up the book and read it cover to cover when I returned home.

So, go on now… even if you’ve seen the movie, the book deserves a read.


Radio Shangri-La: My Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli

Radio Shangri-La book

When Caroline reviewed this book here on HPL years ago, she considered it the antithesis to Eat Pray Love. This solo female travel book doesn’t seek out love, or talk about the one, but instead searches for purpose – that which the author understood after (unexpectedly) working on a new radio station in a tiny, happy kingdom known as Bhutan.


Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

tales of a female nomad book

Tales of a Female Nomad was recommended highly in our HPLWorld community, so of course we’re going to share it here!

Rita left her normal life in the ’80s for a 2-month trip to Mexico. Only that spawned a life of being a perpetual nomad with 15 years of her experiences filling the pages of this book.

Gelman immerses herself in the world: living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, adventuring through the Galapagos Islands, exploring Borneo, living in Bali for 8 years, and so on. She has a passion for people, and a knack for overcoming any challenges put in her way.


The Best Women’s Travel Writing, edited by Lavinia Spalding

The Best Women's Travel Writing - series

The Best Women’s Travel Writing is an ongoing series offering a collection of inspiring and uplifting stories from women travelers exploring the far reaches of the globe. We like this series because each book has a number of different perspectives, destinations, and themes meaning you’re bound to never get bored or struggle to keep your focus on one long memoir.


Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves

Wanderlust: A Love Affair With Five Continents

Cassie told us that her favorite travel memoir to date is Elisabeth Eaves’ Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents. Not only does this story (covering 15 years) of the constant need to move and wander resonate greatly with us travel lovers, but Cassie also enjoyed the armchair travel experience it provides.

Sometimes when I feel bored and stuck in my 8-5, I can re-read this book and feel momentarily like I am on a five-continent journey all over the world, and I think that is what a great book can do. It transports you to another time and place, and if that is what you are looking for, I highly recommend Wanderlust: A Love Affair With Five Continents. You won’t be able to set it down.


What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman

what i was doing while you were breeding

If the title alone wasn’t enough to draw you in, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding tells the relatable tale of a woman who decided to explore the world instead of suffer through the monotony of another day in her normal life.

Kristin recounts humorous travel stories and the experience of slowing down. She also masters the “vacationship” through short-term relationships with many attractive locals along the way.


Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

Without Reservations book

Without Reservations lets us into the world of Alice, a woman who takes a sabbatical in order to discover what it’s like to be her own self – a person who’s not defined by her work or role according to others. Of course Alice travels to achieve this goal – and we love her for that! – taking us along on the ride throughout many European cities.


Travel Books for Women Who Like History

A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller

From the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes expands her travel writing reach beyond that of her beloved Tuscany and into twelve new destinations across Europe and northern Africa.

A Year in the World takes the reader with Mayes to England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Morocco and Turkey to name a few. And she does so with her entertaining and informative narrative style that fully immerses us into the local art, architecture, history, landscape and overall culture of each area on her itinerary.


Cleopatra’s Needle: Two Wheels by the Water to Cairo by Anne Mustoe

Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle is a book we could have placed in the big adventure category, but it’s Anne’s historical knowledge along her journey that makes this especially interesting for history buffs.

Anne cycled the path from London all the way to the original site of Cleopatra’s Needle at Heliopolis in Egypt. But she decided to do so while sticking close to waterways – the Seine, Venetian Lagoon, etc. – all the way to the Nile.

She takes in the landscapes and the history of Europe and on to the Middle East destinations of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, making this one big adventure we can all appreciate.


Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Traveling with Pomegranates book review

Traveling with Pomegranates was written by a mother-daughter team who travel, over the years, to some of the sacred places of Greece, Turkey and France.

Written from two different perspectives, this book as a little something for every woman. More than a travel memoir, it’s the story of self-discovery and the connection of mother and daughter.


Travel Books About Women Who Are Scared to Travel (but do it anyway)

How NOT to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff

How NOT to Travel the World

How NOT to Travel the World is the story of how one scared woman’s desire to travel overpowered her fears and anxieties. Despite her crippling anxiety and panic attacks – and the occasional, almost certain, disaster or two – Lauren shows us that anyone can get out there and travel the world.


Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Love with a Chance of Drowning

Although deathly afraid of water, Torre DeRoche says yes to sailing around the world with a handsome Argentinian man she met in America. After battling sea sickness and constant bouts of fealfulness, Torre finally becomes an “old salt” – learning to enjoy life on the boat but also still dreaming of life on land.


Travel Books About Women Traveling with Friends

The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost

After graduating college, Rachel buys a one-way ticket to Ireland, ends up making friends with a fun Australian girl, and then finds herself on a year-long adventure to 3 continents – totally living for the moment.

Sheryl reviewed this book previously here on HPL, and stated that it inspired her to feel confident with following her own path and setting off on an adventure of her own.


The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unexpected Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, Amanda Pressner

lost girls book

The Lost Girls follows the story of three friends who left their prominent New York City lifestyles and jobs to spend a year traveling the world across four continents: the ultimate girls’ trip! This book chronicles their journey both into and out of the travel world, all while juggling relationships and jobs in the process.

It’s been a highly recommended travel book since it’s release back in 2010. The interesting part of this story is that each author has their own personal goals/bucket list tasks to tie into the larger picture trip – and they always make it back to each other in the end.


Travel Books By Women Taking on a Big Adventure

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

Grandma Gatewood's Walk book

From Amazon: “Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times and she did it all after the age of 65.” Wow, what a story!

“Grandma Gatewood” as she became known in the ’50s and ’60s brought a lot of much-needed attention to the Appalachian Trail – helping to inspire other hikers and travelers, and just to incite maintenance of the track itself. This book, although compiled many years after her death, helps to share the story of this strong woman, determination, and willpower.

Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce

Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce

One Woman, One Motorbike, 20,000 miles across the Americas.

Lois on the Loose is the story of one woman’s journey on a motorbike from Alaska down to the tip of Argentina. Like many of our other favorite travel stories, Lois decided to quit her job (at the BBC in London) to set off on this adventure of a lifetime – sharing her exciting and unconventional journey with us in this book.


Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi.

Tania Aebi was an 18-year-old girl who didn’t want to go to college, so she did the next best thing: circumnavigated the world solo on a sailboat. She wasn’t exactly super-qualified either – she took the learn-as-you-go approach – which makes the story that much more incredible and inspiring for wanna-be adventurers.

The trip took nearly 3 years to complete, she was accompanied by her cat, and somewhere in the middle, she ended up meeting the love of her life. Now how’s that for a story?


Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman’s Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China & Vietnam by Erika Warmbrunn

where the pavement ends

Erika dreamed of traveling Mongolia, but not just on any Mongolia trip – the kind that gets you out into the areas unexplored by conventional tours. So, she and her trusty bicycle spent 8 months slow-traveling across Mongolia, China and on to Vietnam – letting the spontaneity of the journey lead the way.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After she felt like she had nothing more to lose, Cheryl Strayed made the decision to attempt solo hiking more than 1000 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail – all without any real experience. With an oversized backpack and ill-fitting boots, the trip was full of trials and tribulations but ultimately some healing.

Also… you may have seen the movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon.

Have a favorite travel read about a female traveler that’s not on this list? Leave a comment below to let us know!

P.S. Looking for more things to do while waiting for your next big trip?

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If you’d rather listen to your book (like when you’re cooking dinner or walking the dog), try Audible for free for 30 days. That means you can get one of these amazing travel reads at no cost! And you can cancel at any time 🙂

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Written by Brooke

Brooke Schoenman runs the show at Her Packing List. Inspired from years of travel experience, Brooke decided there needed to be a travel gear site focused on the needs of a wandering female.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

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