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Travel Book Review: How NOT to Travel the World

how NOT to travel the world book review

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Imagine making it into your 20s without ever having eaten rice or eggs. Without ever having used public transportation. Imagine having such crippling anxiety that it leads to an eating disorder and not leaving the house for months.

Does that sound like a world traveler? No, probably not.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

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. It’s the story of how she kept going despite the crazy disasters that continued to find her.

And after reading her memoir, I’m convinced that if she can do it, anyone can.

Lauren Juliff grew up in the UK and had so many fears, yet she also had one big dream: to travel the world. Despite all the people in her life who told her she was crazy to travel to foreign countries by herself when she couldn’t even use a bus, she saved up her money and booked the first leg of her round the world trip.

She didn’t want to have regrets on top of her anxieties, so she pushed ahead with her plans and ignored the naysayers.

When her trip finally started, she nearly missed her first flight. It was probably a sign that things would not be smooth sailing for Lauren, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Throughout her first few countries in Europe, she struggled with the simplest things.

So you can imagine how much harder things got when she arrived in Asia. It took her hours to find her hostel in China. She got scammed by a couple of girls and even ended up punching one of them in the face.

But slowly things started to change. Her confidence grew little by little as she continued to try new things. She certainly thought about quitting and going home, but each time she decided to stick with it.

Girl meets boy

Lauren is a travel blogger, and during the early months of her trip, she met another blogger online. Dave and Lauren traded flirty tweets for a few months before she flew to Thailand to meet him.

He, like many others, was surprised to learn just how strong a hold her anxieties had on her, but he turned out to be her biggest cheerleader. He supported her pursuit of new experiences and new foods, and he gave her the little push she needed whenever her fears threatened to take over.

The disasters kept coming, like being stuck next to a corpse on a boat, being attacked by monkeys, and running from a tsunami, but Lauren didn’t give up. Travel was helping her work through her fears and beat her anxiety.

Bonus! She found love along the way, too!

How NOT to Travel the World review

Who is this book for

In her book, Lauren explains how she went from having anxiety attacks almost every day to only a few a year. She began her trip in 2011 and has been on the road ever since. Who would’ve thought she’d still be at it, and thriving, given how she started years ago?

I really think this book is inspirational for anyone whose fears are holding them back. Many of us get scared or nervous about travel sometimes, even those of us who travel often.

But reading a book like How NOT to Travel the World is a great reminder that we all have the capacity to do things even if they scare us.

This book will make you laugh and cringe at the ridiculous things that happen to Lauren. She writes in a way that pulls you in and really makes you cheer for her.

She also motivates you by example. If someone with her extreme anxiety and fears can still travel solo, visit dozens of countries, and eat all kinds of weird foods, we all can go outside our comfort zone and try new things.

So if you’ve been scared to travel by yourself or afraid of traveling to certain countries or even nervous about something smaller, remember you’re stronger than you think you are.

How NOT to Travel the World could be the extra push you need to take the leap.

How NOT to Travel the World

Written by Ali

Ali Garland is a freelance writer, blogger, and travel addict who made it to all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She enjoys travel planning, encouraging others to see the world, and packing carry-on only. She and her husband are expats living in Berlin. You can find Ali at Ali's Adventures and Travel Made Simple.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Svenja says

    Loved the book and love Laurens blog. I think the book is an awesome read for everybody who likes traveling and travel stories, no matter what size their own comfort zone or anxiety levels are. Even if you don’t need motivation by example, you’ll have a great time reading!

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