113. Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo, edited by Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick, and Christina Henry de Tessan
Publication: Seal Press (May 4, 2007), Paperback, 280pp / ISBN 1580051995
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir
Read: May 10-12, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
There is nothing quite like hitting the road by yourself to awaken your senses, sharpen your mind, and build your confidence. In twenty-three beautifully crafted essays, women recount the thrills of traveling solo.
Despite threat-assessment levels and airport-security hassles, women of all generations are traveling more freely and independently than ever before. In that go-for-it spirit, Go Your Own Way spans the globe: adventure diva Holly Morris finds herself lost in the jungles of Borneo, alone with her thoughts and a cold-blooded companion; Lara Triback’s quest to learn the tango takes her to the late-night dance floors of Buenos Aires; Stephanie Griest finds female friends invaluable in her journey through Uzbekistan; and Amy Balfour recounts a hilarious trek up Yosemite’s Half Dome.
The writers in Go Your Own Way pay tribute to the empowerment of independent adventure and discovery, offering up the perfect antidote for today’s climate of fear and international discord. All the while, they show that alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.
I normally enjoy travel narratives that have a purpose beyond just talking about what the author did in whatever place they were at: I especially like ones that show a personal or spiritual growth, or ones that have a “lesson,” or even ones that just want to explain what that place was like. Travel stories that are simply “I went here and then I did this, and wasn’t that thing weird” are boring to me, so imagine how freakin’ happy I was when Go Your Own Way gave me exactly what I wanted!
As with any anthology, Go Your Own Way has hits and misses, but the hits are the sort of stories that will stay with me for a while, and so I can forgive the misses for not being as good as the hits. What I enjoyed most about Go Your Own Way was, of course, that it was focused on solo women travelers, who I don’t think get quite enough (good) publicity as they should. I loved reading about all these different women, some with families and some without, traveling around the world on their own and being absolutely fine with it. In fact, every single one of them said they preferred traveling alone, although of course they had feelings of loneliness sometimes (everyone does, I suppose).
Just like how reading general travel guides helps me feel more confidant about traveling, reading about solo female travelers makes me feel more confidant about traveling solo myself! Traveling alone isn’t without its scary moments, but the personal growth that nearly every traveler, solo or otherwise, goes through in their journeys just makes me want to travel even more. And I do think I would travel better alone, at least most of the time– I like being with my family and friends but for personal growth, and not just sightseeing, I need to be alone. Go Your Own Way has pretty much convinced me of that!
Bottom line: Go Your Own Way is a fantastic anthology about solo female travelers, with anecdotes and inspirational stories that aren’t cheesy, and with a wonderful variety of voices and writing styles. I dare anyone to read this book and not come away with something, even if it’s just a new perspective on a country.
Nearly all the authors in Go Your Own Way have written entire books about their travels, and I’m pretty much just working my way through them with help from inter-library loan. Seal Press looks like a really good publisher, too, which means I’ll just have to add a ton of more books to my wishlist!