Book Review: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook

by Gray Cargill on September 21, 2011

The Solo Traveler's Handbook

The Solo Traveler's Handbook

I am thrilled with the interest in solo travel shown by each and every one of you who read this blog. I think it’s a great sign that you’re seeking out information about solo travel online–either so you can learn how to do it or to reinforce to yourself and others that your love for solo travel isn’t unusual. But if you find yourself wishing you could find a traditional sort of paperback guidebook that served the same purpose–something that you slip into your bag and bring with you on the bus or the train, to the pool or beach, or to a restaurant to read while relaxing over a fine solo meal, you’re in luck: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Waugh (of the Solo Travel Society) is your guide to solo travel in paperback form.

I knew before I read this book that it would be well-written. If you’ve read Janice’s blog, you already know this, too. It is also very well organized. The book is split into four sections: the first discusses solo travel motivation and reasons, the second outlines the preparation and planning process, the third the kinds of adventures you might have while traveling solo, and the fourth–and perhaps most important–section discusses safety on the road. But don’t think this is a dry “how to”; it isn’t.

This guide fulfills its purpose as a guide by being full of great advice for solo travelers–things like practical advice on saving money for travel and how to deal with money on the road, types of lodging to consider, how to pack light (something I still haven’t managed to embrace–sorry, Janice!), and of course, safety. The guide includes links to other useful resources and includes colorful photos from Janice’s travels. What makes this book stand out as more than just a travel guide, though, are the personal stories that Janice tells, starting with how she started traveling solo again late in life after the death of her husband. Her stories are warm and funny and illustrative of how she has learned what to do while traveling solo, and also show just how much fun one can have traveling solo. I’ve read most of these stories at her blog, but they’ve been reworked for the book, so it felt like reading new stories. In any case, Janice allows us glimpses into her life here, which I feel makes the book that much more readable.

But my favorite part of this book has to be Janice’s “5 Principles of Safety”. Despite my many years of solo travel, I learned something new in #2: “Proactive is better than reactive.” Aha! FINALLY, I now know why I am so often a freak magnet when I travel solo! (Note to self: Be more proactive.)

I love the Internet and all the useful information it provides, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a paperback book, something light and portable, something you can feel between your hands and flip through as needed. This book is just the right size and weight to make it easy to carry with you wherever you choose to take it. (I recommend a lounge chair on a beach or by a pool, in the shade of palm trees. Just sayin’.)

Solo Traveler's Handbook

Thin, lightweight and very portable

Disclaimer: Janice graciously sent me a copy of her book for free. I reviewed it because I wanted to. As always, my opinions are my own.


Gray October 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Heh, “burn your eyes out”–it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? Whew. Interestingly, Janice does share stories about times when she’s made mistakes–the key is that she’s reflected on her travels and learned lessons from them (even the mistakes) and is now sharing them with others.

GRRRL TRAVELER October 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I should grab that book. Janice is probably doing it much smoother than me! I also agree about having a paper book! They feel more human and they don’t burn your eyes out. =)

Stacy September 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Lol! I am not getting that book but I surely wont go out for trip without a partner.

JoAnn September 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I’ll have to get this

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