25 Brilliant Travel Memoirs by Women

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Best Travel Memoirs by Women

Best Travel Memoirs by Women

Are you looking for travel memoirs by women to read?

Here are some of the best travel books written by women to inspire your wanderlust!

When I was in college, I took a class about travel writing while studying abroad in Paris. Every week we studied different topics in travel writing, and every author we read was male. One week, our topic was “women in travel writing.” That was the only week we read female authors.

So I wanted to use this list to spotlight the best travel memoirs by women.

I have always enjoyed reading memoirs, and travel memoirs are no exception. There’s no better way to travel vicariously through someone else than by reading about their own travel experiences in a memoir. These incredible stories by female travel writers will transport you to faraway places, and have you planning your next travel adventure ASAP!

Here are the best female travel memoirs to add to your reading list:


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1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This travel memoir follows Cheryl’s journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo. Driven by grief after her mother’s death, she embarked on a hike more than one thousand miles long at age twenty-six for an unforgettable experienced that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This classic memoir was made into a hit movie and is about one woman’s journey through three countries on a mission to eat, pray, and love. After her life fell apart in her early thirties, Elizabeth set off on a pilgrimage to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a journey of self-discovery.


3. Tracks by Robyn Davidson

Robyn Davidson completed an epic adventure when she walked alone more than 1,700 miles through the Australian Outback with four camels and her dog at age twenty-seven. Tracks is her memoir detailing the experience and the people she met along the way.


4. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

British writer Helen Russell relocated to Denmark with her husband when he got a job at the LEGO headquarters. She decided to spend a year trying to uncover the secrets of the World’s Happiest Country in this delightful, well-researched, and engrossing book about Danish culture.


5. Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris

Canadian Kate Harris dreamed of adventures ever since she was young. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, she set off with her childhood friend on the adventure of a lifetime: bicycling the Silk Road. Her memoir follows her journey exploring remote Central Asia by bike.


6. How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff

Professional travel blogger Lauren runs the website Never Ending Footsteps, where she shares unfortunate and often hilarious mishaps from the road. How Not to Travel the World chronicles some of her funniest travel mistakes from a self-proclaimed disaster-prone backpacker.


7. Travels With Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn

Martha was a fearless writer and journalist who covered wars and conflicts around the world. From the Spanish Civil War to Nicaragua to the Vietnam War, she traveled both alone and accompanied at a time when it was uncommon for women to do such things. Her memoir describes her globe-spanning adventures, in a sharp, insightful way.


8. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes, a poet, writer, and gourmet chef, embarked on a life-changing journey when she moved to Italy to renovate an old Tuscan villa. Her evocative memoir has inspired countless others to follow their dreams, whether that is booking a flight to Italy or elsewhere.


9. Cruising Altitude by Heather Poole

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a flight attendant? While it may seem like a glamorous job that allows you to travel the world, Heather’s memoir Cruising Altitude provides an insider look at what it’s REALLY like to be a flight attendant: the good, the bad, and the ugly.


10. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left a comfortable life in Los Angeles to follow her dream of traveling the world, connecting with people in cultures all over the globe. She sold all her possessions and set off on an epic journey to far-flung places around the world.


11. Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alice Steinbach wrote this travel memoir about her experiences around Europe as she set off on a voyage to find her true self and be an independent woman.


12. The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner

Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world. What followed was an epic journey across four continents in this fun memoir about friendship and travel adventures.


13. What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

Kristin spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down herself and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. Her memoir chronicles her many experiences (and whirlwind romances) on the road.


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

After playing it safe for most of her life, Rachel buys a one-way ticket to Ireland, where she meets a free-spirited Australian girl. Her new friend spurs her on to turn her trip into a year-long odyssey around the world, with plenty of adventures along the way.


15. Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves

Spanning across 15 years, Wanderlust is a travel memoir chronicling the author’s travels on five continents (and the many romances she had along the way.)


16. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

In this hilarious and harrowing travel memoir, Susan Jane Gilman describes her unconventional gap year in the 1980s with her best friend in the People’s Republic of China.


17. An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

This memoir follows Ann and her husband, two forty-something Canadians dreaming of life in paradise, who quit their jobs and moved onto a 42-foot sailboat in the Caribbean.


18. Miss-adventures by Amy Baker

Humorist Amy Baker decided to quit her job and backpack South America, where she quickly found herself in many hilarious travel predicaments. Her book Miss-adventures chronicles her many travel mistakes, and the advice she should have listened to along the way.


19. A Thousand New Beginnings by Kristin Addis

This is a memoir written by travel blogger Kristin Addis, who runs the website Be My Travel Muse. Her book provides a deeper look at her backstory, and the time she left her job, boyfriend, and familiar life at age twenty-six to backpack Southeast Asia alone for a year.


20. Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

Set between Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York, Alone Time is a memoir about traveling solo and the joys and pleasures that solitude can bring in our hectic lives.


21. Confessions of a Middle-Aged Runway by Heidi Eliason

Feeling suffocated by routine and longing for adventure, 45-year-old Heidi quit her job, sold all her belongings, and purchased an RV. What followed was a five-year RV journey with her trusty dog Rylie, as she discovered new places and experienced freedom like she had never known.


22. If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It Isn’t Big Enough by Kristine K. Stevens

For her fortieth birthday, Kristine sold her house, quit her job, and embarked on a solo adventure around the world. She braves a monsoon in Zanzibar, trekking in Nepal, kayaking in Thailand, caves in Laos, lava in Hawaii, and grizzly bears in Alaska in this memoir of her travels.


23. Wild by Nature by Sarah Marquis

Adventurer Sarah Marquis chronicles her ambitious journey hiking solo over 10,000 miles around the world, from the Gobi Desert to Siberia, in this travel memoir.


24. Return to Glow by Chandi Wyant

In her early forties, Chandi’s world implodes in the wake of a divorce and traumatic illness. Determined to embrace life by following her heart, she sets out on Italy’s historic pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, to walk for forty days to Rome. Return the Glow chronicles it all.


25. Alone in Antarctica by Felicity Aston

Felicity Aston, physicist and meteorologist, took two months off from all human contact as she became the first woman, and only the third person in history, to ski across the entire continent of Antarctica alone. With just her cross-country skis, she embarked on an epic journey across the ice.


26. The Same River Twice by Pam Mandel

When California native Pam Mandel was sent off on a youth tour of Israel at age seventeen, she didn’t realize she was in for the adventure of a lifetime. What started as a poorly-chaperoned trip turns into a journey leading her from London to rural Pakistan to the Nile River Delta to the Himalayas and back on an adventure that would shape the course of her life forever.


27. Open Road by T. W. Neal

On the brink of her fiftieth birthday and stuck in the routines of “normal” life, author T. W. Neal realized she needed a new adventure. She and her husband embark on a 12,000 mile journey through America’s national parks in this travel memoir about rediscovering yourself.


Best Travel Memoirs by Women

These are some of the best travel memoirs by women.

Have you read any of these travel memoirs by women? Do you have any favorite memoirs that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Related: 17 Best Travel Adventure Books

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One Comment

  1. Yes! I’d love to add The Locust and the Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh. It’s a beautiful memoir set in Lebanon about her mother’s life.

    Thank you so much for compiling this list. I came across it for exactly the same reasons you wrote it except that I was reading a how-to book on travel writing. The author weaved in lots of “expert” advice, recommendations and quotes, but I was shocked by the lack of female representation. Out of 36 book recommendations for further reading only 4 were by women.

    Jane Robinson’s Parrot Pie for Breakfast is another great read for anyone who thinks women travel writers are a rarity.

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