A debut travel memoir about a single woman’s journey through Africa, Asia and beyond.
When Stevens set off on her trip around the world, she had 26 plane tickets and only one basic guideline: Do something new. As she puts it, “If it could be done at home, skip it. If I had done it before, skip it. If the odds were that I would never have another chance to do it, do it.” This sense of adventure took her far—both physically and mentally. She writes that she was 40 years old, single and looking for a purpose, “a cause to devote my life to.” So she quit her job writing newsletters for a health care company and went first to Kenya. She quickly learned the hazards of traveling as a single woman on a small budget, as she chased off a touchy-feely pickpocket very early on. After a few stumbles, she gained confidence by trusting in herself and, oddly enough, some strangers, too. She met an array of other travelers from all over the world, and she learned that sometimes you have to have a little blind faith. When she was delayed in India over a visa issue, for example, she was forced to entrust her two most precious items—her passport and credit card—to an airport employee who offered to help. It made her feel more than a little nervous, but with few other options, she conceded; luckily, the woman pulled through for her. Despite ostensibly being a memoir about going “solo,” human interactions are at the heart of the book, as Stevens mulls over people’s differences, their similarities and what it means to trust. She meets new acquaintances in Kenya, Nepal, Laos and Alaska, among other places. She also sees some pretty intriguing animals along the way, including a lion, a tiger and some elephants. Overall, Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator, although at times, the book can feel a little basic or perfunctory, as if she’s simply translated her daily journal into a memoir. As such, it might have benefited from a little more reflection, but that said, there are still plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read.
An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places.