By Laura Waters
When Melbourne adventurer Laura Waters decided to take a sabbatical from her corporate job to walk Te Araroa — a 3000km walk that stretches from Cape Reinga to Bluff — she never intended to do it as a solo traveller. But when her walking partner dropped out on day two, she had no choice but to continue alone, battling her own demons in the process. The comparisons between Waters’ Bewildered and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (another solo travel classic) are easy to draw, and that’s not a bad thing. This tale highlights the beauty of New Zealand’s backcountry and its transformative power, introducing us to the characters Waters meets along the way. Importantly, it also serves as testament to one of the most important tenets of solo travel: You’re only ever alone if you truly want to be.
2. Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest
By Trina Moyles
Random House Canada
As wildfires sweep across much of northern Canada, there’s never been a better time to read this memoir, by a writer who worked at the frontline of bushfire management. Journalist Trina Moyles spent seven seasons working as a fire tower lookout in a remote location in northern Alberta’s boreal forest. Most of the book’s action takes place from high atop Moyles’ 30-metre tower, where she spends her days in solitude and isolation watching for “smokes” and signs of the forest’s residents, including bears and wolves. But the heart of this inspiring book is rooted in Moyles’ history as a solo traveller—and how it helped her develop the resilience necessary to survive in the bush alone for months at a time.
3. The One-Way Ticket Plan: Find and Fund Your Purpose While Traveling the World
By Alexa West
New World Library
Solo travel might not feature in the title but make no mistake: The purpose of this how-to title is to inspire you to travel solo. “I have a not-so-hidden agenda,” writes West, founder and CEO of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide. “By the time you’ve finished reading, I plan to have convinced you to travel alone at least once in your life.” With honesty and approachability (case in point: the book opens with an anecdote about squat toilets), West provides a blueprint for how to make your travels a reality, including how to avoid sketchy situations and overcome your fears. While there are tidbits in The One-Way Ticket that all ages and genders will find helpful, its tone is mostly geared towards millennial and Gen Z travellers.
4. Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine
By Karen Gershowitz
She Writes Press
Wanderlust is Gershowitz’s second book; one that she said she wrote after learning that her first book, Travelmania, inspired readers to embark on their first solo adventures. Although solo travel isn’t her sole focus, it’s a key part of her back story: The New Yorker was just 17 when she embarked on her first journey alone to Europe in the 1970s, which ended up lasting for three years. Solo travel also serves as the foundation for this book, which is full of bite-sized travel stories of the memorable food, people and places that Gershowitz has experienced in the decades that have followed.
5. Travel to Transform: Awaken the Global Citizen in You and Thrive in the Modern World
By Freeman Fung
Conscious Travellers Publishing
So, you’ve booked your flights and you’re brave enough to travel alone — but how do you turn your “holiday” into a transformative journey of self-awakening? Start by reading this book by TEDx speaker Freeman Fung. Originally from Hong Kong, the certified life coach first left home at 19 to live in Romania, before experiencing life in more than 30 countries — many of them as a solo traveller. Travel to Transform is a self-help book, complete with guided exercises, but it breaks the mould in many ways. Funny and candid, Freeman isn’t shy of dropping an F-bomb or addressing the racism and discrimination that he’s experienced both at home and abroad. (Chapter 7 is tellingly titled “Asians have small dicks.”) But while travel can change significantly depending on your power and privilege, the message Freeman delivers is that cultural gaps are universal — it’s all about how you navigate them.