Good Travel Writing by/about Women.
September 17, 2007 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Looking for books about or by female travelers/adventurers/volunteers abroad.

My girlfriend wants to travel all over the world. I want to find her some stories written by or about women who have done similar things. The idea would be to try to further knock down the [American] cultural idea that it's a crazy pipe dream for a woman to do these types of things.

So what I'm looking for is nonfiction about women who have either traveled to exotic places, done adventurous things, or gone to "dangerous" places to volunteer to help others.

They can be stories about solo or accompanied adventures, and can be from anywhere in the world. Of course I'd like if it was well written.

The ideal thing would be a collection of short stories, as her time to read is pretty limited right now, but books are good too. Heck, if she doesn't have time, I'll read it. :-)
posted by zhivota to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't read it, but Rosemary Mahoney's new book Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff (title self-explanatory) has been getting good reviews.
posted by craichead at 1:05 PM on September 17, 2007

Tracks by Robyn Davidson is a good book about trekking across the Australian desert.
posted by OmieWise at 1:07 PM on September 17, 2007

I'd recommend Nell Freudenberger's collection of short stories "Lucky Girls."
Maybe Jane Bowles' collected work, too.
posted by mattbucher at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2007

Dervla Murphy has written a bunch of books about her bicycle adventures.

Seconding Tracks.

There are many collections out there. If I were home I could tell you what they are . . .

I bet this is a good book too.
posted by nnk at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2007

Beryl Markham's West With the Night.
posted by splendid animal at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2007

I picked up Tales of Female Nomad on someone's recommendation, but I have yet to read it.
posted by logic vs love at 1:14 PM on September 17, 2007

Martha Gellhorn: "Travels With Myself and Another". Funny stuff she was married to Hemingway and was war correspondant. She trabels everywhere from China to the Caribbean.
posted by octomato at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2007

These are all on my Amazon wish list but I haven't read any of them. All are anthologies.

No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers - Barbara Hodgson

Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers - Jane Robinson

Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers - Mary Morris

Women Who Dare: Women Explorers - Sharon Hannon

Women of Discovery: A Celebration of Intrepid Women Who Explored the World - Milbury Polk & Mary Tiegreen

They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades - Barbara Holland

The last two are more focused on women who bucked social convention to do whatever the hell they wanted instead of staying at home and getting married, but they do include some woman travelers.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:36 PM on September 17, 2007

I'm reading Hitchhiking in Vietnam by Karin Muller--who spent 7 months travelling around Vietnam by herself.
posted by beckish at 1:38 PM on September 17, 2007

Within the Travelers' Tales series, there's a whole subsection of women's books. Some are more humorous, others practical. (I haven't read them but thumbed through a couple in a bookstore one day.)
posted by wallaby at 1:41 PM on September 17, 2007

Expanding on OmieWise's suggestion of "Tracks" by Robyn Davidson... The text from "Tracks" was paired with photographs by Rick Smolan, who took them for a feature on Robyn for National Geographic, into a beautiful coffee table book called "From Alice To Ocean."
posted by amyms at 2:10 PM on September 17, 2007

It might be fun to for your girlfriend to revisit the Pippi Longstocking series as a supplements to the more mature works already cited here.
posted by macadamiaranch at 2:31 PM on September 17, 2007

Eat Pray Love is a must-read. Usually marketed as about self-discovery, but is in fact a travel memoir.
posted by sarahkeebs at 3:11 PM on September 17, 2007

Maiden Voyage (different than Maiden Voyages") is a first person memior about a young woman sailing around the world solo in a sailboat. I found it a really good read.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:44 PM on September 17, 2007

The Virago Travellers series.
posted by Dr.Pill at 3:57 PM on September 17, 2007

Nine Hills to Nambonkaha chronicles the story of a young woman who spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote Ivory Coast village. She worked on maternal/child health, birth control and HIV/AIDS issues.
posted by handful of rain at 6:56 PM on September 17, 2007

I love Emily "Mickey" Hahn's books: China to me, England to me, Africa to me, and No hurry to get home. They are all collections of essays, the first three of when she spent years or decades living in that place. She started living in neat places and writing about around 1910 or 1920. Earlier than it was acceptable. She's quite a character.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:38 PM on September 17, 2007

Polly Evans has written a few books about her solo travels, including: It's Not About the Tapas which is set in Spain on a bike, Fried Eggs and Chopsticks takes place in China, Kiwis Might Fly is set in New Zealand on a motorbike, and On a Hoof and a Prayer in Argentina. I really enjoyed the first two, am almost finished the 3rd and have not read the last because it hasn't yet been published in North America.

I'd also recommend Alice Steinbach's Without Reservations and Educating Alice.
posted by phoenixc at 8:20 PM on September 17, 2007

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner, recommended to me by posadnitsa.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:23 PM on September 17, 2007

Sand In My Bra and The Thong Also Rises might fit the bill. Short non-fiction, but with a more humorous slant.

I spent far too much time in the Literary Travel section of my local bookstore, and I've seen a bunch of other books that would fit the bill - but I can't think of names, off hand. There's a good chance your local bookstore will have some titles of interest.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:26 PM on September 17, 2007

I took an English class in college that used Maiden Voyages as a textbook. I think it fits what you're looking for. It's all nonfic and it excerpts women travellers from over 200 years or so.
posted by Melinika at 9:20 PM on September 17, 2007

I've heard that Wild : an elemental journey by Jay Griffiths is very good.
posted by Lucie at 9:46 PM on September 17, 2007

Gertrude Bell, From Amurath to Amurath. And you can go at least as far back as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
posted by holgate at 9:53 PM on September 17, 2007

Shooting the Boh by Tracy Johnston is definitely an adventure story.
And if she'd be inspired by swimming adventures, Lynne Cox's Swimming to Antarctica is a fascinating read.
posted by bassjump at 7:07 AM on September 18, 2007

Lard is Good For You by Alden Jones
The font is tiny and terrible but it was actually in The Best American Travel Writing 2000.
posted by hecho de la basura at 1:29 PM on September 18, 2007

Women Travel - A Rough Guide Special features entries from women who have traveled all over the world. It is divided by countries, has a few sections with color pictures, and many sections conclude with a "read on..." portion that lists books by other women about that particular region.

Kudos to your efforts in encouraging your girlfriend!
posted by auntietennis at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2007

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