Book Review: How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff

Title: How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a disaster-prone backpacker

Author: Lauren Juliff

Published: 2015

Pages: 352

Genre: Travel, Memoir

Format: Print copy from Amazon

My rating: 4/5


I had no life experience, zero common sense and had never eaten rice. I suffered from debilitating anxiety, was battling an eating disorder and had just had my heart broken. I hoped by leaving to travel the world I would be able to heal myself.
Instead, Lauren’s travels were full of bad luck and near-death experiences. Over the space of a year, she was scammed and assaulted, lost teeth and swallowed a cockroach. She fell into leech-infested rice paddies, was caught up in a tsunami, her motorbike’s brakes failed and she experienced a very unhappy ending during a massage in Thailand. It was just when Lauren was about to give up on travel that she stumbled across a handsome New Zealander with a love of challenges…


Over the winter break, I expanded on my world travel destinations and many of those dreams are thanks to this book. Granted, I have a bit more experience than Lauren did when she first traversed to Asia, but I learned a great deal about survival for the long-haul. The stories from Lauren, Dave, and the countless others they meet along the way has given me more thought into breaking away from the norm in terms of 9-5 jobs behind a desk in favor of a world education, literally. Lauren lets us readers in to the good, the bad, and the ugly on her travels – the emotional rollercoasters, the illnesses, soreness, unwanted attention, and dietary adventures. As a female, I can understand some of these as potential anxiety-inducing, especially for females traveling alone. However, Lauren comes across several travel communities that make her stronger in many ways. If I ever travel by myself, I sometimes get the reaction of “Good for you” and sometimes I can’t tell if that is good or bad. I love that Lauren shares about loneliness and breaking outside her comfort zone to make connections – something I sometimes struggle with.

One passage stands out the most to me as I relate to it when I travel:

“I reached for my Kindle and pressed the power button, but it was out of battery. I looked around the restaurant at happy couples and families on vacation. I didn’t have anyone…My first night in Dubrovnik had been one of the happiest of my life, but now it felt like everything was falling apart. Perhaps the problem was that I’d always expected I’d fall in love with travel. I’d thought that all I needed to do was make a drastic change to my life and everything would magically slot together. I was starting to worry I’d made a huge mistake” (Juliff 35)

I get excited all throughout the process of planning, booking, and traveling! When I arrive and get out into the culture of wherever I’m traveling to, I sometimes feel that sense of loneliness. There are times where I am at a sit-down restaurant and am fine, but other times where I feel that I’m being stared at. For grab-and-go places I’m good to go. This is a confidence thing but Lauren overcomes these feelings the more she travels. One way that helps me is writing myself a postcard, a letter in a sense of what I want someone I care about to know I am up to and the things I am learning.

Traveling for a living has always been a thing of wonder to me. Where in the world do you begin – as in geographically as well as organizationally! Lauren sprinkles bits of tips and tricks as she navigated the process and is still thriving in her travels. Check our her blog Never Ending Footsteps to learn more! You better believe I am spending a lot of time in the resources section as I seriously start contemplating a lifestyle and profession change. We shall see!

There are several moments where I wanted to shake Lauren as she did not learn from the first time or she and Dave keep arguing about the same things but that is reality in a way! This isn’t a made up story where everything is wrapped up – this is real life, a story of all truths, memories, conversations, and experiences. Having an emotion towards the main ‘character’ is only natural!

Read How Not to Travel the World if you like the themes of:

  • Self-Discovery
  • Travel
  • Relationships
  • Independence

What are some tips for travel writing/blogging and traveling as a living?

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