"The Girlo Travel Survival Kit" is a 255-page volume of encouragement and advice for teens and young women with wanderlust. I didn't know anything about the "girlosophy" books until I was sent a free copy of the latest one.
I have to admit, I found the look of the book odd. It's written in a typeface straight out of manual typewriter days. Maybe that blunt style pleases young women. It took me a little getting used to.
The Washington Post called it a book only a teenage girl could love, but hey, if that's the audience it's aimed at, well...
I've been making my way through early chapters, finding some useful suggestions and ideas for solo travelers:
1. Don't really know where you want to travel? Go to the movies for flashes of inspiration. (I admit it. I went to Iceland in my 20's after seeing a full-page magazine ad. That's all it took in those days of "itchy feet" and hair-trigger decision making.)
On the movie inspiration thing, think of all the people who visited New Zealand once they found out that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed there. That's not why I went, but while on the South Island, in the "rings" region, I went horseback riding and learned lots of fun facts about how they "auditioned" the horses for the movie.
They wanted to cast a chestnut horse for a starring role. The horse had to be able to run at the cameras and stop on a dime. And it couldn't startle easily at loud noises. At the time, another film company was scouting the area for a movie on Hercules. That film also needed horses, our trail guide explained. Cool.
New Zealand saw a tourism boom after the LOTR movies were filmed there, and people saw the beautiful country on screen. Maybe some also expected to see Frodo and the gang once they got there. Who knows?
2. If you're into sports, you can pick a destination based on what you've always wanted to do: ski, bungee jump, tandem sky dive, etc. For instance, the first bungee jumpers leaped off a bridge outside of Queenstown, New Zealand. Maybe you want to go where bungee jumping was born?
3. Start with a weekend, instead of planning a huge first adventure. You can learn whether you like traveling alone. Whether you have the right gear. What your travel style is.
4. Understand the value of travel for your emotional well being. As author Anthea Paul writes, "the momentum of daily life can seem relentless from time to time." Planning travel, or having a trip to look forward to, can put a gloss on gray days, she writes.
I feel that way even when the travel on the horizon is business, not vacation. Even though I know I might be stuck taking notes at sessions all day and shaking a lot of hands of people I might never see again, I love the idea of getting on a plane and flying to a new city. Exploring the crannies of a new hotel. Walking unfamiliar streets. And yes, getting out of my daily routine.
Photo: Ellen Perlman. Star from the Lord of the Rings movies. The horse, not the guy.