Vagabondess: The Solo Travel Guide that Didn’t Exist Yet
By Toby Israel
“If I thought this book already existed, I wouldn’t be writing it.”
Thus concluded the newsletter I sent out to my community in October of 2019 announcing that I would be writing a book. Vagabondess: A Guide to Solo Female Travel. I had carried the title in my head for two years before finally sitting down to write. I had also carried the absolute certainty that this book needed to be written.
After completing a successful crowdfunding campaign in the midst of global lockdown and publishing the book on May 13th, I continue to feel that same certainty.
With more than ten years of solo travel experience—a year in Paris, a year in South Africa,a visit to Ireland, a year in Kenya and Tanzania, two years in Costa Rica, six months in Nepal and India, six months of hitchhiking, and countless other adventures and misadventures—I felt I had a decent grasp on this lifestyle, and I wanted to support other women to try it out for themselves. After more than six years blogging about solo female travel, making a living as a digitally nomadic editor, writer, and consultant, and fielding questions from women who wondered, “But aren’t you scared?” I felt a book that answered that question and moved beyond it was long overdue.
the idea for Vagabondess first came to me, I started to do some market research. This was, I had been advised, the correct way to prepare to write a book. In my wanders through Google, I found stacks of books on solo travel, and a few on solo female travel, but none that offered the kind of guidance I would have wanted when I began to wander.
I’ve always been a stubborn traveler. I don’t like guidebooks, and I tend to brush off well-intentioned suggestions about what I “must” do, see, or eat. All of that thoughtful advice feels suffocating! It’s so much more satisfying (if less efficient) to figure it out for myself. The books I found for solo female travelers tended to focus on the same limited repertoire: How to Stay Safe. How to Pack. Trip-Planning, Visas, Passports and other Logistics. Where to Go.
I didn’t want to write a guidebook—not exactly… not like that. I wanted to record my experiences and insights to offer an “interpretive roadmap” to women (and all people) who want to travel, try out a nomadic lifestyle, or simply face down their fears and move through to the adventures waiting on the other side. I was eager to go deeper than How-Tos and write about loneliness, community, relationships, spirituality, ethics, philosophy, and feminism. In short, the themes that defined my solo journeys, and which felt most relevant to my community of fellow vagabonds.
My imagined reader (cobbled together from the many real humans who have come to me for traveling advice) doesn’t want to read another blog about how to buy plane tickets. She is seeking confirmation that her dreams are possible—and a few practical suggestions for how to go after them.
Vagabondess is, I hope, that last nudge that so many aspiring travelers, nomads, and vagabonds are waiting for to finally drop the doubts and just go.
I hope it may support you on your own journey to meet your inner vagabondess.
About the Author
Learn more about Vagabondess here: http://www.vagabondessthebook.com.