How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker is a travel memoir written by well-known travel blogger Lauren Juliff of www.neverendingfootsteps.com. Suffering from an anxiety disorder, Juliff's memoir is an inspiring and uplifting account of the early years of her travel experiences around the world, since she first left the UK in 2011.
Sick of simply being obsessed with reading about countries she had no real plans of visiting, Juliff finally plucks up enough courage to leave on a one-way flight to Croatia as part of a one-year tour of the world. A self-professed walking disaster with no life experience and little by the way of common sense, her friends are so sure she'll fail that they place bets on just how long she actually will last.
Juliff's decision to leave the UK, is an extremely brave one. Prone to panic attacks, having previously suffered from an eating disorder and being a hypochondriac of the highest order, she literally does lurch from one disaster from another. Despite this, she throws herself into the world of dorm beds, flip flops, motor-scooters, dead bodies and fried cockroaches with either abandoned or more often than not, oblivious glee.
Early days, Juliff makes a vow that she won't spend her trip heading only to the "easy places", as well as educating herself on the horrors of recent history and the reality of other's lives in order to put her privilege into perspective. This approach enables Juliff to do some amazing things such as visiting Chernobyl, facing down potential tsunamis, endure the hardships of China on her own and learn about some of the atrocities that took place in Cambodia under the Khymer Rouge.
There are plenty of times through the book where it does make you wonder whether all of what Juliff writes about is true. Having studied for a Masters in Physics, Juliff obviously is extremely clever. Yet, when turning up for her flight to Dubrovnik she seemingly has no idea what checked luggage is. Fair enough if she simply decided to turn up at the airport on a spur of the moment decision, but she had spent the past 5 years extensively researching trips. However, if you're able to park the scepticism to one side, it is very easy to get caught up in the narrative of Juliff's story.
How Not to Travel the World is an extremely good travel memoir written by a gutsy young woman who has made a life changing decision to not let her ailments rule her life. Juliff writes about her never-ending string of calamities that accompany her travels without any pretension and has delivered an inspiring read for anyone wanting to lead a non-conventional life centred around travel.
3 and a half stars out of 5
Credit: Banner photo by Stefan Fussan