The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman

The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure is a heart-warming and funny story of self-evolution and mateship, as defined through travel.

Following her parents’ divorce and subsequent remarriage to new partners, Friedman decides to spend the summer before her last year of college travelling alone in Ireland to best avoid them all. Landing in Dublin, she quickly realises that living in hostels on your own is harder and more lonelier than originally envisaged. She follows her instincts and decides to move on to Galway where she finds herself sharing an apartment with two Spaniards and her future travel writing muse, the free-spirited wanderlust-infused Australian, Carly.  Over time, Carly introduces Friedman to a different kind of travelling where things don’t have to be planned and detailed to the nth-degree, which emboldens Friedman to literally and metaphorically fling away the constraints of her Big Red baggage and transition to a fully-fledged backpacker.

Friedman's journey takes us across Ireland and Australia before venturing to South America, at which point she is able to fully earn her backpacking stripes. Traipsing through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Chile she and Carly travel cheaply and painfully. There’s plenty of adventures and dark tales on the road and Friedman is able to share a lot of the wonder and fun that accompanies their travels.

Her earlier description of experiences in the Emerald Isle will also resonate well with anyone who has ever travelled abroad on various working holiday-type Visas. Crammed into accommodations of dubious quality, working bum jobs, partying far too often and forming instantaneous bonds with other travellers at the drop of a hat, will be all too familiar.

The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost is more than just a travelogue-based memoir. At its heart, it gives us great insight into the author’s personal growth as she feels emboldened to break away from constantly seeking the approval of her parents and discovering how she should spend her life.  Friedman allows her anxieties and neuroses to play out in her writing, in what is an honest and refreshing story of someone coming to terms with themselves and has written an extremely enjoyable and light-heartened account of someone not quite sure of how best to live up to societal norms.

On finishing, if you simply can’t get enough of Carly and Friedman, there’s a great follow-up piece here.

3 and a half stars out of 5

Credit: Banner photo by Jan Beck