Girls don’t just want to have fun—they want a whole lot more out of the world than that. But if life gets in the way of your best-laid travel plans, a few good reads can tide you over until your next trip. Happy travels!
The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall (2014)
Emylia Hall’s study-abroad plotline covers friendship, self-discovery, bittersweet romance, and an ever-twisting mystery set against the scenery of winter-white, chocolate-box Lausanne, Switzerland. The sense of place is so masterfully rendered that it seeps like melting snow into protagonist, Hadley, and makes us ponder the power and influence of location on our shifty and suggestible formative years.
Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert (2010)
This brash memoir mimics the migratory path of most backpackers—it tears though a whole bunch of countries, but only gets really good when it stays in one place for more than just a drive-by. (In Shukert’s case, she ends up temporarily living in Amsterdam with Dutch friends). Her shameless misadventures and often un-sexy sexcapades are told with the forthcoming, laugh-aloud-on-public-transport humor of an endearing, foul-mouthed smart-ass.
The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan (1994)
Follow Phoebe through free-spirited, 1970s Europe, where she’s searching for answers about the death of her older sister. Not short on romantic description and atmosphere, the Euro-hippie backdrop serves as a tried-and-true place to come of age and have questionable sex.
Wanderlust: A Love Affair With Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves (2011)
“When you were somewhere else, you could be someone else,” says Eaves in her introspective and witty travel memoir. Much of the tale centers on boys and boinking, but that could be said about the perspective of most in their early twenties. Regardless, the poignant doses of true-to-form travel writing and verbal snapshots of culture make this a trip-instigating read.
Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (2010)
In this factual account of touring communist China in the eighties, Gilman gives us girls gone wild—but not in the racy manner that the title suggests. Beyond your basic travelogue of two recent grads getting culture-shocked at every turn, this novel-like memoir takes an unexpected turn into a raw and serious reality that will have you doing thorough background checks on any future travel companions.
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (1954)
This fatalistic and oh-so-French novella is not so much about the trip, but more the destination. Narrated by precocious seventeen-year-old Cécile, the story captures that languid, carefree mood of a long, hot summer spent in a holiday home (in this case it’s a secluded white villa in the French Riviera) rife with sun, sea, sex, and symbolism.
Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas (2015)
Full disclosure: I wrote this book. But one of the reasons why I wrote it is because I am too, am a girl who is utterly obsessed with travel, and back when I was in my early twenties and gallivanting around the globe at every opportunity, this kind of book—a lighthearted, smile-inducing, travel-themed romance—was type of story I always was looking to bring with me.