Solo Trip. A word that evokes fear in some, at least nervousness, and sometimes even a definite hell, no!. Lucky for me because these are exactly the reasons why I got to write a book about it.
Two years ago I was contacted by an editor at the German publishing house Rowohlt who asked me if I was interested to write a book about solo travel for them. The initial shock and flattery quickly turned into a contract, three months of writing in Bali (yes, I am well aware of what a cliche that makes me!, and an actual printed book with my name and picture on the cover and almost 300 pages of thoughts, tips and stories about solo travel by yours truly.
It was an interesting if not life-changing experience to say the least. After the book was published, my mother being single-handedly in charge of the majority of my sales, some great press in German magazines and newspapers, a lot of lovely comments from readers, and the repeat question of when the book would be available in English followed.
After discussing this with my editor it turned out I was on my own for the English version and so I started to translate the book.
In a way, it felt and still feels redundant to me to write about solo travel. I am an innate solo traveler but have never labeled myself as such so it seemed silly to write about it yet again. But the responses from readers showed me that not everyone feels this way. The book was either giving people a real inspiration to venture on a solo trip or those who had traveled alone before were happy to recognize themselves in my words. So I started. While I managed the original copy in less than three months, the translation took forever. I tried to get to the bottom of it because it didn’t make sense to me. The book structure was set, its content was done, and I have always been much more comfortable writing in English than in German though it isn’t my mother tongue. What the heck was taking me so long? I was experiencing textbook procrastination.
Eventually, I realized that the few not so nice reviews on Amazon had really thrown a spanner in the works. One person said, my book put her to sleep, others attacked not only me but also my family on a quite personal level, and some called my book trivial. Trivial hurt most because I couldn’t help but wonder – what did they expect? Even if you are new to solo travel you will realize very quickly that it isn’t rocket science. Welcome to the internet, Annika! I know, I know… I never thought that a few single comments (it was literally only five or six!) could throw me off that much especially after the amount of lovely and encouraging comments I had gotten by far outweighed those few. But it was the negatives that really made me think and reconsider the worth of the book and by extension myself.
The internet can be a big ugly place where people often leave their unsolicited thoughts for no other reason than that they can and as a blogger, I make myself available to those comments even more so than a regular Facebook user. But I have been lucky so far when it comes to trolls. I guess that’s why I was unprepared for those unkind comments and also realized that while criticizing a single blog post is one thing, criticizing my book is a whole other. It is my baby and someone telling me it sucks is telling a mother her baby is ugly and that to me is something you do not do. Ever. Even constructive criticism becomes somewhat tricky because in both cases – it is done. Your baby is what it is and my book is printed.
At some point, I vowed to stop reading the comments and realized that it is our messed up human nature to focus, amongst a myriad of praise, on the few who criticize us and give them much more space in our minds and hearts than they deserve. Because really – what kind of person are you if you tell a mother their baby is ugly?
This just as a small glimpse behind the scenes and an explanation why it has taken me so darn long. Now onto the good news: Solo Trip – Me, Myself & The World is fully translated and will be ready for sale at the end of July. Hurrah!
What Solo Trip is all about:
- When and how I started traveling and why I think I am qualified to write a book about solo travel.
- Why traveling alone makes so damn happy.
- All the ifs and buts we always hear about solo travel and why you should ignore them. One of those is dinner for one. I actually decided to make that a separate chapter as it seems to be a biggie for so many.
- Backpack or steamer trunk, a chapter where I talk about different ways of traveling and why solo travel doesn’t’ have to equate backpacking.
- The privilege & responsibility of traveling which is an extended version of this post.
- Practical Tips & Checklists – what to do before, take, and why you need a passport to fly to New York.
- Some of my favorite journeys with detailed itineraries and information for New York, Morocco, and Thailand. Tried and tested and as per usual completely biased.
Who is this Solo Trip for?
Of course, I like to think this book has something for everybody but first and foremost I wrote it to inspire and support new travelers. While most are geared specifically towards solo travel, a lot of the practical tips apply to travel in general. I have added a few specific words of advice for female travelers based on my own experience but the majority of the book is for men and women.
And if you enjoy my writing and think I tell funny stories (I have been told this before so I am not making this up – some people really do think me a funny German!), this book is also for you because there is a ton in it. Some I wish I wouldn’t have written because now my mother knows way too much about what I do when she is not around.
And who is it not for?
I am not going to use the word trivial ever again but if you have been traveling by yourself for a while you may find this book and the tips I give a bit… obvious. Also, if you hate Morocco this is not the book for you – as you know I love Morocco and I talk a whole lot about it.
Keen to read more? Then you are in luck because both the English version and teh German one are on sale at Amazon now. If you rather want to support your local bookstore you can find the German print version in Germany.
*Since I am promoting myself in this post a silly German law has declared I need to let you know right from the get-go so you know what to expect.