“Here are the facts of the present moment. It’s 2002, I’m twenty years old. I've just embarked on four months in a foreign country alone. I’m carrying six hundred dollars in traveler’s checks, money saved up from waitressing last semester. I booked two nights in a Dublin hostel before I left. Other than that, I've got no plan. And this greatly confounds me because I always have a plan. At least I used to be the kind of girl who always has a plan.” -pg. 4
And thus, we meet Rachel, who I readily identified with from the very beginning, being a girl without a plan myself as I was reading this book. We first encounter Rachel hauling her giant red suitcase into a hostel in Dublin, with no plan and looking for work. Pretty soon she’s off to Galway and before long rents a small apartment there with two guys and another girl—named Carly. And so starts the first part of a three-part adventure that will lead Rachel around the world.
Carly is the ultimate cool best friend. Carly has traveled and seen a lot of the world, and is in no mood to stop traveling either. I think it’s Carly that gives Rachel a glimpse of what life can be, and that sometimes, you don’t need a plan.
Before long, Rachel and Carly are on their way to Carly’s home country, Australia, where Rachel meets Carly’s family and finds out there are about 10,000 different ways to die in Australia. It seems everything in Australia is deadly in one way or another, from snakes to vicious birds to spontaneously falling limbs off a tree. However, even with the slightly life threatening circumstances, Rachel describes the continent with such detail and such love it make me really want to visit.
Then, much to her parents’ chagrin, soon after she came back Rachel is off again, this time for a whirlwind trip around South America with Carly. Encountering altitude sickness, pickpockets and visa problems, Rachel and Carly do it all, along with making their friendship stronger by learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
I was really happy to see Rachel and Carly work through the difficult patches of their friendship while they were traveling. I have traveled with a “best” friend, and needless to say, we weren't really even friends by the time the trip was over, but that’s another story for another day.
I loved reading about Rachel’s adventures, I want to do a working holiday in Ireland soon and I loved reading about what I might encounter while I’m there. I also love reading about places I have been (Dublin and Galway both) and I get homesick for the places I've traveled to, so this book helped ease some that.
Also, I love reading about places I've never visited, only to walk away with a new found appreciation for that place, as well as a hunger to visit. I had that with the Australia portion of the book. I’d never really wanted to visit the continent known as Oz, but after reading about Rachel’s experiences, I desperately want to feel that warm Australian sunshine on my face.
And, even with the idea of a handsome guy in an Irish bar in South America, I’m still not so sure I want to travel there, but Rachel made it sound appealing so…I’ll go there one day.
Most of all, what I’m learning from all these books is that it’s okay to be a little lost, okay to live without a plan and just live. These women in these books all face the same things that I, and probably a lot of you, are facing right now, and you know what? They come through it as better and more amazing people because of it. All of the struggles and the experiences, good and bad, made them the kick-ass women they are today. And that’s what I hope to be when all is said and done. I hope one day someone writes about me on their burgeoning travel blog and describes me as a “kick-ass woman.” I’ll be in really good company. :)
Thanks for reading!!! Until next time!
Up Next: “At Least You’re in Tuscany” by Jennifer Criswell