Marybeth Bond's Gutsy Women: Travel Tips and Wisdom from the Road is just that, a book of traveling tips and tidbits specifically geared toward women of all ages. The book is divided into chapters that walk you through preparations for packing and departure, for eating, shopping, and meeting people, and designated traveling types. Interspersed into each chapter are quotes from well-traveled writers that pertain to the section. Some are entertaining, some are true, and some are unnecessary.
Bond opens the text with a quote from Alexandra David-Neel, a French explorer and writer, who stated that "travel not only stirs the blood...it also gives birth to the spirit." Honestly, I could not agree more. As a fellow traveler, I can attest that the times where you venture into unknown territory, though at times frightening, leads to some of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Whether searching for a fellow traveler in the middle of the night by candlelight in a Bavarian forest or dodging fireworks and inebriated people in a city-wide festival during Silvesterferien in Vienna all while trying not to get vomitted on, you can not help but to soak in the spirit of the place you are and celebrate the unique experiences that they bring.
I think that the most promising, and entertaining, chapters fell in the middle of the text. The chapter dedicated to eating, "Dining on the Road," offered a lot of sound advice and a very apt truth to travel: "some people travel specifically to eat, and one of the best ways to gain an understanding of another culture is through its cuisine." This is so spot on! I found that while traveling through Venice, Italy I was more willing to spend money on food (especially gelato!) than I was on any souvenirs or the like. This was also clearly evident when I went for a week-long visit to the South, specifically Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. I didn't buy anything...except food! And let me tell you, it was well worth it!
I found that a lot of the tips Bond includes are very common sense. But then, she does gear this toward both those who've never traveled and those who are seasoned in the backpacker's paradise of musty clothes and bleary eyes so she has to cover the entire range of traveling tips. Probably one of the most practical, and ingenious, tips she gives on safety is to buy one of those rubber doorstoppers. They're cheap and highly effective if you feel unsafe while sleeping in a foreign place.
Gutsy Women closes with an entire list of references that range from books and magazines to services and organizations and even packing lists broken down in to several areas (clothing, hygiene, medical, documents, and miscellaneous). Ultimately, this would be an ideal selection for a first time traveler, but I feel like it was all old hat. However, it did make my feet itch and my wallet burn!