Read Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America by Catherine Ryan Howard Online


The laugh-out-loud new travel memoir from the bestselling author of Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida   Catherine Ryan Howard prefers bath robes to bed bugs, lattes to lizards and mini-bars to malaria. So why is she going backpacking?    She doesn't know either...    Catherine isn't the backpacking type. Working for one of the world's biggest hotel chaThe laugh-out-loud new travel memoir from the bestselling author of Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida Catherine Ryan Howard prefers bath robes to bed bugs, lattes to lizards and mini-bars to malaria. So why is she going backpacking?  She doesn't know either...    Catherine isn't the backpacking type. Working for one of the world's biggest hotel chains, she and her employee discount have become accustomed to complimentary bath robes, 24-hour room service and Egyptian cotton sheets. As for holidays, Catherine likes places that encourage lying - lying on the beach, by the pool, in bed...  She's been on what feels like one long holiday in Florida when her fearless best friend, Sheelagh, announces plans to backpack across Central America. With Catherine's US visa about to expire, her having no desire to return home to Ireland just yet and her common sense, evidently, on a day off, she agrees to go along.  After all, how bad can this backpacking thing be?  Um... very bad, actually. Catherine soon finds herself showering with the threat of electrocution, living with mutant cockroaches, sleeping on wooden planks, suffering from all but one of the side-effects listed on her bottle of anti-malarial tablets (liver failure, in case you were wondering) and riding a horse up the side of a smoking, lava-filled volcano.  And that's just the first week.  Backpacked is the wry tale of what happened when one very reluctant backpacker hit the backpacker trail and discovered that beyond the mosquitoes, bad coffee and flea-infested hostels lie even bigger mosquitoes, even worse coffee and flea-infested hostels whose bathrooms have no doors... Praise for Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard:    "[Catherine] writes with wit and humor about her time in Orlando. Thoroughly enjoyable and a great read!" --Talli Roland, bestselling author of The Hating Game  ...

Title : Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 12500815
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 278 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America Reviews

  • Adina
    2019-01-17 22:23

    3.5*This winter I made it my mission to read some of the books that have been sitting for a while on my to read list/kindle library or books left forgotten in my bookshelves for years. My first pick is Backpacked which I bought on Kindle more than two years ago (I think). I do not remember how I found out about the book. I only remember that I thought the sample was funny and decided to give it a try. However, I never got to reading the whole thing. This is travelogue but a very funny and this is how I like them. If I want to read facts I go to my DK books. The author decides ,against her better judgement , to leave with her best friend in a backpacking trip to Central America . The humour comes from the fact that she prefers well planed 5 stars, by the pool vacations to backpacking. As you can imagine she is stepping way out of her comfort zone in this trip and this creates a lot of funny/scary situations. I prefer my holidays to have more action than reading by the pool all day (which I also enjoy for 2-3 days) but I also prefer comfort so I understood most of her concerns. I never stayed in a hostel (except in Roskilde once for 90 EURO!!!!!!! so it does not count) and after reading the book I'll probably never will. *The book made me want to visit Central America as I found some beautiful places I would love to check out. However, I will not be going backpacking there for sure. It was a funny read, some the characters she met there were quite outstanding.I might read more from the author, depending on the subject.* I should mention that I go backpacking in the mountains and sleep in huts but I consider that a different kind of travel.

  • Helen Dunn
    2019-01-04 14:17

    This is a completely light and fluffy memoir about a young Irish woman on a reluctant backpacking trip through Central America with her outgoing best friend. There's nothing truly remarkable here but the author is funny and I enjoyed reading about her trip. I saw that she wrote a novel and I want to at least read the preview of her novel.

  • Sabine
    2019-01-06 18:25

    4.5 stars. An easily flowing, fun and interesting written travel story. I couldn't 100% identify with Catherine since I am a bit more adventurous but that did in no way effect how much I enjoyed reading about the trip. I had to laugh out loud when reading about “Doc” since I am usually the one attracting the crazies.

  • Alissa
    2019-01-18 22:10

    My quest for 2018 is to get through a large chunk of my all ready owned books. Many of which have been sitting there getting dusty for years so I figured I would do it the fair way and read them alphabetically (yay I’m on the B’s). Some have been duds (for a time I downloaded anything that was free) but a fair have been surprisingly good, so I’m glad I’ve taken this quest. At this rate it should take me 2 years to go through my books and that’s if I don’t buy any in between.Anyway, this book was a quick, fun read. I would definitely recommend it

  • Leah
    2018-12-30 16:23

    Earlier this year I won a copy of Catherine Ryan Howard’s non-fiction book Mousetrapped on Catherine’s blog. It was just before I got my Kindle and if I hadn’t won a copy (thank you, Catherine) I was going to purchase it for my Kindle when I’d decided to get one. I’m not a big travelogue fan, for no other reason than I prefer fiction. I mean, there’s rarely a happy-ever-after, let’s-skip-off-into-the-sunset ending on a non-fiction book is there? But I really enjoyed Mousetrapped and was inordinately pleased when Catherine sent me an e-copy of its sort-of-sequel Backpacked and I finished up my current book quick as you like and dived eagerly into Backpacked.I’m not really known as being a traveller. I’ve been on holiday to Florida – twice – to Alicante in Spain and to Tenerife, where I now live. However I would love to be a traveller. I dream of doing a road-trip across America; of visiting Australia; South America intrigues me as a place to travel, but I certainly would never go alone, that would be miles too terrifying. Backpacked allowed me to travel to South America all in the comfort of my own home! I went to Costa Rica, to Guatemala, to Honduras, to Nicagura and to Panama. It allowed me to visit all of those countries in South America and it seriously whetted my appetite for wanting to go to those countries.Catherine Ryan Howard is our intrepid traveller, someone who prefers chilling in a 5-star hotel to backpacking through South America. But with no job, no home and nowhere else to be, Catherine figures going backpacking is going to be an adventure. And she’s going with her best friend Sheelagh, who can save Catherine from all kinds of terrible things since she’s a seasoned traveller herself! What follows is a 9-week adventure that is highly readable. At times when I was reading Mousetrapped (the predecessor to Backpacked) I found myself a bit bored with some of the longer ramblings from Catherine (I mean that nicely; the ramblings just weren’t my kinda ramblings!) but in Backpacked it’s as if Catherine has stream-lined herself and it all flows brilliantly. I was thoroughly ensconced in the book and couldn’t wait to see where Catherine and Sheelagh were going to next.Catherine is an excellent writer. She’s scaled back on the more information-heavy paragraphs, only giving us the bare basics from books about the countries they’re visiting and it’s a much more personable read than Mousetrapped was. Catherine injected such humour into the book that I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions, particularly when Catherine travels up a mountain on a HORSE! There are many brilliant moments during Backpacked and every page was brilliant. I felt as if I was part of Catherine’s journey and she writes about the places she and Sheelagh visited so thoroughly and with so much passion that I’m tempted to hop on the next flight to Guatemala. Backpacked is just brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed it and despite Catherine was indeed a reluctant backpacker, you can tell she did on some level enjoy it and I enjoyed reading all about it. I’d hugely recommend it to anyone, but mainly to backpackers thinking of going to South America ‘cos Catherine really knows her stuff!

  • Amanda
    2018-12-24 16:06

    I'm not much into travel writing, but until recently there was one exception: I love Bill Bryson. I like the humor, and I like the self-awareness while traveling aspect. And I like that it looks into cultures and attitudes and history instead of just places and things. Then my friend Nicole went to England and started a blog, and my list of travel doubled. Now I'm up to three. Backpacked is funny, and fun, and easy to read. The writing makes me feel the things she's feeling (or maybe it's just that we have similar attitudes to so many things -- notably, people. "I already knew that Sheelagh's social philosophy (strangers are only friends you haven't met yet) was in sharp contrast to mine (strangers are annoying morons you've thus far successfully avoided)")Anyway, a quick, fun read, well worth the time.

  • Talli Roland
    2018-12-20 18:13

    I read and loved 'Mousetrapped', so when I heard Catherine had a new book out, I couldn't wait to dive in. I wasn't disappointed -- Catherine takes the same dry wit and self-deprecating humour along for the ride in 'Backpacked', the story of her travels through South America. From nearly falling off a horse on a vertical volcano ride to a a bevvy of eccentric -- and sometimes downright threatening -- characters along the way, reading this travelogue made me feel like I'd gone on the journey myself. Highly recommended for anyone who loves reading about the extremes of exploration without actually having to endure the discomfort.

  • Olwen White
    2018-12-21 14:09

    This book follows Catherine Ryan Howard's trip across South America. I must admit, although it is a quick and easy read, I was left feeling a little disappointed. The focus is on her experiences of local transport, chicken buses in particular, local hotels and time spent sitting on buses. I know this is a blog style book about backpacking in South America, but, I would have liked a bit more info on the areas, the sights, the people, the Mayan ruins. She went to South America but she could have been anywhere. Having said that, her easy going writing style draws you in and keeps you reading to find out what happens next.

  • Frankie Valente
    2019-01-19 22:14

    Absolutely brilliant - loved the book - but I am so never going backpacking. There are some really funny characters in this book, the kind that make you feel glad you are safe at home merely reading about travelling. The descriptions of Central America make me want to visit, but only when I am wealthy enough to do it in five star luxury. Great holiday reading and I am so jealous of the Facebook photo gallery that the author must have collected. Almost reason enough to dig out my walking boots and rucksack.

  • Emily Crow
    2018-12-27 18:19

    Entertaining travelogue of the author's backpacking adventure through Central America. She is definitely a traveler after my own heart: doesn't like roughing it, daredevil activities or chit-chatting with strangers. If only she liked birds I would have thought I'd discovered my new travel buddy! She has some truly funny observations along the way, but nothing to elevate this to must-read travel writing.

  • Rachel Fisher
    2019-01-12 18:29

    Coming soon...4.5 stars

  • Ari
    2019-01-05 17:04

    I've never wanted to backpack but Catherine's style of backpacking almost made me consider it. Almost not really.

  • Paula Brandes
    2019-01-07 14:21

    Truly delightful! Loved this!

  • Anna
    2019-01-18 14:23

    If Bridget Jones went backpacking.

  • Kenya Starflight
    2019-01-07 14:31

    I never realized that travel books could be entertaining before I started reading a few on a whim. I'm not talking about travel guides, such as the Fodor or Lonely Planet guides -- I mean real-life experiences of travelers who have been there and done that, and who chronicle the good and the bad about the places they visit. Bill Bryson continues to be the reigning champion of the entertaining yet informative travel book, though Tony James Slater (author of That Bear Ate My Pants! and Kamikaze Kangaroos!: A trip around Oz in a van called Rusty, among others) ranks a close second in my book. Catherine Howard's "Backpacked," a tale of her backpacking trip through Central America, ranks a close third in my book -- not quite as good as Bryson or Slater, but entertaining and very enjoyable, and with a knack for capturing humor in the worst of circumstances.Catherine Ryan Howard describes herself in "Backpacked" as someone completely unsuited to backpacking -- an unadventurous introvert who loves Starbucks, shopping, and five-star hotels as opposed to slogging through jungle, sleeping in hostels, and living on instant coffee and junk food. But when her best friend encourages her to join her on an expedition through Central America, Catherine, eager to boost her Facebook photo album with exotic photos, agrees. Soon the two are off on a trek through five countries, a trek that will have them climbing up (and into!) an active volcano, enduring cockroaches and the threat of electrocution during showers, rubbing elbows with obnoxious fellow travelers, experiencing the perils of public transit aboard a "chicken bus," suffering through unpredictable weather, and taking (and dropping out of) Spanish lessons. And though the journey is wildly unpredictable and sometimes unpleasant, it's always very funny.I admit to almost dropping this book when I first picked it up -- Catherine begins the book with a rather whiny tone, and I think it was a mistake to open the book with one of its most unpleasant scenes. Thankfully I pushed through, and the "whiny" tone soon fades into self-depreciation and dry wit, seguing from complaining about the trip to finding humor in challenging or weird circumstances. Much like the aforementioned Tony Slater, Catherine is able to relate what should be miserable circumstances in such a way that the reader finds themselves laughing instead of wrinkling their nose in disgust. And the colorful cast of characters she meets along the way will make you groan and chuckle at the same time -- and let's face it, we've all met at least one of these characters on our own journeys, whether it's vacation or just in the grocery store.Catherine also describes their destinations -- Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama -- in just enough detail to paint a vivid picture, without dissolving into overly flowery prose. She doesn't shy away from some of the rough edges of these countries, but she does make them sound like appealing vacation destinations. She also hints at ominous signs of these quaint, semi-hidden tourist destinations succumbing to commercialism, with McDonalds and internet cafes popping up all over the place. With this book being written in 2011, it's entirely possible that many of the places described in this book have vastly changed. Sad, but inevitable.Catherine Ryan Howard is one of the funniest and most entertaining travel writers I've had the pleasure of reading, second only to Bill Bryson and Tony Slater. I see she's moved on to writing fiction now, and I enjoyed her writing enough that I just may have to move on to her novels now... or at least pick up Mousetrapped, her other memoir/nonfiction book...

  • Lazy Linesman
    2019-01-12 15:26

    Now, my only experience with the travelling writer had been the part-anecdotal, part-historical account of John Gimlette’s experiences in Paraguay, and while it does give you an excellent overview of a country and its bizarre background, it never really stood out as a journey. ‘Backpacked’, on the other hand, very much was so.I knew next to nothing about the author. For some reason or other I stumbled her blog a short while ago, and it turned out that she was offering Kindle copies of her book for free. Having spent a year working in Mexico I was drawn towards the geographical location, and I reasoned that it might at least be worth downloading. Boy, was that a good shout!At a loose end after her working visa for the US runs out, Catherine recounts her thoughts and experiences as she and an old school friend make their way through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Far from being a seasoned backpacker, Howard proudly lists her creature comfort credentials, and we are to her distaste for the general traveller’s way of roughing life.I felt a definite empathy as I made my way through the book: as much as I enjoy journeying around foreign parts, much of the time all I want to do is curl up with something to read and passively enjoy the surroundings. Howard flies the flag for the relaxed traveller wishing for a gentle holiday; ‘Backpacked’ essentially charts her successes and failures in this endeavour. If it is not her more adrenaline-seeking friend Sheelagh dragging her into some adventure activity, it is the frantic improvisation forced upon them as a result of having picked Central America.That is not to say that anyone who has not set foot on Latin American soil would not get the same enjoyment out of reading this. Apart from the part covering Costa Rica, which Catherine delightedly associates with the novel ‘Jurassic Park’, you could recognise much of the experiences wherever you might happen to be. Howard is very good at maintaining a balance between describing the locations she sees, the people she meets, and the thoughts she thinks. Though it would have been very easy to write a whining travelogue, instead she alternates between the good, the bad, and the wearisome. Wearisome, as in the people she meets. Certainly not her writing!To be honest, her descriptions of the eclectic collection of characters she happened across were my favourite part, and are probably one of the main reasons I do like travelling. It was the antics of the creepy Doc and the forthright conversations with journeying chatterboxes Maggie and Gillian which kept me eagerly turning the virtual pages. Catherine has an ability to paint a vivid portrait of characters largely just through their dialogue; she does not tie your imagination down with physical descriptions. Just as entertaining are her reactions to them, as happy to look skeptically at herself as she is to her acquaintances. It is not just her negative responses which elicit a chuckle – both she and Sheelagh are great friends, and the exchanges between them, whether agreeing or not, demand just as much attention as Howard’s inner complaints.This was a book which entertained me throughout, and left me somewhat disappointed that it was over so early – the last 20% of the ebook consists of previews for her other works. Having got it free, I have no right to complain; I am just happy that it rekindled the enjoyment of reading. Catherine Ryan Howard’s ability to reconstruct individuals in her reader’s imagination, combined with a somewhat wry outlook on the traditions of backpacking, make for a fantastic read; comfortable language without being patronising, and the (not so) occasional sardonic comment worthy of making some people’s Top Quotes lists.“If a backpacker does something there isn’t a Facebook photo of, does it still make a sound?”“The following morning we set off for the Mayan ruins at the Copán archaeological site, about twenty minutes walk outside of town. When we got there we walked around them, took pictures and were suitably impressed that they had stayed standing for thousands of years.”“[Backpackers] would complain about the internet pushing us apart, then run off to check their e-mail. Corporations were only one step away from Lucifer himself, but have you seen my new iPod? The world was being destroyed by President Bush/their country’s governments/a top-secret New World Order of humanoid lizards (delete as appropriate), but they didn’t vote because what’s the point? They were spiritual beings mesmerised by the powers of the human mind, but they were happy to burn bits of it away with synthetic chemicals every night.”Go out there and buy ‘Backpacked’ – well worth the low price. I certainly aim to give some of her other works a shot!

  • Ainy Rainwater
    2019-01-08 16:14

    This is the continuing story of Catherine Ryan Howard's adventures across the pond. Since she's an Irish author, that means she's traveling on the American side of the pond. Backpacked picks up right where Mousetrapped left off. After living and working in Orlando for over a year, she impulsively joins her best friend for a backpacking trip in Central America. She's not the backpacking type but that only makes the adventure more adventurous. First I should say that "backpacking" in this book doesn't mean two girls hacking their way through the jungle with machetes and sleeping in tents. It means traveling rough with a backpack and staying in dubious accommodations in out of the way places. And believe me, that's a good thing: when their backpacks are snatched off the top of a bus at one point, the author goes after the snatchers and if she'd had a machete this would've turned into an episode of "Locked Up Abroad" because she would've used it. She's terrified of volcanos and rope bridges (and, dear God, who can blame her!), but anyone who gets between her and her backpack (or her and a Starbucks) had better watch out! While I enjoyed her previous book a lot, this one is much better--- more fun, more harrowing, and though it follows straight-on from the first one, there's little connection so you can just plunge right into it. If you're going to Central America, I recommend you read this book --- in addition to whatever else you may read like Rough Guides, Lonely Planets, etc. because the reality of "roughing it guides" doesn't always match the reality of, well, reality. If you're an armchair traveler and never intend to wander around Central America with a backpack, I also highly recommend you reading this because it's a great read as travel adventures go. What makes it is the author: really good travel writing is dependent on having not just a unique experience, but having an authentic and likeable narrator, someone the reader can enjoy traveling with page after page. Catherine Ryan Howard is that narrator. As light and funny as some of the writing is, she's also thoughtful though not in a ponderous or self-absorbed "my epiphany" sort of way. She and her best friend see fantastic places, experience once in a lifetime things (and quite a few things she fervently hopes are once in a lifetime things), meet fellow travelers (and this could also serve as a cautionary tale of how not to be one of those not-so-great travelers she meets), do scary and some cringe-worthy things, are befriended by natives (there really are nice people in other countries, you know), and come out of it alive and happy. I'm happy to have seen it all through her eyes (and glad it wasn't me taking a shower with bare electrical wires, inching back from lava in a volcano, or having my beach reading interrupted by Way Too Personal questions from strangers---another instance where a machete might've been useful). Take this book with you on vacation. Read it if you don't go on vacation. She's recently written a novel, but she has a great future as a travel writer so I'm hoping that she has more trips to exotic places so we can all read about them. (Disclaimer: The author gave me the ebook of this, but that didn't affect my feelings about the book. Authors swap books with each other, but this doesn't always result in glowing reviews and effusive blurbs. If I hadn't liked it, I would've just written something bland, ambiguous and polite. I liked it. A lot.)

  • Sarah Hunt
    2019-01-16 14:11

    I genuinely enjoyed this book - it's nothing profound, but is an easy, interesting read. I found it as a cheap read in the Kindle store and picked it up because I'm planning a backpacking trip to Central America myself in a few months.This is the author's second autobiographical book, following on from Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida where she lives in Orlando and works at a Disney World hotel. When her visa runs out she isn't ready to go home, so instead she chooses to join her best friend backpacking through Central America.I loved the fact that Catherine was not the "backpacking type". She doesn't really have any desire to backpack at all, other than as an excuse to stay away from home and spend time with her best friend. Most backpacking memoirs are written by "seasoned travellers", which seems to refer to people who want to be mistaken for locals wherever they go and refuse to travel with more than a 30 litre backpack. I found it refreshing to read about the experience of someone who enjoys their creature comforts, but is still happy to deal with slightly rougher conditions without too much complaint.What makes this book so likeable is Catherine's writing style - despite being obviously out of her comfort zone at this point in her life, she knows what she's got herself into and I didn't find her at all whiny or irritating. She could easily have strayed into this territory, but instead I found myself warming to her, even though we are very different.I found Backpacked particularly interesting because of my current plans, but would still recommend it as a quick read if you are at all interested in reading some stories of budget travel by amateurs. Also if, like me, you like to be a bit nosey and hear about other people's lives.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-19 17:04

    I am disappointed at the author's attitude towards 'backpacking' as a form of travel. The entire point of traveling is to immerse yourself in the local culture as much as possible; to really experience local culture, not visit "mini-America" by sticking close to expensive tourist hot-spots. If that's the case, why bother traveling at all?While the author does have a sense of humor describing her adventures, she does come across as needy and is certainly not a travel companion I would want tagging along with me.As an avid traveler myself, attitude is everything and I think she really cheated herself out of what should have been one of the best enjoyable and cultural learning experiences of a lifetime.Her novel could have been so much more had she taken the opportunity to really appreciate the value that this type of travel offers.So while her writing is mildly humorous and well-written, if not fantastical at times, I just could not get past her poor attitude to really enjoy this novel. It's a shame; her experiences could have offered her readers so much more. Stick to your expensive sheets and room service I suppose...

  • Ricardo Ribeiro
    2019-01-11 16:27

    I bought this book for two reasons: I am preparing my own trip to Central America and I got an incredible promotion so I paid... ZERO for it. True, it was in my wish list, I was just lucky enough to take a look at the listing when it was for free. Anyway, because I have a new e-reader I wanted to start reading it right away. I was thinking I would read a couple of pages before switching to the book I had on my bedside table. I was wrong. I start reading and I couldn't stop. Finally, after reaching page 55 I had to stop. It was almost 1 AM. So, I consider this book a funny reading. It's not specially instructive, not a big helper for someone preparing a trip to this part of the world. All right, some notes were taken, but above all the reading pleasure comes from the author writing vocation. It's easy, funny, addictive. I will consider buy more books from Catherine and the only reason stopping me right now is a simple fact: she didn't write any other appealing books. Appealing to me, of course. I don't rate the book with 5 stars because it's not really a literary piece of art and it doesn't offers much knowledge about Central America itself.

  • Debbie Young
    2019-01-05 20:33

    Having enjoyed the author's previous book, Mousetrapped, about her time in Orlando, I downloaded this book as I found her company entertaining and wanted to continue in the same vein.This was despite having no real interest in travel to Central America myself, and reading this also saved me the bother of going there now. As the author admits, her trip was a bit cushier than what most people regard as backpacking - there were no nights sleeping on trains or in stations or on beaches, and no real hardship or shortage of cash (though with everything so cheap in that area, you wouldn't need a lot of cash to get by). And she spent rather longer in each location than the average backpacker might.But even so, it was a pleasant read and I enjoyed her observations, as much of other people as of the places she visited. Not sure that she's heading in the direction of becoming a travel writer as such - but if she does decide to venture elsewhere and write a book about her experiences, I'll be sure to read it.

  • Ian
    2018-12-31 15:12

    A woman who likes culture, sophistication, and luxury goes backpacking across Central America. The result, unsurprisingly, is that she hates most of it, and most of this book ends up being a long unrelenting string of gripes, complaints, and general disagreeableness. This book is captivating in an odd way, as it is a great example of a so called First World Problem.Only a small portion of the world has the ability to spend months traveling the globe, and even fewer would intentionally take a trip they were destined to hate, and then write a book about how unpleasant it was. Much like Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week, this book maintains interest driven by an intensely dislikable main character. At times you want to stop reading, but like watching a car crash, the ugly force of voyeurism forces one to press on.

  • Mycala
    2018-12-24 14:12

    Catherine sounds like the perfect traveling companion to me -- I often somehow wind up with traveling companions who are a bit too friendly and wind up inviting folks to lunch that I would rather not spend time with. She prefers luxury to backpacking and she knows how to tell a great story. Even if she did "embellish" a bit as some of the reviews imply, it's all to make it more entertaining and that's okay. It's her story.I bought this book when I was feeling the need to travel. Sadly, with working full-time and working towards my degree, travel is something I'll have to put off for the time being, so I enjoy reading other people's stories. When she was arguing about getting her suitcase back when it was swiped off the top of the bus, I was glad to be curled up in my own bed. When she was looking out over the beautiful lake, I confess, I was jealous.If you have a great sense of humor and enjoy reading about the spirited adventures of others, I absolutely recommend this book.

  • J. A.Lewis
    2019-01-17 20:10

    I enjoyed Catherine Howard's book about her trip across Central America. I wouldn't say she "backpacked" in the true sense of the word as she and her friend, Sheelagh, stayed at hostels and hotels and ate at some decent restaurants. However, her sense of humor is fun and light and will cause you to chuckle. The author goes out of her comfort zone to make this trip. She finds herself climbing down into an active volcano, going up a cliff in the dark to get to the road above, riding buses along some pretty scary terrain, and staying in a few roach/mice infested places. I admire her courage as I personally wouldn't do any of this. She meets some annoying characters along the way and while some reviewers really bash her for her descriptions, I have to say I probably would have felt the same about some of these people. All-in-all, a light, funny read about traveling to places I would never have the nerve to visit.

  • Beadyjan
    2019-01-02 14:14

    What a delightful look at backpacking travel, I really warmed to the author and felt I had a lot in common with her, a lot of her quirks and character traits had me thinking it could be me writing this.The way she has to be at least 2 hours early at the airport and panics if she's not through check in and hanging around for ages, the way she plans and has to have every day of her holiday organised in advance and her difficulty at befriending strangers and impatience with other peoples foibles that's me to a T.She's so resistant to letting her hair down yet ends up getting in some real scrapes, made all the more precarious by her own vivid imagination and ability to always expect the worst.She has a great sense of humour and I'll be reading her other books after this one. Its also made me fancy visiting South America though I won't be staying in any brothels!

  • Sharon Moonbeam
    2018-12-27 20:08

    I enjoyed this little book. It's an easy read, and I seriously laughed out loud several times! I read it thinking it was more of a travel log, and I suppose it is, but more about what the author is feeling and thinking about the whole escapade. It's meant to be funny! All the reluctance and whining sounds like something I would be doing now that I'm in my 50's, but maybe not so much in my 20's. All the craziness and descriptions made me definitely not care to make a trip to South America, not that I was planning on it anyway. I like my comfort and safety and I could never even think of getting in an overcrowded bus or car, and for hours and hours! All I could think of was, what about bathroom breaks?? It sounds like a fun, though dangerous adventure, And I'm glad I didn't have to experience it myself! I recommend it for a jolly good read.

  • Missy Cahill
    2019-01-18 15:27

    A hugely enjoyable read of Catherine Ryan Howards reluctant backpacking experience around Central America. She has the great ability to write exactly as she speaks, and so the book sounds exactly like someone telling you a great, funny bone tickling story. Reading this, I kept thinking to myself, is Catherine Ryan Howard me? I love traveling, in fact it's my number one thing to do, when I have time and money {which is not often}, but I also love my glamorous side of traveling, staying in nice accommodation {read: not flea ridden} etc. I particularly loved Catherine and Sheelagh's adventure with The Doc, side splittingly funny. It's gas, the people you meet traveling. They sure provide you with great anecdotes for later on. If you like travel memoirs, this is very good and well worth a read.

  • Nancy Staves
    2018-12-20 22:18

    I really enjoyed this adventure, and it left me wanting more! I found Catherine very relatable, because we have similar personalities and fears, along with a much-needed sense of humor to deal with whatever came her way! Catherine and Sheelagh are the perfect friends to travel together. I appreciated that the drama was on the road, and not between them. I highly recommend this read to fellow travelers and dreamers. I felt like I made the journey with them, even though I would probably be too afraid to actually go through with it. I hope Catherine and Sheelagh take future trips together and write about them, so I can live vicariously through them! Congrats and Best Wishes on future journeys!

  • Susie Kelly
    2019-01-05 15:17

    I enjoyed this tale of the author's self-confessedly reluctant trip to South America. Dragged along by her intrepid friend Sheelagh, she finds herself teetering on the edge of a spewing volcano, sleeping with cockroaches, bullied into kayaking and involved in various other adventures none of which I would have enjoyed but which I read with huge schadenfreude. It's not a tale of a wonderful experience where everything is beautiful and all the people are delightful. Some of them are, but there are also some horrible places and ghastly people, which made, for me, an interesting and entertaining read. I don't think I'd go anywhere with Sheelagh!

  • Darlene
    2019-01-09 14:21

    Ms. Howard's writing was an adventure to read. There were times when I had to re-read a phrase out loud to share with my husband her witty style. I have to admit to having similar social anxieties and other fears that the author owns up to in this book. I think we only differ in that I love swimming. If I had been dragged to the top of a volcano I think I would have been very reluctant. Not only is the writing style and personality of Ms. Catherine Ryan Howard believable and enjoyable, she made her adventure feel as if I were part of it. I highly recommend this book to everyone who has ever dreamed of taking a backpacking trip!