View of Dewey Lake along the Pacific Coast Trail

6 Famous Literary Solo Trips That You Can Recreate

Ready to head out on a solo trip of one's own?

We're dedicating our April features to all things solo travel. Whether it’s a soul-searching hike, a decompressing beach trip, or an invigorating urban getaway, tackling the world as a solo traveler has become safer, easier, and more empowering. Dive into this month's features to learn strategies for making friends while solo and the ways technology has changed the solo travel experience, then get lost in inspiring stories of bus journeys through Africa, a voyage to Mount Fuji, a social experiment in South Korea, and a solo bikepacking birthday celebration.

Even when you're grounded, a good travel book can have the power to transport you all around the world, from the deserts of California to the pristine beaches of Thailand, with colorful language and vivid imagery that make you feel like you're there. While literature is a great way to get your wanderlust satiated in between trips, it can also be used as a tool to inspire your next trip and, in some cases, a guidebook. And when it comes to literary solo trips, there's the added philosophical element: tales of self-reflection, growth, and a compelling sense of independence. These types of travel books, more than any other, have us wistfully dreaming of our own "Eat, Pray, Love" adventure.

Read on to discover some of the most beloved novels, poems, and memoirs depicting solo tales of adventure, courage, and self-reflection and find inspiration to set out on a transformational journey of your own.

A view of the beach in the fall at Walden Pond

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Rather than recreate “Into the Wild,” consider embarking on a trip inspired by one of Chris McCandless' greatest influences: Henry David Thoreau, the acclaimed American naturalist and writer behind the 1854 poem "Walden." The poem, which was written mainly within his Walden Pond-facing cabin in Concord, Ma., is chockful of Thoreau's reflections on life, politics, and nature: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived," he wrote within its pages.

Today, you can retreat to Thoreau's (now) less-than-lonely corner of New England at Walden Pond State Reservation. The 335-acre reservation houses a replica of the single-room cabin that Thoreau built and lived in for two years, two months, and two days; from there, you can go on a self-guided walking tour around the pond or hike the 1.7-mile Emerson-Thoreau Amble, which follows the path that Thoreau took to visit neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson. The pond is also great for fishing and non-gas-motorized boating—two things that Thoreau loved to do. Rent a kayak from Charles River Canoe & Kayak, which delivers rental boats to the state reservation, or purchase a Massachusetts freshwater fishing license and cast your line for trout along the shore.

While there is no camping within the state reservation, head to nearby Berry's Grove Campground in Tyngsboro to further immerse yourself in solitude under the stars. If you'd like to continue following in the footsteps of famous poets, continue to Western Massachusetts, where both Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath lived.

View of Dewey Lake from the Pacific Coast Trail

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

In the wake of her mother's death and the collapse of her marriage, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed sets out to do the unimaginable: hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the world's best long-distance hiking trails, without any backpacking experience or training. Starting in the Mojave Desert and ending at the Bridge of the Gods in Washington, Strayed's three-month journey is filled with courage, self-forgiveness, and healing.

While we don't recommend going on a hike of this sort without any experience or proper research (re: please get yourself a pair of hiking boots that fit), you can live out other aspects of this bestselling memoir. Stop in at Kennedy Meadows, California, to fuel up on snacks, paint the town red in Ashland, Oregon, and stop at Crater Lake National Park to see America's deepest lake. If the 1,100-mile trek sounds too intimidating, consider hiking just one or two sections of the trail, including Section O in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and the 211-mile John Muir Trail.

A tour boat on the Spree River in Berlin

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In this Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Andrew Sean Greer, Arthur Less is a self-described failing writer turning 50. When he receives a wedding invitation from an ex-boyfriend, Less in part accepts another invitation—six, in fact—to attend literary events around the world, all to avoid attending the ceremony and fend off pitiful looks and gossipy whispers of "sad old Arthur Less." "What could possibly go wrong?"

To go on your own "around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia," start (and end your trip) in San Francisco, where Less lives. The first leg of the journey will take you to New York City, where you'll see a Broadway show—eating a hot dog dinner beforehand. Then, make your way to Mexico City, passing through Parque México, shopping the city's markets, and climbing the pyramids at Teotihuacán. In Turin, Italy, you'll indulge in steak tartare and Nebbiolo, and in Berlin, hit up the city's famed nightclubs and take a class on literature and creative writing if you have the time. (Although the university in the book is fictional, you can sign up for an eight-week course at The Berlin Writers' Workshop).

Spend a quick layover in Paris en route to Morocco; in the City of Light, wander around the Place des Vosges, explore the Musée d'Orsay and Musée Carnavalet, and stop at a pâtisserie for almond croissants. Book a riad in Marrakech, then journey into the Sahara Desert before winding up at Oukaimden ski resort in Ifrane, Morocco's "Little Switzerland." Fly to India for a quiet retreat in Kerala, near the Arabian Sea, and onto Kyoto to enjoy traditional kaiseki cuisine.

Diamond Beach in Nusa Penida Bali

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

You didn't think we would write a roundup of literary solo trips without including "Eat Pray, Love," did you? In this oft-referenced memoir—arguably the story that kicked off the era of "woman goes on a solo trip around the world" travel memoirs—writer Elizabeth Gilbert embarks on a year of travel (four months in Italy, India, and Indonesia each) to regain her sense of self in the aftermath of a difficult divorce.

First stop: Rome, Italy, where you can revisit some of the sites used in the book's film adaptation. Start your trip by paying a visit to Castel Sant'Angelo, preferably at sunset. In the morning, fuel up on cappuccino from Caffè Domiziano before wandering around Piazza Navona. Of course, you're here for the food, right? Try mouthwatering Roman dishes like spaghetti cacio e pepe and fettuccine al burro at restaurants highlighted in the movie, including Antica Trattoria Della Pace and Ristorante Santa Lucia. Be sure to sample a cup of gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino, located near the Trevi Fountain, before taking a side trip to Naples, the birthplace of pizza. Order up a Margherita at L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele, considered by some to be the world's best pizza.

While Gilbert has not confirmed where exactly Gilbert prayed in India, it's widely speculated that she stayed at Siddha Yoga Ashram in Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra, just outside of Mumbai. (Scenes from the movie were filmed at Hari Mandir Ashram in Pataudi, Haryana.) Spend your time meditating and exploring your spirituality before making your way to Ubud, Bali. Reserve a room at Kamandalu Ubud and book the "Eat Pray Love Package," complete with daily yoga sessions, a welcome massage, a cycling tour to one of the film locations, and a trip to Ketut Lier's family compound.

Sun setting view south west over São Paulo Brazil from Republica

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The Midnight Library

While Matt Haig's "The Midnight Library" isn't a travel book per se, it does have all the trappings of one: adventure in far-off destinations, revelations, and self-discovery. Nora Seed is a 30-something-year-old woman who's just lost her job following her cat's untimely death. Ruminating on the terrible decisions she's made in life thus far (and grieving her brother's death and the loss of a friend she's grown apart from), she chooses to end her life. She wakes up in the so-called Midnight Library, where she meets a librarian who gives her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to live every other alternate version of the life she could have lived had she chosen a different path.

Although you can't actually visit the fantastical Midnight Library, you can explore the other destinations Nora spends time at in this whimsical tale. Nora's first alternate reality begins in England, where she and her husband run a pub; although Haig doesn't specify where exactly, he describes it as a quaint village with stone terraced houses, clear sky, and "crisp, clean air." Take your pick of small English towns—you'll find plenty of pubs anywhere you go.

Then, make your way to Sydney, Australia, where you'll spend your days swimming in saltwater pools, sunbathing on Bronte Beach, and drinking Australian wine. Journey on to Longyearbyen, the world's northernmost settlement in Svalbard, Norway. In this life, Nora is a prestigious glaciologist; live out your own Arctic adventure by booking a Svalbard cruise with Oceanwide Expeditions. From there, fly to São Paulo, Brazil, for live music and an ultra-ritzy hotel stay. Afterward, go to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and spend your time touring some of the region's top vineyards—the sort Nora would have owned in this particular reality.

Aerial view of Railay beach

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The Beach

Alex Garland's 1998 novel "The Beach" follows Richard, a newly graduated British backpacker seeking adventure on the Banana Pancake Trail. When he finds a map to an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Thailand pinned to his door, Richard invites a couple of fellow backpackers to join him in searching for this "seemingly Edenic paradise."

Your trip begins in Bangkok, on Ko Sanh Road, situated on the Banana Pancake Trail. Book a hostel or the night and dine on Chang beer and pad Thai before making the journey to Ang Thong National Marine Park. The park, which comprises 42 islands, yields limestone cliffs, bays, tropical rainforest, caves, and of course, plenty of pristine beaches. While the beach depicted in the novel doesn't exist, Talay Nai (Emerald Lake) is said to have served as the inspiration.

To get there, hop on a southbound train from Hua Lamphong station to Surat Thani; you can transfer to a Koh Samui-bound ferry, which will get you to the archipelago in 90 minutes. You can reach the national park by chartering a boat or booking a licensed tour operator when you arrive. Alternatively, you can hit up some of the spots featured in the 2000 movie adaptation. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton, was partly shot in Maya Bay (located on Phi Phi Islands) and at Haew Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park.