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

hmonkeyreads's review

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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.

mrswenrich's review

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Loved this book! Funny adventure!

missymouse's review

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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.

yellowchairreader's review

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Ended up skim reading this after what was a promising start. By the time they had reached their second destination I was sick of their moaning ( I think she was trying to be humorous )
At one point in the book she questions why she is doing the trip and do did I! I also questioned therefore why am I bothering to read it!

aritrow's review

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

amiablebookworm's review

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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 [b:Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida|7902458|Mousetrapped A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida (Volume 1)|Catherine Ryan Howard||11024000] 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.

leahmichelle_13's review

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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!