It’s Only The Himalayas: Book Review & Author Interview

It’s Only The Himalayas: Book Review


It’s Only the Himalayas: And Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker is a funny travel memoir by 20-something backpacker Sue, who explores the world with her BFF Sara. Sue not only goes on a journey to discover the world, she also goes on a journey within. She is tired of her aimless life as a waitress living with her parents, jealous of her friends who seem to have their lives figured out. So she grabs a bag, her best friend and heads on a trip around the world to figure things out.

Her travels take her from the African dessert to the mountains of Nepal and on to the beaches of Southeast Asia. She pushes herself more than she thought possible in this journey and discovers that nobody, not even her perfect travel buddy Sara, has this whole adulting thing figured out. 

It’s Only The Himalayas: My 2 Cents

My favorite part: Sue and Sara are on a boat in the Philippines and they talk to their fellow ship mates about how everyone back home urges them to stop dreaming and get back to the real life. But what if, this was real life and the rat race back home was the dream that they needed to wake up from?

It’s Only the Himalayas is a quick and fun read that will make your feet itch to go out and travel. There are quite a few funny lines that have you laugh out loud and if you have ever been part of the backpacking scene, this book will most likely make you feel nostalgic for your own adventures. It’s a travel story from a backpacker for backpackers. A lost girl wandering the world, trying to find herself.

The problem is, she doesn’t. Or at least, it isn’t in the book. While Sue asks a whole lot of questions, she doesn’t seem to find any answers. The epilogue of the book takes place a mere week after her return and when you finish the book, you still don’t know what her plan for the future is. Has she found what she wants to do with her life? A short term goal maybe? Or is she just going back to the same old same old waitressing job and continue to live with her parents? From deduction, you can figure out that she wrote the book, but I really wish there was a little bit more closure in the book. It almost felt like there was chapter missing. The book starts out in the “Eat, Pray, Love” direction, but then goes down the backpacker party trail. 

I would recommend this book, if you are looking for a fun, easy and lighthearted read about some backpackers having fun abroad. It is an entertaining and enjoyable travel book, it just doesn’t go as deep as I had hoped. 

It’s Only The Himalayas: Author Interview

By Sue Bedford, author of It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker

1. Sue, your book is about your second long-term travel experience. What made this experience different from the first one?

My initial big trip was to Australia and New Zealand for five months when I was 19. It was my first time stepping out on my own and I was thrilled with the novelty of everything—I have a photo of a parked car with what looks like a dog driving it from the North American left-driver-side perspective—although culturally both countries are of course similar to home.

Comparatively, the societal differences I encountered during my year-long round-the-world trip left me reeling. There were the unforgettable moments, like dancing amid human skulls at a funeral ceremony in Borneo; but also the daily variances, like not touching somebody with your left hand because that’s what you wipe your butt with in India. I learned and questioned more in that year that I had in the 23 leading up to it.

2. Do you think you will go back on the road again? If so, do you already have any adventures in mind?

Sometimes I wonder whether backpacking is a respite from real life or vice versa. I was fortunate to embark upon a couple of other major trips after my year-long adventure with Sara, and hope to be healthy and able to continue the nomadic lifestyle in the future. Next on my list is to see the northern lights, although if my misadventures in the Himalayas are any indication I’ll need to pack a hot water bottle.

3. Looking back at your adventures, what would you do differently now?

Well, of course I could’ve been more prepared… but where’s the fun in that?

4. Before you embarked on your journey, you felt lost and stuck in an unfulfilled life. Did travel change that and, if yes, how?

Travel widened my parameters on how I choose to live. We often plan on “forevers,” on attaining static goals: a 40-year career, a marriage, a house, etc. Backpacking made me realize that “temporaries” can be just as enriching. You don’t have to work in the same field or live in the same city for the rest of your life for that experience to be worthy. When perpetual change and new challenges drive you, you’re destined for an exciting existence.   

5. Do you have any tips or encouraging words for someone who is thinking of traveling longterm?

Everybody has the same fears: What if I get sick or hurt? What if I get robbed? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t meet anybody? What if I get lost? What if I get scared? What if I get homesick? What if I screw everything up because I don’t know what I’m doing? When we see those who’ve traveled long and far, we frequently forget they too were once naïve and clumsy. The hardest part about long-term travel is promising yourself that you’re going to do it—after that, the obstacles get smaller. 

*I received a complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review. The opinion is my own.

Do you want another perspective on the book? Read Danielle’s review of It’s Only the Himalayas

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