“The air filled with whispers while I could think of only one thing: I was sat inches away from a corpse.”

Lauren before and after

On the left: how I looked moments after handing in my manuscript. On the right: 24 hours later!

Ask me about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I’ll tell you about the past eighteen months of my life.

Writing my book has been a rollercoaster ride full of terror and euphoria.

There were the dizzying highs: Discovering that not one, but two publishing houses were interested in publishing my book. Signing with a big New York agent. Receiving an offer for my book. Signing the contract. Making the announcement.

When it came time to write the book, though, I quickly slipped into the darkest period of my life. After years spent travelling anxiety-free, I had my first panic attack. Then I had another. Day by day, the anxiety I’d fought so hard to beat crept back into my life until I felt as if I was drowning. Next, I fell into a pit of crippling self-doubt that had me in tears every time I opened my laptop. The tight deadlines that kept me inside my apartment for three months straight. Skipping showers and meals and sleep because I couldn’t justify wasting time on them.

Eighteen hours of writing; six hours of insomnia. Repeat to fade.

If you had asked me several weeks ago if having a published book to my name had been worth the anguish, my answer would have been a resounding no.

No way.

lauren opening book

Last week, a small package arrived at my apartment in Madrid. I already knew what was inside. A friend had asked the day before if I was looking forward to getting my hands on the first printed copy of my book and I’d shrugged my shoulders.

“I doubt it’ll mean much,” I told her. “I’ve already read it a thousand times, and my readers have been sending me tons of photos of it. I think I’ll feel pretty ambivalent about it all.”

I slid my fingers inside the envelope and promptly burst into tears. Suddenly, all of the panic attacks and meltdowns and sleepless nights were worth it. It was my book. I had written a book! I was a published author!

I immediately forgot about everything that had come before.

How Not to Travel the World cover

Today, on the 13th (of course), How Not to Travel the World has officially launched, and I finally get to share my baby with you.

You’re going to love it.

I stood frozen to the spot, a hundred metres from the glistening turquoise ocean, and waited to die.

How Not to Travel the World contains my biggest and best incidents

The last thing I wanted was to release a blog-to-book conversion, full of repackaged content. That’s why my 500 word blog posts about my disasters have been expanded into 5,000 word chapters, revealing new details, funny side stories, and surprising insights. I share my every thought, my frequent missteps, and explain why, exactly, I kept going when I was clearly the unluckiest traveller in the world.

Discover what was really going through my mind when I punched a scammer in the face
Cringe as I describe what it’s like to have a fish swim into your bikini bottoms
Cringe even harder as I write in great detail about the time I was poked during a Thai massage
Get the full lowdown on the unluckiest 48 hours of my trip: how I accidentally ate a cockroach, ended up sitting next to a corpse, slept in a bed full of bugs, and was sexually assaulted by a backpacker
Read about the terrifying moment I found out a tsunami was on its way and I was moments away from death

It features plenty of misadventures I’ve never shared anywhere else

Every chapter of How Not to Travel the World is packed full of brand new stories, whether it’s a traumatising incident I was never brave enough to share here or the reality of my relationship with Dave.

Find out how close I came to missing the very first flight of my trip
Discover just how awful my first month on the road was — so much so that I almost flew home
Read about what it was like to fly to Asia having no idea what rice or noodles were, then laugh as I recount my traumatising first meal
Find out what it was like to return home after eight months of travel and realise you no longer fit in
Read about the time my hostel owner showed me his penis
And the time a ferry began to sink with me on board

It’s about the transformative power of travel

How Not to Travel the World is an inspirational read about how travel can change your life. It was travel that helped me overcome my anxiety and eating disorder. It was forcing myself out of my comfort zone that caused my panic attacks to fade away. And it was following my dreams that led to my transformation into a brave and confident (but always disastrous) traveller.

It’s a love story

It was just as I decided to give up on travel and fly home when I met Dave. I was four months into my trip and had spent the vast majority of that time stumbling from one mishap to the next. Meeting Dave did nothing to improve my propensity for disaster, but it kickstarted my determination to overcome my fear of living life.

I’ve never written about my relationship in detail on Never Ending Footsteps, but I put it in the spotlight in my book. You’ll find out how a drunken tweet led to a first date that almost left me blind, read all about our arguments and disagreements, and the times we nearly ended it all, and discover how Dave’s unwavering support is what kept me travelling during my lowest moments.

It’s my story

Five years ago, I was suffering from anxiety that was so bad I didn’t leave the house for six months straight. I had an eating disorder so extreme that I was living on a single apple a day. I suffered from panic attacks every few hours and couldn’t even cross the street without having a near-death experience.

Thanks to travel, and the misadventures in How Not to Travel the World, I’m a different person today. I’ve gone from having ten panic attacks a day to several a year (unless I’m writing a book), trying new foods is now my favourite part of travel, I seek out new experiences because I know that leaving my comfort zone is the key to transformation, and every time something terrible happens, I react with humour rather than terror.

How Not to Travel The World is about following your dreams, no matter how many curveballs life throws at you. It’s about learning to get out of your comfort zone, finding the humour in messed up situations, and falling in love with life on the road.

Buy a copy from your local Amazon store: United States | United Kingdom | Canada | AustraliaFrance | Germany | Spain | Italy | The NetherlandsMexico | Brazil | India

I need your help

I’ve never asked for anything over the past five years of running this site, but your support now would mean the world to me.

If you’ve ever saved money from using my, admittedly infrequent, travel tips, been entertained by my ridiculous stories, received help from an email exchange, or gained the courage to follow your dreams after reading about my transformation, buying my book would be an incredible way to give back.

If you decide to buy it, I would love if you could leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Also, I’d love to see a photo of you reading my book around the world — I’m planning on writing a big post full of my book’s travels.

If you can’t pick up a copy for whatever reason, social media shares would be greatly appreciated, too. Anything you can do to help would be wonderful!

Finally, a humble thanks to you guys: the best readers in the world. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

-Lauren.

[one_half][/one_half] [one_half_last][/one_half_last] Lauren with How Not to Travel the World book

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