Wanderlust and Lipstick

My Manly Perspective on the Female Travelers’
Guidebook Series

By Dave Fox

I am not a woman, nor do I play one on TV, so I can’t fully understand the challenges solo female travelers face. But in my never-ending efforts to learn all I can about foreign cultures, I recently read two books by Beth Whitman about the culture of the female traveler. And now, it gives me great pleasure to share with you my extremely manly opinions on these two books, which I found fascinating and helpful, in spite of the fact that wearing lipstick isn’t really my thing.

Wanderlustandlipstick In her first book, Wanderlust and Lipstick: The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo, Beth begins with motivational advice that will cure potential women travelers of excuses as to why they can’t or shouldn’t travel. Then, she dives into several chapters of practical advice on everything from packing to travel health and safety, and even a page of international romance tips.

What makes Beth Whitman an authority on solo female travel? She’s ridden a motorcycle from Seattle to Panama, been harangued by Nicaraguan police, and worked with orphans in Vietnam, among other things. But her book isn’t only from her perspective. Throughout it, she includes quick vignettes from other women who have traveled solo and brought back stories and advice.

Like Europe Through the Back Door, Rick Steves’ groundbreaking book of tips for first-time travelers in Europe, Wanderlust and Lipstick offers enlightenment and encouragement for women who want to travel just about anywhere on their own. If the thought of solo travel excites you, and you are a woman or hope to become one someday, Wanderlust and Lipstick will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to explore our planet without the overbearing companionship of some guy who never wants to ask for directions.

Wanderlustandlipstick-india But wait! There’s more! Last year, Beth released a more specialized follow-up book: Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Traveling to India. Here is the deep, dark secret Beth Whitman does not want you to know about her second book: Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Traveling to India is crammed with advice and information about India that is not only useful to women. Beth’s advice is helpful for men and space aliens of other genders too.

I’ll be honest: I’ve traveled in more than 40 countries on five continents, but I’ve never been to India, and the thought of it leaves me a little spooked. I like to think of myself as a cultural chameleon. I thrive on feeling lost, confused, and out of my element. But I’ve read enough about travel in India that I’ve always feared I’d feel in over my head there. After reading Beth’s book, I am ready to go now. Seriously. So if you happen to be Bill Gates, please send one of your private jets to pick me up immediately. (Send a small one, because my street does not have enough space to land a 777.)

Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Traveling to India starts with a quick and honest overview. It covers the good (India’s booming tech industry and improving pro-environment transportation system), the bad (traffic, slums, and overpopulation) and the ugly (leering men and, yes, occasional terrorism). And as much as Beth really wants to inspire you to go to India, she addresses these not-so-pleasant sides of the country honestly without sugar-coating them. She then delves into 12 more chapters that cover practical issues such as transportation and accommodation, food, health and safety, and –- perhaps most useful -– emotional issues like culture shock and the all-too-often neglected reality of reverse culture shock when you return home from an intensely different place. (My fave sentence in the whole book: “Where are the people? The traffic? The cows?” Perhaps her next book will be about Wisconsin.) In short, Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Traveling to India is a screamingly brilliant  resource for anyone who wants to go see India, regardless of whether or not they are female.

So why, then, does she title her book “for women traveling to India?” Beth and I got together recently at my favorite local Scandinavian pub (my own cultural bias), and after Beth got all tanked up on mineral water and cranberry juice, she confessed to doing what I suspected: She is a brilliant marketer who is branding herself for a target audience of females. “Wanderlust and Lipstick” is a phrase that applies to women more than it applies to men or space aliens of other genders. (Actually, I don’t know. Maybe seventh-gender space aliens use lipstick. Pardon my ignorance.) But there is more to her choice of title than a desire to sell books. Her books really are written with the woman traveler in mind. She devotes more coverage than a gender-neutral travel book would to things such as the unfortunate extra safety issues female travelers face. And, like in her first book, she offers personal stories from other female travelers. In addition, Beth’s book plays an important role of encouragement, letting women know that she’s traveled alone in India and flourished -– and they can too. Rather than ignoring the gender stereotypes that plague our planet, Beth offers realistic advice on how to overcome them. In that sense, her book truly is written for women.

So who should buy Beth’s India book? Women? Men? Space aliens of the seventh gender?

All of the above.

Because of the title, most men will not feel inclined to read Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Traveling to India. But I quickly found myself immersed, and wanting to go visit a country that has always intimidated me. Men will learn a lot from Beth’s female-centric book. For women planning their first trip to the Indian subcontinent, Wanderlust and Lipstick for Women Travel
ing to India
is indispensable. It’s $16.95 cover price is an investment that will pay off many times once you’re on the ground, exploring one of our planet’s most intense and thrilling countries.


Published on Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Response to “Wanderlust and Lipstick”

  1. December 21, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    Hi Dave, women and men can contact me for a totally trouble free holiday anywhere in India! Wellness, adventure, sightseeing, luxe, you name it and we can do it.
    In fact we made the travel arrangements for Beth and her gang of Lipstick, who toured India this October.
    Have a look at and share this information with folks who would like to do India the easy way or rather the WOW way!! Sumitra

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