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Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  575 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Catherine prefers bath robes to bed bugs, lattes to lizards and mini-bars to malaria. So why is she going backpacking? Catherine Ryan Howard isn't the backpacking type. Working for one of the world's biggest hotel chains, she and her employee discount have become accustomed to complimentary bath robes, 24-hour room service and Egyptian cotton sheets. As for holidays, Cathe ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published August 31st 2011 by Createspace (first published August 28th 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,188)
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Adina R

This winter I made it my mission to read some of the books that have been sitting for a while on my to read list/kindle library or books left forgotten in my bookshelves for years.

My first pick is Backpacked which I bought on Kindle more than two years ago (I think). I do not remember how I found out about the book. I only remember that I thought the sample was funny and decided to give it a try. However, I never got to reading the whole thing.

This is travelogue but a very funny and this i
Sep 06, 2011 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 inordina ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun
I'm not much into travel writing, but until recently there was one exception: I love Bill Bryson. I like the humor, and I like the self-awareness while traveling aspect. And I like that it looks into cultures and attitudes and history instead of just places and things.

Then my friend Nicole went to England and started a blog, and my list of travel doubled.

Now I'm up to three. Backpacked is funny, and fun, and easy to read. The writing makes me feel the things she's feeling (or maybe it's just t
Talli Roland
Sep 29, 2011 Talli Roland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read and loved 'Mousetrapped', so when I heard Catherine had a new book out, I couldn't wait to dive in. I wasn't disappointed -- Catherine takes the same dry wit and self-deprecating humour along for the ride in 'Backpacked', the story of her travels through South America. From nearly falling off a horse on a vertical volcano ride to a a bevvy of eccentric -- and sometimes downright threatening -- characters along the way, reading this travelogue made me feel like I'd gone on the journey myse ...more
Olwen White
This book follows Catherine Ryan Howard's trip across South America. I must admit, although it is a quick and easy read, I was left feeling a little disappointed. The focus is on her experiences of local transport, chicken buses in particular, local hotels and time spent sitting on buses. I know this is a blog style book about backpacking in South America, but, I would have liked a bit more info on the areas, the sights, the people, the Mayan ruins. She went to South America but she could have b ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Ari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I've never wanted to backpack but Catherine's style of backpacking almost made me consider it. Almost not really.
Frankie Valente
Sep 03, 2011 Frankie Valente rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant - loved the book - but I am so never going backpacking. There are some really funny characters in this book, the kind that make you feel glad you are safe at home merely reading about travelling. The descriptions of Central America make me want to visit, but only when I am wealthy enough to do it in five star luxury. Great holiday reading and I am so jealous of the Facebook photo gallery that the author must have collected. Almost reason enough to dig out my walking boots an ...more
Sharon Moonbeam
I enjoyed this little book. It's an easy read, and I seriously laughed out loud several times! I read it thinking it was more of a travel log, and I suppose it is, but more about what the author is feeling and thinking about the whole escapade. It's meant to be funny! All the reluctance and whining sounds like something I would be doing now that I'm in my 50's, but maybe not so much in my 20's. All the craziness and descriptions made me definitely not care to make a trip to South America, not th ...more
Paula Brandes
Apr 08, 2013 Paula Brandes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly delightful! Loved this!
Rachel Fisher
Sep 01, 2012 Rachel Fisher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming soon...4.5 stars
Dec 20, 2013 Mycala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine sounds like the perfect traveling companion to me -- I often somehow wind up with traveling companions who are a bit too friendly and wind up inviting folks to lunch that I would rather not spend time with. She prefers luxury to backpacking and she knows how to tell a great story. Even if she did "embellish" a bit as some of the reviews imply, it's all to make it more entertaining and that's okay. It's her story.

I bought this book when I was feeling the need to travel. Sadly, with work
Jul 11, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Luxury and Touristy Travelers
I am disappointed at the author's attitude towards 'backpacking' as a form of travel. The entire point of traveling is to immerse yourself in the local culture as much as possible; to really experience local culture, not visit "mini-America" by sticking close to expensive tourist hot-spots. If that's the case, why bother traveling at all?

While the author does have a sense of humor describing her adventures, she does come across as needy and is certainly not a travel companion I would want taggin
Ainy Rainwater
Apr 09, 2012 Ainy Rainwater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the continuing story of Catherine Ryan Howard's adventures across the pond. Since she's an Irish author, that means she's traveling on the American side of the pond. Backpacked picks up right where Mousetrapped left off. After living and working in Orlando for over a year, she impulsively joins her best friend for a backpacking trip in Central America. She's not the backpacking type but that only makes the adventure more adventurous. First I should say that "backpacking" in this book doe ...more
Sarah Hunt
Feb 08, 2012 Sarah Hunt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida 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 h
Debbie Young
Jun 03, 2012 Debbie Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed the author's previous book, Mousetrapped, about her time in Orlando, I downloaded this book as I found her company entertaining and wanted to continue in the same vein.

This was despite having no real interest in travel to Central America myself, and reading this also saved me the bother of going there now.

As the author admits, her trip was a bit cushier than what most people regard as backpacking - there were no nights sleeping on trains or in stations or on beaches, and no real
Lazy Linesman
Aug 06, 2012 Lazy Linesman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now, my only experience with the travelling writer had been the part-anecdotal, part-historical account of John Gimlette’s experiences in Paraguay, and while it does give you an excellent overview of a country and its bizarre background, it never really stood out as a journey. ‘Backpacked’, on the other hand, very much was so.

I knew next to nothing about the author. For some reason or other I stumbled her blog a short while ago, and it turned out that she was offering Kindle copies of her book f
Apr 20, 2013 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A woman who likes culture, sophistication, and luxury goes backpacking across Central America. The result, unsurprisingly, is that she hates most of it, and most of this book ends up being a long unrelenting string of gripes, complaints, and general disagreeableness. This book is captivating in an odd way, as it is a great example of a so called First World Problem.

Only a small portion of the world has the ability to spend months traveling the globe, and even fewer would intentionally take a tri
Ricardo Ribeiro
Dec 15, 2012 Ricardo Ribeiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: traveling
I bought this book for two reasons: I am preparing my own trip to Central America and I got an incredible promotion so I paid... ZERO for it. True, it was in my wish list, I was just lucky enough to take a look at the listing when it was for free. Anyway, because I have a new e-reader I wanted to start reading it right away. I was thinking I would read a couple of pages before switching to the book I had on my bedside table. I was wrong. I start reading and I couldn't stop. Finally, after reachi ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have also traveled to many of the places that Catherine did on this trip, and found it hilarious to read about how she experienced them in a different way that I had. Her writing is very funny and honest. She doesn't try to hide how she feels about the buses, hostels, other backpackers, and I found myself laughing out loud many times. If you have every backpacked through countries, you will find a good read with this book.
Jan Lewis
Oct 20, 2015 Jan Lewis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Catherine Howard's book about her trip across Central America. I wouldn't say she "backpacked" in the true sense of the word as she and her friend, Sheelagh, stayed at hostels and hotels and ate at some decent restaurants. However, her sense of humor is fun and light and will cause you to chuckle. The author goes out of her comfort zone to make this trip. She finds herself climbing down into an active volcano, going up a cliff in the dark to get to the road above, riding buses along so ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Beadyjan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
What a delightful look at backpacking travel, I really warmed to the author and felt I had a lot in common with her, a lot of her quirks and character traits had me thinking it could be me writing this.

The way she has to be at least 2 hours early at the airport and panics if she's not through check in and hanging around for ages, the way she plans and has to have every day of her holiday organised in advance and her difficulty at befriending strangers and impatience with other peoples foibles th
Jun 14, 2014 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few personal travel memoirs recently and I haven't been too impressed with them. So to be honest I didn't have high hopes for this book. However I was proven wrong. I found this funny, light hearted, easy to read and refreshingly honest. If you like travel books, which explore unusual countries, then you will like this.
A solid 3.75 stars, so have rounded up to 4
Nancy Staves
Jan 07, 2014 Nancy Staves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this adventure, and it left me wanting more! I found Catherine very relatable, because we have similar personalities and fears, along with a much-needed sense of humor to deal with whatever came her way! Catherine and Sheelagh are the perfect friends to travel together. I appreciated that the drama was on the road, and not between them. I highly recommend this read to fellow travelers and dreamers. I felt like I made the journey with them, even though I would probably be too afr ...more
Missy Cahill
Oct 03, 2012 Missy Cahill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ac ...more
Matt Farrelly
Enjoyable read given the fact that many of the places listed I've visited and know exactly what Catherine describes here, particularly her chaotic border crossing between Honduras and Nicaragua.

Not bad for a girl (who by her own admission) is more suited to sipping lattes in a Starbucks than roughing it out on the backpackers path.

A good read for all of those who have visted or are planning to do the Central American pilgrimage.
Dec 22, 2014 Alexina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love travel writing because I'm a traveler at heart. I liked how honest she was and didn't sugarcoat her feelings for the sake of her book. Catherine tells it like it is and that's pretty cool.

I recommend this for anyone who likes traveling, especially in Central America.
Carrie McGowan
Apr 02, 2014 Carrie McGowan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read!

Really enjoyed this book. I could really relate to Catherine's personality, and easily imagined myself in her place. I started telling people about this book before I even finished reading it. I look forward to reading more of the adventures.
Melissa Stacy
Aug 05, 2014 Melissa Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor, travel
This book is great fun! I love Catherine Ryan Howard! Her writing always makes me laugh! And I learned interesting new things about Central America in this memoir, which is always awesome. Totally recommend this book for a fun weekend read! :D
Aug 14, 2014 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Nothing about this was tragic, but nothing about it was special, either. If you want to hear about self-absorbed first-world travelers, you've probably got a friend somewhere who can tell you basically the same stories over drinks.
Apr 08, 2014 Barenakedmummy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book but don't read it if your going backpacking!

Loved to hear about the countries that I'm only visiting as an armchair traveller!
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Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.
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