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on 23 June 2012
I'd had my eye on Backpacked for a while and snapped it up as a freebie, what a brilliant read at any price! Catherine Ryan Howard and her BFF Sheelagh are our intrepide backpackers, trekking through South America. I recently read Key West on kindle and that made me want to pack up and go and live there, this book doesn't make me want to do that but it definately makes me want to take trips to these stunning places. Catherine describes the settings and scenery so well you can almost see them, her writing style is friendly and honest and just so natural, it kind of felt like I was talking to myself when I was reading it! I've been around the world a bit and had some fun, but nothing that could fill a book, Catherine et al had some great adventures on this trip, laugh out loud moments, scary moments and ones that would make you cringe.I think I'm a lot like her, I don't really like new people that much and I like to travel in some luxury and I love Liz Lemon (you will understand once you have read it!)My only criticism is that its a bit short, I would loved for the book to have gone on and on. Its a delight to read and I can't wait to read Mousetrapped. If you like travel books and have read Backpacked already try Key West: Tequila, a Pinch of Salt and a Quirky Slice of America...a year in Key West
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on 27 April 2013
I really enjoyed this book, it isn't the type of book that I normally read but for some reason it jumped out at me and even though my kindle is full of books that I really want to read, one day I decided to read this one next. And I'm pleased that I did. I've never travelled to the countries that feature in the book, nor do I have much desire to go there, but I still found it interesting and enjoyable. I enjoyed the style of writing, it made it easy to imagine where they were and what they were feeling and seeing and kept me interested with their journey to keep reading.

Once I finished I quickly bought Mousetrapped by the same author, and I rarely buy books on Kindle, or at least ones that cost more than £1! And I'm already reading that so clearly enjoyed this a lot!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2012
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 that's me to a T.

She's so resistant to letting her hair down yet ends up getting in some real scrapes, made all the more precarious by her own vivid imagination and ability to always expect the worst.

She has a great sense of humour and I'll be reading her other books after this one. Its also made me fancy visiting South America though I won't be staying in any brothels!
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on 3 September 2011
As someone who thinks that "glamping" is still roughing it I read Catherine's account of her backpacking adventure with amusement. Backpacking is one of those activities that you feel you really ought to do one day, and I have often felt I had missed out on an essential rite of passage. After reading this book I realise that I am better off just reading about it. That said, Catherine describes the scenery, landscape, beaches and people in such a great way that sometimes I felt jealous that I had not seen them too. But a second later she would describe some encounter with a crazy fellow backpacker and then I would feel a sense of relief. This is the absolute perfect read for someone who is either thinking of going backpacking or feels they have missed out on an adventure. It should not be read by parents of a anyone who is about to set off on such a trip. Sleepless nights would ensue! Catherine has a great writing style. Effortlessly amusing and entertaining, well written and structured. I loved Mousetrapped, but this is even funnier.
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on 4 June 2012
I downloaded this book because I'd enjoyed the author's first travelogue, Mousetrapped. I'd never been much of a backpacker myself (a few low-key, safe adventures in the Greek islands) and even if I had, I'd never have chosen her destination, Central America, out of pure fear, and so visiting it vicariously was the only way I was likely to experience it.

Once again I enjoyed spending time in Catherine's company and her thoughtful, unpretentious take on her surroundings and those she meets along the way. It rather redrew my image of Central America - it sounds more like the place to go if you want to spend time with other backpackers who like sunbathing and spending their evenings in bars, rather than hacking their way through untamed jungle amid threats of attack from drug barons.

I still don't want to go there, but I'm glad I read this book, and I'll be on the look-out for more travelogues from this author.
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on 5 December 2012
I read the Kindle version of this book. I am an armchair traveller who seeks the adventure of travel without the cost and effort of actually doing it so I am slowly reading my way around the world. I fancied this book as it covers a trip between two young women backpacking through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, which are all places I know little about.

This book is written in the style of a friend telling you anecdotes of their trip so it is quite a light-hearted easy read with plenty of giggles peppered throughout. I probably wouldn't read it again as it isn't a stand out book but it is definitely worth one read.
"Backpacked" satisfied some of my curiousity of the countries travelled by Catherine but aside from Guatemala it didn't feel like more than the tip of the iceberg was covered. Then again, what can you expect from a standard novel size book, especially from a self-confessed backpacking-virgin. I would read other books by this author after reading this one and I did read the book in a couple of nights which shows it was interesting enough to keep me wanting more but wasn't quite a 5 star book.
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on 31 May 2013
The first travel book I have read and can honestly say it was brilliant. Catherine describes her visits with a friend around central America after leaving Orlando and there are some funny bits within especially how her friend wants to walk up a mountain and she doesn't and ends up riding up on a horse. They end up staying in what I would say are dumps especially with giant cockroaches in the bedroom and brown encrusted baths. I would highly recommend this book.

After reading this I will be buying another of her books this one her trip to Orlando, as this is an area I visit every year on holiday and would like to see what she thinks of the place.
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on 19 October 2016
Making a rough guess based on dates in the book, the trek the author undertook was around the same time I was being introduced to backpacking in SE Asia.

So many of the experiences, especially being shoved outside of a comfort zone and the fact that despite the insanity of it all, it's sad when it comes to an end rang so many bells.

Humorously written and a book I could readily identify with.
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on 24 December 2012
Like many of the other reviewers of this book, I downloaded my copy as a freebie for my Kindle. I'm so glad that I did as I have been thoroughly entertained since the first page. Catherine has a natural and easy way of writing without being at all pretentious. Despite the various mishaps that happen to her and Sheelagh during the trip, Catherine never misses the things going on around her with her fellow back-backers. As someone who wondered what the hell she was doing there, Catherine seemed to find that life without Starbucks wasn't bad at all. I have now downloaded the rest of her writings - and even paid for them this time. I hope that there are just as good!
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on 29 May 2012
Having long been a fan of Catherine's fantastic, informative blog 'Catherine, Caffeinated' (at [...]) I had a feeling I was going to enjoy her books. Backpacked is such a good read for someone like me i.e a couch backpacker. I am probably never going to make it to any of the places in the book (apart from the starting point Florida, which is where I was reading the book coincidentally). In fact, I read a good chunk of it, sitting in the coolest spot I could find in Animal Kingdom, a cafe in 'India' and although I was extremely hot and bothered, you can't really compare my experience to the fun and friendship experienced by Catherine and Sheelagh on their travels.

Catherine writes with insightful humour, and strikes a balance with descriptive passages that convey a sense of the place, along with some down to earth observations of human nature that make you think 'that's exactly what I would have been thinking in that situation'.

I hope that Catherine and Sheelagh manage to hook up for more adventures, but I imagine that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend that time together, and share such a great experience. I have recommended this book to my daughter who is 22, in the hope that she might rethink her plans to spend a season in Ibiza - and spread her wings a wee bit further!
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