Travel Blogger Book Review: A Year to Myself by Brooke Saward

For the travel blog obsessed like myself, Brooke Saward and World of Wanderlust will require no introduction. At some point mid-last year while looking for fresh travel porn on Bloglovin’ I realised how many of the ‘recommended posts’ were from World of Wanderlust and had to take a closer look. The girl pumps out travel posts like no one else on the internet and quickly rose to being the number one travel blogger on Bloglovin’.

I applaud her for her marketing genius – read any post on her site and see the (sadly rarely responded to) comments from young women who, while likely unable to afford a single night in the hotels Brooke stays at, absolutely love and adore her (whilst using her site to promote and link back to their own blogs).

Basically on the day of her graduation, Brooke booked a one way ticket to London, choosing to travel for a year rather than get a job and wrote ‘A Year to Myself’ while doing so.

I had not read any of Brooke’s previous e-books. With titles such as ‘The World of Wanderlust Story’ and ‘How to create a successful travel blog overnight’, they’re all around the $20AU mark but are short in page numbers and the reviews I read were pretty clear on the fact they lack any magic formulas or insider secrets which her fans are no doubt desperate for.

After seeing Brooke tease this book on Twitter for close to 12 months, seeing the blurb just prior to it’s release somewhat disappointed me: “There were no relationships. There were no one night stands, no dating, no kissing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just me, myself, and my online blog.”

Sounded kind of boring. (Note if you are looking for the above in a travel memoir I recommend ‘What I was doing while you were breeding’ by Kristin Newman).

A Year to Myself is basically a 148 page, city by city run down of Brooke’s thoughts, experiences and life lessons. The ‘ebook’ is really a PDF download, published by Gumroad which doesn’t seem to be named properly, the downloaded file being called ‘AYTM final manuscript’.

You won’t learn much about any city, but may nod in agreement when she describes one you’ve been to. Given the book was written by a 22 year old the ‘learnings’ aren’t exactly mind-blowing and the ‘worst thing’ which happened to Brooke during the year seemed minor and could have been given more impact had the contents of a text message been published.

It’s interesting to look at her correlating blog posts as you read through. They improve markedly over time, and I noted that while she talks as if she is alone in her blog posts, she was in fact accompanied by friends and companions in several stretches.

One of the problems with online influencers is that we become so wrapped up in their lives through their daily presence in our blog and social media feeds that we think we know them and because of this factor, I wanted more. Brooke does not even begin to touch on how she approached, worked with or got paid by hotels/tourism boards etc.  and I really wanted to hear about her weekend trip from Berlin to Hawaii with GoPro but that did not rate a mention. 

Brooke’s done and achieved something I would love to do, so it’s hard to not sound like a hater who’s gonna hate. I definitely read the book with a critical eye, picking up spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but Brooke – if you happen to read this, hell yes I am jealous. You can write, you’ve done some cool things and will no doubt go on to do more.

Does reading Brooke’s book interest you? Have you read any blogger memoirs?

A year to myself || thoughts, experiences and life lessons from a solo traveller

Update November 2016 – Brooke’s latest book How to Live an Adventurous Life  is now available.

34 Comments

  1. Arzo Travels
    May 7, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    Such an interesting review. I also like her blog a lot but noticed she does not respond (even to questions) while other big blogger do. But her success is a great motivation for so many other out there.

    • May 7, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Arzo! I love the big bloggers who still make an effort to respond to everyone who comments.

  2. January 12, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    I had heard about Brooke before and read a few posts, but got really quickly bored. Mostly because I like interacting with my favourite bloggers, if it looks like a magazine, then why am I bothering engaging. Sounds like her book is the same. Thank you for your honest review! 🙂

    • January 12, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      I agree Camila, it’s a shame she mostly doesn’t respond to the comments her fans leave on her blog posts. Interacting with other bloggers is one of the best things about blogging!

  3. Elizabeth Harding
    August 1, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    Hmm interesting – she has done amazingly well, and can take a fab insta pic, but it’s a shame that she doesn’t touch on how to approach tourism boards etc – something I know many people would be interested in!

    • August 2, 2016 / 11:10 am

      She’s certainly done amazingly well. The amount of content she produces and her Insta pics actually astound me! Plus she’s somehow found time to open a Dessert House in Tasmania and write another book in the past few months. Actually crazy, it would be so helpful to know how she does it!

      • Elizabeth Harding
        August 2, 2016 / 11:37 am

        Dessert House?! holy moly, now im REALLY jealous!!

  4. July 16, 2016 / 4:13 am

    Have also been toying with the idea (for a long time) on whether to purchase this book or not. And now I won’t. I feel that her blog is becoming more like a lonely planet of just guides and no real stories and her true thoughts of a city. She doesn’t seem to dislike anything about anywhere.

    • July 16, 2016 / 2:34 pm

      Brooke recently announced on YouTube that she’s publishing a physical book before Christmas. I’m pretty intrigued as to what the contents will be!

  5. Dia @ We Will Go Places
    June 7, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    Thanks, this review really helped. I’ve been debating whether I should buy her book or not and this is the review that I could only find. Have you read her other books?

    • June 8, 2016 / 8:43 am

      Great to hear that Dia! I haven’t read any of her other books – would like to, I’m just not convinced they’re worth the price tag given this experience. I have to say though, Brooke’s Monthly Book Club has lead me to some great books written by other travellers at fair prices.

      • Dia @ We Will Go Places
        June 8, 2016 / 7:11 pm

        Thanks for that! I’ll look up her monthly book club! What are those other great books that you discovered, if you don’t mind me asking? 🙂

  6. March 10, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Thanks for this honest and helpful review; it’s the only one I could find online! I’ve been debating whether or not I should buy this book for a while now, and this review was really insightful. Thanks again!

  7. Rachel In Ireland
    February 18, 2016 / 8:42 am

    Hi Sarah! This review has been really helpful for me in deciding whether or not to push the purchase button. Perhaps I should write my own memoir. It would have a one night stand in it. Juicy stuff. But he ended up as my husband eventually so it’s totally OK. Or was that the spoiler?????

    • February 24, 2016 / 11:26 am

      Thanks Rachel! Did you push the purchase button? And your memoir does sound most enthralling! Requires a blog post at minimum 😉

  8. October 6, 2015 / 3:16 am

    Sarah, thanks SO much for sharing your review — it’s literally the only one I could find on Google! I have been deliberating whether it was worth it to buy it, because in my heart I know all I’m doing is giving Brooke more money to go travel, and I don’t know the value I’ll be getting in return. Anyway, your review was super helpful and confirmed what I expected the book would be like. Thanks for sharing it.

    Also, I’m so glad I found your site — you did a 30 Before 30 too, which is awesome! I’m working my way slowly through mine right now 🙂 I’ll be reading more to keep up with your adventures!

    • October 8, 2015 / 10:44 am

      Thanks Valerie, you make a good point on value in return. And I love reading other people’s 30 Before 30’s! Cool to see similarities and differences between them, all the best completing it 🙂

  9. Meghan Fletcher
    September 28, 2015 / 2:31 am

    I LOVE how honest you were in your review. I don’t follow Brooke and haven’t read her book, but even then I feel like you made a few good points here. Oftentimes I feel a little disappointed when I splurge for the “extra” and find that it’s actually just more of the same. Still – congrats to Brooke for captivating the world. May we all be so lucky. 🙂

    Meg
    missusfletcher.com

    • September 29, 2015 / 10:15 am

      Thanks Meg! Yes she has absolutely captivated the world. You have also captured my attention by living in Kenya – so cool!

  10. September 21, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    I found this an interesting read, I will try and get back here at at later date to read more of your posts.

  11. Leah Kate
    September 18, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Hi Sarah! This may be the first time I’ve stumbled upon your blog, but it looks like we have a lot in common. Coffee and wine are my two greatest vices and I, too, wrote about my 30 before 30 goal on my blog (which I recently completed!). I feel slightly validated reading this review because I have slowly become less and less of a WOW fan over time and am not at all surprised that her book didn’t exactly…’wow.’ I do think it has a lot to do with her travel style being so cushy and unrelatable. How many people actually flit from 5-star hotel to 5-star hotel, with every bit taken care of along the way? Everyone is entitled to their own style of travel, but I just don’t find hers particularly interesting. Anyway, looking forward to reading more of your posts! Cheers!

    • September 19, 2015 / 2:02 pm

      Thanks Leah! SO much in common – just checked out your blog, I cannot wait to eat my own weight in Thai food in November!

  12. September 17, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    This is so interesting because I’ve always been a little confused by WOW – like, is Brooke a real person? Haha maybe I just think only a robot could pump out posts so consistently.

    • September 19, 2015 / 1:09 pm

      Haha I know! She must work extremely hard and the addition of freelancers this year would help immensely with content.

    • September 19, 2015 / 11:12 pm

      hahaha I think the same. Is it only me who needs THAT long for some posts? While I receive sometimes 2 emails per day with new posts from her. I know she has lots of freelancers but still, lots of posts are by her. I have no idea how you could have that much energy…

  13. September 17, 2015 / 10:31 pm

    To be honest I’m not a big fan of Brooke. I feel like she is racing from one country to another – only going to the destinations that she is being paid to visit (I mean a weekend to Hawaii? I wouldn’t be crazy enough to only stay there for two days – jet lagged and all). It is not surprise to hear that she doesn’t have mind blowing life lessons. And how can you? If you are staying in 5 star hotels everywhere, having only one actual day to explore a city – but doing it with private drivers and personal guides – it seems like she’s having a pretty ‘easy’ style of traveling without putting much effort in seeing the country for real or on an adventurous way. So yeah, I can imagine she has no mind blowing life lessons learned by that. As much as I dislike her travel-style I do feel like she is a marketing-genius though.. I mean it does’t happen that often that a blogger becomes so famous in only one year time;-)

  14. Megan Hogarth
    September 17, 2015 / 6:00 pm

    I’m curious about her book, so I appreciated the insight in your review. If her book was offering more than you can learn from her blogs then I might be motivated to buy it but it sounds like it doesn’t really tell you anything interesting. Bad spelling and grammar are rife on her blog, but I really thought she’d hire an editor for something like this.

    • September 19, 2015 / 1:04 pm

      Thanks Megan, there are certainly different and more personal stories in AYTM than on Brooke’s blog, just not the hot tips any reader would be after!

  15. September 17, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    Hi Sarah, nice post! I also haven’t bought any of her previous books but decided to buy AYTM. To be honest, the most annoying thing was, that it wasn’t an ebook. I currently travel around the world and only have my iphone and laptop with me so I tried to read it on my phone but I gave up on this and continued reading it on my laptop. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I was also hoping for some more information on how she contacted the hotels, etc. Like all of us maybe 😉 It seems her budget wasn’t that high but during this year she really hit it off and I don’t think she has to worry anymore about her budget like in the beginning of her travels, which is great. So now, we can still wonder how she made it….so happy for her, really. She’s chasing one great experience after the other.

  16. September 17, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    Hmmm, yeah I dig books that have juicy secrets and share-all — maybe why Wild is so popular with everyone? I find WOW doesn’t usually go in depth about herself or what’s happening on her blog as that’s not her style so I’m not surprised it didn’t happen with her book.

    I have read a few travel memoirs from bloggers that I really liked – Alastair Humphrey’s books on cycling around the world were in depth and honest about his trip. I liked that, even though he was guilty of having a few spelling errors as well. I have also read books by Lois Pryce which was a completely different style from his – she focuses a lot on the people around her which makes an interesting change from the solitary type writers!

    • September 19, 2015 / 12:58 pm

      Lois Pryce I will have to investigate! Wild was a great story. Agree WOW certainly doesn’t go into any depth about herself on her blog so I figured it she must have been keeping that for the book.