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Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Ryan Howard
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The laugh-out-loud new travel memoir from the bestselling author of Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida
Catherine Ryan Howard prefers bath robes to bed bugs, lattes to lizards and mini-bars to malaria. So why is she going backpacking
She doesn't know either...   
Catherine 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, Catherine likes places that encourage lying - lying on the beach, by the pool, in bed...
She's been on what feels like one long holiday in Florida when her fearless best friend, Sheelagh, announces plans to backpack across Central America. With Catherine's US visa about to expire, her having no desire to return home to Ireland just yet and her common sense, evidently, on a day off, she agrees to go along.
After all, how bad can this backpacking thing be?
Um... very bad, actually. Catherine soon finds herself showering with the threat of electrocution, living with mutant cockroaches, sleeping on wooden planks, suffering from all but one of the side-effects listed on her bottle of anti-malarial tablets (liver failure, in case you were wondering) and riding a horse up the side of a smoking, lava-filled volcano.
And that's just the first week.
Backpacked is the wry tale of what happened when one very reluctant backpacker hit the backpacker trail and discovered that beyond the mosquitoes, bad coffee and flea-infested hostels lie even bigger mosquitoes, even worse coffee and flea-infested hostels whose bathrooms have no doors...
Praise for Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard:
"[Catherine] writes with wit and humor about her time in Orlando. Thoroughly enjoyable and a great read!" --Talli Roland, bestselling author of The Hating Game

Editorial Reviews


"[The] self-deprecating tone is genuine and grounded in sanity, which makes the voice a thoroughly likeable one." --Susan Griffith, author of Work Your Way Around the World
"I read and loved Mousetrapped [and] I wasn't disappointed [with Backpacked] -- Catherine takes the same dry wit and self-deprecating humour along for the ride ... Highly recommended." --Marsha Moore, author of 24 Hours: Paris and 24 Hours: London
"[Catherine has] injected such humour into this book that I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions ... I felt as if I was part of Catherine's journey. She writes about the places she visited ... with so much passion that I'm tempted to hop on the next flight to Guatemala. Backpacked is brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd hugely recommend it." --Leah Graham of

About the Author

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD is a twenty-something writer, blogger and enthusiastic coffee-drinker from Cork, Ireland. Before writing full-time she pushed paper in various offices, cleaned tents on a French campsite and was a front desk agent in a Walt Disney World hotel. She is currently dividing her time between her desk and the sofa. She blogs at and will never go backpacking again. Ever.

Product Details

  • File Size: 445 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JU5FG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,808 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Backpacking is the best way to travel! March 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
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 tagging along with me.

As an avid traveler myself, attitude is everything and I think she really cheated herself out of what should have been one of the best enjoyable and cultural learning experiences of a lifetime.

Her novel could have been so much more had she taken the opportunity to really appreciate the value that this type of travel offers.

So while her writing is mildly humorous and well-written, if not fantastical at times, I just could not get past her poor attitude to really enjoy this novel. It's a shame; her experiences could have offered her readers so much more. Stick to your expensive sheets and room service I suppose...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Read! September 4, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read "Mousetrapped" while vacationing with my family - where else, Orlando - poolside on my Kindle. I stumbled across it almost by accident, looking for tourist-y type books on Florida, and I'm so glad I did! I subscribed to Catherine's blog and downloaded Backpacked as soon as I saw it was available. I finished the book in two days, and enjoyed every chapter. If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun book Catherine will not disappoint! I wish I didn't have to wait for October before Results Not Typical!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Goodness, this book is the definition of negative. November 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hummm!!!! I wonder if the author reread her story from the perspective of her readers??? I can't imagine she really meant to come off as needy and whiny throughout the course of this book as she did...but she really does. I understand she was reluctant to go on the trip in the first place, but it was a choice she made and, as such, she should have had the moxie to buck up and enjoy herself. After all, she and her travel partner really didn't rough it at all throughout the trip. They visited some really nice places, ate in restaurants and never cooked a meal, stayed in private accommodations and took buses or taxis everywhere--yet all the author could do was complain, complain, and complain some more, about almost everything. It certainly killed the joy in reading this book for me. I got it free from the top 100 list and, I can assure you, if I would have paid the outrageous price they are asking for it in printed form...I would be really p.o.'d. I think some serious liberties were taken with embellishment in this book. For example: the author states that she was in the crater of an active volcano with lava flowing right under her feet as she stood on a little "bridge" which spanned the flow. Now really, are we supposed to believe that (1) she could actually get that close to flowing lava without special gear and (2) she would be dumb enough to do so??? Look, I think the author had a chance to make something really special out of this book, but page after page of complaints ain't it. I gave it three stars because it was fairly well written and contained some interesting information, but it simply got old before it was half over. What a shame.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. May 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was a VERY disappointing read. I had high hopes for it as I am planning to backpack through Central America in the next few months. Unfortunately, there isn't much substantive information about any of the countries that the author visited. Instead, she seems more intent on scrutinizing and criticizing the other travelers she meets during her travels. Ironically, the travelers that she meets and then ridicules are living far more authentically then she ever achieves in her journey, but she paints them all as misfits and losers. It seems like the entire purpose of her travel was to gather fodder to write this book. Towards the end of the book she finally meets some other travelers with whom she resonates...I guess this proves that she is enlightened and not anti-social after all. Or not.

This book has NOTHING to do with Central America. Save your $2.99 - it is NOT worth it!!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle 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 inordinately pleased when Catherine sent me an e-copy of its sort-of-sequel Backpacked and I finished up my current book quick as you like and dived eagerly into Backpacked.

I'm not really known as being a traveller. I've been on holiday to Florida - twice - to Alicante in Spain and to Tenerife, where I now live. However I would love to be a traveller. I dream of doing a road-trip across America; of visiting Australia; South America intrigues me as a place to travel, but I certainly would never go alone, that would be miles too terrifying. Backpacked allowed me to travel to South America all in the comfort of my own home! I went to Costa Rica, to Guatemala, to Honduras, to Nicagura and to Panama. It allowed me to visit all of those countries in South America and it seriously whetted my appetite for wanting to go to those countries.

Catherine Ryan Howard is our intrepid traveller, someone who prefers chilling in a 5-star hotel to backpacking through South America. But with no job, no home and nowhere else to be, Catherine figures going backpacking is going to be an adventure. And she's going with her best friend Sheelagh, who can save Catherine from all kinds of terrible things since she's a seasoned traveller herself! What follows is a 9-week adventure that is highly readable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed this book as a quick, casual book.
It was interesting to read about the girls' backpacking trip.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ
Extremely entertaining, very well written. Found myself laughing out loud. She reminded me of myself if I ever decided to go backpacking (highly unlikely). LOL
Published 2 days ago by Paula Adler
5.0 out of 5 stars An adventure I enjoyed from the comfort of my balcony, one I would...
A most enjoyable book, filled with color and daring. I eagerly read this, looking forward to the next chapter. I was sad that it ended! I will read more by her.
Published 3 days ago by Teri O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Surprisingly good. Enjoyed it very much.
Published 7 days ago by Jenny Armstrong
3.0 out of 5 stars A good beach read
Interesting to read about someone else's travels cause I'm about to do a similar thing. A quick beach read for me and was well worth the quick read.
Published 7 days ago by Ashley Leary
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice alternative to trekking around Central America without the...
Catherine Ryan is a new author and one that will go far. I truly enjoyed her journey and will read more of her works.
Published 8 days ago by Gail
2.0 out of 5 stars Narcissism.
If I hadn't gotten this for $0.00, I would have been upset. This is narcissistic rambling of a type that shows almost no respect for the people of Central America. Read more
Published 9 days ago by J. A. Donaghy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and humorous. Describes what NOT to do ...
Very interesting and humorous. Describes what NOT to do while traveling, such as going down into the cone of an active volcano.
Published 11 days ago by Sherry
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Interesting!
Really enjoyed this book. I read a lot of travel and often feel like the books are not well written. Being a saavy traveler does not make you a writer! Read more
Published 13 days ago by ohmystars
5.0 out of 5 stars Belly laugh out loud travel
I have never wanted to go to Central America. I imagine it as one of the most dangerous places in the world. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Patti Wilson
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More About the Author

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD is a writer, blogger and coffee enthusiast from Cork, Ireland.

Before writing full-time, Catherine worked as an administrator in the Netherlands, a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She dreams of becoming a NASA astronaut when she grows up. (She's 30. Almost 31.)

She currently divides her time between the desk and the sofa.

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