Forget the excuses, ladies - it's time to see the world.

Go! Girl Guides, a woman's travel guidebook created by a recent University of Arizona graduate, might be the first guide specifically for women.

"I still can't believe that in 2011 there are no travel guidebooks for women, that we are the first series in the world," author Kelly Lewis said. "Women face so many unique challenges while traveling."

The first Go! Girl guidebook helps women navigate their travel with information about major things in foreign countries - like cultural mores in countries where women are considered men's property, and hygiene and health issues.

"Any travel that exposes you to another culture is wonderful," Lewis said. "It's made me more aware of myself, who I truly am and how great the world is around me."

Hawaiian native Lewis graduated in 2008 from UA with a degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing.

In 2008, she set off with UA journalism graduate and friend Krissy Sauter to explore Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, making financial ends meet by taking jobs during their travels. In New Zealand, Lewis worked at a pool hall.

When she returned home in September 2009, Lewis worked three jobs, bought a car on Craigslist for $500 and saved every penny she could so she could travel again. Lewis worked as a full-time editor for Oser Communications and worked part-time at the Cup Cafe for Hotel Congress. She also freelanced for Zocalo Tucson magazine.

After months of saving, she ventured to South America, returning home to Tucson in June 2010 with the idea of doing a travel guide for women.

She began with a travel blog, She used the blog and Twitter to try to recruit women to write for the Go! Girl Guides website, which she launched in December 2010.

Plenty of women responded at the chance to recount their travel experiences - good and bad.

"It's become a movement more than it's become a website," Lewis said.

The first guidebook, released online at Go! Girl Guides website in late August, covered traveling in Thailand. Author Kelly Lewis and the guides' Krissy Sauter, editor in chief and photographer, worked collectively on the eight-month project, researching Thailand, traveling and writing and editing the guide.

Inside the guidebook, they published an interview with an OB-GYN in Thailand, who discussed with Lewis and Sauter women's health issues including birth control, common infections and diseases that women can carry or catch when traveling in Thailand.

In addition to pointing out cheap restaurants and safe hotels, the guidebook includes what to do or who to see if you get pregnant while in Thailand, or come down with a urinary tract infection.

"Go! Girl Guides: A Woman's Guide to Traveling in Thailand" showcases questions and answers from women in Thailand who know the safe places to visit, volunteer with and stay - as well as the places to avoid that Lewis and Sauter found to be potentially dangerous.

"We tried to find safe places to stay in safe areas," Lewis said. "We asked questions and looked at the locks on doors, if there are cameras at hostels, do they have staff at the desk, key card access after dark, do they have lockers."

Lewis and Sauter pay for their own travel. In Thailand, they ate for $4 per day between them and included tips for traveling on a limited budget.

Next up: Argentina.

If you go

• What: "Go! Girl Guides: A Woman's Guide to Traveling in Thailand" book release party includes Thai-inspired cuisine, live music and raffles including apparel and travel-related items including a donated travel pack from Eagle Creek.

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: La Cocina at Old Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave.

• Cost: Free.

• The guide: Online at for $24.99, individual chapters for download at $1.99. Guidebooks will be for sale at the release party.

Amber Sumpter is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at 573-4117 or at