When it comes to reading there is no doubt that my favourite stories are those that inspire me; inspire me to travel, to become a better person (in a non cheesy way) and to live the life I want to. So here is a list of my top ten books about travel, going on adventures and generally experiencing this amazing world we live in.
- Travels with Charley in Search of America – John Stienbeck
Without a shadow of a doubt this is my favourite book of all time. It’s a gently paced and highly insightful tale of John Stienbeck and his dog Charley traveling around America in a very primitive version of an RV. It reminds you to just take things at your own pace and remember to look around once in a while, so you don’t miss the details.
- Tracks – Robyn Davidson
This true story, which is now also an amazing film, is an inspiring look at one woman’s journey across the Australian Outback with just a dog and some camels for companionship, proving that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
- Wild – Cheryl Strayed
This is one of those books that I purchased completely on a whim a few years ago, and I am so glad that I did. I could not put it down. It is a story that proves you can do anything if you put your mind to it, even hiking the PCT being pretty unprepared. It is sad, uplifiting, heartbreaking, inspiring, funny, and full of adventure and wisdom.
- Travels with Myself and Another – Martha Gelhorn
Martha Gelhorn was a complete badass, she was fearless and so ahead of her time, and this memoir proves it. Documenting her journeys around the world covering wars and conflicts from the mid 1930’s onwards it is an inspiring look at this remarkable woman’s life, and also a firm reminder that you too can do anything you want.
- The Lonely Planet Story: Once While Traveling – Tony & Maureen Wheeler
This story is amazing for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s the story of two unassuming travelers who created one of the most beloved and widely used travel resources; Lonely Planet. Secondly, it is almost melancholic, reminiscing about a time when travel was less dangerous and a lot less limited, it is an insight into a time gone by.
- Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
If this book doesn’t make you want to shove some essentials into a backpack and head straight to India then I don’t know what will. Showing a different side to India, this story is thoughtful and uplifting, whilst also being one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read, this book really makes you appreciate what is important in life.
- Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Covering Italy, India and Indonesia this story of one woman’s adventures, makes you realize that sometimes leaving things up to fate is okay, and that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and if you want things to change, you have to do something about it. It makes you realize that being a bit selfish is okay, and that travel has a remarkable way to heal old wounds.
- The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
This is simply the story of a young man who traveled around South America on a motorbike, and documented his adventure in a journal. This is ‘Che’ before he became the revolutionary ‘Che’ the world came to know. It’s a great read that shows you the man, not the political figure, observing the suffering and hardships that people face on a daily basis, as well as the stunning landscapes South America has to offer.
- On The Road – Jack Kerouac
It’s a classic for a reason. Even if you’re not a fan of the debauchery of the Beat Generation, there is something about the undeniable lure of jumping in a car and going on an a huge cross country adventure. If there is one book to inspire a road trip with friends, then this would be it. Kerouac epitomizes the feeling of being young, carefree and having itchy feet, something that I can definitely relate to.
- A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Hemingways’ memoir about his time living as an expat in Paris in the 1920’s will ignite a sense of longing for a time gone by, as well as a burning desire to sit in a Parisian cafe drinking and writing all day. Hemingway delves into the day to day of living and working in Paris.
This list was harder to make than I anticipated when I started, so I would just like to list the honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the top ten.
On Paris – Ernest Hemingway.
Into the Wild – John Krakaeur.
My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem.
Discovering Beautiful: On the Road to Somewhere – Rory Miller.
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story – Dame Daphne Sheldrick
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéy
Any Human Heart – William Boyd
And of course, anything by Bill Bryson.
Got a recommendation or a favourite book about travel that didn’t make the list? Let me know in the comments, and happy reading.