There’s nothing quite like a good book especially if that book makes you want to travel. There’s something so special about being mentally transported to a place while reading a book, but when you can physically go to the places the book is set in to write your own story, now that’s magic!
From pilgrimages documented by medieval priests and aristocrats to travel guides that have made exploration more accessible in the twentieth century, literature and travel have long been intertwined. Whether you are covering a long journey by bus and want something to inspire you to keep traveling, or you are at home and looking for an inspirational story to get your wanderlust fuelled, there is definitely a book for you. Here are 10 of my favourite books that make me want to pick up the rucksack and get out on the road:
Vagabonging: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
The term “vagabonding” is the act of taking time off from your normal life for an extended period of time to discover and experience the world on your own terms. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel teaches you how to do just that! Rolf Potts gives the reader a thoughtful and interesting look at long term travel based on his personal experience from 10-years on the road. Pott’s insights are those of someone who encounters many different challenges while traveling. For those who have traveled solo before, you may recognize some of the interesting situations that Pott’s describes. From saving to planning to life on the road, this book is a must read for anyone thinking about long term travel. When planning my own 10-month trip around the world, this book was my bible. For a first time solo traveler, it has a realistic perspective on enjoying travel while sometimes having to overcome hurdles.
The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World.
The Lost Girls is story of three women, Jen, Holly and Amanda, who are feeling the pressure of hitting certain milestones as their 30th birthday approaches (have kids, find a husband, get a big promotion). Basically, the story revolves around a life changing decision that many people right this moment are thinking about but most will not make. Instead of falling into the life pressures that accompany turning 30, the three friends make a pact to quit their jobs, leave behind everything familiar, and embark on a year long adventure around the world. Each of the women write different parts of the book, that covers four continents and a journey of over 60,000 miles. This book just may give you the push you need to ditch the job and take that dream trip.
Walking the Amazon
This is a real-life story about an 860-day expedition conceived and successfully completed by British explorer Ed Stafford. Walking the Amazon is about Stafford’s journey being the first person recorded to walk the entire length of the Amazon River. Even when Stafford faces incredible challenges such as alligators, electric eels and even vicious tropical storms, he keeps pushing forward. This is a remarkable story that will have you on the edge of your seat all while inspiring you to go out and have your own remarkable adventure. Whether that’s in the Amazon or not is completely up to you.
The Kite Runner
A novel set against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, The Kite Runner follows twelve- year-old Amir who is competing in a kite-fighting tournament on the day of the invasion. The events of the invasion lead to Amir leaving for America, and years later his search for redemption leads him back to Afghanistan, now under Taliban rule. This was the first Khalad Hosseini book I ever read. Since reading this novel, any time another one of his books comes out, I know I have to read it. He has an amazing storytelling ability that will pull you into the story and have you look back up only upon reading the last word from the last page of the book.
Based on the author’s own life, Shantaram is about Gregory David, who goes by Lin throughout the book, a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escaped from Pentridge Prison and flees to Bombay, India. Here he establishes a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, works as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner and street soldier for a branch of Bombay mafia. This is and has been one of my favourite reads for years. Not only because it takes place in magical India, but because it’s one of those rare books you won’t be able to put down despite it being nearly 1000 pages long.
The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost
The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost follows author Rachel Friedman’s journey from Ireland to Australia and South America. In Ireland, Friedman meets an adventurous Australian girl, who spurs her on to a year-long odyssey that takes her to three continents, introduces her to newfound friends, and gives birth to a previously unrealized passion for adventure. Each new adventure Friedman has along her journey sparks more of a passion for travel and unlocks truths about herself she never realized before. The biggest lesson she learns is how to truly live in the moment!
The Motorcycle Diaries
This is a written memoir of the 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, a man who went on to play a key part in the Cuban Revolution. The Motorcycle Diaries is about Guevara’s journey across South America on a motorbike with his friend Alberto Granado. It’s a coming of age story along with being an epic adventure told well, as Guevara is transformed along the way as he witnesses the social injustices of exploited mine workers, persecuted communists, ostracized lepers, and the tattered descendants of a once-great Inca civilization. The story ends with Guevara displaying his willingness to fight and die for the cause of the poor and dream of seeing a united Latin America.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
Holy Cow is funniest book I’ve ever read. Never have I laughed out loud (too many times to count) while reading any novel the way I did for this one. This is the story of a woman who explored India as a backpacker and found the contrasts in the country too hard to bear. After visiting India, she promised never to return but she ends up following her partner to New Delhi a decade later. There she deals with all of the beautiful craziness that is India once again. The way she describes each experience will have you laughing so hard it will hurt. It will also make those who are the most adventurous, book a plane ticket to India right away (yup, I totally did that after reading this book).
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Set in Afghanistan, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of two women born a generation apart, who have very different ideas about love and family, yet are brought together by war, loss and fate. This special bond that the two women have is what makes this story so special. As they face the wrath that comes along with war, they come to form a bond that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. It is a story of how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love is the key to survival. This may very easily become one of the best stories you’ve ever read. You can thank me later.
A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures In Extreme Cuisines
Cuisine and exploring new foods is one of the greatest pleasures of traveling. For former chef Anthony Bourdain, the chance to explore the world while looking for great meals is one he couldn’t turn down. A Cook’s Tour is not a fine dining book, but one about finding the best food wherever it may be, and it always inspires the wanderlust in me. It’s all about taking the cooking show out of the kitchen and getting adventurous. It also should not be read on an empty stomach!
Which book made you want to travel?