I’m a big fan of anything that gets a sense of wanderlust pumping through my blood. Whether it’s the travel section of the Sunday newspaper, cheap flights to Europe or a friend’s Facebook check-in at the airport, anything that has the power to get me excited about traveling, usually does.
One big source of wanderlust are travel books. I’ve been reading travel books since I first picked up my backpack in early 2010. They’re one of the main sources of inspiration that motivates me to go on my own journey and create my own stories.
Non fiction or fiction, travel books satisfy that quench of wanderlust when you just can’t get on the road yourself, or, they make you feel more in touch with your adventure if you are traveling. Sometimes there’s nothing better than to lay on the beach while you’re in the Greek Islands and indulge in a good book about travel.
Here are 7 travel books that you should pick up right now, before or during your travel adventure.
Marching Powder by Rusty Young
If you’re any of my friends , you know I love this book and have probably tried to force it on you to read. I found a very old and destroyed copy of Marching Powder when I was roaming through Eastern Europe early in my travels. I was instantly hooked, turning the pages by the second.
Marching Powder tells the tale of Thomas McFadden, an English drug smuggler who gets caught in Bolivia, and ends up in San Pedro prison. Rusty Young is the Aussie bloke who ends up writing his story. They form a bond and experience the absolute craziness of La Paz, which you soon find out is it’s own bizarre little world.
The storyline of one of South America’s most notorious prisons, San Pedro, is enough to draw you in. Add in an English drug trafficker, loads of cocaine and an eager Aussie journalist, I mean, it’s the perfect novel to dive into while you’re drinking rakia and eating burek in a Croatian park.
5 Ways to Carry a Goat: A Blogger’s World Tour by Ben Groundwater
One you probably haven’t heard of, but ultimately one of my favourite novels is 5 Ways To Carry A Goat, written by leading Aussie travel journalist, Ben Groundwater.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Groundwater. Every week I’d rip out his articles and place them in a special folder where I’d highlight my favourite bits, and circle sentences that inspired me to travel or write. With his witty, smart allec way of words, 5 Ways To Carry A Goat takes you on a ridiculous couch to couch journey through 14 countries. This book will leave you cackling and wanting to experience a crazy travel life, just like Ben Groundwater has.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
After hitting rock bottom, Wild tells the true tale of Cheryl – a 20 something year old girl who hikes 1100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, all by herself. Being a solo female traveler, this is one of those books that I instantly formed a connection with. It’s a story that is deep, raw and relatable to many young women who decide to take on the world by themselves.
Through the book, you experience ups and downs, tears, discoveries and hardships alongside Cheryl. The book is a completely honest recount of what it can be like to travel, and the way your mind and body opens up unlike any other experience you have in life.
Shantaram by Gregory Roberts
I’ve lost count with how many travelers I’ve seen lunging this 900+ page book around. Whether they’re chilling at the hostel, on the beach or waiting for the next bus to Siem Reap, Shantaram is almost a rite of passage if you’re a backpacker..and for good reason.
Shantaram paints the picture of Gregory Roberts (aka Lin), an Aussie bank robber/drug addict who flees Australia and ends up in India for more than two years. The entire novel is like a movie. Roberts experiences everything you could ever imagine – from falling in love, working for the mafia, fighting Russians and making his way through the slums. It takes you on an intense journey of what life is like in the hustle and bustle of Bombay.
(Image credit: wrongspelling)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
You’ve probably seen this as the number one travel inspo book to read. The Alchemist is a short book, but has a huge message. It’s a story about a young shepherd who follows his dreams and begins traveling through the desert. Everything that happens along the way is a sign that he is on the road to his destiny.
Full of great little Instagram quotes, The Alchemist will leave you in awe. It’s a perfect little read for a lazy (hungover) afternoon.
The Beach by Alex Garland
I’m guilty of being that backpacker who wants to explore an offbeat path when traveling. It’s the cool thing to do, but the thing is, everyone seems to be doing it these days.
The Beach is a classic story of this. A backpacker named Richard who wanted a more authentic travel experience when roaming through Thailand. As he finds his so called paradise, he’s greeted with a lot more than a white sandy beach and crystal blue waters.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of the most famous and entertaining travel writers out there. It’s hard for me to pick just one of his books, but if I had to, A Walk in the Woods is a great one to start with. The story is a hilarious memoir of Bill attempting to hike the Appalachian trail, which finds him in some crazy scenarios – classic Bill Bryson style.
I’ve read my fair share of travel books in the past 7 years, but these are some that have stuck with me during all the crazy adventures and experiences I’ve been through around the world. If you’re stuck in your day to day life and need a tale to settle that wanderlust adrenaline, pick up one of the books mentioned above. After you’ve read just one of them, you’ll be booking a flight to create your own story in no time.