Seeing as we can’t currently go anywhere, I have been reading many travel books and wishing to be somewhere else…
I have been reading travel related books even before I went away on my own for the first time, I have two parents who have both spent years travelling around the world so I have listened to many of their stories over family dinners. Most of them twice. Is this perhaps where my sense of adventure stemmed from?
I absolutely love stories because they transport you away to somewhere else. It’s like stepping into a different world. Quite literally for me because I read a lot of fantasy books like Harry Potter. On the other end of the spectrum is travel books based off of real life stories from every corner of the world, which also make you feel like you could be there.
Today I thought I would share my favourite travel related books if you are looking for some book recommendations. I have pretty much been reading non-stop and have read 6 books in the 3 weeks that I have been on lockdown, it’s a great way to pass the time!
Eat, Pray, Love – elizabeth gilbert
There is a common theme with these books in that it’s people who have had something bad happen in their life and so they are travelling to start over/ escape it.
So this one follows the author after she gets divorced and plans this huge year trip taking her to 3 different countries. The theme was that they all began with I: Italy, India, Indonesia. It was a way for her to take back her life in a way and to do things that she wanted to do but hadn’t before. So in Italy she learnt to speak Italian fluently, in India she learnt the power of meditation and she went to Bali to stay with a healer and learn his practise. Hence the title of the book.
I read this when I went to Porto last September and it inspired me so much! It made me want to go to Italy and learn Italian, I would love to do something like that as I am attempting to learn Spanish but definitely do not have the courage or time to do it. She took a huge risk leaving everything behind but in the end she manage to have a fresh start on life, I won’t spoil the end. Wouldn’t you want to just up and go to Bali to start over? I certainly would.
Now if you don’t want to read the book, it is quite long, then thankfully there’s a film starring the one and only Julia Roberts. It’s such a good film and it’s actually somewhat accurate to the book (I don’t usually like film adaptations of books, they’re never accurate), and getting to actually see the places instead picturing it in your head is amazing! When I read about these places, I can build up a good picture in my head of the landscape but to see it on the screen just makes it feel more real.
WILD – Cheryl Strayed
Again this one follows the story of the author who had a breakup and was at a real low point in her life when she just decided to up and walk the Pacific Crest Trail in America. I would say it is definitely a less glamorous way of starting over compared to the last book.
Because this is a true story, it makes it even more emotional to read. The emotions and experiences described have a whole new meaning when you can see in your mind the author having to actually do all these things. Now she hiked this trail having basically no experience in walking and basically just had a map and a backpack full of stuff, she did in 1995, and honestly it doesn’t sound like the nicest of trails. It’s 1,100 miles long which is actually insane. She described it as a journey of self-discovery, and I imagine that when you do spend that much time on your own in nature, you do start to figure out who you are.
Once again this was made into a film, which I think I watched before buying the book, and stars the legendary Reese Witherspoon. Compared to the last film which is a bit more bubbly, this was a very emotional film. The story has so many ups and downs, and contains flashbacks into her youth which didn’t seem to be the most pleasant time.
I may not be making this sound like the best book, but the story is so powerful and I’d definitely recommend to anyone and everyone to read it.
into the wild – jon krakauer
This is an extraordinary book. The guy who wrote it basically followed the story of a young college graduate from America, who burned all his money and got rid of all of his stuff to go and live in the wild basically. The guy, Christopher McCandless, hitchhiked across America and ended up in Alaska where he actually died from eating a poisonous plant and this happened in 1990. The story came about because his body wasn’t found till a couple of weeks after it happened and obviously the story came up in the news, where Jon Krakauer decided to follow his route and find out what happened and find out all about his family as well.
It’s not clear why Christopher decided to leave everything behind, but a journal was found near his body so the book features diary entries so you really get to read about what happened. Gonna be honest it’s a quite a sad story, but it’s also amazing because you get to hear of all the people he met along the way that helped shape him and teach him new skills. From what the information in the book gathers, he’s sort of sick of society and money and decides he doesn’t need it.
Yes it’s a complex story that requires you to pay a lot of attention when reading.
I actually first watched the film, which came out in 2007, and fell in love with it and have watched it more times that I can count. The film follows the story of Christopher where as the book is about Jon trying to find out what happened. I hope all this makes sense.
When this all happened in 1990 and it came up in a lot of newspapers, my Dad actually kept the original clipping and still has it to this day. I remember reading it and it just makes you feel very emotional. It’s a sad but very beautiful story.
on the road – jack kerouac
This is an absolute classic which you may have already heard about, it’s been referenced in so many things. It was written in 1957 and follows the author over a few years on many road trips across America. It has lots of mini road trips all compiled into one book. It’s from the 50s so the language is a little different but the whole book is fascinating because you get to read about what life was like back then.
What I love about this story is how it tells tales of simpler times. Life was so much different back in the 1950s, and he goes into detail about the things he does on the trips, how they would stop in random towns to get a few days work and all the people they meet along the way. If you followed the same routes now from the east to west coast of America, it really wouldn’t be the same as it was back then. If anything it would be so much easier with public transport. They hitchhiked for a lot of it (I’m not even sure if that’s still a thing anymore).
It’s one that definitely stands out against the others I have mentioned here because he’s not going on a journey of self-discovery, they were spontaneous trips that they did for the hell of it because they were reasonably young and didn’t have anything else to do. It really was a different time.
Nevertheless it’s still an amazing story that really makes me want to just road trip across America. Maybe one day.
travel writing books
Now these are very different but still classed as travel books in my opinion. I write Tourists Guides about all of my trips and I wanted to start doing some more serious travel writing, to tell all my stories. I actually did some writing back when I went to Paris and would have done on my upcoming trips which I have had to unfortunately cancel.
I feel like travel writing sounds self-explanatory but there’s actually a lot more to it which is why I picked up these couple of books which tell you all about tools and techniques, how to get your work published etc etc. It tells you all the tricks of the trade.
They may not interest you, but if you wanted to know more about travel writing then I would start with these.
I hope that this may have inspired you to pick up some new books!
If you wanna read about my travels so far then here are all the tourists guides that I have published (so far):
What books are you reading at the moment?