As well as being a travel addict, I’m also a huge book worm. I love reading…. but I especially love reading travel books. Reading about other people’s adventures out in the world inspires me to get out and see more or try something new. They allow me to escape for a few hours to a different world and give me ideas for the next time my wanderlust gets too overwhelming and I need to hit the road again.
Here are some of my favourite travel books. If you’ve got one I should be adding to the list, I’d love to hear from you!
All Over The Map by Laura Fraser – Travel writer Laura, finds herself divorced and childless in her thirties. She finds solace in travel and love with a dashing Frenchman during their Italian affair. Now he’s moving on and she takes off again travelling and searching for a new love. Then, while on assignment in the South Pacific an incident occurs that leaves her scared to travel. But instead of losing the one thing that has remained a constant in her life, she faces her fears and finds a happiness within.
An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof – In the mid 1990s, Canadians Ann and her husband Steve were driven professionals in their forties who dreamed of a break from their career-driven lives when an idea to escape came to them. They quit their jobs, rented out their house, moved onto a 42-foot sailboat called Receta and set sail for the Caribbean on a two-year voyage of culinary and cultural discovery.
Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell -Albert set a goal for himself to actually set foot in every official country around the world, which at the time of writing was 196, and then started checking them off. Some were easy and enjoyable, others a bit more challenging, but then he got down to the ones that were war-torn, almost impossible to get visas for and just plain dangerous. Yet fifty years after travelling to his first country, Canada, he touched down in the nearly impossible to reach Angola and finished his mission.
Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly- Karen finds herself in Burma during the mid-nineties. She’s immediately in love with the Burmese people and becomes immersed in the world of the revolutionaries against the brutal military dictatorship. After falling in love with the country, she soon falls in love with a man who has dedicated his life to the struggle for political change.
Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day by Doug Mack – After finding a copy of Arthur Frommer’s 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars A Day, Doug had an idea. He decided to travel to Europe, relying solely on the advice found in a travel guide that’s nearly half a century old and notes from his mother’s tour of Europe around the same time. What he finds when he gets there leads to many wrong turns, much pricier days and hilarious mis-adventures as he makes his way across eight countries.
God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau – Told by John, a Sudanese man who became one of thousands of Lost Boys in Sudan after a bloody civil war hit his village. After years in refugee camps, John was given the chance to start a new life in Syracuse, New York. Here, he had to work hard to repay his loan and learn about everything from how a light switch works to how to grocery shop all while trying to get an education and still help those still in Sudan. (Also a documentary)
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer- A true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man from a wealthy family who hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness in April 1992. He had given away his life savings, his car and his possessions and created a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposing body was found in the woods. (Also a movie)
Little Princes by Conor Grennan – A true story about Conor, who quit his job for a year-long trip around the world. This journey began with a three month volunteer stint at the Littles Princes Children’s Home in war torn Nepal, an event that changed Conor’s life.
Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman- What started as an idea between longtime friends, Ewan and Charley to set out on an epic journey on their motorbikes, soon became a reality. After months of planning and finding the right bikes, they began their four-month, 20,000-mile journey around the world in London, making their through Europe, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia before heading across the Pacific to Alaska, then down through Canada all the way to New York. (also a documentary)
Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman- After successfully riding their motorbikes around the world, Ewan & Charley were looking for a way to get out on the road again. After visiting Africa on a UNICEF trip, they knew they wanted to go back and decided this would be their next adventure- riding their motorbikes on a 15,000 mile journey from Scotland to South Africa. Through incredible scenery, hot weather and a variety of challenges, together the finished another epic ride.
My Maasai Life by Robin Wiszowaty – Robin grew up in suburban Illinois, leading a typical middle-class American life, but longed for more. She takes an opportunity to travel to rural Kenya and live in a Maasai community. Now instead of shopping, she spends her days hauling water, making fires and living in a hut made of cow dung.
Road Trip Rwanda by Will Ferguson- Twenty years after the 1994 genocide left Rwanda in ruins, Ferguson along with his Rwandan friend Jean- Claude Munyezamu, who escaped Rwanda months before the killings began, head back to road trip around the land of a thousand hills. Ferguson tells the story of a country that suffered extreme loss, but also one that has rebuilt itself in a remarkable way.
The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett and Amanda Pressner- An inspiring book about grabbing your best friends and setting off to share incredible adventures all around the world. With their thirtieth birthdays looming, Jen, Holly and Amanda shake off the traditional milestones for this age- marriage, promotions and kids and instead quit their jobs and set off on a year-long trip around the world.
The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker – Barker’s memoir about her years as an American journalist doing the “Taliban shuffle” back and forth reporting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Barker spends her time learning to adapt to her new life while covering elections, running towards buildings that have just been bombed and embedding with the U.S. military all the while falling in love with these countries along the way.
Smile When You’re Lying – Confessions of a rogue travel writer by Chuck Thompson- Travel writer, Chuck has spent more than a decade travelling through thirty-five countries and he’s had enough. He’s fed up with the travel writing industry’s half truths, recycled cliches and returning home from assignments leaving the best stories out of his work. This book tells those stories- the ones his editors wouldn’t print.
Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson- In the follow-up to Three Cups of Tea, Greg continues his work bringing schools to the remote regions of Pakistan, but now begins tracing the efforts of the Central Asia Institute to work in another country- Afghanistan. Here, he works with the U.S. military and the CAI to develop a strategic plan to launch schools in the Taliban heartland.
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson- In 1993, mountaineer Greg found himself in an impoverished village in the Karakoram mountains in Pakistan after a failed attempt at climbing K2. The locals were so kind to him, he vowed to return and build a school for the children. He kept that promise and over the next decade he built not just that one but fifty-five schools, many specifically for girls.
Tracks by Robyn Davidson- Robyn decided to take the ultimate journey. With camels she trained, she set off on a journey across 1,700 miles of Australian desert by camel. The trek took over half a year with just four camels and her dog to keep her company. (Also a movie)
Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves- Spanning 15 years, Wanderlust captures the stories of Eaves hunger for experiencing the unknown. This leads her around the world chasing culture and romance in a journey of self-discovery. On the road, Eaves not only finds herself and the sense of home she’s been looking for, she also sheds light on a growing movement of young women who set out to define their own, increasingly global, lifestyles.
The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann- While on holiday in Kenya, Corinne falls in love with a Masai Warrior. She makes the decision to stay and moves into a tiny hut with him and his mother. Here, they are married and she struggles to find her role and come to terms with their vast cultural differences. Over the four years she spends living in the Masai village, their relationship crumbles and she makes plans to escape back to Europe with their daughter. (also a movie)
Wild by Cheryl Strayed -After her mother’s death and her own divorce, Cheryl thought she had lost everything. After bouncing around, she came across a book for the Pacific Crest Trail and decided the would hike it, alone. With no experience or training and a pack weighing over half her own weight, she set out to hike more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. With lot’s of aches and adventures, she walked from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, finding herself a long the way.
The Woman Who Fell From The Sky by Jennifer Steil – American journalist, Jennifer becomes restless in her current life and accepts an opportunity to teach journalism to the staff of the Yemen Observer in Sana’a, Yemen. She finds herself in this ancient, very conservative capital, trying to help the eager reporters and meet the challenges of teaching a free-speech model of journalism here. What was supposed to be a short-term contract, soon becomes a year-long stay as the paper’s editor-in-chief, learning about the people who’s traditions, cultural and way of thinking were vastly different from her own.
28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen- Canadian journalist, Stephanie Nolen writes about the effect of AIDS in Africa. At the time she was writing, 28 millions Africans were infected with HIV/AIDS- she wrote one story for every million. The stories are inspiring, heartbreaking, honest and thought provoking.