The Wondering Traveller

7 Books about travel that’ll get you off your couch and into the world.

 

The need to travel can be an obsession. Once you’ve tasted it, it’s hard to snuff out the adventurous spark inside you, and sometimes, all that’s needed to turn that spark into a raging fire; is a good book about travel. 

If you’re feeling the need to escape but have 10,000 reasons to keep putting it off, these 7 books are just the motivation your need to put them on the backburner and satisfy your wanderlust.  

There’s something here to suit everyone’s taste. Read any of them, and you’re sure to get off your couch and into the world asap.

 

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

7 Travel Books

What it’s about:

Following her divorce, journalist and author Elizabeth Gilbert packs her backs and heads for a year long trip to three different countries – Italy, India, Indonesia – to please her senses, find spiritual enlightenment, and restore balance in her life, all in that order. Eat Pray Love, is the result of this soul search.

 

Why you’ll love it?

Let’s get this one out of the way. Eat Pray Love isn’t everyone’s favorite piece of travel literature.

The novel’s popularity and inevitable movie adaptation earned it as many fans as it has critics. Their main complaint: it’s too unrealistic.

Who has the time to take a year off to find oneself? And the way the novel wraps up so nicely will make you feel like you’ve got a fairy tale for adults in your hands instead of a realistic 21st-century woman’s struggle for self-actualization.

So do yourself a favor and see it for what it is.

Eat Pray Love is a brilliantly well-written idealization of travel designed to be as infectious and uplifting as hit single from Taylor Swift or a Disney movie.

It’ll make you feel good. A few hours with Gilbert’s witty writing, and you’ll feel that you too have the power to change your life with a plane ticket, tasty pasta, and the help of a friendly Balinese spiritual healer. And sometimes, that’s all you need to be inspired to get out there.

 

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

7 travel books

What it’s about:

The love affair between an impotent journalist and a femme fatale divorcee. Heavy bouts of drinking, plenty of traveling, and heartbreak, all written in a prose your 10 year old can understand. Classic Hemmingway.

 

Why you’ll love it?

There’s just something about Ernest Hemingway.

The way he wrote and the way he lived has me convinced the world will never have a writer with the rockstar credentials this guy had.

That’s not the fault of the 21st-century novelists. I’m sure many are trying. But the roaring 20’s, the bedlam of World War 2, and the absence of Netflix and Youtube made it the right environment for an alcohol-fuelled wordsmith to leave his mark on the world (even when he wasn’t on a typewriter)

The Sun Also Rises is Hemmingway’s first novel and the baby steps of his direct writing style. With the precision and detail of a modern camera, Hemingway takes snapshots of Paris, Spain, and Southern France through with deft prose. One read, and you’ll want to see it all for yourself.

 

The Art of Travel – Alain de Botton

 

7 books about travel

Whats it’s about?

One man’s attempt at seeing and experiencing travel differently. Across the continents, in airports, trains, and while working his way through the contents of hotel minibars, De Botton keeps his thinking hat on and analyses the joy of travel through the lens of the world’s greatest artists and thinkers.

 

Why you’ll love it

Traveling often comes with excitement and anticipation.

Unfortunately, for some, it also comes with disappointment when reality fails to match the fantasy trip they’ve imagined.

Maybe Michaelangelo’s David doesn’t look all that impressive, maybe the stifling heat and mosquitos are all you’ll remember of the Caribbean, and maybe, the long ques at the Eiffel tower will sap energy and joy before you even start climbing the thing.

Alain de Botton helps you avoid that disappointment.

Drawing from some of the world’s greatest artists and thinkers – Flaubert, Baudelaire, Van Gogh, Wordsworth and more – De Botton argues that the act of traveling is more important than the destination itself.

Here it’s the emotion you’ll feel when seeing the David – no matter what that may be – which is more important than seeing it, and even the act of being on a train can lead to new ways of seeing the world. Be warned, some of De Botton’s musings can get deeply melancholic, and at times, you might even wonder whether he’s into travel at all. But his interior monolog might not be yours; the important thing is to appreciate whatever thoughts arise.

If you want to stop being a tourist and become a traveler, this is the book for you.

 

Hitching Rides with Buddha – Will Ferguson

Solo travel

Whats it’s about:

A humorous take on traveling solo in one of the most fascinating countries in the world, Japan. Author Will Ferguson hitchhikes from Cape Sata to Hokkaido to watch the start and end of the Sakura (cherry blossoms) season and the result is one of the most insightful travelogues ever written about Japan.

 

Why you’ll love it:

Will Ferguson is one of Canada’s most brilliant comedic writers.

His biting sarcasm and humor make the 400 or so pages of Hitching Rides With Buddha, a joy to read. It’ll also have you wondering if you can trust everything in it.

Because at times, Fergusons’ novel reads like the travel diary of a man establishing first contact on another planet. Here’s an excerpt about an encounter with children in a Japanese zoo:

“That I, so average and unexceptional, should cause a stir among these bright crowds of costumes gives a new perspective on the idea of exotic. I remember a trip to a Japanese zoo, and how the children turned their backs on the caged wildebeest and watched me instead. More interesting than a wildebeest, became my personal motto after that”

Japan can’t be so otherworldy, can it?

The novel is one of the most entertaining culture shocks ever captured on paper and despite Ferguson feeling like the odd one out throughout, everything about this book makes you want to pack your bags and head for the land of the rising sun asap.

The writing is infectious, and Fergusons’ carefree nature and the circumstances which start his travels (do people really do these crazy things ?!) will make you want to go on and adventure of your own. One more story which proves that the journey, is more important than the destination.

 

1000 places to see before you die – Patricia Schultz

The Connaught

The Connaught hotel – one of the 1000 places to visit before you die.

 

What it’s about:

Sacred ruins, essential restaurants, street food joints, luxury hotels and more; 1OOO places to see before you die is one of the best bucket list making tools you can find.

 

Why you’ll love it:

How do people decide travel destinations? According to Hollywood and adverts, they close their eyes, spin a replica of the globe, point their finger, and bam! They’re off to Greenland.

Others, however, reach out for their copy of 1000 Places to See Before You Die and make their choice. And it’s probably the best way to go about it.

This coffee table book crams all the essential places to visit on the planet within its pages. It’s the perfect travel aide, and even if you’ve got no plans to see the world right now, sitting down with it on a lazy Sunday afternoon is sure to give you a bad case of wanderlust you’ll just have to satisfy.

 

No reservations, around the world on an empty stomach – Anthony Bourdain

7 books about travel you must read

What it’s about:

Follow the world’s most traveled Chef as he eats his way across the world, and discusses the finer points of fermented shark and his hatred for Uzbek toilets.

 

Why you’ll love it:

Anthony Bourdain is one of the reasons culinary travel is hot right now.

His “try before you die” approach to travel and food makes for great television, and fans of the show will love this behind the scenes book companion filled with pictures and exclusive insights of the crew.

Bourdain doesn’t sugar coat it. Travel can be hard, and new experiences – culinary or otherwise- can be unpleasant, but there’s an appetite for discovery within these pages that’ll make you want to drop everything and put your explorer’s cap on.

Bourdain’s writing is addictive; the snapshots are gorgeous – especially the aptly named “food porn” section- and it all feels like the television show, albeit on paper. It’s a great read, and it’ll want to make you discover the world, one bite at a time.

 

The Idle traveler, The Art of Slow travel – Dan Kieran

7 books about travel

What it’s about:

Insights on how to experience your travels instead of just ticking the boxes as you rush from one landmark to the other.

 

Why you’ll love it:

Would you rather: A) Travel by plane to another country or B) Take a boat, walk, hitchhike and ask for directions the rest of the way.

If you choose A, you’re like 99% of travelers out there, if you choose B, you’re probably Dan Kieran, the author of the Idle Traveler: The Art of Slow Travel.

Dan Kieran does things differently.

So much so, that getting lost on his way to a destination is one of the best things that can happen to him. For this traveler, the most important thing is living in the moment and stepping out of time instead of doing as much with it as you can.

In our fast-paced lives, it’s the most counterintuitive thing to do. And yet, if your trips have become nothing more than dodging crowds while rushing from one place of interest to another, it might be worth considering the words within this little gem.