If you had all the money in the world what would you do? Me, I would spend it on Books and Travel (All of it). These are the fifteen books I would start with. If you are into that kind of thing, then you might like them too. Take a look at the best travel books.
1. On The Road, Jack Kerouac (tops my list of best travel books)
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years travelling the North American continent. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance and one of the best travel books.
2. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
In September 1960 John Steinbeck left for a journey across America. It's an intimate self portrait of one of the most influential and loved writers in the 20th century.
3. The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto Che Guevara
“I now know, by an almost fatalistic conformity with the facts, that my destiny is to travel…”
One of the best travel books ever written, this book is an intimate look into the journey of a deeply empathic 23 year old. it's a heart warming travelogue full of wit, adventure, and heart.
4. The Rum Diaries, Hunter S. Thompson
“I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
The Rum Diary is a wild and energetic ride to San Juan, Puerto Rico during the late 1950s. It's a fascinating period piece which chronicles Puerto Rico’s transition from lazy sun bleached Caribbean island, to an amoral haven of American’s looking for a place where everything is possible, and anything is allowed.
5. Arabian Sands, Wilfred Thesiger
“In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance."
Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger’s five year odyssey across the Arabian desert. He came to know the overwhelming personal ethics and convictions of the tribal Arabs, something which would be impossible today as their way of life is virtually extinct.
6. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
"The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."
Into The Wild is best known as the story of Christopher McCandless, a brilliant and sensitive young man who embarks on a perilous journey to live in the Alaskan wilderness.
7. The Beach, Alex Garland
“If I’d learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.”
The Beach is a spellbinding adventure novel about the search for a pristine and pure landscape in a world permeated by Western culture.
8. Roughing It, Mark Twain
“It is said, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that it perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent upon him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to anyone else or not.”
It is a delightful and humorous book that chronicles Twain’s travels from Missouri to Hawaii between the years 1861 and 1866, and as such gives a clear picture into a fabled time in history.
9. Vagabonding, Rolf Potts
“Thus, the question of how and when to start vagabonding is not really a question at all. Vagabonding starts now. Even if the practical reality of travel is still months or years away, vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money, and begin to look at maps with the narcotic tingle of possibility.”
If you dream of traveling the world (or getting to know one place in depth) over a period of 2 months or 2 years, this is the definitive book on how to make that a reality.
10. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
“It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificient activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them.”
Into Thin Air is the riveting story of Jon Krakauer’s ill-fated climb up Everest in March 1996. It reveals the harsh realities of mountaineering and echoes with frantic calls of climbers lost high on the mountain and way beyond help.
11. Falling Of The Map, Pico Iyer
“Everyone is a Wordsworth in certain moods, and every traveler seeks out places that every traveler has missed.”
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it."
13. The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux
“The railway bazaar with its gadgets and passengers represented the society so completely that to board it was to be challenged by the national character.”
It's about Theroux’s round trip train odyssey between London and Japan in the 1970s. His adventures and observations aboard the Orient Express, Khyber Pass Local, Frontier Mail, Golden Arrow, Mandalay Express, and Trans-Siberian Express make for an excellent travelogue.
14. Neither Here Nor There, Travels In Europe, Bill Brynson
“What is it about maps? I could look at them all day, earnestly studying the names of towns and villages I have never heard of and will never visit...”
He brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia.
15. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”
Shantaram is the incredible true story of Lin, a man who escapes maximum security prison in Australia and flees to India, a place where no one knows him or his tumultuous past.
Did I miss out on any of your favourites as the best travel books? Add it in the comments section below.
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