This may not be your typical list of travel books but these books inspired me to pack my bags and visit distant lands.
Whenever you are in need of inspiration, you can pick any of these books up and get motivated to travel and explore all over again!
So here are my favourites!
Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
British comedian Tony Hawks takes a friend up on a bet to see if he can hitchhike around Ireland… with a fridge. The book not only inspires you to visit Ireland but also makes you fall in love with the Irish people and their quirky acceptance of just about anything… even a hitchhiker with a fridge.
Travels by Michael Crichton
The acclaimed author chronicles his travels as a young student as he battled the many challenges travellers today don’t have to contend with. His journey takes him up Kilimanjaro and around the world with both laughter and tears.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Before it was an inspiring movie this was an inspiring book. You can literally taste the delicious Italian food and feel the spirituality as the protagonist seeks “the meaning of life” on a journey through Italy, India and Bali. The book has great descriptions of the foods she tries and the cultures she encounters.
Pole to Pole by Michael Palin
I actually don’t remember which of Palin’s travel books I’ve read (I’ve read more than one) but they are all inspiring. This is the one I most clearly remember, as it inspired me to visit Tromso in Northern Norway. I love his style of writing, always with a bit of humor thrown in. He also has incredible TV travel programs, after he returns from the filming of each TV travel series he turns his adventures into a book.
Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
This is just one of Bill Bryson’s entertaining travel books. It’s one of those books where you find yourself laughing out loud, even if you’re reading on the bus! The author has a hilarious sense of humor and always sees the funny side of foreign cultures and sites. Another of Bryson’s great books is Small Island which takes a quirky look at Britain.
The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemingway
I wonder how many travellers have gone to the Pamplona’s running of the bulls because of this book. I certainly would want to. Hemingway’s classic tale of the bullfighting aficionados conjured up the sounds, smells and spirit of this unique Spanish festival.
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Having been forced to read Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast at university, which put me off ever travelling to Central America, I then discovered his other novels. Theroux travelled by train from the UK to Japan and his account of this journey became a classic travel book. His 4 month trip took him on many of the most famous rail routes in the world including the Trans-Siberian Railway. He went on to write other great train journey books.
Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen
OK so this isn’t an obvious travel book choice, as it focuses on food, but the setting and the delicious French food described in the book inspired me to visit Denmark. Babette arrives as a refugee in a remote village on Jutland, Denmark. 14 years later she wins the lottery and decides to spend all her winnings on preparing a French feast for the austere and modest community. Incredible French flavors and austere Danish landscapes seem like a world away.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
Veteran shoestring traveller Rolf Potts shows how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel.
The book is about taking time off from your normal life-from six weeks to four months to two years-to discover and experience the world on your own terms.
Seven Years In Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
Originally published in 1953, this adventure classic recounts Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer’s 1943 escape from a British internment camp in India, his daring trek across the Himalayas, and his happy sojourn in Tibet, then, as now, a remote land little visited by foreigners. Warmly welcomed, he eventually became tutor to the Dalai Lama, teenaged g