Reading has always been a gate through which our imagination is able to fly free to far away lands, to experience things that we might never do in our lives. Peter Pan took us to Neverland, a world of fantasy in which we never grew old. Aslan has brought our wardrobe to life, making us dream of Narnia. The three musketeers taught us about friendship, whilst the catcher in the rye showed us why innocence is so important in our lives, even as adults.
Books are our way to escape the world we live in, which has now but boundaries on what we can and can’t do. Necessary boundaries that protect our survival and well-being, boundaries which we should follow, so please stay at home! For some, me included, these limitations have a powerful effect. As a soul who can’t sit in one place for too long, having my wings pinned down for a while is painful. But I know that it’s necessary, and I know that if we all listen, things will get better sooner.
And this is where books come in! Book still allow us to travel, even if it’s just within our minds. Books can give our souls the freedom to explore the corners of the world without leaving our couches.
The book that inspired me most to travel was “All Sails Up”, a Romanian novel about the main character’s journey to Patagonia, in search for his lost friend, on board “Speranta” (Hope) schooner. I lived every moment of the journey, together with the crew, sipping the words until late at night. One more page, one more page…
I have asked my fellow travel bloggers which are the books that inspired them to travel. This list will make your isolation time easier and who knows, maybe inspire you to plan your next trip, when things will come back to normal.
The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000 Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds, by Caroline Van Hemert
By Hannah from That Adventurer
This book follows an expedition of extraordinary lengths. The author, Van Hemert, and her partner take on an incredible (and scary-sounding) adventure from the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest all the way through to the tip of Alaska. That means travelling through 4,000 miles of mountains, rivers and forest, travelling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe. Along the way the pair have to fight off bears, they encounter wolves, overcome near starvation and more.
It’s not just about the adventure. Hemert is a biologist who’s worried she’s using her connection to nature and the beautiful outdoors world. She’s also concerned about how to know when it’s the right time to start a family as well as dealing with her father’s recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Reading her observations, stories and the insights on relationships and life that she offers will have you rethinking your connection to the natural world and excited to get out there (although maybe on an adventure of a smaller scale!).
The Sun is a Compass won the Banff Mountain Book Competition for Adventure Travel in 2019. If you’re a lover of ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed or reading about any type of human powered expeditions you’re sure to love this book.
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
By Bruna from I Heart Brazil
While the temptation of watching a new series on Netflix is big, I try to read every night for half an hour before going to bed.
And because I’ve been reading quite a lot, my husband recently gave me a lovely book I’m reading now. It’s called The Seven Sisters.
It is an excellent historical novel that mixes with the history of Rio de Janeiro and some of its most popular attractions, such as Christ the Redeemer statue.
The story begins in Switzerland when six sisters are told their adoptive father has just passed away. And while each one of them receives a little clue about their heritage, the book focuses on only one of the sisters, Maia.
Seeking her own story, she follows the hint to her past, which leads her to Rio de Janeiro, and that’s where it all begins.
The story is fascinating, and Lucinda Riley’s writing is witty, whimsical, and seamless. The Seven Sisters is a long book, but you do not realize it.
More importantly, this book brings me good memories from all the delightful vacations I had in Rio de Janeiro, let alone Brazil.
And for those who haven’t been to Brazil yet, The Seven Sisters can certainly give them some fantastic bucket list ideas.
Through Sand and Snow by Charlie Walker
By Michael from Books Like This One
Through Sand and Snow by Charlie Walker is a fantastic book to read if you’re looking for some travel inspiration. It follows the true story of how Walker, at the age of 22, decides to cycle to the furthest points across three different continents: Africa, Asia & Europe. Not having trained at all prior to this journey, the book delves deep not only into the physical challenges of cycling across the world but also the mental and emotional challenges that Walker encountered while doing so. Walker, in particular, shares a lot of detail about his feelings of isolation during his journey and the impact it has on his relationships.
What makes this a great read is that Walker doesn’t sugarcoat any of the hardships of tackling such a journey and is brutally honest with his readers with his captivating writing style. Through Sand and Snow will undoubtedly inspire people to travel as, despite all the challenges of being on the road, Walker still manages to showcase the beauty of travel and the destinations that he visits. The relationships that he forms on the road, his interactions with locals and detailed descriptions of the places he visits, will surely urge you to get out and explore more of the world!
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
By Sheree from Winging the World
There are plenty of great travel books out there but perhaps none are as moving as ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. After losing her mother to cancer at just 26 years old and dealing with the breakdown of her marriage, Strayed makes the impulsive, crazy decision to walk over one thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.
She has no experience of long distance hiking but thrown into the waters of grief, she can see no other relief from her problems. She doesn’t believe that the hike will fix her life but she knows she needs to escape. This is not just a travel book or even a hiking book, it is a raw and emotional memoir that teaches us that it is okay to want to run away. Not only is it okay but it could well be one of the most beneficial decisions that you ever make.
When I first read Wild, I was simply blown away. I had never been interested in hiking previously but after devouring this story, in a mere few days I might add, my feet were seriously itchy. Although it was some years later, this book was one of the driving forces behind my decision to walk five hundred miles on the Camino de Santiago. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss it!
Down Under by Bill Bryson
By Pauline from Beeloved City
If you are dreaming about Australia, Down Under by Bill Bryson is the perfect read!
When it comes to travel books, Bill Bryson is an absolute legend. He has written books about many countries but Down Under is an all time favourite.
Down Under is a travelogue book where the author shares anecdotes about his journey in Australia. He goes to all main Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne but also makes you discover some underrated parts of that beautiful country including Canberra and magnificent vineyards.
When you look at the facts, Australia is not the most welcoming country. The climate is hostile, everything can kill you, 80% of the land is desert… so why would we even want to go there? Well, that’s exactly what Bill Bryson is getting at. And the promise of the book is simple: you will fall in love with Australia.
The thing that makes Down Under so special is the writing itself. Bill Bryson has this very unique ability to put words on things and places that leave you speechless. He always spots the little details that make all the difference and allow you to understand Australian culture better. Words are wisely chosen and the storyline beautifully put together, with of course a little pinch of humour
Down Under is a real page turner and will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Australia.
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
By Antony from Green Mochila
So many books to read, so little time. I know it for a fact: I have an endless list of books I want to read going on in my head. I take mental notes of books and authors that I’m interested in for some reason; and when I unexpectedly find them in a book box or on a library shelf, something goes ping! in that remote part of my brain.
It’s in a public library that I met Jack Kerouac for the first time. I think that a part of me wanted to discover him through ‘On The Road’ – which I found and read later. But instead it was those ‘Dharma Bums‘, with their poetic urgency to live life; and they captivated me and kept me breathless for 2 days.
The book is both a physical and metaphysical tale of travel, that brings Ray Smith (aka Kerouac himself) from coast to coast through the USA. Hitchhiking and train-hopping, he makes the most bizarre encounters, that lead him to take part in Buddhist rituals and transcendental orgies. He ends up working alone and remote in a national park, and falls in love with nature and the divinity behind it. ‘The Dharma Bums’ was undoubtedly one of the direct inspirations for my backpacking trip through South America.
I knew that the book was autobiographical. It’s exciting to read about travels and experiences that actually happened in real life, and how they were turned into a great read. A book like ‘The Dharma Bums’ is a double inspiration: it spurs me both to write and to travel.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
By Corina from Another Milestone
The action of Angels and demons by Dan Brown takes place in Rome. The pope is dead and a new pope must be elected, but the 4 cardinals that have the most chances to be the next pope are kidnapped. The supposed author of this crime is the order of Iluminatti, an old enemy of the Catholic church. Trying to find the cardinals and save Rome from a big explotion, Robert Langdon (the professor that also solved the puzzle in Da Vinci’s Code) travels across Rome. Along the way he enters the most important churches in the capital of Italy and reveals hidden symbols and pieces of history that will make you see Rome with different eyes. The Pantheon and Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo are just two of the churches that appear in the book. Famous piazzas in Rome like Navona and Saint Peter are also locations where Robert Langdon finds new clues. Angels and demons thematic tours run in Rome to help people reach all the places mentioned in the book.
Next time you visit Rome after reading the novel, you will want to see with your own eyes if the details revealed in Angels and demons are real or fake. And you will have a surprise!
The Beach by Alex Garland
By Lee from The Travel Scribes
Visions of pristine white sand, azure blue waters and palm fronds swaying in the breeze? This is the dream created by cult novel, The Beach by Alex Garland. And it sparked a global trend of travellers winging their way to the islands of Thailand.
Referred to as “a Lord of the Flies for Generation X”, The Beach chronicles the journey of intrepid British backpacker, Richard. Lying in veritable filth in a Bangkok hostel he encounters a strange Scotsman by the name of Daffy who hands him a map of a secret beach; an inaccessible, remote utopia. Along with two French compatriots he sets off in search of this paradise and.. finds out. What unfolds is a thrilling tale of how heaven can transform into hell, as the idyllic island life is soon replaced by a witch hunt, a rebellion and an international rescue.
The 1996 book was soon followed by the legendary film of the same name in 2000, starring Leonardo di Caprio. Set in Maya Bay, Thailand off the island of Koh Phi Phi, that destination became so famous as a result of the book that authorities finally had to close Maya Bay in 2018, due to extreme over tourism. An interesting turn of events considering Garland has confirmed his inspiration was actually the picturesque islands of Palawan in the Philippines.
Today the book still inspires people to travel to Thailand, even if they can’t set foot on Maya Bay’s lily white sandy beaches. It sells the fantasy of a forgotten almost unreachable place, immortalized in an iconic novel for the ages.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
By Rai from A Rai of Light
This book tells the tragic story of Chris McCandless, a young man who hikes across North America after graduating from university in the early 1990s. Disillusioned with a conventional life, McCandless quits his job, leaves his family and friends, renounces most of his material possessions, and donates his entire savings to charity to live in the wilderness at one with nature. He abandons society and its rigid rules and makes his way to the Alaskan wilderness in the hope of discovering something better. During his journey, he is challenged to survive, encountering several situations which change him as a person. The travel quote, “Not all those who wander are lost” seems to be the focus of this non-fiction biography by Krakauer. McCandless is painted as a man with a sharp mind and wild imagination, who did not fit into the modern world or his family’s view of how he was supposed to live. Even though it may seem that McCandless was reckless and arrogant, he was also courageous in his search for purpose and meaning. The writing is so appealing that although it is clear from the beginning how McCandless’ story would end, I was hooked until the last page.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
By Lee from Living Out Lau
Exploring the four corners of the world, learning about different cultures, and trying diverse cuisines, traveling has always been a dream for many people, including me. Like every dream in a person’s life, it requires sacrifice. For you, it might mean working a second job to be able to afford the plane ticket or deciding to take public transportation instead of buying a car. Whatever it is, big or small, sacrifices have to be made to achieve something we truly desire.
In the fictional book The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, that is exactly what happened to the main character Santiago. The boy knows that the only way to live a satisfying life is by accomplishing his Personal Legends. In his case, it is going to the Pyramids in Egypt. On his way to attaining his Personal Legend, he encountered many obstacles: leaving the comfort of his daily life, abandoning the lifestyle of a rich man, and love. He sacrificed everything that was so dear to him to accomplish his real calling in life.
Travel is a luxury and not everyone can afford it. There are people in the world that have not left their hometown. With this book, people will be inspired to see more of the world despite some of the obstacles they might face!
Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
Time Was Soft There is a memoir written by a Canadian crime reporter who fled to Paris after receiving death threats from an underworld criminal he had angered. Lost, alone and nearly broke, he finds a haven in Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookstore on the banks of the Seine, just opposite Notre Dame.
The bookstore’s owner, George Whitman, is an eccentric American expat in his 80s who lets writers, artists and other lost souls sleep inside the bookstore for free. He calls them “tumbleweeds” and lives by the motto: “Be kind to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise”. All he asks for in return is that his tumbleweeds help out in the store for a couple of hours each day, write a one-page autobiography, and read a book a day.
During the five months that he lives at Shakespeare and Company, the author meets a whole cast of fascinating characters from all four corners of the world. Together, they even find a way to save the bookstore and keep it going once George is no longer able to manage it himself.
This book is a fascinating glimpse into bohemian life in Paris — a life that amazingly still exists today. After George’s death in 2011 at the age of 98, his daughter Sylvia took over the bookstore and continues to run it with the same generous spirit as her father. Despite a few modernizations and an attached café serving up vegan and vegetarian food in the heart of Paris, Shakespeare and Company still offers shelter to any traveler who passes through.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
By Laura from Laura Onesta
One of the books that will inspire you to travel nonstop is “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino. In this book, probably the most famous of the author, Calvino lets his imagination flow and writes about cities that don’t exist yet or that, until now, haven’t been discovered by man.
A book that is not only about travel, but also about love and friendship. In this book you’ll discover the relationship between Marco Polo and the emperor Kublai Khan. In each chapter, Marco Polo talks about the cities that live inside the vast empire and recreate with magnificent prose the characteristics of each place and its citizens.
This book is special because it talks to you about the power of imagination, the art of traveling without moving away from your home and the beauty that you can find on reading and learning about places that you don’t know yet.
In case you are still wondering how a book that describes non existing places can help you to travel, use your imagination and do the same exercise the writer did. Imagine a city, it can be empty or crowded, it can be floating in the sky or under the sea, the people that live there can be really tall or really short. There’s no limit for imagination and that’s what you can learn and put in practice thanks to this book.
Open Mic Night in Moscow by Audrey Murray
By Martha from Quirky Globetrotter
Who knew that thirsting after the same type of guy could inspire you a multi-country cultural adventure? This was the case from wordsmith and comedian Audrey Murray. Murray packs her bags and jets across Asia and Europe to visit countries formerly part of the Soviet Union. Not only because of her preference for Russain men but to dive deep into a significant cultural event she knew little to nothing about. Though her curiosity about the Soviet Union drives the narrative, the book is larger than that. Open Mic Night is a witty memoir of why it’s important to follow your dreams, even if they don’t make sense logistically.
As a solo female traveler, I could identify with Murray’s travel woes. Whether it was becoming frustrated with the language barrier or unsure how in cultural traditions and ceremonies, Murray makes her dilemmas real and relatable. She’s not the only one fretting over her butterfly tights and whether they’re appropriate for an Uzbekistan wedding. You are there with anxious and clammy like she is. She tears away this fictitious veil and misconception that outsiders cannot immerse themselves into a culture. She proves time and time again that no matter where you are in the world or what society you are from, all we crave is a little comradery and connection.
What’s most inspirational about Murray’s narrative is that she inspires you to travel to countries not boasted on the front of travel blogs or magazines. Her gallivanting these uncharted areas with local guides is nothing short of an adventure. By the end of the novel, touring the former Soviet Union will be the next adventure you’ll want to book. I know I certainly do.
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
By Kathi from Watch Me See
Nan Shepherd’s book The Living Mountain is a love letter to the natural world of the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland. With a love for detail, Shepherd describes every aspect of the mountain landscape. She poetically describes her own journey to becoming a mountain woman and explores all visible and hidden aspects of this beautiful landscape.
From the different smells and textures of various kinds of rocks to the rich flora and fauna she meets on a day in the hills, the way people leave in the mountains and the way their behaviour impacts nature – good or bad.
The Living Mountain is also a book that inspired many women to pick up their pens and try their hand at nature writing themselves – a genre that is to this day largely dominated by male authors.
Remarkably, Shepherd wrote the book in the 1940s, years after publishing a series of novels and poems. But it took another 30 years before the book was finally published in 1977.
Since then, The Living Mountain has become a classic, somewhat of a must-read for outdoor enthusiasts. Shepherd’s writing draws our attention to the details around us, yet it also encourages us to reflect on our position within the natural landscape that surrounds us.
The book has the power to inspire many adventures – for me, it was a starting point for a life-long passion for solo hiking. Or it might convey a new sense of appreciation for the natural world – and a desire to protect the environment and wilderness to ensure future generations can also enjoy them.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman
By Amy from Oceans to Alpines
Tired of same old same old? Don’t want to fit into society norms? No idea what to do for a career? Terrified of settling in a relationship? If you answered yes to any of these questions and have never wanted to fit the cookie cutter expectation of women in society then: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman is the perfect book for you to be inspired to travel to learn about yourself.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding does not focus only on travel, but focuses on one woman’s struggle with society’s expectations of her. Such as having that successful career. Or, the big one: getting married and starting a family. While with her career she just had more up and downs, the society expectation of relationships is where Kristin Newman differed. She wasn’t interested in setting down roots immediately, she wanted to travel and see the world (think escapism).
The second focus point of the book is on her “slow travel”. She was able to take multiple months off and explore locations and really dive into the culture and live like a citizen there (primarily in South America). One of aspects that makes her book popular, and juicy, is the fact that she develops “vacationships” while she is traveling. Each country has a relationship that helped her learn about the area, or about herself. This is one of the most interesting aspect of the book – how honest she was and open about her relationships with men. If you want to see how society is still terrified of women sexuality – just read some of the negative reviews as you will find a lot of slut shaming.
Overall, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding is an easy and entertaining read. This book is perfect for any aspiring female solo traveler to pick up and gain the courage to jump on that plane and live life against the norms of society.
Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne
By Elisa from World in Paris
Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne is one of my favorite travel books. Published in France in 1872, Around the World in 80 days is a classic of French literature, the kind of book that I like to read again and again.
The book tells the adventures around the world of M. Fogg, an English gentleman living in the London of the XIX century, and his French valet Passepartout. Mr. Fogg is a mysterious man who spends most of his time at the exclusive Reform Club, where he likes to play whist with his colleagues of the club. One day, he bets a very high sum of money that he can travel around the world and be back in London in 80 days. During their journey, Mr. Fogg and Passepartout live many adventures but also some misadventures that threaten the success of the journey. Indeed the London Police believes Mr. Fogg is escaping from a big robbery in London and sends Detective Fix to follow him. Detective Fix will do impossible to find proofs against him so he can arrest him . . . before he finishes his world tour. Will Mr. Fogg make it to London before the deadline?
What is interesting about this book is that Jules Verne never visited these countries by himself but his imagination was so incredible that he manages to inspire readers and makes them travel virtually through his book.
4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
By Corritta from It’s a Family Thing
While in Las Vegas, we ran into an elderly couple that recommended we read 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. The book is about how Tim Ferris changed his life going from a sales job to a successful businessman that eliminated distractions to become more profitable. He explains the art of the D.E.A.L. This book is special because it breaks the societal norms we have become used to. It challenges you to change your way of thinking. The “new rich” is defined not by money, but by fulling your dreams, purpose, and finding your self- worth. It made me ask myself, did I really want to spend 10 hours a day with my coworkers? What does success mean to me? Am I willing to make less money to be happier?
If you are considering traveling this book will make you question everything we have been taught. It will inspire you not only to travel but to pursue whatever passion you have in life. The concept of the “new rich” is the ream American Dream. The ability to make money while also pursuing your passion and spending time with your family. Doesn’t that sound better than going into debt to fulfill a fictional life or lifestyle.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
By Stephanie from Explore More Clean Less
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery tells the true life story of Emma Gatewood in the 1950s. It notably won the 2014 National Outdoor Book Award in History / Biography, and ranks in the top 20 best sellers of Amazon’s Environmentalist & Naturalist Biographies. A literal trailblazer, Grandma Gatewood was the first person to walk the AT twice (and then three times!). Not only did she simply hike the trail against all expectations, she advocated for its protection and used the media attention to effect positive change and trail maintenance. The book tells her life story (including a harrowing backstory of an abusive husband while raising 11 kids) through sharing old media accounts, diaries, and interviews about her life and accomplishments.
It might be impossible to read this book and not feel inspired to travel! The descriptions and history shared about the Appalachian area inspires me to go out and see more of the Blue Ridge Mountains myself but also more generally, the sense of adventure her story embodies makes me want to get out and do something unexpected. Grandma Gatewood’s foray into hiking, starting at the age of 67, was sparked after she herself read an account of hiking the AT so it’s only fitting that her story inspires others to do the same.If you’re training for a long-haul hike while traveling, check out some of these easy Asheville hikes to explore the Appalachian area via day hikes.
Nine Lives by William Dalrymple
By Amrita from Tale of 2 Backpackers
As travellers and bloggers, I have a keen interest in the culture, festivals and rituals of India. Nine Lives by William Dalrymple is one such book that had played a very important role in shaping my interest in the festivals and culture of India. The book is a collection of nine stories about nine Indian individuals, each of whom has an interesting story to tell.
The nine stories represent nine different religious paths that the protagonists have chosen for them. Each story will take you into the varied culture and religious diversity that India actually is. The first story is about a Jain nun who embraces death in the Jain ritualistic fashion – by slowly starving to death. There is the story of the Theyyam dancer who is of the lower cast, but for three months he is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There are other interesting stories of a lady from Tarapith practising tantric tradition and a Tibetan monk who joined the Indian army to fight against the Chinese but ended up fighting against Pakistan.
The way Dalrymple weaves the stories will take you to the world of these nine individuals and finally, you would want to visit these places where all these had taken place. Those with an interest in cultural travel will definitely find this book an interesting read. For my part, after reading Nine Lives, I visited Tarapith and Kenduli in search of the Baul, the wandering minstrels of Bengal. When I found them, I could totally relate to their stories.
Nine Lives will inspire its readers to visit the unknown India, which is usually not known in the bright lights and sound. It will inspire the readers to visit the real India.
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
By Rachel from The Rx For Travel
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The book is a fantasy novel about the journey of trying to destroy a ring which was created by a dark lord in order to rule over everything. As you are reading this, you are probably thinking, what does this have anything to do with travel? In the story, Bilbo Baggins is the father-figure to the lead, Frodo Baggins. As Frodo (who has never travelled outside of his little community) is about to start off on his journey to very distant lands, Bilbo Baggins is giving him his advice. Bilbo Baggins in his younger days hated travel and never wanted to leave home, but then once given the opportunity went on an amazing adventure to faraway places (this can be read about in The Hobbit). He says, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I think this resonates with so many people who may feel uncomfortable or even scared to travel and leave what they know behind at home. It’s just a reminder that it can be dangerous whenever you leave the house, whether you are going to the grocery store or to another country. It shouldn’t stop you from traveling, just stay alert and focused to stay safe. After reading the book and seeing the movies, I have such a strong desire to travel to New Zealand. It is where the movies were filmed and it is like there is now an actual location to your imagination of the places in the book.
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