It’s that time of year where I want to hop on a bus, train or plane and travel somewhere. “Anywhere! Anywhere!” And one of the best parts of traveling? Yes, the opportunity to see places you’ve never seen, but there’s also so much down-time. That beautiful, glorious down-time that makes for great reading time.
Today I’m sharing 10 of the best books about traveling. Read them while traveling or read them at home! I hope they stoke your fires of wanderlust.
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Oh the Places You’ll Go is a classic. It’s not a novel, I know that it’s a children’s book, silly! But I recently read this (again) while babysitting and I must admit, I forgot how truly profound this book is. I also must admit, I got teary-eyed when we got to the part about the Waiting Place. Ugh, go read it again now and see for yourself!
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
You’ve probably heard the story of Christopher McCandless. It’s a true and heart-breaking tale of a young man who hitchhiked to Alaska and was found dead four months later. But the story is much more complicated than that. It’s the story of a dreamer, an idealist and someone with a whole hell of a lot of guts. Some days, I too, want to leave everything and head off into the wild.
- Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Speaking of wild, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year. After the unimaginable loss of her mother and a divorce, Cheryl must find and reinvent herself by doing a sort-of penance: hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail for thousands of miles. It’s a devastating, fearless, inspiring, true tale.
- The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner
I must admit, the subtitle of this one sold me. I can be such a grump! As can, Eric Weiner, an NPR reporter who has traveled the globe reporting on tragedies. But In The Geography of Bliss, he takes a journey to far-flung places to find the happiest people on earth. Eric uses a unique mix of memoir, psychology and humor to discover truths we knew all along.
- The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau writes the popular blog, The Art of Non-Conformity and made it a goal to visit every country in the world by the time he was 35. This dude knows about travel. But he also knows that it’s not all about travel. In The Happiness of Pursuit, Chris explains that it’s about finding your purpose through life, work and travel.
- The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
This compendium of essays by Alain de Botton intertwines his own travel experiences with those of artists and other writers. It’s a unique take on the sometimes self-absorbed travel memoir. The Art of Travel is smart and philosophical and it gives the readers tools to create a more meaningful travel experience.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Now onto the classics! On the Road: the book that inspired a thousand road trips. As it should! It’s the semi-autobiographical story of Sal Paradise who embarks on a hitchhiking, alcohol-fueled odyssey across America with his shady mentor. Along the way he meets a cast of characters and poetically explores what it means to be free.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a tale of magical realism. The premise is familiar: a poor, Shepard boy travels the world in search of riches. What makes this tale different is that journey takes the boy to different, more satisfying, spiritual riches. Publishers Weekly described like a “wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist.” Do you need more than that to add it to your “To Read” list?!
- Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley is the true story of John Steinbeck’s road trip across America with his dog, Charley. During this road trip the two encounter both the wonders and the pitfalls of America. But what amazes me about this story is that John Steinbeck took this trip when he was almost 60 years old– which proves you are never too old for adventure.
- The Beach by Alex Garland
Ok, ok, so maybe The Beach is only a classic if you, like me, remember seeing the movie as a teenager and watched in terror as heartthrob Leo DiCaprio drank snake blood. Regardless of any crazy blood-drinking, The Beach has inspired many a backpacker to travel to Asia. The main character, Richard sets off from mainland Thailand to a beach rumored to be untouched by tourists. This book has major Lord of the Flies, dystopian vibes and is a refreshing travel novel among a sea of memoirs.
What do you think are the best books about traveling? Talk to me in the comments!
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