By JP Chartier
The following books will help inspire travel and adventure and are listed in no particular order. Is there one you’ve read that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section below.
Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck
A wonderful book that tells of a 1960 road trip the author John Steinbeck took around the United States with his poodle, Charley. The journey began in Long Island, NY and continued across the United States and back, including his native Salinas Valley in California, a place Steinbeck wrote passionately about in other novels of his.
Steinbeck said he had a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he did make his living writing about it, but his son said the real reason his father took the trip was that he knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one final time.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
This popular book was based on travels that Kerouac and his friends took across post WWII America making Kerouac famous and ushering in the Beat Generation. When the book was originally released, The New York Times hailed it as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat.’
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau wrote this life changing book (it was for me) about his 2 years he spent living in a cabin he built in the woods. He wanted to live simply and naturally without the luxuries of the modern times, he even grew his own food, which he details in the book.
This work is a personal declaration of independence for Thoreau, it was a social experiment and a voyage of discovery as well.
If you haven’t read this one yet, what are you waiting for?
The Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiner
This book is a “philosophical and humorous travel memoir” says the author Eric Weiner, a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio. He uses the ancient philosophers as well as the “science of happiness” as his guides as he travels the world in search of the happiest places and what it is we can learn from them.
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
What a fantastic story! Coelho tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of worldly treasures. Not only is it a travel story, it’s a story that will teach you about the essential wisdom that is gained by listening to our hearts, by learning from the omens we find along life’s path and, above all, to follow our dreams.
If you haven’t read this one yet, stop what you’re doing right now, and go to the bookstore and buy a copy, once you start reading it, you wont be able to put it down!
The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred – Phil Cousineau
This book weaves myths, stories, parables and quotes from famous travelers about practical suggestions and accounts of modern-day pilgrims to show that there is something of value to be discovered in every journey.
Though composed in comprehensive chapters for the stages of travel, the book is more simply a collection of anecdotes, quotations, insights, and guideposts–many of them as short as a single line.
Life is a Trip – Judith Fein
This book is composed of short travel stories, each unique and each catch the author’s unusual approach to travel. I liked the fact that Fein is open to whatever comes her way and that she seeks out the interesting people and experiences. She’s always looking for those who can offer her wisdom or special window into their culture and life.
The Beach – Alex Garland
Much better than the movie in my opinion. This is a novel that follows Richard, a rootless traveler who is wondering around Thailand when he is given a secret map to a place much like paradise. Richard and two French travelers soon set out to find this paradise and what ensues is a fast-paced adventure novel that deals with interesting philosophical situations too.
The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
I love traveling by train, and this book has a lot to do with that. It’s an account of Theroux’s adventures on a grand continental tour through Europe and the Orient on some of Asia’s fabled trains such as the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, and the Trans-Siberian Express.
Make the Most of Your Time on Earth (Rough Guide Reference) – Rough Guides
The book is arranged in chapters, each dealing with a specific region of the globe. For each region, they list the very best travel experience there is to be had, a great book to inspire you to travel!
Vagabonding – Rolf Potts
Have you ever dreamed of taking time off from your regular life and traveling around the planet? Then this is the book for you. There is a lot of information and advice for the shoestring traveler, one who has a small budget but still wants to have fun. Veteran traveler Rolf Potts shows anyone how to travel independently overseas on a budget. A wonderful book!
The World Awaits: How to Travel Far and Well – Paul Otteson
Here is another book for the budget adventure traveler. There is tons of advice about planning everything from your travel routes to acquiring visas to bribery to managing your money. This is more for the beginner than it is for the seasoned traveler.
The Rough Guide First-Time Around the World – Doug Lansky
Planning a trip around the world? “The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World” is loaded with the very latest travel information, from visas and insurance to vaccinations and round-the-world tickets. This book will help you design the best possible trip, with tips on using your phone abroad and guidance on which websites, apps and travel agencies to use to get the best deals and advice. You’ll find insightful information on what to pack and which festivals not to miss, how to stay safe and – perhaps most importantly – how to get under the skin of a place and meet the locals in a natural way.
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
A famous book that interweaves philosophy with travel and motorcycle maintenance. A very interesting book indeed, I enjoyed reading it very much. Pirsig analyzes how we live, and how we can live better.
A Walk In the Woods – Bill Bryson
Bryson describes his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz with humor and at times, a more serious tone. Hiking is used only as a backdrop to a heartfelt discourse on the social condition of America, trail history, local history, and the surrounding sociology.
Bryson wanted to reconnect with America after a 20 year absence, and did so by taking this adventure and writing this book.
Hi my name is JP Chartier and I write for Gutter Pup Adventures.com where you can expect to read well-written and entertaining articles about the people and places that often get overlooked at many popular vacation destinations around the world. You will also find articles on camping, hiking, kayaking and several other popular vacation activities here too.
My goal is to seek out the hidden ‘gems’ for you and bring them alive through my writing and photographs, so your next trip or vacation will be a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience.
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Spiritual Meditation recently posted…Spiritual Meditation
Great list, J.P. — lots of good ideas there, and I’ll put a couple on my reading list. I did a similar blog post concentrating on novels and history books rather than travel books per se. I was surprised you left out Hemingway, but we both included On the Road as essential reading, and I’m sorry I forgot about travels with Charley — that’s an old favourite.
Paul (The Travelling Boomer) recently posted…Six unforgettable experiences in Europe this summer
I’ll have to check out your blog post, sounds interesting. Forgot Hemingway, bad me haha.
Great list JP! Been thinking about what to read next. I need to stay inspired till the next adventure. This is just what I needed. The Alchemist I read a few months ago, and it was so inspiring to me, I got both my parents to read it afterwards! I think they understand me a little better now! haha! Vagabonding is another favorite! Got that one on Audible, fun to listen to on road trips. Thanks!
Brian Dennis recently posted…Tonsai Beach – Where Dreams Are Made
Thanks Brian! Glad to hear my list helped you out, if you’re anything like me and you read a lot it’s always good to have a list of good books to fall back on. Happy reading 🙂
I love this list and am also ashamed that I’ve not read many of these. Definitely interested in the Rough Guide book and also Bryson. This was a great list. I love that you compile these. Thank you.
Duke Stewart recently posted…Why I Travel – To Follow Idols
Thanks Duke! These lists are fun to put together I have to admit 🙂 Looks like you’ve got some reading in your future too!
Lots of these are on my “To Read” list already, and I’ve just added some new ones! Thanks for the roundup, great suggestions!
Leah of The Mochilera Diaries recently posted…Review: Hotel Maracuya Managua
You are very welcome, you now have your homework 🙂
Some great books! I’ve read a few and have now added more to my to read list! LOVE travel memoirs and the like! When I’m not travelling its a great way to travel through the written word.
Stephanie Mayo recently posted…Writer Wednesdays – Meet Kim
I’m with you, I love a good travel memoir, especially one that has a philosophical tilt to it.
You cannot go wrong with a Theroux book. Dark Star Safari, Pillars of Herucles, and Happy Isles of Oceania are also incredible. A Walk in the Woods is a good one too despite the fact that Bryson did not like the Smokies and skipped the northern half.
Traveling Ted recently posted…Bako bearded pig #Movember photo essay
Dark Star Safari was incredible! I certainly don’t see eye to eye with Bryson about the Smokies, I mean come on, how the hell can you not like the Smokies right?
I’ll have to take your word for it because I didn’t read any of these books. However, I agree that travel books, documentaries and movies are the ones that incite our curiosity and stir up our desire to travel.
Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Mogosoaia Palace
I wouldn’t steer you wrong Anda, you’ve sure missed some great books 🙂