As passionate travellers, many of our adventures have been inspired by books. Reading about travel has always motivated us to take journeys of our own. With this in mind, here are ‘Thirty Inspirational Travel & Adventure Books’ which we have loved reading! It’s been challenging (but fun!) choosing our favourite books from our vast collection. Of course, these days many of our books are downloaded to kindles, but there is nothing like reading a ‘real’ book. Anyway, without further ado, here is our final selection of thirty inspirational books for globetrotters:
1) Ten Lessons from the Road by Alastair Humphreys
The first of our ten inspirational travel books is ‘Ten Lessons from the Road’. Alastair Humphreys is a prolific writer/adventurer and all of his books are incredibly inspirational. Having cycled 46,000 miles around the world, in this book, he shares the lessons that he learnt along the way. This is a small beautifully presented book brimming with quotes and photographs galore. Alastair urges readers to pursue their own dreams and aspirations whatever they may be.
2) Kite Strings of the Southern Cross by Laurie Gough
Laurie’s odyssey through Fiji, Bali, Malaysia, New Zealand and Morocco is a combination of memoir and travel narrative. The author is a free spirit who writes philosophically and poetically about travel and adventure. We couldn’t help but be swept up into journeys and enjoyed her insightful reflections on wanderlust. Kite Strings of the Southern Cross is a beautifully written and observant account by someone who is clearly passionate and curious about the world.
3) The Man who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont
Mark Beaumont cycled around the planet in just eighty-one days and this book is an account of that journey. As a result, It’s a thrilling and fast paced read. Admittedly, it isn’t how we would choose to see the world, but the focus is on the physical achievement rather than being a travelogue. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining read with lots of anecdotes and incidents along the way. Additionally, Mark manages to find time to write insightful descriptions of the people he met and places he passed through. A great read and a truly impressive example of physical endurance.
4) Hand to Mouth to India by Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb made his way from Brighton in England to India at twenty years old. Not only was he penniless, but he hitchhiked and busked his passage to the sub-continent with just a clarinet and a backpack. Tom’s stories of life on the road are colourful and compelling. Indeed, he recalls the characters he encounters along the way and also the incredible kindness he received from strangers. This is the ultimate shoestring adventure for frugal travellers!
5) Wild – A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
We had wanted to do the Pacific Crest Trail long before ‘Wild’ was published. In fact, this book only re-ignited our resolve to undertake the 2,650-mile hike one day. Cheryl Strayed hiked the PCT following the death of her mother to ‘find her way back to being the person she used to be’. It’s a personal account which will resonate with anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Conditions range from the intense heat of the desert to the freezing snow-covered mountains. Additionally, she encountered rattle-snakes and bears en route and even managed to lose one of her hiking boots. A compelling read.
6) Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
At 62, in the early sixties, John Steinbeck travelled all over the USA in his camper van along with his beloved french poodle, Charley. The duo embarked on adventures from New England to California. Steinbeck’s observations are perceptive, honest and humorous, allowing the reader an insight into the great writer’s mind. It’s an absorbing travelogue into the heart of the America of a gentler era. Furthermore, it’s a joy to read if you appreciate a combination of superb writing and travel.
7) Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World by Elspeth Beard
This book is a riveting and very personal story of a young woman who rode around the world back in 1984. Spanning 3,500 miles and two and a half years, it’s an awe-inspiring account of her travels. Furthermore, the author’s astute observations on the challenges that she faced as a woman, are a fascinating insight. Indeed, it’s definitely one of those books that is difficult to put down once you start it.
8) Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
Vagabonding is packed with inspiration and information. In fact, it’s a backpacker’s classic. There are motivational quotes galore from writers and travellers. Indeed, by chapter two, it’s highly likely that you’ll be digging out your backpack and perusing flights on the internet. Rolf demonstrates how it is possible to travel on surprisingly little, as well as how travel can enrichen your life. Vagabonding is perfect for those who dream about hitting the road, but are looking for that extra kick in the butt to get them started!
9) A Season in Heaven by David Tomor
Before the backpackers, came the hippies. This book is an anthology of tales from the Hippie Trail to India and Nepal in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Anyone who has an interest in counter-culture and is passionate about travel will love ‘A Season in Heaven’. Set during a fascinating time in travel history, places and people are seen through the eyes of the hippies who were trailing their blaze for those who followed.
10) Giant Steps by Karl Bushby
Karl Bushby’s aim is to be the first person to walk an unbroken trail around the world. Karl started at the tip of South America and is trekking all the way to his hometown of Sheffield in the UK. Only the first leg of the journey is covered in this book, which takes Karl as far as the Bering Straits to Russia. Giant Steps is a compelling page-turner and Karl speaks honestly and eloquently about life on the road and its many challenges.
11) Moods of Future Joys by Alastair Humphreys
In all honesty, it’s tough to choose a book from Alastair’s wide repertoire of adventure books, however this was the first that he wrote. It’s a compelling read which re-counts the first part of his 4-year bike trip around the planet. He sets off on his adventure from his village in North Yorkshire. He finishes this leg in Cape Town after 9/11 changes the course of his journey. The great thing about Alastair is his honesty and modesty. Furthermore, despite his achievements, he never portrays himself as a great adventurer – he comes across as just an average guy who embarks on a great adventure.
12) The Hawaiian Archipelago by Isabella Bird
During a time when women explorers were rare, Isabella Bird was unique. Despite suffering from ill health for much of her life, she undertook adventures throughout the world. This book is an account of the time she spent in Hawaii. Bird’s descriptions of the islands are detailed, evocative and humorous. Although the book was written during the Victorian era, her adventures are as engaging today as ever.
13) The Last Englishman by Keith Foskett
Many adventure books have been written about the Pacific Crest Trail, but this one is our favourite. The epic trail stretches all the way from the Mexican border to Canada.‘ Fozzie’ not only describes the epic trail, but also writes about the many fellow hikers that he encounters on the way. Indeed, this is the book which first inspired us to hike the PCT trail one day. It’s a great read and it tells of both the joys and the struggles of the hike. Another one that isn’t easy to put down once started!
14) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
We couldn’t write a list of our favourite travel books without including this beat-generation classic. Anyone with wanderlust in their heart won’t fail to be captivated by Kerouac’s rambling poetic prose. Indeed, On the Road has enough romantic travel-inspired passages in it to stir wanderlust in the most reluctant of travellers. Although, it was written back in the fifties, this book is as inspiring today as it was when it was first published.
15) World Stompers: A Global Travel Manifesto by Brad Olsen
World Stompers by Brad Olsen is a fun, quirky guide for anyone planning a round-the-world adventure. It’s aimed primarily at young travellers who are seeking cool places to party and destinations that are easy on the purse strings. It’s accompanied by basic, but fun and captivating artwork. Although, it’s by no means an in-depth guide, it’s colourful, funky, inspirational and perfect to dip in and out of. We enjoyed it in our early backpacking days and still have a copy of it in our box of travel books.
16) To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia and a Quest for a life with no Regret by Jedidiah Jenkins
A travel memoir for the times, Jedidiah leaves the rat race behind and embarks on a bicycle journey from Oregon all the way to Patagonia. During his odyssey he reflects on reconciling his religious upbringing with his sexuality. It’s a gripping account of his journey and mission to live his best life. To Shake the Sleeping Self will no doubt inspire the next generation to defy convention and embark on their own unique journeys of self-discovery.
17) Travels with my Daughter by Niema Ash
A single mother in the sixties, Niema Ash struggled in reconciling motherhood with her passion for travel. The author brought up her daughter in Montreal, while socialising with the likes of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Their travels took them to Marrakech at the height of the hippie scene and the book provides an insight into what it was like to travel in more innocent times. This absorbing memoir is evocative of a fascinating era in travel and is a boho celebration of motherhood, travel and relationships.
18) The Moonlight Chronicles: A Wandering Artist’s Journal by Dan Price
Dan Price is a wandering hobo artist. For many years, his drawings and reflections have been recorded in a series of zines called The Moonlight Chronicles. This compact little book is a selection from those zines. Dan’s philosophy is simplicity and a connection to nature. Whether he is surfing in Hawaii or hiking in Oregon, his aim is to live in the moment. He observes and draws things which go unnoticed by most of us who often are too busy to stop and look. The Moonlight Chronicles inspires us to see the world differently.
19) Tortillas to Totems: A Motorcycle Journey through Mexico, USA and Canada
In all honesty, all of Sam Manicom’s books are incredibly entertaining and therefore, it is difficult to choose between them, but this one is definitely up there as far as our favourite adventure books go. Tortillas to Totems covers Mexico, USA and Canada and is a rollicking ride indeed. Sam is the perfect travel companion. He has an easy-going manner and his observations are spot-on, whether describing the people he meets or the landscapes he passes through. Sam’s other books have covered Asia, South America and Africa and we have thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
20) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild is the last of our ‘Ten More Travel and Adventure Books’ and there aren’t many travellers who won’t be aware of Chris McCandless. Now an iconic figure due to the book and movie of the same name, Chris left his home and family and gave away his savings to live a life of freedom and adventure on the open road. Sadly, he died whilst living in an abandoned bus in the wilds of Alaska. Anyone, who has ever thought about turning their back on a conventional life will find something to appreciate in this book. It’s full of inspiring quotes by Chris and the writers that he admired and tells the story of a true free spirit.
21) The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland
This captivating book is likely to have you hopping on the next flight to Peru! Hugh delves into the history and landscapes of the Incas in a book which combines travel, adventure and history. Indeed, the great thing about this book is that it is immensely readable – even if you aren’t a total history buff. The author’s descriptions are comprehensive, but engaging as he explores the Inca Heartland. The perfect book to take along on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
22) I Travel Light: The Man who Walked out of the World by Adam Greenman
Adam travels in a very minimalistic manner. With little money and only a few basic items, he is self-sufficient and uses his skills to get by. He spent ten years wandering the world and in this this book recalls his many adventures. From constructing a tree house on a beach in Brazil to living in a dilapidated cottage high in the mountains of Spain, he ventured far and wide at whim. He also recounts his experience of WWOOFING (working on organic farms). Indeed, travelling sustainably is clearly something close to his heart. Due to the author’s dyslexia, the book is written in a simple, but nevertheless effective way.
23) Into a Desert Place by Graham Machintosh
The author walked 3000 miles around the coast of Baja in Mexico and this is an intriguing account of a place rarely written about. Graham isn’t a typical adventurer, but after falling in love with Baja, he decided to tackle the peninsular on foot. He tells of the physical challenges he faced under Baja’s hot sun and of the kindness of the strangers who become friends. As a matter of fact, the stunning desert landscapes of Baja holds a special place in our hearts, so we particularly enjoyed this book. The fact that the author is an inexperienced adventurer who was brave enough to trek into the desert adds another dimension to its appeal.
24) Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce
This was the first of three books written by Lois and it is an account of her journey from Alaska to the foot of South America by motorbike. With a wanderlust in her heart, she turned her back on her job at the BBC and hit the road. Her journey is a gripping read from the start to finish and is funny, vividly descriptive and light-hearted. Furthermore, it’s an easy read and a refreshing change to read a motorbike odyssey from a woman’s point of view. An inspiring book for aspiring motorcycling globetrotters!
25) How to Live in a Van and Travel by Mike Hudson
Mike was well and truly caught up in the rat race before he embarked on a new life. Nowadays, he works from his van and every day on the road is an exciting adventure. The author provides practical and inspirational tips and advice for anyone who has ever flirted with the idea of vanlife. We have long dreamt about purchasing a camper van and setting off into the sunset and this book has inspired us further. There are plenty of beautiful coffee table books about vanlife and they certainly serve a purpose. However, this book manages to go beyond the pretty pictures, yet is also hugely motivational.
26) Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon
A travel classic, this book is written by motorbike globetrotter legend, Ted Simon, and was the first book of its kind. Back in the late seventies, Ted rode 63,000 miles around the world over the course of four years. He experienced wars, prison, revolutions, breakdowns and disasters. It’s a enthralling ride and Ted writes descriptively about the people, places and incidents he encountered. A great read, whether or not you are a motorbike enthusiast, and a book that harks back to an earlier era in travel writing.
27) The Boy who was Afraid of the World: A True Story of Fear and Hitchhiking by Jamie Bowlby-Whiting
As a child, Jamie suffered from frequent panic attacks, which continued throughout his teenage years. When he was in his mid-twenties, he realised how much his fears were restricting him and decided to try and overcome them. Fed up with the rat-race, he made a plan to cycle, hitch-hike and raft his way through Europe. The Boy who was Afraid of the World is about pushing mental boundaries, but is also an engrossing adventure story. It’s a great read for globetrotters everywhere, but particularly for anyone who needs a little motivation in overcoming their own fears.
28) Running with the Moon: A Boy’s Own Adventure – Riding a Motorbike through Africa by Jonny Bealby
At this stage, we should mention that we aren’t motorbike enthusiasts. Indeed, we don’t even ride motorbikes – there just happen to be a heck of a lot of great travel books which feature motorbikes! Jonny set off on this African adventure just a couple of years after the death of his fiancé. Still broken hearted, he embarked on the journey hoping to find meaning in life again. His observations of the characters that he meets are poetic and colourful and his descriptions of the landscapes evocative. We were swept along with the story of loss, love and adventure on the vast continent of Africa.
29) Odyssey: Ten Years on the Hippie Trail by Ananda Brady
This bewitching memoir recalls Ananda’s adventures on the hippie trail in the seventies. One of the original hippie globetrotters, Ananda writes vividly about his travels from Laurel Canyon in California to lakeside living in Guatemala. Indeed, the author is never one to shy away from life. Plunging head-first into the spirituality and culture of the lands he explored, he made new friends wherever he wandered. It’s a beautifully written book, not to mention wonderfully evocative of a unique era in travel.
30) Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy
The final choice in our selection of books for globetrotters is Full Tilt by prolific travel writer, Dervla Murphy, Somewhat of a classic, this is an account of Dervla’s bicycle journey from Ireland to India in 1963. Written in diary form, it’s a entrancing read. Indeed, it’s an insight into the social, political and religious aspects of the countries she cycles through. She deals with the challenges she faces in a light-hearted and often humorous manner. Dervla is an adventurer in the truest sense of word and her journey blazed a trail for women who were inspired to embark on adventures of their own.