Without leaving the comfort of your home.
“To travel is to live”
— Hans Christian Andersen
There are very few feelings as unique as the pleasure that comes from traveling.
The freedom of having the world at your feet. The excitement of exploring a new place. The rewarding connections with the locals. The taste and smell of new cuisines. The raw beauty of nature. The amazement with the world at every step.
Unfortunately, travel is not accessible to all of us, all the time. But there is something that helps us quiet our itchy feet and fight that need to wander: reading travel books.
This is a list of the best travel books I have ever read (and I have read a lot of them!). The books that gave me life and took me away even without going anywhere. I hope you enjoy them too!
1. “On the Road”, by Jack Kerouac
This is the travel bible, written by the travel god. Nobody was ever the epitome of traveler as Kerouac was. This is the book that sets countless young people on the road in search of the transformative journey that only travel can bring. It is also a reality-based story of a group of friends who worship alcohol, drugs, and lady company in the 50s, across America.
It is a raw, emotive narrative that celebrates freedom above everything else, and approaches life with an eagerness and passion that only Kerouac could put on the page.
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
2. “Travels with Charley”, by John Steinbeck
At 58 years old, John Steinbeck set out with his dog, Charley, to discover the country he had been writing about for decades.
This is a book that will make you feel America like only Steinbeck can make you feel this country. You will be there with him, in each word, encountering bears at Yellowstone, hanging out with friends in San Francisco, or discovering the heart-stopping landscapes of Montana. If you have never been to America, you will feel like you have, after finishing this book.
“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
3. “Vagabonding”, Rolf Potts
An inspiring guide to world exploration. Rolf Potts awakens your inner desires to leave regular life behind and go explore the world and everything it has to offer. With useful advice on how to treat each part of the process, you will not be able to contain your enthusiasm and you will need to get on the road straight away.
You can also try it in audiobook format, it’s a wonderful listen!
“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope”
4. “Into the Wild”, Jon Krakauer
Most people know this story through the film directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch. But it is based on a book written by Jon Krakauer about the real life of Christopher McCandless, self-proclaimed Alexander Supertramp.
In 1990, Supertramp, a young American graduate, leaves home and ventures into the wild, trying to get away from family problems, hypocrisy, and society. His quote of Thoreau — “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” — is a great example of the feeling this book leaves in you while you read it. It’s a quest for the trueness of the world, for the rawness of human nature.
“Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around be nomadic, make each day a new horizon.”
5. “The Alchemist”, Paulo Coelho
This book is different from the others in the sense that it is a work of fiction, not based on real experience. It tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who travels from his home country of Spain to Egypt in quest of a treasure. But what he finds is a transformative journey that puts him in close contact with the importance of listening to our hearts and following our dreams. An emotive trip through the Mediterranean area and within ourselves.
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
If you want suggestions of books that will help you make sense of the world, check my article “5 Books For Times if Crisis”.