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General Travel

What are your favorite travel books?

What books about travel have been the best reads, or had the most impact on how you think about travel/life?

15 Answers

top answer by
Pamela from New Canaan, Connecticut

There's a great anthology called Unsuitable for Ladies, with tales from women travelers throughout history, compiled by Jane Robinson.  As a solo woman traveler, it's fascinating to read diary entries from women traveling the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

In 1857, Emily Lowe wrote, "The only use of a gentlemen in traveling is to look after the luggage...and we should never go beyond one portable carpet-bag.  This, if properly managed, will contain a complete change of everything; and what is the use of more in a country where dress and finery would be in the worst taste?"

In 2014, my sentiments exactly.  (I write a blog called Just One Suitcase.)

3 thanks

answered by
Jeff from Los Angeles

Few writers equal Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham for travel writing, but...

Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar is a wonderful and nearly modern view of solo travel through Asia.

Two of the best reads, that greatly influenced my life, are “A Vagabonding Journey Around the World” (1910), by Harry A. Franck and “The Asiatics” (1935), by Frederic Prokosch. Both are sadly no longer in print. They are worth hunting up. You can occasionally find them on Amazon.

3 thanks

answered first by
Ross from Fort Collins

"In search of captain zero"! 

This book led me to the panama/ Costa Rican coast for my first solo trip

3 thanks

answered by
Karen from Dallas

Can't say it's my "favorite," but just read Travels by Michael Crichton. It's autobiographical non-fiction (not his usual fiction stuff) and a really entertaining read. Also have to recommend Vagabonding by Rolf Potts - excellent read as well as invaluable resource.

2 thanks

answered by
Billy from Chicago

'Vagabonding' is a great read which may challenge the way you define travel and money.

2 thankscomments (3)

answered by

"Playing the moldovans at tennis" is a fantastic book that teaches you that you often get the best trips when you buiold a trip around a really silly but funny idea.

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Lindsey from Texas

While he probably didn't set out for it to be a "travel" book, I love John Linnemeier's "How an Average Man Lived an Adventurous Life." He was traveling the world way before the Internet could tell him anything about a place, but he was still visiting places that weren't popular to travel to, and he had no pretentious, more-enlightened-than-thou ideas about travel. He just set off to find adventure, and his stories (the book is set up where each chapter is another story, like, "This one time in Burma, I found...") are really interesting. He also includes travel tips, but mainly, it's just his fascinating stories, which are worth a read.

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answered by
Stuart from Redondo Beach

Rick Steves on Croatia and Slovenia. Even though I was on an escorted bus tour, his guide was very helpful. I'm hearing-impaired so I don't always understand what a guide is saying, especially if it's noisy and s/he speaks English with an accent. 

1 thanks

answered by
Kim from Canada

I don't know that it related to my own travel experience but I loved Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owen, a married couple who travelled to Botswana in the '70s and lived in the Kalahari desert to study the lions in their own habitat. They really tell the tale of two americans thrown into the African desert and it just paints such a vivid mental picture of their experience. Kalahari Desert

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kalahari Desert (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Maddie from Sydney

Whatever You Do Don't Run by Peter Allison - great short stories about his time as a safari guide in Botswana. Anyone who has been to Africa or wants to HAS to read it! 

1 thanks

answered by
Jenna from Oakville, Ontario

This is a strange one that has very little to relate to travel, but: Something That Matters by: Blake Mycoskie always gives me the push to get back out there and continue travelling. (He is the founder of TOMS Shoes) 

Second one: The Idiot Abroad... although I must admit I hate the book because the stupid guy has no appreciation for where he is in the world and it makes me so envious! 

Haha, cheers! 


1 thanks

answered by
Tyler from Edmonton

"Killing Yourself to Live" by Chuck Klosterman - Chuck Klosterman is a writer for Rolling Stones and in this book he chronicles his road trip across the US visiting spots where famous musicians and bands died, while also struggling with a complicated love life back home, and musing about life in general

"The Rum Diaries" by Hunter S Thompson - this book made me feel like less of a mess having no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life and just wandering the world traveling. In addition, the words paint a beautiful picture both poetically and visually, and also features the Gonzo style craziness of Hunter S Thompsons other books.

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answered by
Laura from Honolulu

If you like food as well, this book is amazing: 

Eat My Globe: One Year in Search of the Most Delicious Food in the World: Simon Majumdar

Life, food, travel, and love.  Nothing better.

answered by
Chiara from San Francisco

The book that had most impact on my life is Siddharta - Hermann Hesse. It's more about a spiritual travel but i think it's worth reading for its deep insights about life and love. Also just to mention my efforts :-) I wrote and self-published a book: 2 YEARS 4 MONTHS 2 HOURS. You can find it on Amazon. It's not a travel book but you can definitely find some good travel tips! I wrote it to inspire people to follow their dreams.

Visit my Blog to know more.

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

I really enjoyed Kiwis Might Fly, and Lost In Planet China. 

I thought the first one captured the New Zealand people really well. And I think LIPC is J. Maarten Troost's best book by a long shot. Something seems a bit more genuine and likeable about him this time. 

On the other side, I can't abide Bill Bryson. There's only so much the "Oh, my god - I've traveled somewhere and it's not exactly like home" humor device can work before it gets stale. 

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