At times it’s not visible, but it’s there, and it needs to be scratched for you to become vagabond-y again! These 13 travel books are just for that.
I grew up in an environment where reading books was not something we do – a typical, conservative middle-class Indian family. But words always made sense to me. They captivated my attention and I always fantasized about worlds through them.
Lucky for me, I’d discovered a love for reading in my early college days. And it has been helpful ever since. The idea of living someone else’s experience through their words is amazing.
In this post, I’ve collected 13 travel books that are sure to fire your dying wanderlust and will make you on the move.
Disclosure: Misfit Wanderers is a part of Amazon Affiliate’s program and this post contains affiliate links. This means when you click to buy or view, you’ll be sent to the Amazon store of your country where you can perform the act. We get a small commission (if you buy) and you get the book at no extra cost. We see this as you helping us to thrive, thanks 🙂
If You Are in a Hurry…
…then I won’t waste your time. Here’s the list of 13 books that I was gonna brief you with. Clicking on them will take you to the Amazon store, in case you decided to buy or have a look at the reviews.
- Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy
- Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-mile Adventure by Monisha Rajesh
- A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
- The Shooting Star by Shivya Nath
- The Beach by Alex Garland
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Now let’s talk more about these books, what they contain, who wrote them, and why they’ll move mountains in you. Some are travel books by Indian authors, some are travel books on the Himalayas or a few are best-selling on Amazon but they all are connected by the thread of traveling and travelers, like you and me. And I included at least one book from these categories per se.
1. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
“I now walk into the wild.”Jon Krakauer
Into The Wild is the story of Chris McCandless, a graduate boy who abandons the joyous life he had and travels to Alaska and around in search of a deeper meaning of life. While this may seem profound to some, others see it as an act of doomed. There’s a movie based on this novel and goes by the same name.
If you too see travel as a medium to search for more than what life offers, this book will give you goosebumps. This book is not for beginner readers. Many readers gave it a mixed review as the language is tough.
2. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”Elizabeth Gilbert
Disappointed with life and love, a girl travels to three I’s: Italy, where she eats; India, where she prays; Indonesia, where she finds love. And hence the name, Eat Pray Love. As simple as this book’s title is, it takes profound turns once you go deep in it. You develop a relationship with the character and secretly want to travel like her.
This book is for those who believe travel changes things. Amazing read.
3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
“How wild it was, to let it be.”Cheryl Strayed
This book is set on an 1100 mile-long trek of Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl, after losing her mother due to lung cancer and divorce with her husband, goes on a journey to discover herself. The trek she has described will bind you to read more. The emotional humps in the books are the most human thing that this book has to offer.
This book is about how Cheryl healed herself overcoming her fear and riding with courage. In the end, this book teaches one thing firmly: what is lost can be found.
I recommend this book if you’re an adventurer at heart and sees travel as just ‘not travel’ but a process to discover more – be it about others or yourself.
4. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.”Gregory David Roberts
This is the story of a convicted robber and drug addict of Australia who escapes from prison and flees to India. The story is a wide capture of life in Bombay, love, crime, drama, and perhaps an amalgamation of many other genres. It starts slow and eventually there comes a point from where the reader can’t put the book down.
The travel aspect of this book is interesting as well. The author describes the ‘loud noise’ of Bombay (Mumbai) and all that happens in the dream city. The love for India is remarkably shown in the book.
If you’re someone who sees the world without assumption, this book is for you. It made me believe that good and bad are just labels and every person in this world deserves a second chance. And it’ll inspire you to travel – now with just a different set of ‘eyes.’
5. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
“We end up spending the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.”Rolf Potts
A veteran travel writer touches some deep aspects of life and wants us to wander more. What is Vagabonding by the way? Quoting Rolf, “an attitude — a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word.”
This book is for true travelers, for free-spirited souls and it has some most practical advice for long term travel. This book will inspire you to take some time off from your monotonous life and travel. Timothy Ferris, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week has given a foreword to this book.
If you’re tired of your mundane life and think to travel for long-term, take my advice and give this book a read. It is indeed one of the best travel books!
6. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy
“On my tenth birthday a bicycle and an atlas coincided as gifts, and a few days later I decided to cycle to India…”Dervla Murphy
Dervla captures her vivid journey from Ireland, through central Asia to India. The amazing part is – she did all this on a bicycle and with a revolver. Reading this book will wake the sleeping adventurer in you.
The way she has described her travels, hardships, customs, people, and culture she came across is pure and non-judgemental. If you are looking for a story of courage and challenge, read this travel book and count your blessings.
7. Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-mile Adventure by Monisha Rajesh
“You see, in Japanese culture, ghosts do not have legs.”Monisha Rajesh
This book is about England-born Monisha’s and her fiance Jem’s journey around the world in 80 trains. They cover a 45,000-mile distance which is almost twice the circumference of Earth. Some of the countries they travel to are mere dots on the map.
The book is fun and written joyfully. If you’re someone who loves trains, the rustic and labyrinth of information they contain, then this book is for you. It’ll surely inspire you to travel in some of the most exotic trains around the world and this is why I see this as one of the best travel books!
8. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
Eric’s witty way, keen observation, and simplicity in describing is what makes this travel book stand apart from others. Eric and his friend have a determination to climb the mountains of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan but are inexperienced and later in the story, are ill-equipped as well.
This book is a fun book to read and describes what Nuristan (now greater Afghanistan) looked like in the 1950s. Hindu Kush Himalayas region is an 800 km long mountain range stretching from central Afghanistan to Northern Pakistan and into Tajikistan.
For the love of mountains and laughter, do read this book.
9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”Paulo Coelho
I’d be wrong if I call this a travel book. Truth is, this is part self-help and part travel book (from a very different perspective.) The story teaches us the value of dreams and how one should never fear to go after them.
It’s a story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who travels through the African desert to finally reach Egypt where he’d potentially find treasure buried in pyramids of which he has always dreamed of. As Santiago travels he meets different people and achieves far greater wealth and riches than he has dreamed of.
The story seems full of fables and fantasies, although learning applies to real life. If you have always dreamed of traveling (or whatever) this book will inspire you to take action for the same.
10. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
“You are totally at the mercy of nature in this country, mate. It’s just a fact of life.”Bill Bryson
From deadly reptiles like snakes, crocodiles to majestic Kangaroos, this book explores the richness of Australia in an inexplicably fun and informative manner. Bill covers the length and breadth of one of the toughest countries to live and describes the flora, fauna, and peoples of Australia as he meets them.
Bill’s way of simple explanation and combing humor smartly with history will not only make you enjoy this fabulous travel book but you’ll also fall in love with Australia.
This book is also titled Down Under in some countries.
11. The Shooting Star by Shivya Nath
“How could I explain in words my craving for freedom, that longing for anonymity, the need to distance myself from everything I knew in my universe?”Shivya Nath
Shivya is a top travel blogger from India and we sincerely admire her way of traveling the world. She might be influenced by Cheryl Strayed or Elizabeth Gilbert but we could say she’s one of the few travelers that inspires us.
The Shooting Star is also the name of her blog. Although you might expect Shivya’s book to be a travel book, honestly, in full essence, this book encapsulates her journey from different walks of life. And being a travel blogger, she has vividly explained the places she went to and the feelings she felt.
If you long to travel the world like the way Shivya does – exploring the unexplored, be sure you don’t miss one of the best travel books we have in our list today. Read The Shooting Star, and stay inspired.
12. The Beach by Alex Garland
“Tourists went on holidays while travelers did something else. They traveled.”Alex Garland
Richard, a 21-year old buyer, buys himself a ticket to Thailand where he meets a man in a Thai hostel who gives him a name and address of a secluded island that is untouched by tourists. Richard being an explorer at heart is curious to reach there, and he does as well but things didn’t turn out into the utopia he anticipated it to be.
The Beach is very travel-sy in starting but takes a sharp turn towards a darker region of the story near the end. Nonetheless, the book is amazing and is recommended for all the brave hearts and explorers. Keep it under your best travel books catalog!
13. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
“Things are so hard to figure out when you live from day to day in this feverish and silly world. ”Jack Kerouac
On The Road is not a book at all. You’ll hardly find any plot and you might even not like Jack’s way of describing. This book is set in the environment of Beatnik culture where two Americans take road trips across America. We should warn you, this book is not very enjoyable to read and has got mixed reviews from the readers.
Even though, if you choose to read it, there are things to enjoy. Jack has tried to show the very nature of life in a ‘wandering’ way. And this book will show how America looked like back then. I am not saying this is among the best travel books (you tell?), but it sure does inspire if you know where to look!
Lowering The Curtains
So, which ones are you picking to read next? I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did in curating them. Even if you’re not a bibliophile I encourage you to read Vagabonding, Shantaram, Wild, and Eat Pray Love at least ⏤ you’ll enjoy it.
Do let me know your thoughts and if there’s anything I can do to improve this post. Keep reading 🙂