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10 Essential Books for Travellers


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Whether you’re on the plane, train, bus or beach — you always need a good read. Here are my picks for 10 Essential Books for Travellers:

In This Book Review Article You Will Discover:

  • Classic Books For Travellers
  • New Traveller Favourites
  • Off-Beat Picks

Are you looking for some inspiring reads? Something to whet your appetite for adventure? Or maybe just a read to pass the time on your cross-Pacific flight? Well, here is a list of 10 must-read books for any traveller.

No affiliate links — just honest opinions!


Jupiter’s Travels & Dreaming of Jupiter

Jupiter’s Travels & Dreaming of Jupiter

By Ted Simon

I’ve grouped these two books together as I feel you need to read both to appreciate the scope and nature of author Ted Simon’s travels. The first, Jupiter’s Travels, (1973) is a travelogue of Simon’s four-year solo-motorcycle-tour of the world — at the age of 42. The second, Dreaming of Jupiter, is the result of solo-motorcycle-touring the world once again nearly 30 years later to see how it had — and hadn’t — changed. And it is as amazing as it sounds.


The Beach

The Beach

By Alex Garland

You cannot call yourself a backpacker if you haven’t read The Beach (or at least seen the movie a half-dozen times, preferably at a restaurant in Thailand). Having now inspired a generation of hedonists to seek out the beaches of Thailand, The Beach is a tale of a twisted Eden and the pursuit of escapism that is as entertaining as it is compelling.


As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

By Josef M. Bauer

Surely Clemens Forell’s three-year trek from the Gulags of Siberia to Germany isn’t so much “travelling” as it is a “desperate escape;” but it certainly puts your puny vacation into perspective. This true story follows a soldier, Forell (a pseudonym), after he is sentenced to life in a Siberian lead mine following the end of The Second World War. Unable to bear the sentence, Forell escapes and walks from the far reaches of Russia to his home in Western Europe. Yes — walks.


World War Z

World War Z

By Max Brooks

Huh? A zombie novel in the mix? Well, I said there would be off-beat picks… World War Z is travel gone mad — follow the main character as he travels the globe piecing together an oral history of the decade-long human-zombie war. It’s an entertaining beach-read and also a good ice-breaker for meeting fellow zombie geeks.


The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

No matter where you travel, you gotta have some Hemingway. And while many of his books are ideal travel reads, this tale of (mostly) American ex-pats living, prolifically loving, fighting and pontificating in Paris and Spain during the 1920s makes The Sun Also Rises his best vacation companion. Among many great scenes, it also includes probably the best bullfight ever put to paper.


Fear & Loathing

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

By Hunter S. Thompson

Descend into madness with the original Gonzo journalist himself, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Inspired by Thompson’s actual drug-addled travelling escapades to Las Vegas while writing various stories for Rolling Stone magazine, Fear & Loathing is a deep exploration of society’s underbelly and perverted, post-hippy re-visit of the American Dream. (As long as you don’t mind being stereotyped for reading it…)


Into The Wild

Into The Wild

By Jon Krakauer

Whether you admire Christopher McCandless or think him an idiot, Into The Wild is a compelling work of non-fiction that seeks to uncover why a smart, privileged kid would leave everything behind and condemn himself to starvation and death in the wilds of Alaska. Was he a “courageous idealist” or a “reckless fool?” You decide.


Long Way Round

Long Way Round

By Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman

An RTW (round-the-world) tour via motorcycle is a true all-time ultimate travel accomplishment — even if you have a seven-figure budget and 24-hour support teams. Ewan and Charlie’s jaunt from the UK to New York, the long way, is fun and light — and their travels through Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia particularly are not soon forgotten. (Note: It’s a vastly superior read to the “complain-alogue” that is Long Way Down.)




By Robin L. Graham & Derek L.T. Gill

This classic true story follows a 16-year-old adventurer as he sets out on a solo-circumnavigation of the globe in his sailboat, The Dove. Five years and 55,000 km later, he returned home to California with a wife, a kid and a story that would inspire dreamers and travellers for decades to come. This soulful read will have you trading in your plane ticket for passage on a sloop in no time.


The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey

By Ernesto Che Guevara

You don’t have to be a communist to enjoy the tale of Ernesto Che Guevara’s youthful jaunt through Latin America — but it probably doesn’t hurt. This famous book alternates tales of comic escapades with insightful internal developments of this future rebel leader. It is perfect for anyone who feels his or her own travels will one-day change the world…

What Are You Favourite Travel Books?

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

9 comments… add one
  • Ian Sep 11, 2012 Link

    Since you’re someone who enjoys the motorcycle, you may want to look into “The Only Road North” by Erik Mirandette. That is, if you have not read it yet. It’s a fascinating story of his motorcycle journey through Africa. I believe it was first published in 2007. Anyways, excellent blog!

  • upendra waghela Sep 11, 2012 Link

    the classics>>> thanx a lot… motorcycle diaries is the best according to me being a medico im impressed too much

  • Ryan Mach Aug 3, 2012 Link

    And I may add Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ 😀

  • Magic Travel Tanya Jun 3, 2012 Link

    I was going to suggest “Into The Wild” but then I saw you had it on your list along with my other suggestion of “Long Way Round”. Great book suggestions 🙂

  • David Urmann May 25, 2012 Link

    I highly recommend the classic Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
    Also along the same line by Louis-Ferdinand Céline is Journey to the End of the Night.

  • Nice roundup! I’ve read a few of these. I especially enjoyed Hemingway and Che Guevara’s diaries. But my favourite book to date remains ‘The Alchemist’ – that one inspires wanderlust! 😀

  • Becky May 14, 2012 Link

    I LOVED “Into the Wild,” and haven’t yet checked out the other books- but I will. I just finished reading a great travel memoir by Jim Harlan titled, “Drifting on a Headwind.” It is a fabulous book about the authors travels around the world over the past 30 years. It is cool to read about some of the most remote locations he visits, and the people he meets along the way.

  • Colby May 14, 2012 Link

    I’ve got 6 of these under the belt already and will definitely pick up the remaining 4. Great list. Thanks.

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