Table of Contents
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
- The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession by David Grann
- A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Suzanna Clarke
- Can We Live Here by Sarah Alderson
- Backpacker Business: One Girl’s Journey from Wide-Eyed Traveler to Worldwide Entrepreneur by Nikki Scott
- A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne
- Across Asia on the Cheap by Tony and Maureen Wheeler
- A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts
- Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking Around America with Interruptions by Jenny Diski
Congratulations! By going overseas and diving into new cultures, you’re joining a select group of curious people who trod those lands before you. The list of travel books is extensive these days, so we’ve whittled our list of the very best down to just 10.
Although these accounts take you everywhere from Europe to Asia and even through the United States of America, they all serve as revelatory accounts within their field. You’ll find epic tales from some of the first recorded explorations overseas to those who found heaven in the most unlikely places. Let’s get going, and happy reading on your own travels!
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is a semi-autobiographical tale of an American road trip. The book was famously written in a stimulant-fuelled single sitting, although romanticists should note that Kerouac did redraft his original splurge. As a document of the freedom of youth, no young backpacker should leave home without having devoured it first.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Like Kerouac’s On the Road, Coelho’s The Alchemist was also written at a feverish pace, with the first draft completed in just three weeks. It tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd, eager to learn the meaning of a recurring dream. A meeting with a fortune-teller leads the boy to believe that treasures await, should he travel to the Egyptian pyramids. And so, a coming-of-age adventure begins! The book has now sold over 150 million copies — if you haven’t joined the party yet, now’s the time!
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession by David Grann
Third on our list of travel books is Grann’s take on the story of Percy Fawcett. This British adventurer set out to find a lost city in the Amazon in 1925 and disappeared. Countless explorers have attempted to retrace Fawcett’s path, and Grann himself undertakes an Amazonian journey of discovery himself. The Lost City of Z is a wonderful account of the human need for adventure. Those traveling in the modern age will be only too aware of the extreme risks undertaken by those making such journeys a century ago.
A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Suzanna Clarke
Suzanna Clarke was taking a vacation in Morocco when she fell in love with the Old City of Fez. Upon exploring the ancient buildings, she was inspired to restore a riad — a traditional Moroccan house centered around a courtyard. In doing so, Clarke utilized no modern machinery, using only traditional materials and methods. What starts out as a restoration dream becomes a metaphor for discovering oneself, as Clarke finds inspiration in time-honored Moroccan life.
Can We Live Here by Sarah Alderson
Some of the best travel books began as a blog, and Can We Live Here was one of the first. Sarah Alderson documented leaving the United Kingdom behind in search of a better life on the road, and she eventually found it. With travels across Asia, the United States and Australia, Alderson eventually found home in beautiful Bali, where her blog took off. In doing so, she inspired countless others to wave goodbye to conventional life and dive into a new experience overseas. This is a tome that directly influenced many other travel books and no doubt hundreds of travel blogs!
Backpacker Business: One Girl’s Journey from Wide-Eyed Traveler to Worldwide Entrepreneur by Nikki Scott
Nikki Scott’s Backpacker Business is a unique mixture of travel writing combined with the author’s story of setting up a business overseas. Scott left home for the Asian backpacking trail at age 23 and three years later was running the first print magazine for independent travelers in the Southeast Asian region. There’s a glorious mix of the traveler’s experience combined with savvy business deals and the growing realization that anything is possible if you follow your dreams.
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne
In the days before travel guide books and blogs, a handful of wily individuals took their own wanderlust to a natural conclusion and documented their adventures overseas. English novelist (and priest) Laurence Sterne took off through France and Italy, making it to Naples before heading home.
The tone of Sterne’s account set the stage for much travel writing that followed. Instead of picking his way through new cultures with a scholar’s critique, Sterne concentrated on the value of new experiences, curiosity, and the sheer thrill of diving into the unknown.
Across Asia on the Cheap by Tony and Maureen Wheeler
The Wheelers’ book is hugely significant as it inspired the world-famous Lonely Planet series of guidebooks. The couple stopped off in Asia on a journey back to Australia and were determined to do so cheaply. As well as suggesting an itinerary, the book documents countless other ways of saving money whilst living the dream. Compared to modern travel books, Across Asia on the Cheap is quite brief in its descriptions, but its role in helping to develop the travel writing industry should not go unappreciated.
A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts
Jason Roberts’ book details the life of James Holman, who lived from 1786 to 1857. Holman earned fame in his own lifetime for traveling the world and detailing discoveries. However, in contrast to other explorers of the day, Holman was blind.
Beginning in Europe, Holman became the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe. This is a remarkable achievement in any year, let alone during the 19th century. When we consider that Holman’s relatively-moneyed upbringing provided a comfortable life in England once he lost his sight, his refusal to stand still and desire for discovery is all the more inspiring.
Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking Around America with Interruptions by Jenny Diski
We began with Jack Kerouac’s take on America, and Diski’s book makes a fine companion piece. On top of the travel writing, Diski’s masterstroke comes from her choice of transport, leading to many great encounters with random strangers across the length of America. Taking place across two long train journeys, it’s the one-off meetings detailed in this laidback travel memoir that lend her unique road trip so much color. As anyone who has traveled will tell you, it’s the people you meet that provide the best memories.
We hope you find some thrills in our top 10 travel books. Maybe you’ll be suitably inspired to put your own account into words! Wherever your journey takes you, be sure to enjoy it and keep a piece of your heart forever open to wanderlust.
TourHero is a social travel platform that enables you to travel with like-minded people and fall in love with the journey. We work closely with handpicked local operators to ensure every experience curated is unique and exclusive to your travel group. Come with us on epic adventures and create memories that last a lifetime!