Travel Books to Ignite Your Wanderlust

Describing the abundant advantages of travel, Saint Augustine was quoted in John Feltham’s English Enchiridion (1799) as saying “the world is a great book, and none study this book so much as a traveler. They that never stir from their home read only one page of this book”—an evocative passage that sums up the ultimate desire of modern-day travelers; to learn and discover whatever exists outside our comfort zones.

So, it's safe to conclude that to travel is akin to reading  a book. But while we’re sitting idle in this time of great health crisis known as the Covid-19 pandemic, we can do the opposite by letting our mind wander by reading these books that tells stories of epic travels.

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

"I wished I was on the same bus as her. A pain stabbed my heart as it did everytime I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world of ours.”—ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

In this 1957 classic, Kerouac wrote of his own experiences through the book's narrator Sal Paradise, in a highly charge tale of discovering one's self across the vast frontier of the high and low grounds of America. Accompanied by Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady) the duo takes off from New York hitchhiking their way towards Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles and even into Mexico City. Along the way, they meet several unforgettable characters and experienced countless mis-adventures. Punctuated by killer prose and romantic descriptions of how it’s like being on the road, this book will pull you out of your room and make you pack your rucksack in a hurry, running towards the door and out into the road.

The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is known among travelers for his numerous non-fiction books about his world travels. Undoubtedly so, his most popular book is the Great Railway Bazaar. In this book, Theroux narrates his experiences of the epic rail journey he took from London and across Europe before crossing through India and the rest of Asia. This is a book filled with fascinating accounts of self-discovery in a time prior Western travelers fully knowing the culture, religion, people and history of the East in the 1970’s. The Great Railway Bazaar also gives readers a vivid look back in time when traveling is vastly different to what it is today.

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

The story of Into the Wild was first told in an article written by Krakauer for "Outside" magazine in 1993 about the death of a man in the wilderness of Alaska. That man turned out to be Christopher McCandless. Krakauer, followed up that story by writing a book about his life. Into the Wild offers a glimpse into the mind of McCandless, his fascination with the writings of Jack London and Henry David Thoreau, and his feeling of estrangement with the world around him. Sometimes sweet, most times heart-wrenching, Krauker’s narrative introduces us to how McCandless turned his back from a convenient life to test his will by setting out on a journey into the wild. 

Meaning to get the most of life—but instead—after 119 days in the brutal Alaska wilderness, tragedy stuck. Reading this book will give you a bittersweet desire to explore the great outdoors while teaching you to always respect the supremacy of nature.

The Beach - Alex Garland

The book that introduced Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand to the consciousness of countless backpackers. The story of the Beach kicks off at the start of the Banana Pancake trail in Asia and introduces a backpacking culture that further inspired many to travel. Alex Garland's tale of adventure and finding that ideal paradise on Earth, features a cast of gregarious characters that heeded the call to see the world through traveling. If there is a piece of literature that would inspire you to pack your bags and just go, then this book is one of the few that would really stimulate your wanderlust.

In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson

Written in a brilliant and hilarious manner, Bill Bryson makes trekking across the Australia's vast outback region seems like a walk in the park. In this travelogue that doubles as a guidebook on how to survive the wildlife of Australia, Bryson brings your imagination along to his journey while at the same time inspiring you to finally make your itchy feet to make the first few steps outside your comfort zone.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Book - Cheryl Strayed

Wild is a memoir written by American author Cheryl Strayed about her 1,100-mile hike on the treacherous Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. Fusing flashbacks to unforgettable events in her life with the difficulties she experienced in her journey, Strayed came up with an endearing read full of self-discoveries and tales of personal challenges, as she completes her hiking journey even without prior hiking experiences.

The Weekenders: Adventures in Calcutta – Various Writers

11 Writers (Bella Bathurst, WF Deedes, Colm Toibin, Monica Ali, Victoria Glendinning, Simon Garfield, Irvine Welsh, Sam Miller, Michael Atherton, Jenny Colgan and Tony Hawks) traveled to Calcutta in India to uncover the heart of the city like no other. The result is a collection of short stories filled with evocative travel writing that captured the soul of a compelling city.  

Vagabonding - Ralf Potts

Ralf Potts' Vagabonding is a seminal work of literature that influenced the digital nomad movement. In this book subtitled as "An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel", Potts laid out his advices, philosophies and other insights about how to lengthen one's journey around the world without burning a hole in the pocket. From saving up to trip planning to finding temporary jobs on the road, Potts' perceptions about life on the road offer an inspiring message that anyone can pull off long-term traveling in their lifetime.