If you’re looking for books to inspire travel, you might find some surprises in titles you wouldn’t have naturally connected to the subject. Books that inspire travel don’t have to be travelogues or transcripts of journeys taken – they can be novels, short stories and books that have been turned into successful movies. What they should do, whatever their genre, is to imbue a sense of wanderlust and a passion to see new places and experience new cultures. Here’s some of my recommendations for books to inspire travel:
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This first of seven books to inspire travel follows a journey of change, similar to the one taken by the founder of Buddhism; Siddhartha. It’s about two people who quit their jobs to travel the world and experience new things; something many of us dream of but never have the courage to do. It’s fantastic for travel inspiration, but where it stands out the most is in this simple quote: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” The book continues: “And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams…”
2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Even if you don’t want to ride a motorcycle on your travels, this therapeutic read is one which evokes a message of bonding, new scenery, and the influence of travel on the emotions. It’s an inspirational travel read which leans towards western philosophy, but even if you are not interested in the philosophical side, there’s nothing more exciting than immersing yourself as a father and son team make it to the Pacific Coast on their Superhawk motorcycle.
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
You can find inspiration to travel in books from some unlikely sources. If you haven’t read this then please do so. If you have and never thought about it as an inspirational travel book, maybe it’s time to read it again. It mixes comedy and the ridiculous in a magical formula all designed to ease any trepidation you might feel about traveling. If fear holds you back, take to heart this question from the book (which it answers): “What is the answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything?”
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gillbert
This one will be very familiar to you but that its popularity, thanks to the Julia Roberts movie, doesn’t lessen its value as one of the best books to inspire travel. Author Elizabeth Gillbert explains her difficult divorce openly and honestly, before guiding you through an exciting world of eating in Italy, praying in India and finding love in Indonesia. It shows women everywhere there’s truly no barrier to anything. Traveling always poses its dangers, but if you don’t take a leap of faith, you could just miss out on an experience which changes your life.
5. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach
If you haven’t heard of this inspirational travel book, perhaps you’ve heard of the 2012 movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel upon which the book is based? It charts the course of a recent widow looking to enjoy her retirement and see the world. It’s not just about highlighting travel as something for all ages, it’s about how quickly you can adapt and immerse yourself in new cultures and having faith in yourself. The movie made a great job of a cast character who didn’t embrace the experience and how much she missed out on.
6. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
Rita encourages us to reclaim any dreams which we had once thought out of our reach. She tells us how she left a glamorous lifestyle in LA, left her husband after a rocky relationship, and sold all her possessions to become a nomad. Join her cooking over fires in Africa, watching orangutans in Borneo, and snuggling up with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. Just because you have a stable lifestyle with a husband and kids doesn’t mean you can’t dump this life for a month or two and go travel the world. It’s your life and you are in control!
7. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
As I said, inspiration for travel from books might come from some unexpected sources – as in Stardust by Neil Gaiman. It’s not immediately easy to see how it relates to travel, but when the main characters set out on a journey involving unicorns and witchcraft, it’s one which changes them forever. They come into contact with new people and begin to experience a world beyond their own. In our suburban communities we sometimes forget that, and reading this could make you realize there’s a whole world for you to explore.
If you want some books to inspire travel, you could do worse than choosing any from this list. They really can show there is no limit to where our travels can take us and the amazing experiences that await us. What inspires you to travel?