First off, let me be clear. There are a seemingly infinite amount of travel related books out there (Thankfully). Some of said books are ‘better’ than those featured below. But, I mean come on who really decides what books make the “must read travel books list” anyways? I did my best to list the books that have fed my inner travel bug and personally impacted me.
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If you have recommendations, please send them my way!
1. Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram
Shantaram is a colorful journey of a renegade Australian man who tries his odds as an outlaw after escaping prison in Melbourne, Australia. Set in Bombay, India – Gregory David Roberts’ depictions will give you a sensory overload of day to day life in an overpopulated city filled with corruption, opium dens, and extreme poverty. As our protagonist climbs the ranks of the Bombay Mafia, readers find themselves pondering some of life’s most important questions – What is morality? Am I a good person? Many of the books references, such as their main hang-out Leopolds, are still open for business today – I’ve heard the descriptions are fairly accurate.
Must-read if: Planning a trip to India? Here is your first homework assignment.
2. Herman Hesse – Siddhartha
Siddhartha is made up of two words in the Sanskrit language, siddha (achieved) + artha (meaning), which together means “he who has found meaning of existence” Herman Hesse’s 9th book is about a young man seeking the truth and meaning of our human existence. Littered with deep messages that impacted my normal thought process. After reading, I found myself wanting to sell all my possession and live a more meaningful life. (ex: yoga teacher training in 2012 and now this website)
Must read if: you’re comfortable with reevaluating your own life
3. Hunter S Thompson – Fear and Loathing
A detailed account of a drug-fueled bender in Las Vegas that could only be told by someone who has first-hand experience. An explosive look into the mind of Hunter S Thompson – a shining example of Gonzo Journalism. I don’t know how he made it out a live…
Much better than the movie starring Johnny Deep, but if you must you can pick here (amazong.com/fear/loathing/movie)
Must-read if: If you are at all curious about drugs, the 1950s, or Gonzo Journalism (made famous by Hunter S Thompson)
4. Paul Coelho – The Alchemist
Moral of the story: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” The enchanting journey of a simple shepherd boy’s quest into the unknown. It’s an accessible story and a fast read, yet profoundly impactful. This heart-felt tale did what it’s supposed to do… leave me inspired to follow my dreams!
Must read if: you’re looking for some inspiration and/or a quick read
5. Rolf Potts – Vagabonding
Rolf put together a cookbook for long term budget travel – but not without leaving his personal touch on every page. He is a legendary backpacker who will teach you how to finance your trip, what to expect, and how to assimilate back to ‘normal life.’ Most beneficial for those early in their vagabonding quest – but still offers something for the veterans out there.
Must read if: you are at all serious about long-term budget travel
6. Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Classic American tale of hitch-hiking 20-somethings searching for what really IS(link to yoga article). Kerouac paints a gritty scene of the hedonistic counter-culture that was rapidly growing during 1950s in post-war America. Romantically captures the mindset of a young vagabond. The movie tried (but failed) to capture the essence of Kerouac… it’ too subtle for popular film.
Must-read if: you consider yourself a seeker or just a ‘reader of books’ in general.
7. Ram Daas – Be Here Now
Probably not found on too many “top travel book” lists but I’d love to change that, one readers at a time. Harvard professor Richard Alpert transformed by his LSD-fueled spiritual quest in the 1960s becomes Ram Dass – the spiritual guru. Broken down into 3 parts, 1) “His Transformation,” 2) His Journey” complete with psychedelic drawings, and 3) “Cookbook for a Sacred Life”
Must read if: you’re interested in a ‘radical’ (yet convincing) approach to this life
8. Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Workweek
“Escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the New Rich.” Tim Ferris shows not only how this is possible but compels readers to transcend the daily grind which he calls the slave save retire plan. Step-by-step guide inside – appealing for those looking for an alternative life as well as those desk jockeys who want more freedom in life.
Must read if: You feel stuck in the daily grind (and are open to a way out)
9. Gary Vaynerchuk – Crush It!
This social media master explains how ANYONE with the guts to work hard can transform their personal passion into an income generating & life improving new venue. Written in 2009 but still extremely applicable to aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. Hard-nosed approach similar to Tim Ferriss.
Must read if: You’re interested in making money via blogging
What are your favorite travel books?
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