5 of the Best Travel Books Money Can Buy

Before we look at specific travel books it is worth considering what we mean by travel book. After all, some are guides and some are stories of people travelling to new places or moving abroad.

I have to confess that I love them all. I could sit and read a Lonely Planet guide from cover to cover but I also thoroughly enjoy reading about the adventures of real people who decided to travel the world. Let’s look at the latter type here, as guide books aren’t everyone’s idea of a good read.

The Road to McCarthy – Pete McCarthy

The late Pete McCarthy had one of the friendliest and funniest writing voices around. Whenever I read his books I can easily imagine myself travelling beside him and laughing at the ridiculous situations he always gets into. Like all the best travel books, The Road to McCarthy gives us a lot of fun but also tells us a lot about history, the world and people. He covers huge distances in this book, as he tracks down fragments of Irish history over the world.

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is one of the few writers who can make me laugh out loud or snort coffee through my nose on an involuntary basis. In some other books he waffles on about architecture too much for my liking but in Notes from a Small Island he describes Britain to a tee. As a Brit living abroad I get incredibly nostalgic when I read this book and get reminded of the things I love about my home country. If you are planning a trip round the UK anytime soon then this is well worth a read.

Around the World in 80 Days – Michael Palin

It’s been a long time since I’ve read Around the World in 80 Days but I think that it is time to look it out again. This is a classic travel book and it is based on the equally excellent Jules Verne book featuring Phileas Fogg. As well as the book there is also a TV series of this round the world adventure, with the likeable Palin proving to be a fantastic travel guide.

The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho

Is The Alchemist even a travel book? It possibly isn’t in the strictest sense of the phrase but it is one of my favorite books for getting me into a travelling mood. It follows a Spanish shepherd called Santiago who is anxious to see the world and discover his personal legend and hidden treasure. He crosses to Tangiers, goes into the desert, stays in an oasis town and dreams of reaching the pyramids. It is probably more of an inspirational, self help book than a travel book but if you can read this without getting itchy feet then I admire you. One thing I need to point out is that the writing is very simple in this book. It is the first book I ever read in Spanish and I wonder if the English version might seem a bit basic for native speakers. However, the sense of adventure and the positive vibes should make up for that.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road is the one book on this list that I haven’t yet read. It is a travel classic that is said to guarantee that you want to hit the road after it. It follows the road trip adventures of the Beat Generation in the US and it is a book I have always wanted to read but never got round to.

So there we have 5 of the best travel books available in my opinion but I certainly haven’t read every travel book out there.

Which good reads would you add to our list of best travel books?

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