Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest Post: Top 10 Inspiring Books To Get You In The Mood To Travel

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next extended trip, reach for books that will help revive and stoke the fires of that wanderlust. The best travel writing can immerse you deep into another place’s art and culture, food and lifestyle, people and philosophy. Not only will it inspire you to see more of the world, but it can also fill in the gaps in knowledge about places you have never visited before.

Transport yourself to another place (even you find yourself unable to get away for a prolonged jaunt around the world) with these inspiring travel adventures:

1. A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes, author of the renowned Under the Tuscan Sun, leaves her Tuscan home to travel to Spain, Portugal, the British Isles, Turkey, Greece, Italy and North Africa. Mayes brings readers along with her on her adventures with her keen eye for the culture, history, traditions and landscapes of cities, small and large. A joyful celebration of the adventure of travel, A Year in the World stirs up longings to be exploring the quaint towns of Europe and around the Mediterranean.

2. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

Written by the Great American Travel Writer, but before he was known for his exuberant first-person travel writers, the book focuses on a trip taken almost entirely by train. Recounting his journey from London to Tokyo and back again, the author’s enthusiasm for travel is evident on every page and in every detail of his narration.

3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Having ridden the wave from sudden bestseller, to backlash, to major Hollywood movie, to backlash once again, this book can be divisive. Regardless of the author’s personal journey, her detailed accounts of Italy’s culture and food, the serenity in India and the lush wonder of Bali, inspires readers to take a trip to those locations to experience it for themselves.

4. Out of Africa by Isak Diesen

Another memoir that has been adapted into a movie, Isak Diesen’s (aka Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke) simple narrative about her life on her Kenyan coffee plantation brings to life the beauty of the landscape and the wildlife that were her neighbors. Wistful and elegiac, readers are left longing for Kenya that no longer exists (but still desiring to the see the herds of animals that still live in Kenyan national parks).

5. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Well-known for his witty and warm accounts of his travels, Peter Mayle takes readers on his journey in realizing his dream of moving to Provence. Humorous anecdotes of his frustrations with the weather and of the culture shock that comes from living in a remote 200-year old stone farmhouse far from the nearest city, and detailed stories of the amazing cuisine, allow readers to live a Provencal lifestyle, if only vicariously.

6. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

Despite the broke and on-the-road story, this memoir poetically captures the romance of travel. Set in 1936 in Europe, Laurie Lee's reminisces about his adventures with humor and love, and captures the excitement of a twenty-year-old out on his own—and with a keen awareness of the looming war. Lee not only transports readers to another era, but also reminds them of the wonder of travel.

7. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

The book that launched generations of hitchhikers and road trips, On the Road is a must-read for all wanderers, road warriors and people on the search for answers. Kerouac’s narrator takes readers along for a ride from New York, to Denver, to San Francisco and LA. This classic novel has inspired thousands to explore North America, while hopefully finding themselves.

8. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

A practical guide on long-term travel, this guide walks readers through the process of planning for taking a “break” from everyday life to explore the world—on a shoestring. The book is full of practical tips on financing the journey, handling issues that arise during travel and adjusting to constantly being on the road. Vagabonding is more than just a guidebook, however, as it will help readers get in the creative, open state of mind that comes with extended periods of travel.

9. 100 Countries, 5,000 Ideas by National Geographic

For readers who are more inspired by glossy and gorgeous photos of exotic locales, 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas offers a wealth of ideas on places to travel to around the world. With over 300 images and 100 detailed maps, this book also provides thorough highlights about each location. Packed with inspiring photos and descriptions, this book is sure to ignite wanderlust in the most staid of readers.

10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Another example of wordless inspiration, this children’s classic reminds all readers the excitement of adventure and the benefits of exploring the world (like getting unstuck). Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that is needed to find our footing again.

Lose yourself in the writing (or photos or illustrations) of these travel books and let them inspire you for a trip of your own.


Virginia Cunningham is a health writer for Northwest, business owner and world traveler. Whenever she gets a chance, she explores the world with her family to discover new cultures, food and music.

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