Reading is a great way to feed your imagination and fuel your appetite for adventure. It paints vivid pictures of far-off places and transports your mind across the planet, bringing the whole world to your sofa.

At Travel Nation, our real-life journeys have often been inspired by novels, biographies and travel journals. Here's a handful of travel books that have given us seriously itchy feet. Get out the garden lounger, grab a cold beer and read yourself somewhere new. 

Head out to the magnificent rice terraces surrounding Ubud

1. Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

This novel begins with Elizabeth Gilbert sobbing on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night. She's in her thirties, she has a husband, she owns a house, she's trying for a baby - and she doesn't want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of pleasure, devotion and balance. In other words, she's off to search for her soul.

First, she travels to Rome, then to an ashram in India and finally to Bali, where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace. Once she learns to simply sit still and smile, happiness begins to creep up on her.

" I just loved this book – it takes you on global journey of love, life and happiness! "
Helen, Recruitment Co-ordinator

2. Inka-Kola: A Traveller's Tale of Peru - Matthew Parris

This is the totally charming and often laugh-out-loud tale of Matthew Parris's fourth trip to Peru. It's a roaring adventure that sees him get accidentally entangled with prostitutes, bandits, peasants and riots. Wherever he goes, he seems to attract trouble, often with fascinating, inspiring and hilarious consequences. At the same time, he discovers the natural and cultural wonders of Peru. If South America is on your bucket list, it's a definite must-read.  

This book paints a weird and wonderful picture of Peru. It will entertain you and inspire to go to South America at the same time. It's a brilliant book!
Charlie, Sales Pod Manager

3. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived for 10 years. Shantaram is his mixture of fiction and biography that will take you on a romping adventure through the underworld of India. 

I read this book for 24 hours straight on a train from Delhi to Goa, and I'll never forget Prabaker's smile!
Bryony, Content Marketing Specialist

The main character, Linbaba (based on Roberts himself), hides from the Aussie law by living in the slums of Bombay, where he establishes a free health clinic, joins the mafia, works as a money launderer, a forger and a street soldier.

Join Holi, the Festival of Colours, in India | Travel Nation

4. Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson

It is 1910 and Maia, tragically orphaned at 13, has been sent from England to start a new life with distant relatives in Manaus, hundreds of miles up the Amazon. She is accompanied by an eccentric and mysterious governess who has secret reasons of her own for making the journey. Both soon discover an exotic world bursting with new experiences in this highly colourful, joyous and award-winning adventure.

I read this when I was about 10 and I’ve wanted to go to Brazil ever since. The descriptions of colourful butterflies, mysterious jungles and traditional native life are so enticing! Milly, Product Development Manager

5. A Dark Star Safari: Overland to Capetown and Cairo - Paul Theroux

Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country, Theroux visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous. It is a journey of discovery and rediscovery -- of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.

If you're looking for an epic adventure then this is the book for you. Sean, Operations Manager

6. Jupiter's Travels - Ted Simon

In the late '70s, Ted Simon rode 63,000 miles over four years through fifty-four countries. Through breakdowns, prison, war, revolutions, disasters and a Californian commune, he travelled into the depths of fear and reached the heights of euphoria. He met astonishing people and was treated as a spy, a welcome stranger and even a god. 

This book really got me inspired to travel in my early days. Haydn, Company Owner

7. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

This is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of treasure. He journeys to the markets of Tangiers, and from there into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him. With Paulo Coelho's visionary blend of spirituality, magical realism and folklore, "The Alchemist" is an inspiring story with the power to change lives.

Ahhh, the memories! We did a camel trek into the Sahara and slept in a Bedouin tent overnight, drinking mint tea under the most amazing starry skies I have ever seen..." Liz, French Team Leader

8. Hotel on the Roof of the World - Alec Le Sueur

On a par with the best of Bill Bryson and Pico Iyer, Alec Le Sueur's bestselling insider account of life at the world-famous Holiday Inn, Lhasa, Tibet (altitude 14,000 feet) pits Communist owners against capitalist manager to create a chain hotel in Shangri-La.

Himalayas, Tibet

Against all odds, heroic Tibetan workers fight with Chinese bosses, who turn off the heat in freezing weather when occupancy falls below 20 per cent. They struggle against Maoist bureaucrats trying to break up the first Miss Tibet beauty pageant, and they delicately remove the American Express card from the wallet of an apparently deceased guest to cover room charges.

This has to be one of the funniest travel books on the planet. Bryony, Content Marketing Specialist

9. Cycling Home from Siberia - Rob Lilwall

In 2004, Rob Lilwall arrived in Siberia equipped with a bike and a healthy dose of fear. This extraordinary book recounts his epic three and a half year, 30,000-mile journey back to England. Along the way, he tackles the foreboding jungles of Papua New Guinea, survives an Australian cyclone and encounters Afghanistan's war-torn Hindu Kush.

This helped to sow the seed for all of my long cycle journeys. Chris, Senior Travel Consultant

10. Are you experienced? - William Sutcliffe

A brilliant satire on backpacking, 'Are you experienced?' is the tale of two very mismatched travel companions in India. Liz is on a voyage of spiritual self-discovery, while Dave is after sex and ice-cold beer. Together, they clumsily face the cultural challenges of travelling in India. Refreshing, funny and honest, it's guaranteed to raise a giggle. 

I read it again recently and it still made me cry laughing. Jim, Senior Travel Consultant

Meet the saddhus of Pushkar, India | Travel Nation

11. Notes From a Big Country - Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's account of his move from the UK back to his childhood home in New England is hilarious, poignant and moving at the same time. Essentially a collection of articles, the book perfectly captures the cultural quirks on each side of 'The Pond'. You can never go far wrong with Bill Bryson, and this one is up there with his best. 

I loved this when I was a teenager. I read it until it completely fell apart. Susan, Ground Product Manager


12. Eastern Horizons: Hitchhiking the Silk Road - Levison Wood

At only 22 years old and with just £750 in his pocket, Levison Wood decided to hitchhike from England to India through Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A passionate lover of history, he aimed to discover more about the countries of the Caucasus and beyond. Now an acclaimed British explorer, writer and photographer, he has published seven best-selling books and travelled all over the world. 

This has to be one of my favourite books of all time. David, Senior Travel Consultant


Inspired to plan your own adventure?

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