5 Travel Writers That You Should Be Reading
I have loved travel writing (fiction and nonfiction) since my early days being a proud owner of a library card. But what’s truly fascinating is how the travel writing of today has been largely overtaken by the lot of us with smartphones, a social media account and something to say. In an instant, we can drop in on anyone around the world for a glimpse of their life and how they live it. A few swipes and clicks allows us to do the same.
Even though these shorter narratives are plenty interesting, it doesn’t replace the well-told and captivating stories written by a true travel writer. Good travel writing sparks curiosity and excitement in the reader. But great travel writing takes you elsewhere, outside of yourself, and immerses you in a thrilling new world. I don’t know about you, but I’m going for the latter.
Check out these five travel writers whose work you should be reading.
“Road trip tales. Quests for fish and salty characters.” Sandy Lang’s own words about her work read like an adventure novel itself. The well-traveled writer splits her time between two beautiful spots along the East Coast: Coastal Maine and Charleston, South Carolina. A frequent contributor to the magazines in both states, she’s also been dubbed a Charleston Local Expert for Travel + Leisure, among many other accolades. My favorite work of Lang’s? Her blog, Tiny Suitcase, in which she shares excerpts, clips, and side stories from the road.
Not everyone earns the right to be called an American adventurer, author and dog sled racer like Blair Braverman does. A veritable modern day explorer, Blair’s riveting memoir, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube chronicles her move from California to the harsh landscapes of Norway and Alaska. Her candid writing will inspire you to be a little tougher, a little braver, and a little more resilient than before. For the best way to live vicariously through Braverman is to read about her latest races and Iditarod adventures in Outside Magazine.
The musings of travel writer Pico Iyer have inspired countless readers to live a more contemplative life. Known worldwide for his poetic prose on the many different meanings of travel, Iyer has a way of making big philosophical questions feel relatable. Based in Japan, born in India, and educated in England at Eton and Oxford, Iyer has even taught at Harvard (next spot that opens up, I’m calling dibs). Yet, despite his scholarly work, it’s his TED talk and books that make people love him. Need a place to start? Dive into the wonderful world of Pico Iyer, with Destination Nowhere and The Art of Stillness.
An accomplished solo through-hiker (Appalachian Trail, High Sierra Trail and the walk from Selma to Montgomery), writer and poignant voice for women of color in the outdoors, Rahawa Haile’s work focuses on the intersection of the outdoors, past and present racism in America and self-discovery. “I belong here, I told the trail. The weight I carried as a black woman paled in comparison with the joy I felt daily among my peers in that wilderness”, writes Haile in her essay Going It Alone for Outside Magazine. “They shaped my heart into what it will be for the rest of my life.”
Whether it’s a winding mountain bike path through Switzerland, ski mountaineering in the Sawtooths or some boots-on-the-ground reporting in the American Prairie Reserve of Eastern Montana, Aaron Teasdale is there and he is writing about it. Teasdale’s award-winning writing is of the ‘great’ variety — transporting you to places of intrepid adventure alongside staunch explorers around the globe. He also dedicates much of his work to conservation in an effort to keep the places so many of us love as wild and pristine as they’re meant to be. You can read about his expeditions in National Geographic, Sierra Magazine and more.