Good Reads: 5 Books For The Aspiring Traveler

Words by Matthew Vanatta

Since the inception of the printing press, writers have been inspiring worldly dreamers to pack their bags and hit the road in search of adventure. From Muir’s vivid descriptions of the High Sierra to Krakauer’s recounting of antiheroes tramping their way across the country, a good travel book can inspire the trip of a lifetime.

Whether you’re looking for misadventures among soaring peaks or leisurely cruising through the world’s greatest metropolises, travel and adventure are really in the eye of the beholder, luckily there are a number of travel books that cater to every style of travel. If you’re looking for some worldly inspiration for your next trip or just some amazing reads pick up one of these classic travel tales.

Lead Photo- Sylvia Yang

On The Road, Jack Kerouac-

Kerouac’s seminal novel is inspired by the freewheeling beat generation and is considered one of the most important novels in the North American canon. Inspired by real-life events On The Road follows Kerouac and a cast of characters as they drive, hitchhike, and train hop their way across the United States. Kerouac’s novel is a coming age tale of self-discovery and has been inspiring the modern road trip since it was first published in 1957.

Swell, Liz Clark-

Professional surfer and environmental activist Liz Clark set sail on her small but mighty sailboat Swell after graduating college. Without a solid single objective, Clark sailed her 40-foot boat from California to the South Pacific where she has spent the last several years surfing crystal clear reef breaks and advocating for environmental stewardship. Swell chronicles Clark’s journey from young sailor and surfer to bonafide captain, if Swell doesn’t make you want to cash out your savings and buy a sailboat nothing will.

A Walk In The Woods, Bill Bryson-

While many outdoor travel and adventure books can put off an air of unobtainable as they are often writing by professional adventurers or about subjects from well-funded expeditions Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods proves that where there is a will there’s a way. Bryson’s humorous book about hiking the Appalachian trail is the perfect book for anyone that aspires to hike the ACT or PCT but doesn’t think they have the knowledge, training, or gear to do so.

The Motorcycle Diaries, Che Guevara-

Before he was political revolutionary Che Guevara set out on a transformational motorcycle trip of self-discovery. Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado cover over 5,000 miles riding tandem on a 1939 Norton motorcycle in this harrowing adventure memoir. South America plays hosts to some of the most beautiful natural environments in the world and The Motorcycle Diaries has inspired many travel enthusiasts to seek out some of the Southern hemispheres most treasured gems.

Wilderness Essays, John Muir-

Photo: Andrew Ridley

There might not be another writer in the history of the North American canon that captures the essence of wilderness solitude quite like John Muir. Muir was wondering California’s High Sierra when it was still an expansive and untouched wilderness, and his essays are a poetic nod to the sense of wonder one feels when truly surrounded by nature. Muir’s essays aren’t just for those that are hardened outdoor enthusiasts as his writing evokes a sense of adventure, self-discovery, and wanderlust regardless of ones travel plans.

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