This is a list of my favourite travel books. There are many more and I’ll add them over time. And there’s a small degree of crossover with my list of cycle touring books.
Favourite Travel Books:
- A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube by Patrick Leigh Fermor (1977). The first volume in Fermor’s trilogy describes his journey at the age of 18 through 1930s Europe towards Constantinople.
- In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (1977). Chatwin left his job at the Sunday Times in 1974 and travelled for six month in Patagonia. (He claimed to have resigned by sending a telegram saying: ‘Gone to Patangonia for six months.) In Patagonia is considered a travel writing classic.
- Round Ireland in Low Gear by Eric Newby 1987. Writer Eric Newby and his wife Wanda travel around Ireland by bicycle. It captures both the joy and folly of cycle touring around Ireland in all weathers.
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (1995). Bryson’s book was written only two decades ago but already it seems to be about another country, a gentler, happier Britain than the 2016 version. Maybe it never was the way he describes it, but reading the first few pages again makes you wish it was.
- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (1964). Not strictly a travel book, this perfectly captures the life of the struggling writer in the Paris of the 1920s, and some of the journeys he made at the time. The book is the source of the quote “Never travel with those you do not love.” (see my list of favourite travel quotes).
- From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium by William Dalrymple (1997). In a mix of history and travel writing, William Dalrymple travels across the Byzantine world.
- A Mad World, My Masters: Tales from a Traveller’s Life by John Simpson (2000). Autobiography by the BBC’s John Simpson. Worth including on the list for his story about the time he was being smuggled into Afghanistan in the full garb of a local – he was thinking how well the ruse was going when he looked down and saw that he was carrying a plastic bag emblazoned with the logo of Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford.
- Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879). A classic piece of early travel writing, the book recounts the 12-day journey Stevenson made through the sparsely populated Cévennes region of France in 1878. He made the journey on foot with a donkey, Modestine, carrying his equipment.
- The Faber Book of Exploration edited by Benedict Allen (2002). The book is subtitled An anthology of worlds revealed by explorers through the ages and it has extracts from writings about travel from ancient times to the late 20th century.
If you have any favourite travel books, add a comment and let me know the details. I’d love to hear about them.