The Top 5 Travel Novels

Lets face it, given the choice we’d all love to be travelling the world; map in hand, footloose and carefree. But without fail, the realities of life always seem to get in the way, so we inevitably look to other means to get our travelling kicks! The travel genre is a popular one, but there are some books that stand alone as true masterpieces of The Journey…these are just five of them!

1. On The Road – Jack Keroauc

Undeniably one of the most iconic travel books of all time, Keroauc takes his reader on an unforgettable journey through beat culture, Central America and the transience of youth. The novel pretty much inspired the idea of the road trip, and where Jack went, millions of the young and restless followed. Word of warning: don’t read this one while you’re stuck in the office!

2. The Beach – Alex Garland

There are few who haven’t seen the film with Leonardo DiCaprio, and whilst anything that shows said hunk in a pair of trunks is fine by me, the novel is undeniably more powerful. Its depiction of South East Asia is unparalleled, with the hazy, restless hedonism of Ko Pan Nyang set against the mystical, isolated power of the Beach itself. The gorgeous scenery of the area is beautifully evoked, and if you haven’t been already, you’ll be booking those plane tickets shortly after turning the last page!

3. The Lost Continent – Bill Bryson

This witty depiction of Bryson’s journey across America and the subsequent quirky situations and crazy characters that appear is widely recognised as one the finest examples of its genre. Funny, observant and sometimes cutting about the environment unfolding around him, you can nevertheless still feel Bryson’s affection for his home country, which is why the novel is ultimately so readable and amusing.

4. Into the Wild – John Krakauer

A harrowing non-fiction account of one man’s decision to hitchhike into the Alaskan Wilderness. The author, real name Chris McCandless, ceased communication with his family, gave away his savings of approximately £10, 000 to charity and began travelling; later abandoning his car. The book is his account of his time spent in the harshest of conditions with no company or real equipment, and has recently been made into a film directed by Sean Penn. It is a fascinating insight into the desire for true isolation from the world, and is a powerful depiction of the harsh landscape itself.

5. The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train through Asia – Paul Theroux.

This classic travelogue captures the dramatic, colourful and isolated aspect of train travel as the author describes his travels on the Orient Express. It is a riotous and dynamic depiction of the Asian world whilst still reflecting poignantly and perceptively on the trials and tribulations of the human spirit.

Source: National Geographic

Source: National Geographic

So what do you reckon? Feel free to disagree with us, we’d love to hear some recommendations…what’s your favourite travel book of all time?

Header image source: Country Living