These stories will have you packing for your next big adventure
Work, go home, rinse, repeat.
When we’re caught up with our daily routines, it’s easy to forget that the occasional trip does wonders for our wellbeing. Reignite the fire of wanderlust with these five inspiring reads by travellers who came, saw and conquered.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
Part modern-day fairytale, part self-help book, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love is the memoir that launched a thousand self-discovery trips. Divided into three sections, one for each part of the book’s title, the story follows Gilbert as she takes a year off work to travel around the world, as a way to cope with her depression after a divorce. In Italy, she indulges in her love for food and language by picking up Italian and eating lots of pasta. In India, she learns the art of devotion at a guru’s ashram, before finally arriving at the island of Bali in Indonesia, where she finds love in the form of a sexy Brazilian hunk. Set amidst a beautiful backdrop of different destinations and experiences, Gilbert’s memoir speaks to the sense of wanderlust in us all, and to our desire for change.
An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington
Karl Pilkington’s idea of travel is eating English food on a packaged holiday to Majorca. When he is convinced to go on an epic trip to see the Seven Wonders of the World, hilarity ensues. Written as a companion guide to the hugely popular An Idiot Abroad travel-comedy series, the book reads like the diary of a grumpy Englishman who just isn’t keen on exploring the world. Take, for example, his opinion on the Museum of Cairo: “It’s like my Aunt Nora’s house – too many ornaments!” Pilkington narrates his suffering at the hands of his producers, whose idea of a practical joke is to put him through kidnap training in Jordan – without prior warning. Filled with sarcastic humour and Pilkington’s hilarious observations, the only problem with taking this book on your travels is how to supress the laughter.
Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story
Everyone likes a rags-to-riches story, and there’s no better one than that of Tony and Maureen Wheeler. As newlyweds, the couple set off on a year-long expedition to explore Europe and Asia. Little did they know that their first self-published guide book, written while stranded in Australia with only 27 cents to their name, would go on to become every backpacker’s bible and the basis for the most successful travel publishing company in the world. Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story is a unique blend of autobiography, business history and travel book, covering the couple’s various travels, early days in getting the business off the ground and current ventures.
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia
Considered by many to be a classic in the travel writing genre, The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia chronicles American novelist Paul Theroux’s three-month journey by train from London to Japan, through the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Unlike conventional travelogues, Theroux seems less preoccupied with detailing the destinations he visits – often just skimming through cities with a line or two – than he is with capturing visuals and the characters he meets on his travels. Evoking the mystery and romanticism of early British writers encountering ‘exotic’ cultures in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for the first time, the book’s timeless appeal lies in the essence of travel: that it’s the people you meet and the journey, not the destination, that makes travelling worthwhile.
Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge
Venture into one of the last untamed places on the planet with British travel writer John Gimlette, as he spends several months exploring the lush forests, swamplands and islands of the Guianas in Wild Coast. From living among the local Makushi forest people to visiting the ruins of a plantation where slaves revolted against their brutal owners, Gimlette’s accounts are an extraordinary look into a region that is still little known and understood. A visit to Jonestown, where cult leader Jim Jones compelled over 900 followers to commit mass suicide, is followed by a boat trip to Ile Royale or ‘Green Hell’ as it was known to ex-prisoners of the former penal colony. If nothing else, Wild Coast is a read that will help tourists cross it off their cushy travel list.