Travel books

Backpacker Library: Some of My Favorite Travel Books

Travel books

Everyone loves inspiring travel books that they can read and get motivated by. Not only that, but we all love books we can bring with us and read on the road, on long trains and buses and what-not. I love reading on the road, but since I have real limits on weight and space in my bags, I have to really prioritize what I bring. So I only bring the best, and when I’m done I’ll either trade them for new ones or give them to other travelers. Here is my list of:

My Favorite Travel Books

1. Shantaram 

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.” ~The Author.                     

That about says it all right there. This is one of my favorite books for a reason. The author escapes from prison in Australia and makes it to India, where the real crazy stuff begins. This book is long and sobering  but worth a read for sure. It makes you want to go to India, while being totally intrigued and fascinated by this guy’s ordeals.  I’ve probably read it 10 times. Guaranteed no buyer’s remorse here.


2. The Alchemist 

 “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.” Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel. This book is the perfect and most inspiring travel book there is. It’s small and a quick read, light and easy to carry around. I’ve probably read this thing a thousand times! I promise you wont be disappointed!



3. Sihpromatum – I Grew my Boobs in China 


Amazon review- SIHPROMATUM (Sip-row-may-tum) is a memoir series of one family’s four-year backpacking adventure around the world. The first installment, “I Grew my Boobs in China”, is the beginning of an intensely fascinating, sobering, and emotional memoir of Savannah’s introspective and innovative family adventure.

It is great reading this book and hearing the thoughts of a young girl taken out of her comfort zone and thrown into some crazy and life changing cultures. This is definitely a good book. It’s not just about traveling the world, but about seeing it through the eyes of one reluctant traveler. Great to see the transformation.


4. Jupiters Travels


This is the stories of Ted Simon, The guy who hopped on his old Triumph motorcycle, and rode around the world, taking four years to do it. Not only that, but he did so in the ’70’s, when things like that were unheard of, taking him through 45 countries, and 78,000 miles. He lived with peasants and presidents, in prisons and palaces. He was already an accomplish writer by profession, so had no trouble documenting his journey along the way. Through wars and revolutions, Simon’s travels have inspired many to travel, including Ewan McGregor!



5. One More Day Everywhere


This book was recommended to me by a few travelers, and they said it was a must! I just ordered mine today! Here is the description from Amazon- In 2001, martial arts–trained biker Glen Heggstad began a journey from California to the tip of South America on his motorcycle and made it as far as Colombia, where he was kidnapped by local rebels and held captive. Undeterred by more than a month of traumatic incarceration, the “Striking Viking” finished his trip after being released. Three years later he set out into the world on his bike again, this time searching for truth on his own terms in a world that had become strangled by a climate of fear… Read the rest.

6. Around the World in 80 Days

Does this Jules Vern classic really need an introduction? It’s a good and quick read, even though written in classical English of it’s time. It’s a book everyone  should read at least once. Here is the Amazon description, for those who don’t yet know! – The eccentric English gentleman Phileas Fogg accepts a challenge to circle the globe in no more than 80 days — an incredible feat for the Victorian age. Exotic locales, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and comic relief (chiefly supplied by Fogg’s loyal valet, Passepartout) provide a fantastic blend of adventure, entertainment, and suspense.

Some of my other good ones from this author– Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaThe Mysterious IslandJourney to the Center of Earth 


7. One Man Caravan 

This is another book highly recommended to me by other travelers. It was written in 1937 by Robert Edison Fulton Jr, about his journey around the world on a motorcycle. I love these sort of books because travel can be hard now days, so I can’t even imagine it so long ago, during wars, revolutions, and a lack of tourist infrastructure. It had to have taken a lot more guts and strong character to do an overland journey in the ’30s, but the higher the risk, the higher the reward!

“Every now and then a book turns up which looks distinctly dull, yet which turns out to be so engrossing that you read it in a single sitting. One Man Caravan is such a book.” ~Amazon review


8. Into The Wild

Everyone has seen this movie, and it’s great, but this is yet another one of those cases where the book is even better than the movie. I would definitely recommend stuffing this inside your backpack for your next trip! Here is the Amazon description, for the few of you who haven’t seen the movie-

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. 


9. Long Way Round

Inspired by the book- Jupiter’s Travels, Ewan McGregor and his buddy Charley Boorman hopped on their bikes and made their own trip around the world. They rode from Scotland west all the way to New York, taking only a single short flight over the Bering Strait. I’ll let you read the description from Amazon yourself, but I can say that this was a great read!

It started as a daydream. Poring over a map of the world at home one quiet Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor — acclaimed actor and self-confessed bike nut — noticed that it was possible to ride all the way round the world, with just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska.

After the Long Way Round trip, Ewan and Charley had not had enough! So they made their plan and headed out on their next trip. They named it-


10. The Long Way Down

After their trip around the world, Ewan and Charley start getting wanderlust again and start planning another trip. The last one turned out to be a difficult and rough journey, yet it’s not stopping them from doing it again. The difference this time, is that they will be going south, through Africa and some of the roughest countries and terrain on the planet. I definitely recommend this read, as well as the first! It’s written like a diary, alternating between Ewan and Charley, and their frustration, doubts and determinations make the journey even more thrilling for us!


11. The Art of Nonconformity

This is basically my life-bible. I’ve read it many times, and it’s amazing. The author is a traveler who just reached the last country on his mission to see every country in the world. I’ve never been more inspired by one person or book more than this. It’s a must read for sure! Please comment and tell me what you thought of this one! Here is the Amazon review:

If you’ve ever thought, “There must be more to life than this,” The Art of Non-Conformity is for you.

Based on Chris Guillebeau’s popular online manifesto “A Brief Guide to World Domination,” The Art of Non-Conformity defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You’ll discover how to live on your own terms by exploring creative self-employment, radical goal-setting, contrarian travel, and embracing life as a constant adventure.

Stay tuned for more later on! There are so many great books out there, that I will probably always be adding to this post! In the mean time, if you have your own recommendation, no matter how well-known or not, let me know in the comments below!

 A few more great travel books:

  • Race To Dakar by Charley Boorman
  • By any Means by Charley Boorman
  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  • Round The World With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
  • Last of the Donkey Pilgrims by Kevin O’Hara
  • Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
  • The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton
  • The backpacker by John Harris
  • The Beach by Alex Garland




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5 thoughts on “Backpacker Library: Some of My Favorite Travel Books

  1. KarisaonReply

    I absolutely adore the Alchemist. Hands down my favorite Paulo Coelho! I read a lot too and when I travel, my best friend in the world is my Kindle. It’s fantastic to have a whole library in your hands without the weight of a bunch of books in your bag.

  2. Ryan BiddulphonReply

    I still need to read The Alchemist! PC is a master, and it vibes with my travel lifestyle of course. Thanks for sharing!

  3. ElenaonReply

    Great list! Shantaram is one my most favorite books ever! I had a paper copy that I’ve taken around with me everywhere I went (and it weights like a lot!) and read all the time 🙂

    And I want to finally read “Round The World With a Fridge” – a bunch of people already recommended it to me.

    I like “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mtichell Zuckoff. It just made me wanna go to Baliem Valley, New Guinea!

  4. OliveronReply

    Quite an impressive list indeed and I have to admit I didn’t read many of them yet. Especially the two books I haven’t heard of before (One Man Caravan & One More Day Everywhere) grabbed my attention. Thanks for sharing and happy travels!

  5. MelonReply

    Love the list, but I have to say I thought “the Alchemist” was a disappointing book. It is so over-rated. Its bubblegum spirituality grated on me all the way through. It is too self-consciously tries to be deep and falls completely flat for me. I agree totally with “Around the World in 80 days”. I think “Cycling Home from Siberia” was worth a mention. If I may be so bold, “To St Petersburg With Love” is worth a look too if a cycling adventure around 15 countries in Europe is your cup of tea.

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