Travel writing can be funny, descriptive and beautiful or simply inspiring. Novels on travel usually have a bigger story of an inner journey going parallel with the journey that the writer takes. Some great fictional novels have also been written where the protagonist take on great journeys. These books can inspire us to visit a place or just to start travelling and exploring. They say that if you don’t travel it’s like reading only 1 page of a book. Below, we’ve compiles a list of ten best novels on travel that will motivate you to read more pages of your own life.
10. The Sun Also Rises:
The Sun Also Rises is considered as one of the greatest novels of Ernest Hemingway. Written in 1926, it is the tale of a group of American and British expatriates who travel Paris to the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. The book paints a unique picture of Parisian cafes and the festive atmosphere of Spain along with a fishing trip in the Pyrenees.
9. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road:
Now this might not be a fictional novel, but it deserves a mention as one of the only two memoirs on this list of the top travel books. Ghost Rider is a philosophical memoir by Neil Pert, the drummer of Rush as he traveled across North and Central America in the search of a reason to live after the death of his daughter and wife. It is a gripping tale of long distance travel by motorcycle along with the journey of the human soul that always manages to heal itself.
8. On the Road:
On the Road is a classic novel about travel by Jack Kerouac. It is based on his travels along with his friends across America as part of the beat generation. It chronicles his travels during the culture of jazz and drugs and poetry. It is described as the most beautiful descriptions of the times of the beat generation in America.
7. Our Man in Havana:
Our Man in Havana is written by Graham Greene and set in Cuba. It is a satirical novel that describes Cuba from the point of view British secret service agents of MI6. It shows how the willingness of British agents to believe reports of local informants in Cuba lead to hilarious situations. On a deeper level it is a novel about two cultures and what happens when they try to communicate with each other.
6. The Motorcycle Diaries:
Another memoir that makes this list and beats the trend by not being a strict fictional novel is The Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevara. These diaries were kept by Che during his 9 month long travels of the South American continent along with his friend Alberto Granado. The 23 year old medical student that leaves on this 5000 mile journey on a 1939 Norton 500cc motorcycle returns as a revolutionary dedicated to fighting and even dying for the cause of the poor and the unification of South America.
5. The Dharma Bums:
The Dharma Bums is the second book by Jack Kerouac that makes this list. It does so deservedly as it is another great travel novel. It continues on from On the Road and chronicles the time in the life of the author when he was introduced to Buddhism and was fighting a duality in his own life as he shifted between bicycling, hiking, mountaineering and hitchhiking through the West and his city life of jazz, poetry, alcohol and drugs.
4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
It seems that most travel tales are about people travelling on motorcycles. There is a sense of freedom that you just can’t get in any other form except while travelling on motorcycles. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is another novel about the journey of a father and son on a motorcycle across America. The book is a philosophical discourse and an autobiographical story of Robert M. Pirsig but at a basic level it is also a tale of travelling across America on a motorcycle.
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson is a novel about the adventures of a journalist, Raoul Duke, in Las Vegas during Mint 400 motorcycle race. The novel is more about the culture of America of that time as Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo experiment with all sorts of drugs and visit Las Vegas, the city of insanity. The subtitle of the book aptly describes it as ‘a savage journey to the heart of the American dream’.
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the classic novel by Mark Twain published in 1884. While it is always thought of as an American classic about racism, at the heart of the book is the story of the travels along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi was a major highway for commerce and travel during the 1800’s and helped in the colonization of America. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn explore this world that grew around the river.
1. Don Quixote:
Don Quixote was published in 1605 and 1615 in two volumes as The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha in Spanish by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It is considered as one of the most important literary works to have ever been written. The story of an idealistic fool, Alonso Quijano, as he takes on the name of Don Quixote to revive chivalry and knighthood is the tale of misguided adventurous travels that have become iconic around the world.