Hitting the Road? 4 Inspiring Books for the Ultimate Traveler

As noted in an earlier Oh Hey World article, there will be various times throughout your travels when you’ll have to beat the boredom of being in transit. While lately, iPhones and other such devices have come to fill that void, there is nothing more traveler-esque than taking a few good paperbacks with you on the go. Even if you haven’t yet left for your next destination, the following books will get you pumped for your next adventure.

1.      On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac classic book that followed the lives of young vagabonds that would later be known as the Beat Generation is a must-have on every traveler’s list. It captures a moment in a time when traveling across the United States, from the East Coast to the West Coast and back again, was a veritable way of life. You’ll meet the unforgettable Dean Moriarity, the zany adventurer whose antics are captured by Sal Paradise, the novel’s narrator, as you follow them on their free-spirited, sometimes neurotic quest for poetry, jazz, love, and freedom.

2.      A Cook’s Tour: Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain

More than likely you are well-acquainted with the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain, host of the eminently watchable No Reservations. Aside from being a charming television personality, Bourdain is also an incisive and poignant writer. In A Cook’s Tour, Bourdain retells his travels around the globe as he searches for the perfect meal in various exotic locations. Despite the unusual fare that Bourdain samples—from cobra heart in Vietnam to sheep testicles in Morocco—his love for food and overseas adventure  saturates each page, reminding all backpackers the joys of seeing and tasting new things.

3.      Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara

Just like On the Road, Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries has become a travelogue classic. That it is written by one of the most widely recognized political figures of our time, long before he became famous, makes this journal a fascinating read, especially for history buffs. Guevara, then a twenty-three-year-old medical student, plans an epic trip throughout South America with his best friend on motorcycle. The two set off to discover the continent they know only from books, and along the way the discover much more than that, including atrocities from which we are sheltered living in modern, developed parts of the world. This book perfectly demonstrates the eye-opening potential of traveling.

4.      Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, American journalist most widely known for his general science book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, gives readers this wonderfully charming book about his backpacking journey throughout Europe as he retraces his steps based on a similar trip he took as a young college dropout. Unlike many travelogues, Bryson engages with his candor, which may come off as distasteful for some. He is frank when he doesn’t like something, and he avoids most tourist hotspots to regale with strange encounters off the beaten path. It’s a definite must-read if you are heading off to Europe.

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