Reading travel writing and books is a great way to learn about the lives of people in different countries, how hard it might be to cycle across the USA, climb Mount Everest, or even see your hometown in a new light. Often it is laugh-out-loud funny, and most good reads will make you want to see the place for yourself one day (or not, if it sounds terrible!).
The most well-known travel author is Bill Bryson. He has been writing amusing stories about his travels since 1989, starting with “The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America”. This was an account of driving round the USA in the late 1980s, to see how it compared to the USA of his childhood. He then wrote another book about his travels around Europe as a student in the 1970s called “Neither Here Nor There”. He has since written many other books describing his travels in Australia, and two more about the UK (with a 19 year gap in between). Bryson’s travel books are both hilariously funny, yet affectionate and informative about the places and people he write about.
Other authors with a uniquely humorous slant on travel writing include Tony Hawks (the comedian, not the skateboarder!) who has written “Round Ireland with a fridge” and “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis” amongst others. Tim Moore has written books about cycling the Tour de France, but he is not an athlete, so cycled relatively slowly. He also cycled the killer route of the 1914 Tour of Italy on the oldest bicycle he could find, and in authentic woollen clothing from the period, which made it much more difficult. Why would anyone do that to themselves, I hear you ask? He has also written about walking the pilgrim’s route from the Camino to Santiago di Compostela in Spain. His travel companion was a stubborn donkey. He has also written many other travel books, including one about Iceland called “Frost on my Moustache” in which he retraces the steps of a Victorian adventurer.
Will Randall, who has written “Botswana Time”, “Solomon Time”, “Indian Summer”, “Another long day on the Piste” and others writes in a self-deprecating way about the unusual situations he finds himself in. He writes about the kindness and hospitality of even the poorest people he meets on his travels, and his tales are inspirational and uplifting. If you’d like to know what being a safari guide is like, read Peter Allison, who worked as one for many years.
Many books are written from a woman’s perspective, including writers such as Dorval Murphy, Laurie Gough, and Anne Mustoe. Travel writing isn’t just for men.
For the frustrated world traveller, reading travel writing is a fantastic way to experience the world. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit somewhere, travel writing is a great way read about the place and see what you can learn before you go. It will immeasurably add to your enjoyment, plus you can impress the locals with your more in-depth knowledge.
Image from: http://journeytom.com/travel-books-and-guides/