From soul-searching thru-hiking journeys to cross-country cycling trips, these 10 travel books will have you planning your next adventure before you can turn the last page.
1. Cycling Home from Siberia, by Rob Lilwall
British adventurer Rob Lilwall tells the story of his three-year bicycle ride from northeast Russia back to London. Along the way, he camped at minus forty, was robbed at gunpoint, and hitch-hiked on boats across the sea.
But this book is not just the tale of an epic cycling adventure. It is also a spiritual journey with honest insights into life on the road, society and the purpose of life.
In the free world, the invented world, there is little time for being. Each step is managed, and you have to work ever harder to get the money to buy the things that will keep you from falling out of the system. The people in the shopping center had everything, but they wanted more because everything did not make life easier for them. They had to run just to stand still.Rob Lilwall
2. Dare to Do: Taking on the planet by bike and boat, by Sarah Outen
Dare to Do is about Sarah Outen’s 4.5 year-long London2London:Via the World expedition. During this epic adventure, Sarah rowed, cycled and kayaked a total of 25,000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere.
In Dare to Do Sarah writes about much more than just the physical challenge aspect of her human-powered journey. She opens up about personal mental health struggles. She also shows how, even when all seems lost, you can succeed and find yourself.
3. Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail, by Jennifer Pharr Davis
An honest and authentic story about lessons learned from hiking the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath stretching from Georgia to Maine. In her book, Jennifer doesn’t try to romanticize her thru-hiking experience. She doesn’t hide the things she doesn’t feel proud of. Instead, she shares it all – the good, bad and ugly.
A great read if you’re planning to embark on a thru-hike and want an insight into what life on the trail truly looks like.
4. Cycling the Earth: A life-changing race around the world, by Sean Conway
In February 2012, Sean Conway left London in an attempt to break the world record for cycling around the world. Unfortunately, getting run over by a car in America shattered Sean’s world record aspirations. But despite this setback, he decided to continue on with his journey after having recovered from his injuries. His new objective: getting back to London in time for the Olympics.
An inspiring story on re-framing goals and learning to accept the help and kindness of strangers.
In this beautiful book, Gale Straub, founder of She-Explores.com shares a collection of first-person stories from outdoor-inspired women. The stories highlight a number of topics including mental health, motherhood, conservation, diversity and on-the-road travel.
If you’re a woman looking for some outdoor adventure inspiration, then this book is for you!
6. The Pants of Perspective, by Anna McNuff
Adventurer Anna McNuff tells the story of her 3000km-long running journey along the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand. Reading this book will certainly make you smile and laugh a lot (Anna has an amazing sense of humour!). But it will also make you realize that it’s ok to doubt yourself, to be scared and to have low moments. It’s all just part of the journey.
It just comes down to a choice about how you live your life. I would rather live it completely wetting myself with fear, but doing something worthwhile than staying safe and just bumbling along.Anna McNuff
7. Lands of Lost Borders: A journey on the Silk Road, by Kate Harris
In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Kate Harris decided to cycle the Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Lands of Lost Borders recounts the story of Kate and Mel’s impressive cycling odyssey from the Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent.
Lands of Lost Borders is much more than a travel memoir – it is also a philosophical book exploring the boundaries we set ourselves, our existential need to explore and our connection to the natural world and to each other.
8. Alone in Antarctica, by Felicity Aston
British polar explorer Felicity Aston is an Antarctic scientist turned author, speaker and expedition leader. In 2012 she became the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica. Throughout her 1744km journey across the ice, Felicity Aston not only faced extreme physical challenges but she also had to deal with fear and isolation.
This is one of those travel books that will inspire you to take on that challenge you’ve been putting off for years. It will show you that you can achieve anything when you grit your teeth and take it one step at a time.
9. My Midsummer Morning: Rediscovering a life of adventure, by Alastair Humphreys
Alastair Humphreys is a seasoned and highly-regarded adventurer. He has completed numerous epic journeys including cycling around the world, rowing the Atlantic and walking across India. But after becoming a father he realized that heading off into the wild for months at the time just wasn’t a viable option anymore. Looking for an adventure that would challenge him in a different way, Alastair decided to busk through Spain without any money.
My Midsummer Morning is a very raw account of Alastair’s struggles with redefining what being an ‘adventurer’ means to him. Humphreys writes very honestly about his feelings of restlessness and loss of identity following fatherhood. If you’re going through a transition that is forcing you to redefine how adventure fits into your life, then this book will certainly resonate with you.
There is something more important than striving for the remarkable. And that is to stop dreaming about an ‘adventure of a lifetime’, and instead pursue a lifetime of living adventurously through a daily pledge to push myself a little, scare myself now and then, and remain curious.Alastair Humphreys
Here’s a great short documentary about Alastair’s journey across Spain if you want to get a feel for what the book is about:
10. Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
Wild captures the fears and victories of a young woman deciding to hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a journey of self-discovery. The book touches on a wide range of topics including struggling with body image, self-confidence and grief. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir has inspired many to explore the great outdoors so if you read it, you can expect to be lacing up your hiking boots very soon!.