Traveling is an art form. It can be impossible to perfect, but it helps to read about other people’s experiences, and mistakes, before you leave. That way you can laugh about all the mistakes you’ll make, and get to know the area of the world you’re traveling to a little more intimately. The following post is compiled of essays and books I’ve read, and think everyone should read before, or during, their next adventure.
If you’re headed on a trip through the United States, Harrison Scott Key’s essay “Fifty Shades of Greyhound” is a must read. “Fifty Shades of Greyhound” is about the author’s trips to different mountains on Greyhound buses, and the “bus people” he encountered. If you’ve ever spent any time on a bus full of strangers you’ll appreciate the humor and brutal honesty of this story.
For all the hikers out there I’d of course highly recommend reading Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (you can read my review of the book here!). I’d also recommend reading Kurt Caswell’s book, Getting to Grey Owl. There are a couple of essays in the collection about Caswell’s hiking trips with his childhood friend, Scott. My favorite was “Into The Hornstrandir.” Together they hike across Iceland, Ireland, and bits of Britain. Caswell’s essays incorporate both humor and the importance of travel for the soul.
For those traveling to South America or the Caribbean, there are a couple of interesting essays in The Best American Travel Writing of 2014. I particularly enjoyed “Amigos” by Julia Cooke. An essay about a woman named Sandra who worked as a hair stylist, sex-worker, and yogurt peddler in Havana. While I find the exploration of Sandra’s life to be uncomfortable, it was enlightening to read about a country that I don’t know very much about.
Finally, for those of us who battle with anxiety there’s a great essay by Peter Lasalle called “Train de vie: That Voice You Hear When Traveling.” I wrote an essay in my Travel Writing class detailing how I dealt with anxiety, and the pressure of living in Rome, and really took this essay to heart when writing it. The author is very forthcoming in how he operates under such circumstances, and details the choices he makes whilst dealing with his chemically altered brain.
These are all the essays/books I can think of right now, but I have a feeling I’ll make another post like this in the future after I delve even deeper into travel writing. If you have any books/essays you really like to read before or during your travels let me know in the comments down below! I always like adding new books to my to-be-read pile.
Do you have any favorite travel bloggers or writers? Let me know about them in the comments down below.
Thanks for Reading!