Thinking of travelling abroad but have some doubts? These books will get your imagination going and give you an idea what to expect, and how to prepare, for your journey abroad.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
Seen by some as the starting guide for your trip around the world, Rolf Potts taught English in South Korea for two years before embarking on his round-the-world trip often finding work as a travel writer. Returning home, he penned this book which encourages folks of all ages to pick up and leave their “comfort zone” and embark on a world wide trip. Young or old, Potts encourages everyone to have a look around the world they're living in. Throughout the book, Potts also summarizes some of the great travel writers before him. An easy read, the book easily ignites one's imagination to the possibilities of world wide travel.
Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
This man inspired me as I had travelled to a few of the places that he's travelled. I found Mr. Bryson's take on the places he's travelled to hilarious and inspiring at the same time. Along side the descriptions of his travels Mr. Bryson also includes a bit of history in his narrative. His other books about his travels through Australia and other places are equally entertaining so it might pay to pick a few of them up.
Getting Stoned With Savages by J. Maarten Troost
A hilarious memoir written by J. Maarten Troost who spent two years among Fiji and Vanuatu in the Pacific. Complete with cannibalism and kava drinking, Maarten Troost recounts his (mis)adventures, how they changed him, and what made him finally return to America after two years abroad. Especially hilarious is his telling of the giant island centipede, apparently a nasty little creature that can show up any time. He also wrote another book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, detailing his return to the Pacific island and what prompted that move. Like most travelogues, it's an easy read and hilarious even if you don't plan on travelling to the Pacific islands any time soon.
Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whore House by Paul Carter
After twenty years of working on oil rigs around the world, Paul Carter sat down and penned some stories about his travels. He hilariously recounts the challenges he faced while working on oil rigs from Australia to Russia to Africa and down to South America. From being held hostage, shot at, nearing dying of dysentry or being served cocktails by an orangutan, Carter's stories are enough fuel to make anyone re-consider giving up the traditional life and find work on the rigs. He's written another two books since then, including This is Not a Drill, which contains more stories from the oil rigs, and the latest, Is That Thing Diesel?, which tracks his progress on a biodiesel motorbike across Australia. Sure to keep you entertained you won't help but laugh every time you fill up at the local gas station once you read this book.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This book was recommended to me by a fellow volunteer in Cambodia after I had mentioned that I might go to India. He said it was an absolutely great book and very easy to read. I couldn't agree more, but I had no idea that the book was so long! Topping out at just under 1000 pages, I easily chewed through the first 300 pages in a couple of days. Not very backpacker friendly, you'll also need to make some time to make any progress through this book. An autobiography of an Australian convict who escaped and fled to India to hide out. It took some time but he eventually got deported and served his full term. He wrote this book a few times, each time it got ripped up by the jail guards. His journey is interesting to say the least, and by no means does he suggest anyone else try what he did. Overall, a very good read.
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
An exhilarating book about the so-called “perfect storm”, which only happens once every 100 years, that ripped apart more than a few fishing boats in the Atlantic ocean that tragic October 1991 day. Junger tells the story the of the Andrea Gail, a swordfish boat that departs from England attempts to navigate its way to Canada during a once-a-century storm. Providing background to each of the characters, Junger is able to paint a picture of those who work on fishing boats for a living including their motives, their personal lives, and just what it takes to navigate the high seas. Who knew that fishing could be so dangerous? Apparently it's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Junger explains how things came to be and how they ended for the crew and their families. Made into a movie in 2000, some folks think the book tells the tragedy better.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A travelogue written about Gilbert's trip across the world in three different countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. With a mostly female skew on things, the book recounts how Gilbert took herself out of her comfort zone in America and plunged herself into different cultures to find out more about herself and the world. The book will have wide appeal but it deals mostly with the failure of the American Dream and how some folks are dealing with the challenge of being stuck in mundane jobs or dead-end relationships. It achieved massive success and was subsequently made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. The movie is good but to delve deeper into the author's thinking I suggest reading the book itself.