One of my biggest travel inspirations is reading what other’s have experienced. The following are choices that most inspired me!
Shanti Bloody Shanti: An Indian Odyssey by Aaron Smith (2013, Roaring Forties Press).
I first discovered Smith in a condensed travel section in my local library while I was living in Australia. Frugally saving for our South America trip, the library was my free safe haven. I picked up my love for reading, and also found a new niche in the library. Literally.
Although India had not yet been added to my repertoire when I first read Shanti Bloody Shanti, I was captivated by Smith’s writing. India was quickly added to the “Must See” countries (until this point, I didn’t think I would return to Asia, after completing the Banana Pancake trail in SouthEast Asia–what was I thinking?!).
Funny, raw and scary Smith retells his adventures, tragedy, and search for self-discovery in a way that makes you want to book a ticket to India when you are finished. As with all travellers, travelled countries will always leave a mark.
I have since purchased the book and re-read twice. Highly recommended.
Magic Bus: On The Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India by Rory Maclean (2007, Penguin).
I have Lonely Planet to thank for this one. Recommended in Great Journeys (Bain, Baxter et al., 2011, Lonely Planet) on their spread about the Hippie Trail, the author travels to Pokhara in Nepal and I was weeks away from seeing it for myself. Very inspiration indeed!
To be honest, I didn’t fully understand the Hippie Trail until I read Maclean’s book. It brings the Lonely Planet generation a dose of what “travelling” was. Some of us were lucky enough to have parents who make the journey and all of us have it to be thankful for. Founders from many of today’s biggest travel guides make the adventure and opened a new book in the world of Tourism. Maclean visits the original stops for the hippie buses and talks to original hippies– those that never made it home.
Although political times have changed, and Maclean addresses that Magic Bus showcases the original backpacker journey – a perfect companion to the traveller-at-heart.
Turn Right At Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams (2012, Plume).
Letters From Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi (2010, Penguin).
A book I felt necessary reading before my Myanmar trip in 2016, it offers powerful insight into a country rapidly changing. Although compiled before Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won elections in 2015, it’s amazing to read through her thoughts and visualise how the country is and used to be. From experiences under house-arrest to those as a child, Burma will forever be a special country. The senses are alive as she takes you on various journeys and special festivities around Myanmar. It’s a treat to experience this before visiting the country. Her stories resonated with me as I travelled through the developing country.
Do you have any suggestions? What books have you read that have inspired your travels, or helped understand somewhere you have visited?