Thirty days here into the shelter-at-home directive here in the San Francisco Bay Area and like many, I miss travel. Our most popular family dinner topic is where we all want to go as soon as we can, and the popular options are a little more exploratory and adventurous than normal. As always, I go to books for inspiration. Here are some suggestions on the best ways to satisfy wanderlust with some great travel books.
One of my all-time favorite travel books, and perhaps the book that awakened my own love of travel, is Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar. In this famous travelogue, Theroux recaps a 1973 four-month train trip across Europe, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and Russia. Truly a classic in travel literature, especially for someone who loves trains.
Fans of travel fiction will love Yann Martel's popular 2001 novel, The Life of Pi; the tale of a 16-year-old Indian kid and a 450-pound Bengal tiger together in a lifeboat while lost at sea. The movie is very good too but seriously, start with the book first!
Those looking for true exploration and adventure will love The Worst Journey in the World, the tragic story of the Robert Falcon Scott 1910-1913 expedition to Antarctica. The book is renowned for the honest depiction of the extreme challenges faced.
In these dark and uncertain times, a little sense of humor goes a long way, and in travel writing that means Bill Bryson. We like all his work and recommend In a Sunburned Country, his funny review of his visit down under. Australia is an enormous and truly unique place, and there is no one better than Bill Bryson to explain its wonders.
Finally, if you are looking to encourage your children’s desire to explore, I recommend the beloved Dr. Seuss lyric classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. The story carries a meaningful message about embracing new adventures and the fun of trying new things.
In the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” The opportunity to travel will come back someday, so for now please stay safe.