Eight Great Travel Books Based on True Stories

Eight Great Travel Books Based on True Stories

Evasion – Don’t Know

A collection of zines published by CrimethInc in 2003. The author travels the US by hitchhiking and train-hopping. He sleeps on the roofs of donut shops, dumpster dives, shoplifts and generally tries just about everything except working to survive as a strict Vegan on the streets. I don’t reccomend you start returning reciepts you found in bins to scam shops into giving you money to buy bagels but it’s definetly a must read soley for the writing. No book I have ever read has portrayed such a desire for adventure, with a vegan anarchist twist. The authors story is interesting too and often funny. Not many regulars of punk concerts living on the streets refuse to eat meat, drink alcohol, smoke weed, shoplift Madonna CDs and hope to find a girlfreind while dumpster diving. Free PDF copies are available around the internet.


On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Kerouac’s masterpiece which has immortalised the “Beat Generation”. Apparently written in only three weeks the fast paced book races over and back across the US and down to Mexico. Sex, drugs, shoplifting and Kerouac’s struggles on the road as he more or less followed Cassidy, a rogue car-jacker around the US. A must read even if you don’t plan on living it rough. The Dharma Bums is worth a mention too, if you like this book.

Kerouac and Cassidy

American Shaolin – Matthew Polly

I was left with a burning desire to visit China and learn martial arts after this book. The author comes from the US and is not only practised in martial arts but fluent in Chinese and an entertaining writer. The book is often very funny but provides a very real insight into life within China and the Shaolin Temple itself. A must read if you desire a journey to China.


Marco Polo

Again set in Asia, not as relevant to today but still a garanteed page turner for the adventurer. The slow paced travel of the days before the engine will leave you grateful yet somewhat dissapointed. The strange customs and places Marco meet will never be meet again. The way he described strange animals such as a Giraffe filled me with jealousy, he really explored the unkown. An unknown we can never find in the age of the internet.

Marco’s Travels

Hitchhiking Round Ireland with a Fridge – Tony Hawks

He did exactly that after losing a bet to a friend. Tony details the more fun side of hitchhiking just for the hell of it. A great example in how hitchhiking is so easily doable in almost any circumstance with a positive attitude. He stayed in B&Bs and was helped by a radio station so don’t expect anything “backpacker” about the book. Still very funny and definetly worth a read.


Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck

Steinback takes to travelling around the US in a camper with his poodle. A very well written and light read, Steinback of course writes in only the way a member of the lost generation writes, just beautifully. He set out to discover more about his fellow country men and along the way he ponders many great questions such as the politics and racism whitin the US and even picks up two hitchhikers.

Steinback and his Poodle Charlie

 Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer

A must read for any backpacker. Wheter or not you believe Christopher Mccandless was wreckless in his adventure into Alaska or a hero that todays materialistic world needs to learn lessons from is up to you.

The book is very well written and goes into far more detail then the movie of the same title bases on Christopher’s adventure on the road. Probably the books that’s most relevant to todays backpackers and hitchhikers on the list.

Chris in Alaska

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was another writer to spring from the “lost generation”. WW1 soldiers left in Europe with little desire to work and plenty of motive to drink.

The book is based on Hemingways life in Paris and travel to Spain to witness some bullfights and to party. Possibly his best book it will leave you craving a walk around Paris to “utilise” bars and speak French.


40 of My Favourite Fiction Books

A book is the perfect companion on the road and I have listed my favourites below in order.

The list is subject to change as I of course read more books (and there is so much more to read).

Please post any book recommendations in the comments section based on what you enjoy. Thanks!



  • The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde only real novel and the most gripping book I have ever read, The dialogue is just unbelievable, I wanted to memorise every line. A must read for everyone.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Why did Harper Lee only write only one book? This story tell the amazing battle of right and wrong through the eyes of a young child. The story is like a readable Bible and Atticus is the prophet. Fantastic Story!

“There are just some kind of men…who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one.”


  • Rant – Chuck Palahniuk

The biggest Mind-Fuck of my life. Probably a big surprise to sit in third place but I just loved it and it’s my favourite Palahniuk book. A time-travelling, inbred, rabbis infected, ladies man’s story told through a series of interviews with the people meet him. What’s not to love?

“By the time you read this, you’ll be older than you remember.”


  • The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman

My favourite book of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. I read these a child and was absolutely captivated. Armoured Bears, different dimension’s and of course the emotional story of Will and Lyra. The first books I loved.

“We shouldn’t live as if other worlds mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.”  


  • Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

An incredibly useful book, even if you don’t buy into Ayn Rand’s philosophy’s. The story of Howard Roark will leave you feeling far more purposeful in life. Some outstanding dialogue too.

“She knew that even pain can be confessed, but to confess happiness is to stand naked, delivered to the witness…”  


  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

The book that has immortalised Palahniuk forever, a must read for all of us who question our lives.

 “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”


  • On the Road – Jack Kerouac

 If you are reading a hitchiking blog yet have never heard of Kerouac then where the hell have you been hiding?

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”


  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s writing style is very pleasing, and Tom Sawyer remains one of my favourite ever fictional characters.

 “Ah, if he could only die temporarily!”


  • Veronica Decides to Die – Paolo Coelho

Coelho at his best undoubtedly. Never mind the “Alchemist” this is the book you want!

“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that in my view is a serious illness. God chose you to be different. Why are you disappointing God with this kind of attitude?”


  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinback

A great story with real characters written in the language of the 1930s ranch labourers, if ever there was a book written too short.

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”  


  • Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

 A book that any man who has every been a rebellious teenager can relate to, and I still don’t know where the dam ducks go in winter?

“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late?”  


  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

 Tolkien had a genius imagination, what I would give to visit Middle Earth.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”


  • Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

The best WW2 book, some brilliant characters and really funny at times.

 “He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”   


  • Rabbit Run – John Updike

I never expected this chilling book to move me so much, displays the tragedy that can be modern suburban life.

“Everybody who tells you how to act has whiskey on their breath.”  


  • The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien

My favourite from the LOTR trilogy. If you havent read these books, then do! Better than the movies.

“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to” 


  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

If I ever had half of the adventures of Huckleberry Finn I’d be content.

 “Jim said that bees won’t sting idiots, but I didn’t believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself and they wouldn’t sting me.”   


  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling

We can’t deny, the Harry Potter books are class, and Snape is the boss.

“Snape’s patronus was a doe,’ said Harry, ‘the same as my mother’s because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from when they were children.”  


  • Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

A very clever book indeed! Masterfully written in the form of a game of chess.

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked.

“What sort of things do you remember best?” Alice ventured to ask.

“Oh, things that happened the week after next,” the Queen replied in a careless tone.


  • Dracula –  Bram Stoker

An engaging tale written completely in various diary entries that created the legend of Dracula the Vampire.

“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”


  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

A great story well told through the eyes of an Autistic child.

“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”


  • The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac

Not as brilliant as “On the Road” but still a great books about Jack’s time spent studying Zen Buddhism.

“Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.”


  • The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho

A book, short though with some waffling but still it’s got some good lessons in there. 

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”


  • A Star Called Henry – Roddy Doyle

I loved this book, Henry and his brother are young homeless boys in Dublin. Henry later ends up playing a role in the 1916 rising.

“Cover your mouth when you’re coughing said the nun who called herself Mother. We’re all marching towards our eternal rest without needing help from the likes of you.”


  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Marquez

Often confusing (all the characters have like the same name) yet worth a read. A great story spanning many generations of life in a village cut off from Civilization.

“Intrigued by that enigma, he dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her.”


  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy


  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll


  • The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman


  • King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard


  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce


  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel


  • The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – Victor Hugo


  • Choke – Chuck Palahniuk


  • The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway


  • Eagle Strike – Anthony Horowitz


  • Dubliners – James Joyce


  • The Devil and Miss Prym – Paolo Coelho


  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald


  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig


  • The Commitments – Roddy Doyle


  • Angels and Demons – Dan Brown