There is hardly a spot on the globe that has not been visited by people from other lands. Human beings have always travelled, and written accounts have existed from even before the Common Era (BCE). These early travel records have spurred on other adventurous persons to explore new lands.
1. Histories by Herodotus
Herodotus was an author who lived in Ancient Greece. He travelled to Egypt and many other places. In his book, he described the wonders of the long gone Nile kingdoms, including the pyramids. Histories, which was written around 440 BCE, influenced scores of others to witness the marvels of Ancient Egypt.
2. The Travels of Marco Polo
Marco Polo did not write his own account of his travels. He belonged to a family of traders, and spent a lot of time in China. When he had returned to Italy, he spent some time as a prisoner of war. His fellow prisoner was a writer named Rustichello da Pisa. Marco Polo recounted his experiences which were penned by Da Pisa. This was the first glimpse Westerners would have of life in Imperial China.
3. The Journals of Captain Cook The original journals still exist in the British Museum. This intrepid explorer has kept a detailed record of the lands he went to and his voyages.
Travel is now a full- fledged industry, with a large number of books and magazines dedicated solely to the subject. Here is a selection.
1. The Travel Book:
A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Roz Hopkins This best seller from Lonely Planet publications lists 218 countries in alphabetical order. It contains information, maps and lots of photographs.
2. Ionia: A Quest by Freya Stark
The author visited the sites of ancient Greek cities in the 1950s. There were virtually no tourists at the time. She wrote many other travel books.
3. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson Bryson’s
sharp wit and keenly observed descriptions have made him a very popular travel writer. This is just one of several travel books written by him.
4. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
This is the first book of this popular travel writer. He has journeyed through Asia on famous trains like the Orient Express and the Trans-Siberian Express. His journey took four months.
5. Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy In 1963,
This plucky woman set off from Ireland on her bicycle. She cycled across Europe, and crossed the Himalayas to reach India. She kept a diary on which this book is based.
6. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
Oxus is the ancient name for the river Amu Darya in Afghanistan. In 1933, the author journeyed through the Middle East, Iraq and Iran. He described the people and architecture he saw in these places.
7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This book has acquired cult status among travel books. The characters are based on the author and his friends, all part of the Beat generation. The book chronicles their unconventional journey across America.
8. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
Charley is this feted writer’s dog and travelling companion. They travel around USA, on a quest to get back in touch with ordinary people and places. He witnessed the rabid racial prejudice of the Deep South, and the warmth of the Texans.
9. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
The author was working for The Sunday Times Magazine in London. He went to Patagonia, in South America on a quest involving a piece of dinosaur skin he had seen as a child. He has been praised for his erudite prose and sparse style.
10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert had it all, but she still felt unhappy. After going through a divorce and depression, she decided to travel. Her experiences are documented in this soul searching account of her journey.