My Top Five Travel Books

1. “Against the Wind, Pedalling for a pint from Japan to Ireland” by Yasuyuki Ozeki.

I read this book on the first day it was published in Ireland eight years ago. It is an incredible story of one man who fell in love with Ireland so much that he had to understand what the distance was between Ireland and his home country – Japan. For five months, he cycled across the Eurasian continent crossing China, Mongolia and Russia. Yasuyuki writes with a passionate intrigue at all the sites he visits and the people he meets on his journey. It is an extraordinary read.

2. “Jupiter’s Travels” by Ted Simon.

This book was first published in 1979. I was in my early teens when I first read this. It is a very long read as Ted Simon’s journey is also very long! Ted left his home and decided to travel the world on a motorbike. After four years, he travelled over 63,000 miles, across fifty-four countries! It gives a great insight into how some countries were in the past. The book is 450 pages long with very small writing! Despite the long read, it is a true page turner.

3. “Seven Years in Tibet” by Heinrich Harrer

This book is a classic! It is a story of a man who fled into Tibet during the 1940s. Tibet was an isolated country where no visitors were welcome. He fooled Tibetan authorities on numerous occasions and he was eventually allowed to stay in the country. He tutored the Dalai Lama until he fled during Mao’s revolution. It is a moving story learning about a country and culture that once existed and now has vanished.

4. “Giant Steps” by Karl Bushby

The front cover of this book says “The Remarkable Story of the Goliath Expedition from Punta Arenas to Russia”. The word remarkable best sums up this book. Karl Bushby wants to be the first man to walk from the very tip of South America all the way to England by walking north, then crossing the frozen Bering Straits and walk westward until he makes it home. This book is an account of his walk from 1998 to 2006, describing his journey from Punta Arenas to the Bering Strait. Karl has stories of getting through the dangerous Columbian jungle, being in prison in Panama and dressing up as an itinerant to avoid attention. Unfortunately Karl has not been able to continue his expedition but this book and his achievement is certainly praiseworthy.

5. “Ruinair” by Paul Kilduff.

RuinairHow to be treated like shite in 15 different countries… and still quite like it – This book is a hilarious! Most Europeans will be able to relate to at least one thing in this book as Ryanair, also known as Ruinair, is one of the biggest airlines in Europe. They are an airline with a “no frills” policy. Paul describes nearly every story you have heard from friends or friends of friends about their disasters with Ryanair. Paul travels all across Europe and tells his readers all his mishaps with great humour. The book is complemented with numerous quotes by the Ruinair CEO Michael O’Leary – A witty guy who literally does not care about his customers. Paul Kilduff accurately describes my, and everyone else’s, love-hate relationship with Ireland’s best and worst airline!

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10 thoughts on “My Top Five Travel Books

  1. Nice selection! Seeing Jupiter’s Travels on your list made me smile. After travelling around Mexico on the back of a motorbike, my bike enthusiast friend handed over a tatty old copy as a parting gift. Before I rebuked him for not bothering to buy me a new one he explained that it was actually a signed copy by the author, given to him by another bike fanatic at the start of his journey, who’d met Simon many years ago. I felt like a pilgrim had just handed over his bible to me.

    Enjoy your travels around South America – it’s an amazing continent. I’d highly recommend Colombia as a port of call if you have the time.

    • Oh I am so jealous that you have a signed copy of Jupiters Travel! I have a signed copy of ‘Against the Wind: Pedaling for a pint from Japan to Ireland’ and a signed copy of Ewan McGregor’s ‘Long Way Round’. But your signed copy of Jupiters travel beats my two books!

  2. Cycling across Eurasia? Traveling on a motorbike 63,000 miles? Tutoring the Dali Lama? Prison in Panama? And the last just makes me laugh. What a wonderful selection of travel books – I will have to get to reading!! I think I’ll start with #5 first 🙂

  3. Ruinair is hilarious! There is a sequel called Ruinairski! It is about flying with Ryanair to eastern Europe! I love travel literature! I have over 50 travel books! If you want to read a funny travel book about Ireland buy ‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ by Tony Hawks (not the skater!).

    • It sounds like I have about 7 books to get going on then. Maybe I can find one of them for my flights back to the U.S. in a couple of weeks! Over 50 travel books! Wow! You are definitely a travel enthusiast, and I’m sure you have had some incredible experiences. You’re also a great photographer (which is a handy skill with so much traveling!) I will definitely check out the latter in addition to the aforementioned books. I love to read, and have never really read much travel literature. I’m sure I will love it!

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