As a traveler myself, I appreciate those authors who show us the meaning in and true purpose of travel: to acquire a changed perspective. A good travel writer does not merely describe a place and people for us. Rather, they submerge us into the culture. We smell the spices in the food. We see the colors in the air as the sun rises above a market square. We feel the oppressive heat of a desert. Often, we sympathise with the traveler’s discomfort when he or she goes without running hot water or air conditioning. We experience what they experienced in that place and time and with those people.
These are some the writers you will want to read. The list is not exhaustive. There are many more, especially more by women as solo travel has opened up for them more and more in recent years. However, this is a good start.
What? John Steinbeck, you ask? Didn’t he write classic American literature? Yes and yes.
His book, Travels with Charlie, explores that amazing phenomenon we all experience when we return someplace we thought we knew well and find it changed. You will learn much about American life and perspective. If you have not read this before you graduate from high school, then get busy and read it now.
I would like to add another female writer to this list and I do it here because she is not primarily known as a writer. That is Amelia Earhart. Any student usually knows who she is; the notoriety of her demise and the way she stood out during a time when no other women were doing what she did, i.e.,she took to the air to fly across oceans and continents. Her books, 20 Hours, 40 Minutes, Our Flight In Friendship, The Fun Of It, and Last Flight are fascinating to read because they show a woman who moved effortlessly in a role usually reserved for males; she was a pilot.
I recommend Earhart’s books not so much as hallmarks of classic literature, but as an example of a woman’s achievement and her attempts to chronicle an exceptional period in history that will affect those who take the time to read her books, male or female.