The books that inspired me to travel

Hi Frugalistas!

What inspired you to travel?  Was it a picture, a film or the stories of friends?  A family member who brought back exotic souvenirs, photos and tales?  My own inspiration started when I was young child – I was a reader, and it has always been books that have influenced and inspired me the most.  I’d love to share my inspiration with you:

1.  The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I discovered the Little House on the Prairie series long before the television series of the same name came on the air.  As a child growing up in the inner city of Melbourne, Australia, Laura’s stories of freedom traveling the prairies in a wagon in mid nineteenth century America was not just exotic, it appeared to be like something from another planet.  I read those books over and over, and still remember the story of dear Mr Edwards crossing the prairie in the middle of a blizzard at Christmas to bring a single piece of taffy each to Laura and her sisters, the attack of the blackbirds on the corn field in South Dakota and the endless chores those girls seemed to do.  I’ve always had a hankering to visit South Dakota – I’m sure I’ll get there one day to gaze upon that prairie.

2.  My mother’s old school atlas

Remember before Google maps, we had atlases?  As a child we had my mother’s old school atlas at home – complete with the old colonial country names, and the countries of the British Empire (of which Australia had then been part) all marked in pink.  I spent hours pouring over those old pages looking at countries, their capital cities and their major cities’ exotic names.  I longed to visit out of the way places in Australia initially – I distinctly remember having a bit of a fixation with Oodnadatta (look it up!), then later with isolated and bizarre places in Siberia.  Given my distinct lack of affection for heat and my ongoing obsession with flushing loos, I’m not sure what I was thinking but I like to think it was about the freedom to stretch my boundaries and to dream – my little world could be much bigger!

3.  Europe Through the Back Door by Rick Steves

Photo:  Author's own copy

Photo: Author’s own copy

I discovered Rick Steves through his TV shows (shown on pay TV from time to time in Australia).  I loved the idea that you could travel independently without backpacking, without spending a fortune and that you could take control and do it all yourself.  This was a bit of revelation to me – even though I had traveled quite a lot by this stage.  When I discovered Rick’s book of what he calls “travel skills” (as that is what they are), I knew I had found my blueprint for how I wanted to travel.  I initially followed them, then refined them to better suit my own needs, and love Rick for it.  While this particular book, like all of Rick’s, are based on traveling to Europe, his lessons and philosophy work equally well anywhere in the world.  It’s really Rick’s book who has led me to this place today, which gives me a lot to be thankful for.

4.  Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

Photo:  Author's own copy

Photo: Author’s own copy

I lerve this book so much!  I read it during a trip to Europe, and deliberately slowed myself down as I never wanted it to finish. Rita’s story is inspiring, the places she visits are so interesting and it is just so well written.  What Rita teaches the reader is that comfort zones are just constructs of the mind – that can be overcome.  I like to think of this as the thinking woman’s Eat Pray Love (with no offence to Elizabeth Gilbert.  I do like her book too).  If you’ve  read and felt inspired by Eat Pray Love I thoroughly recommend Tales of a Female Nomad – whether you are a man or woman!

What all these books have in common is a sense of freedom – freedom roaming the prairie, the freedom to travel to the ends of the world, the freedom to stay as long in any place of the writer’s choosing and the freedom to travel without being weighed down.  So is it any wonder these are the books that have inspired me?

What inspires you to travel?

Photos:  as credited


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19 Comments on “The books that inspired me to travel”

  1. FoundTravel 30/01/2013 at 7:59 pm #

    These are great! I’m a big armchair travel buff for when schedule doesn’t allow actual visits to airports… so my favorites include “The Hills of Tuscany” by Ferenc Mate, “A Thousand Nights in Venice” by Marlena de Blasi, “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. (The last two include recipes! YUM!)

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/01/2013 at 8:20 pm #

      I’ve not read any of those, despite them being about some of my favourite places. Thanks for adding to the reading list!

  2. Aussie in France (@AussieFrance) 30/01/2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Interesting post. I thnk that I read so many books that it is hard to define what spurred me to travel. I think that all my early reading – English Victorian novels and poetry, French novels and poetry, introduced me to a world that I wanted to be part of. Individual books took me to particular places later on, such as “Under a Tuscan sun” and I often read novels in preparation of a trip to a new country. I shall definitely read your Nomad book!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/01/2013 at 8:27 pm #

      It’s interesting you say you often read in preparation for a trip. I find I do the reverse – I read and it sparks my interest. I’ve just finished a novel about Burma (which was actually not an interesting book) but it has sparked an interest in Burma and Buddhism.

      I do like the Year in Provence/Under a Tuscan Sun genre bit that’s cos I’m also a sticky nose about other people’s lives!

      Thanks for adding to our reading list!

  3. MMAndamon 30/01/2013 at 8:49 pm #

    This travel booklist is wonderful! I definitely agree with you on Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door. The 2009 edition was practically my bible when I planned my 2010 European trip.
    A couple of books I recommend are Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe (1991) – a humourous travel book and Janelle McCulloch’s La Vie Parisienne (2008) – interesting tips on must-see secret sights in the City of Lights.

    Intrigued that you included the Little House on the Prairie series (must check this out!). I was such a big fan of the television series [Melissa Gilbert’s Laura and Melissa Sue Anderson’s Mary]. 🙂

    Love this post!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 30/01/2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Thank you, that’s very kind! I have read Janelle McCulloch’s book, but am rather remiss in that I’ve never actually read any Bill Bryson (I know,shocking).

      The Little House books are much better than the TV series IMHO.

      Thanks for adding to the reading list – shame we’ve just had Christmas

    • JanelleMcCulloch'sLibraryofDesign 12/09/2014 at 12:36 am #

      Thank you for mentioning my little book. That’s so kind of you. I was so touched to read this. Also loved hearing the other suggestions, and will certainly check them all out. Warmest regards, Janelle McCulloch

      • frugalfirstclasstravel 12/09/2014 at 6:47 am #

        Thanks Janelle. That little post inspired so much great discussion. I was delighted that someone mentioned you as I had read your book. Every book I’ve ever read about France and Paris specifically is an inspiration to me.

        Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment

  4. Geek Goddess 31/01/2013 at 1:20 am #

    My parents gave me Laura Ingalls Wilder’s first book, Little House in the Big Woods, when I was bout 6 or 7. I recognize the cover from your photo. I read all of her books – several times over. I never watched the TV show based on her second book. I guess I knew a show that went on for years was merely ‘based’ on the book! I have lived in Montana and North Dakota. Her book “The Long Winter” is based on an actual extremely bad winter in the Dakota Territories, although it’s not the Great Blizzard of 1888 (Children’s Blizzard).

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 31/01/2013 at 6:21 am #

      I remember reading The Long Winter a number of times. I have a number of her books on our book shelf and I do encourage MissG to try them with little success. Unfortunately these days books about vampires and witches and the Horrible Histories series seem to rule….

      Thanks for sharing your own memories.

  5. Anita @ Anita's Feast 06/02/2013 at 9:27 pm #

    My early inspirations, in chrono order: missionaries (they got to go to Africa on sponsored travel); a subscription to the “We were there” books, which put me at the center of historical action with Florence Nightingale & explorers; Nancy Drew (in her little roadster, she had the freedom I craved); and Madame Smith, high school French teacher (who took us across my first border, to Mexico…). After that, too many books to count have inspired me to hit the road!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 07/02/2013 at 6:15 am #

      Wow, what a list – so eclectic! I love the idea of a school teacher inspiring you – what a great gift! Thanks for adding to the reading list.

  6. abstarr 07/02/2013 at 9:08 pm #

    I love inspiring books – will have to add Tales of a Female Nomad to the reading list. As cliche as it might be, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is what made me realise I wanted to travel as much as possible and then even consider writing about it!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 08/02/2013 at 7:02 pm #

      If you liked Eat Pray Love you will love Nomad. She is a much older lady than you (going by your blog) but her story is fantastic and she knows how to write. Hope you enjoy it!

  7. Sam 13/04/2014 at 2:08 am #

    This is wonderful! Books can be such a great source of inspiration, and atlases especially! My first job after university was in a travel book and map shop in central London, where I used to sell antique (real and reproductions) maps like the one in your mother’s old school atlas, as well as lots of other cool stuff! Shame I had to work in the basement and rarely got to see the sun…otherwise, it was a great job for an aspiring nomad!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 13/04/2014 at 2:49 am #

      Thank you! Even though you didn’t get to see the light of day, that sounds wonderful.

  8. Susan 26/04/2014 at 6:07 pm #

    I loved Little House books, too! And Rita ‘ s book influenced me as well. I love reading Dervla Murphy ‘ s travel adventures; she was always travelling off the beaten track and still does a bit now even in her 80s! She was the inspiration behind the Lismore Immrama Travel Writing Festival- it’s in its 12th year & is on in June. I don’t want to spam your blog with a link, so I’ll tweet it to you. Tim Butcher is one of the big speakers this year, and Lismore town is very like you’d expect an Irish town to be- complete with castle! 🙂 I love this festival! Susan

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 26/04/2014 at 7:00 pm #

      Thanks Susan, for adding to our ever growing reading list. I’ve not read Dervla Murphy and would love you to send me the link for the Lismore festival.

  9. Kimberly James 29/04/2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on Booksand Wanderlust and commented:
    I just had to reblog this post since it so fits with the theme of my blog. “Tales of a Female Nomad” is one of my favorite books.

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