Top Ten Most Inspirational Books I’ve Read

About five years ago now, when I was a student heading back to Sheffield on the train after the Christmas holidays, I finished reading Jupiter’s Travels, a book about Ted Simon and his four-year solo motorcycle journey around the world in the 1970s. My life has never been the same since. It made me realise that the world is full of things to experience, interesting people to meet, and that “magic is seeing something for the first time”. I had not given much thought to world travel before that. But my outlook on the world had changed: I wanted to see some of that magic for myself.

Since then, I’ve read many travel books, both those widely recommended and regarded as travel classics, as well as some lesser known books that I rather feel I have discovered by myself. Here is a list of the top ten most inspirational travel books that I’ve read over the last four or five years. These choices are very personal to me, and are selected more for the inspiration they have given me, than any particular literary merit, so feel free to disagree with my choices.

1. Jupiter’s Travels – Ted Simon

2. Moods of Future Joys/Thunder and Sunshine – Alastair Humphreys

3. It’s Not About the Bike – Lance Armstrong

4. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

5. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know – Ranulph Fiennes

6. A Time for Gifts – Patrick Leigh Fermor

7. Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson

8. The Worst Journey in the World – Apsley Cherry Garrard

9. Cycling Home from Siberia – Rob Lilwall

10. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome

Arguably, some of these titles do not really fit into the ‘travel’ genre. But they remain huge sources of inspiration for me, promoting the idea of freedom, adventure, and rugged determination in the face of great challenges.

Please feel free to add any you feel I have missed in the comments below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most difficult parts of putting life on pause and leaving everything you know and love to go cycling half way around the world, in my opinion, is telling everyone that you’re putting your life on pause and leaving everything you know and love to go cycling half way around the world. I’ve had to tell my girlfriend, my parents, my gran, my employers, my landlord and my friends. Some, I must admit, take it better than others. Some don’t seem to care very much, while others look at me oddly and give me a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, certain that my brain must have fallen out.

Most of the people have asked me a tirade of questions, again, some more than others. Here are some of the common questions I’m asked, and the answers I’ve begun to tell:

1. Q: You’re doing what?! A: I’m cycling to India!

2. Q: What, all the way? A: No, that would be ridiculous. Obviously I will need to take the ferry across 20 miles of English Channel. Other than that, though, I plan to cycle the whole way, where possible.

3. Q: How many of you are going? A: Just me!

4. Q: Are you mad? A: Maybe a little bit.

5. Q: How long will that take? A: Maybe six months. There’s not an awful lot of science involved in that estimation, though. I basically looked at a map of the world and decided that an inch was about a month’s ride. It was six inches to India.

6. Q: Where will you sleep? A: In a tent, unless some more desirable sleeping arrangements present themselves en-route.

7. Q: What will you eat? A: I’ll have a trusty bag of rice or pasta secreted in the bottom of my pannier bag, but I will generally be eating whatever food is cheaply and readily available in the countries I travel through.

8. Q: What about your job? A: Unfortunately I decided I couldn’t make it all the way to India within my 25 days of annual leave, so I’ve had to leave my job.

9. Q: Won’t your backside hurt? A: Almost certainly.

10. Q: Will you write a book about it when you get back? A: Maybe, if I have an exciting enough story to tell, and if I can remember how to write!

Please feel free to ask any other questions in the comments box below!