8 Novels That Capture the Magic of Slow Travel

young woman reading on the beach
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Travel and fiction have often found themselves linked down the centuries, and the ability of words and elaborate descriptions to inspire people to want to explore has become a growing influence in encouraging many people to travel. The ability of writers to be able to carry out their work almost anywhere has also made them among the most adventurous travelers, as can be seen by the adventures of Hemingway and Kerouac. There are hundreds of novels that can be recommended, but here are a few options that highlight the benefits and attractions of being more patient and traveling slowly.

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway explored the world during his lifetime, but this 1926 novel drew on his experiences of travel in Spain and is the tale of a group of friends traveling from Paris to Pamplona to enjoy the running of the bulls. The themes in the book also explore life in the post-First World War world and the period in the 1920s when there were around two hundred thousand English speakers living and working in Paris.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

This book is one that has inspired many to travel, and it tells the story of a young shepherd in Andalucia who sells his flock so that he can travel to Egypt to find the buried treasure that he has seen in visions and dreams. The idea of a 'Personal Legend' is strong here, and it emphasizes the importance of pursuing your dreams and doing what you have always wanted to do, which for many people is to travel and explore.

Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne

Although this story is about a race against time, because of the transport methods at the time it also celebrates slow travel, with sailing, horse-drawn carriage, and even by hot air balloon, all included. Phileas Fogg is the English gentleman trying to travel around the world in the set time, in order to win a bet against his friends at London's Reform Club.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

Although most famous for its significant scenes of drug use, the plot of this tale takes the protagonists on a journey to Las Vegas, in a trip where they are actually going to report upon a motorcycle race taking place there. While the book does have a lot of bitterness and anger, it also promotes the use of travel as a way of getting away and dealing with other problems.

The Beach, Alex Garland

The book that inspired thousands of young people and teenagers to travel to South East Asia, this novel features stunning descriptions of the beaches of Ko Phi Phi but also covers darker themes such as the clash between the native people and those who have traveled to the region. The Ko Phi Phi island described in the book has changed significantly with the influx of visitors, but it is still a beautiful place to visit and explore.

Far Tortuga, Peter Matthiessen

This novel follows a group of turtle hunters who travel around the islands of the Caribbean as the industry is dwindling, and tracks their search for hunting grounds, while also looking at the interaction between the crew. For those looking to fire their wanderlust, there are plenty of exotic descriptions and scenes of the natural beauty to be found in this part of the world.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

This novel is one of Kerouac's key works in what became known as the 'beat generation', and covers a series of road trips taken by the two main characters in the book across America. As well as being a beautiful inspiration for so many authors, poets, and singers who have referenced the work, it is a great inspiration for travelers too.

The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Although it is a journey through a fictional land, many of the challenges that face Bilbo Baggins and his company of dwarfs are familiar to the seasoned traveler, from pickpocketing and stealing through to being imprisoned by the locals! This is a great story of a small individual who sees a whole lot of the wider world, coming back a changed man, or hobbit as the case may be.

Lucky for us, there's no shortage of good books to read and places to explore. Check out these books to find inspiration for your next travel adventure!

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