Adventure travel is all about facing the unknown, braving your fears, and taking on the most challenging, and possibly dangerous, way to travel. For adrenaline junkies, it’s the ultimate way to travel, and there can be no doubt that it leads to some compelling stories. Perhaps they can even inspire you to take on your own adventures.
Best Travel Adventure Books
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In these adventure travel books, you’ll find incredible stories of individuals who embarked on life-changing expeditions, they traveled to off-the-beaten-path locations, chased their destiny, and defied death in the ultimate feats of survival.
If you’re a thrill seeker who loves to read stories about the most extreme travel stories, these adventurous travel books will be right up your street. You may also like our 25 Best Books About Traveling the World
1. Tracks by Robyn Davidson
Tracks is possibly the most inspirational story about travel and self-discovery of all time. It’s the true story of Robyn Davidson, who decided to walk across the length of Australia with her dog and four camels.
Braving the harshness of the Australian outback possessed all kinds of challenges. She comes face to face with poisonous snakes, the wandering eyes of creepy men, and aboriginal people who prefer the solitude of their own people.
The 1700-mile epic adventure took her 9 months to complete and was well documented by a reporter for National Geographic, Rick Smolan, whom she met in Alice Springs.
Robyn never intended to write about her journey, she was merely driven by her love of Australia’s landscape. Fortunately, she did, as her book is so inspiring, especially for all the solo female travelers out there looking to embark on their own epic adventures. Get it on Kindle or Paperback
2. The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
The Worst Journey in the World is the real life story of Apsley Cherry-Gerrard, who was the youngest member of the team accompanying Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole.
The expedition turned disastrous, leaving him the only survivor of the notorious journey.
This novel recounts first-hand experiences, as well as sharing diary entries from his teammates, to give a detailed account of what happened during this legendary expedition.
Apsley’s memoir not only keeps the memory of the brave Arctic explorers alive but tells of a remarkable feat of survival and one incredible adventure to a place most only hear about in books. Pick it up on Amazon on Paperback or Kindle
3. Life Lessons From the Amazon by Pip Stewart
Pip Steward is an adventure traveler fueled by a zest for life. This travel book takes place over the course of three months, Pip and her team followed Guyana’s Essequibo River from its source to the sea.
With the help of guides from the Waî Waî indigenous community, Pip and her team journeyed through dense rainforest, over perilous rapids, and across the mountainous Guiana Shield, battling off threats from poisonous insects and dangerous animals along the way.
Using everything she knows about survival, Pip encounters everything the rainforest could throw at her; from flesh-eating parasites to angry snakes. She also meets the indigenous tribes that call the forest their home.
In Life Lessons from the Amazon, you are not just given a detailed account of what a journey through the rainforest is like, but you learn about how the communities thrive here.
It is a homage to the wilderness and one of the most thrilling adventure books of all time. Purchase it on Kindle or Paperback or Audiobook
4. Footloose: Twisted Travels Across Asia, From Australia To Azerbaijan by Mark Walters
Traveling has been made so easy for us with planes connecting every major city in the world. So in our modern-day society, it’s refreshing to read stories of people who travel without taking any flights – just trains, buses, and help from strangers along the road.
This is exactly how Mark Walters, an Australian adventure traveler, opted to travel. Wearing flip-flops for the entire journey, and failing to pack a towel or shorts, he traveled from his home in Australia across Asia and Europe using boats and land vehicles only.
Along the way, he meets some risky characters whom he suspects as terrorists, comes face to face with Chinese tanks, and shares a beer with a naked ex-Soviet officer. If you’re looking for a hilarious travel book packed with adventure, this one will have you bent over laughing. Buy it on Amazon
5. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart
Neil Peart had a devastating 10-month period where he lost both his wife and his daughter. Overcome with sadness and grief, he isolated himself from the rest of the world in his home by a lake.
Feeling lost and without direction, he decided to embark on an epic motorcycle journey across North America, Mexico, and Belize, covering a distance of 55,000 miles.
This inspiring book follows Neil as he recounts his journey, he describes not only the memorable landscapes but the people who helped him back on the right emotional path.
This is a personal odyssey of one man’s quest for self-discovery and healing. It reminds us that adventure is not just a way to explore off-the-beaten-path locations, but to find communities that teach us something, whether that’s how to deal with grief or learn a new meaning to life. Check it out on Amazon
6. Tuk-Tuk to the Road by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
We’ve all heard of traveling by planes, trains, and buses, but how about traveling 12,000 miles in a tuk-tuk? Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and her friend, Jo Huxster, decided to embark on an adventure no one else had done before.
They decided to buy a tuk-tuk in Thailand and drive it back home to Brighton, United Kingdom – a journey of 12,561 miles. The adventure was not just an inspirational road trip, but a way for the girls to raise money for the mental health charity, Mind, in which they raised £50,000.
Tuk Tuk on the Road describes the incredible journey they took across twelve countries and two continents. They tell of the people they met, how they endured an earthquake, and give a running commentary of every breakdown and hilarious moment.
This is an entertaining and honest travel memoir of sheer determination and prevalence. See it on Amazon / Kindle or Paperback available
7. Cycling Home from Siberia by Rob Lilwall
Cycling Home from Siberia is the thrilling adventure travel memoir by Rob Lilwall about his incredible journey cycling from Siberia to England, crossing the dense jungles of Papua New Guinea, through a cyclone in Australia, and across the war-torn Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan
Rob Lilwall used to be a high-school geography teacher, but all that changed when his sense of adventure took him and his bicycle to Siberia.
Over the course of three and a half years, he cycles across the world, through some of the most perilous landscapes and encounters some of the most dangerous areas, to make it back home to England. This inspirational book will definitely get you itching to take on an adventure of your own. Get Kindle or paperback on Amazon
8. Riding With Strangers by Elijah Wald
Hitchhiking isn’t for everyone – it’s for the adventurous. Elijah Ward recounts the exciting journey he took hitchhiking his way across the United States in an effort to prove to the world that humanity remains hospitable.
He recounts the pleasures and tribulations of the open road, as well as tells of the quirky characters he meets along the way – from regular people to businessmen to conspiracy theorists to friendly truck drivers.
This memoir is funny and quirky, and a real eye-opening adventure travel book for the curious traveler.
In Riding with Strangers, he aims to prove that hitchhiking is the ultimate form of adventure travel, not only because of the people you meet but because of the lessons you learn from them. See it on Amazon
9. Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey across Africa by Heather Ellis
Ubuntu is an ancient African word that means humanity to others. It refers to how all mankind is bonded as one. It was a lesson that Heather Ellis learned while motorcycling across Africa in her late 20s.
Leaving her small mining town of Jabiru, she headed to Durban of South Africa with her Yamaha TT600 and began her epic motorcycle road trip.
Her journey took her to the iconic Mt Kilimanjaro and the Rwenzori Mountains, across expansive deserts in northern Kenya, and across the mighty Zaire River.
Along the way, she meets a group of armed bandits and helps to rescue Turkana fishermen, battles against four aggressive Ugandan men, and aids many locals who were kind enough to take her into their homes. It was the people she met that made her truly understand the spirit of ubuntu.
This is a brave adventure travel book about a woman who defied all odds, traveled to the most extreme and dangerous places, and came out of it wiser and with plenty of stories to tell. You can buy it here for Kindle or paperback on Amazon
10. Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara
The Motorcycle Diaries is the highly acclaimed travel memoir by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who is most famous for his role in the liberation of Cuba. This travel book is a classic for those who love cross country road trips.
In his early twenties, Che was a medical student, who left his home in Argentina to explore the countries of South America, before taking a volunteer position helping a leper colony in the Amazon basin.
On his 1939 Norton 500cc motorbike, which he called La Poderosa (or The Mighty One, in English), he and his friend Alberto Granado set out to see the sights they had only read about in books.
As well as historical landmarks and scenic nature spots, they also saw social injustice, poverty, exploited mine workers, the descendants of a tattered ancient civilization, and ostracized societies.
Che’s very real adventure memoir reminds us that although we see many fascinating sites on our travels, there is also poverty and injustice out there. It’s a travel book with a purpose, and this journey may have been the inspiration that sparked his future as a Marxist revolutionary. Buy it for Kindle or Paperback on Amazon
11. Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan
While being lost at sea isn’t exactly the plan, what you make out of a bad situation can turn into one heck of an adventure. And that’s what happened to Steven Callahan.
In 1981, Steven left the United States on a Napoleon Solo sailing boat in search of Bermuda. With his friend Chris Latchem, he reached Bermuda and then continued on to England, where he left Chris in Penzance, Cornwall.
He then sailed for Antigua as part of the Mini Transat 6.50 single-handed sailing race. When he hit a storm in La Coruña, Spain, the weather sunk several boats and severely damaged Stevens’.
Determined to continue his voyage, he repaired his boat and continued on towards Antigua. He got caught in a gale that lasted several days until one night his boat hit an unknown object and created a bad hole in the boat.
Unable to stay aboard the sinking boat, Steven was forced to abandon ship. He escapes in an inflatable life raft, and he dives aboard his boat to retrieve emergency supplies such as food, navigation charts, solar stills for creating water, and other rations.
Eventually, the sailboat sank and he was alone in the raft. He spent 76 days lost at sea before he was picked up by fishermen. Adrift is the epic adventure story of Steven Callahan’s fight for survival while lost at sea. Get it now here.
12. Across the Empty Quarter by Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger was a British explorer who traveled across Saudi Arabia after the Second World War.
He was hired to search for locust breeding grounds across Southern Arabia, which took him across the Rub’ al Khali desert and the Empty Quarter, from Oman to Yemen.
With camels for company and Bedu’s as guides, he traveled through desolate lands that were threatened by tribal tensions, who opposed the presence of foreigners at the time.
The journey showed a tremendous amount of strength, courage, and resilience. Across the Empty Quarter is the memoir of his travels from 19945-1950 and aims to bring to light the way of life of the Bedu which is vanishing from existence.
Wilfred Thesiger’s life is of true adventure travel. He has lived in several African and Middle Eastern countries and didn’t return to England until 1990. He was Knighted in 1995. Available on Amazon
13. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into The Wild follows a young man from a middle-class family who seemingly had it all. Christopher Johnson McCandless had just graduated from college and was about to enter the world of work.
But instead, he abandoned his former life, changed his name to Alexander Supertramp, gave $25,000 to charity, and hitchhiked to Alaska.
Here he lived alone in the wilderness for four months just North of Mt. McKinley. One day, his body was found by a group of hunters, who also found his journal.
Jon Krakauer’s adventure novel, Into The Wild, is the story left behind in the journal, respectfully pieced together to retell what happened to this brave man whose solo adventure cost him his life. Get it on Amazon
So there you have it, the ten best adventure travel books to inspire wanderlust. Whether you’re looking for something action-packed and gripping, or something spiritual and enlightening, you’ll find something for everyone on this list.
If you are looking for more ideas for the best travel books, read our other recommendations at 25 Best Books About Traveling the World
These travel books are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many inspiring stories from the usual suspects like Bill Bryson and Jack Kerouac that a person could get lost going down the rabbit hole of best sellers and favorite travel novels. What is your favorite? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.