Ten Great American Literary Travellers

great american travel writersWhether you are looking for travel inspiration or just a great read, these ten American travelers can provide you with what you are looking for. Each of their lives were just as interesting (if not more) than the extraordinary works they produced. With each writer, I offer one book that you may not have heard of. Each recommended book by the way will be a treasured gift for any travelers you may be shopping for…

Jack London books1) Jack London – While some might question my putting him at the top of this list, London’s works have probably inspired more young men to hit the road than any other. From romancing the Alaskan gold rush to marching with a homeless army to Washington D.C.- London was a humanitarian, forward thinker who spent a life thirsting for adventures. Recommended book: The Road

Hemingway shotgun2) Ernest Hemingway – While primarily thought of as a great writer, there is no denying that Hemingway was, at heart as shiftless as the next guy. Recommended book: On Paris

Steinbeck camping3) John Steinbeck – Steinbeck’s novels tend to focus on California, the place he knew and loved best but there is a restlessness and itchy feet quality to all of his work that speaks to the souls of travellers. While The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the best known, I recommend you read: Travels with Charley in Search of America

Jack Kerouac4) Jack Kerouac – known as the father of the beatniks (though that probably should be William S. Burroughs) but more like the press secretary of the beatniks- Kerouac journeyed through depression, alcoholism, and many lands from the USA to Mexico, Morocco, France and more. Kerouac’s words have inspired several generations of travellers to hit the road. Recommended book: Lonesome Traveler

Mark Twain Sphinx5) Mark Twain – Sarcastic, caustic, serious and funny. Samuel Langhorne Clemons set out to see the world and then reported on it with humor that has defined Americanness ever since. Recommended book: Roughing It

Woody Guthrie6) Woodie Guthrie – Neither a world traveler nor an author, but how could I not include the man who wrote such songs as “Blowing in the Wind” – Guthrie’s songs have been the soundtrack to so many adventures that it would be impossible not to include him – and besides his life is an incredible journey to read about. Recommended book: Woodie Guthrie: A Life

travels of Emma7) Emma Goldman – Emma Goldman got around and there was no one more feared in the post Wild West than this hell on wheels anarchist. Deported, arrested, and absolutely rabid – her life intersected with some of the most radical people of her day. Recommended book: Living My Life by Emma herself.

Grandma Gatewood8) Grandma Gatewood – Emma Gatewood was a completely different kind of person from Emma Goldman despite sharing the same first name and initials – but no less inspiring. Not only the first solo hiker to do the Appalacian Trail but also the oldest! Grandma Gatewood also hiked the 2000 mile Oregon Trail and did it all for peace. Recommended book: Enjoying the Journey

Vagabond Ed Burn9) Ed Buryn – You may have never heard of Ed Buryn, but he has inspired the likes of me, Rolf Potts, and countless others to hit the road in their own way. Ed’s unique travel philosophy is the base of today’s Vagabonding and his stories, photos and drawings still amuse, entertain and educate. Recommended book: Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa

Harry Franck Vagabond10) Harrry Franck – While not as well known as the other’s on this list, Harry Franck was perhaps the most daring and prolific of them all. Starting with a trip around the world with no money (on a dare) and then going on to explore huge portions of the world and write more than 30 books about it. I recommend you begin with his first A Vagobond Journey Around the World

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook