A great reading list for newbie travelers
Before you go traveling for the first time, make sure you have the key information that will help you enjoy and make your trip memorable.
You might get a lot of crap advice and tips from people who don’t know what exactly they are talking about in relation to traveling. They mean well, of course, but they have never been traveling themselves so they aren’t imparting wisdom – just vague warnings based on what they hear and what they read online. These are the people who will tell you that it is more dangerous than it is, or that you are damaging your future career prospects, or that travel is unaffordable and unsustainable or that you should stay only in five-star resorts and wear your backpack on your front.
In contrast, when you start reading and listening to the messages from people who have actual travel experience, you’ll hear a different story. You’ll learn that the world is not as dangerous and scary as people think, that travel can be much more affordable than you know and that it’s possible to have truly amazing experiences if you are willing to go outside your comfort zone.
So, before you travel, I highly recommend reading and listening to the messages from people who have actually been on the road and know travel first hand. They will be able to give you realistic advice so that you begin your first journey with the right expectations.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of great travel resources available out there, developed by actual travelers who have real-world experience navigating the globe. Here are some of the blogs, books, podcasts, and other resources that I recommend you to read and listen to if you are preparing to go on a trip for the first time.
Jodi is one of my favorite travel writers on the internet. She shares the perfect balance of personal narrative and practical advice. Even though she publishes huge, long, in-depth posts, they are so well written that you can read through a 10,000-word post without even noticing.
Every newbie traveler should read her incredibly comprehensive page of Travel Resources where she shares a ton of helpful information and advice. Then, visit this page to find more links to her other tips and information on traveling the world. Also, take the time to read some of her beautiful personal travel essays, such as Silence and Spiders: 10 Days at a Vipassana Meditation Course.
Matt is one of the biggest travel bloggers out there – and for good reason. He offers really solid, valuable, useful travel tips that are helpful for any newbie traveler. For example, here are 61 Travel Tips to Make You the World’s Savviest Traveler, 12 Things I’d Tell a New Traveler and 14 Major Travel Scams to Avoid.
(That last one is particularly important to read. You’ll have a much safer journey if you know what scams to watch out for.)
Matt Karsten is a travel photographer and professional blogger with a ton of experience – he’s been traveling the world for 7 years. His site is filled with an incredible amount of useful information for a newbie traveler and he explains in-depth how travel doesn’t have to be expensive and the world isn’t as dangerous as you think. Plus, his photos are gorgeous.
You can get a lot of entertainment and vicarious thrills by reading Matt’s crazy travel adventure stories, such as squatting with gypsies in caves in Spain or getting tattooed by a monk in Thailand. However, he also offers a lot of valuable travel tips and advice, such as a huge regularly updated page of budget travel resources and advice that will help you with finding cheap flights, planning, saving money, safety, and much more.
Earl is another blogger I love who has serious travel experience – he’s been to 101 countries so far and has been traveling since 1999. His blog is packed with great info, so spend some time exploring it. One of my favorite posts of his is The Currency of Pad Thai, which explains eloquently just how affordable travel can actually be.
If you are going anywhere in Southeast Asia, I highly recommend you bookmark Travelfish. It’s an independent travel guide covering Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Myanmar.
No matter what tiny island or small town you find yourself in, Travelfish probably has a guide to the hotels, weather information, things to do, transport, and more. Plus, they have a travel forum where you can ask questions when planning your trip.
Roads & Kingdoms
So now that you’ve read plenty of practical advice from the wise and experienced travelers. It’s time to read some intriguing stories from the road that will inspire you for your trip. Roads & Kingdoms is a fascinating collection of travelogues from odd and interesting corners of the world. It often features off the beaten travel locales, food adventures, and insights into different cultures and makes for a great read.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
You know that feeling when you read a book and it completely changes your way of seeing the world and the way you live your life? Well, that’s what Vagabonding did for me.
I read it while I was backpacking around New Zealand in 2009 and it taught me that I didn’t have to live a conventional life and that travel didn’t have to be something that you did once when you were young. I learned it was completely possible to travel the world for long periods of time in a sustainable way.
So, that’s exactly what I did and I’ve been to 50 countries since, traveling the world as a digital nomad and working from my laptop. Seriously, this book is inspiring and if you have the travel bug it just may change your life too.
Back in 6 Years: A Journey Around the Planet Without Leaving the Surface
I read this book before I went traveling for the first time and it certainly was one of the factors that inspired me to go. It’s the true story of a man who travels around the world for six years, circumnavigating the globe without leaving its surface.
He gets across the Amazon by boat, across Canada by bike, and sails across the South Atlantic. It’s funny and gripping and of course, he gets into a lot of mishaps along the way. This book left me breathless with excitement and wanting to circumnavigate the globe too.
The Four Hour Workweek
This is another one of the books that I read in my early travel days which helped to change my mindset. Now, full warning here: Tim Ferriss is a bit of an extreme dude and some people find him a bit off-putting. A reviewer described this book as being locked “in a room with a manic-depressive person during the manic part of his cycle” and I can understand that. He’s obsessed with trying to hack and optimise every aspect of his life and that leads him into overzealous, crazy experiments with diet, sleep, etc. – most of which isn’t helpful for the average person.
However, if you can get past the manic ramblings and disregard the stuff that doesn’t work for you, there is some golden wisdom in here for newbie travelers. Basically, Tim is a bit of an egomaniac but the important thing I got out of it is that you don’t have to experience the world the way you were told you should.
Tim explains that you don’t have to be rich to travel often and he encourages taking “mini-retirements” throughout your life rather than planning to retire when you are older. He encourages you to rethink the status quo and imagine your life as you would really like to live it, which can be very inspiring. You don’t have to work nonstop for 45 years then retire – there are other options for satisfying your travel urges.
Extra Pack of Peanuts
This podcast is run by Travis and Heather and they offer a lot of helpful travel tips, including how to use airline points, what travel gear to bring, how to use your phone while traveling, and more. As well as the podcast, their website also has a ton of helpful resources.
Zero to Travel Podcast
This is another helpful and practical podcast that offers tips for traveling on a budget, dealing with life on the road and other questions that newbie travelers may have. It promises to offer “new and different ways to travel the world no matter what your situation or experience.”