Travel writing matters
Explore the world through this beautiful collection of the finest travel writing published in British media in the 21st century – as judged by some of the most respected travel writers in the world: Levison Wood, Monisha Rajesh, Jessica Vincent and Simon Willmore
The world has changed, but our desire to explore new places remains as strong as ever. The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century includes 30 outstanding travel stories published in British media over the last two decades, as chosen by some of the top names in travel writing today. Through travel’s most talented storytellers, you’ll face adversity along the Congo’s raging River Lulua, make new friends aboard Iraq’s night train, and embark on life-changing pilgrimages from India to Saudi Arabia.
This book is an ode to travel and all that it offers, but it’s also a celebration of a genre that brings the world closer to us. At its best, travel writing encourages empathy and inspires change. Join our award-winning writers in marvelling at the power and beauty of travel, and let them inspire you to fall in love with the world all over again.
The Responsible Traveller is your ticket to sustainable and ethical travel. This pocket-sized book provides the knowledge and tools that can help you to explore the world with a lighter footprint.
Whether you travel out of curiosity, to find respite, to remind yourself of how vast and wonderful our planet is, or in search of life-shaping adventures, having the freedom to explore can be exhilarating and hugely rewarding. However we owe it to the people, cultures, ecosystems and wildlife that we encounter along the way to travel with respect; to preserve our beautiful world for generations to come.
The Responsible Traveller will show you how to make actionable changes that result in more thoughtful and adventurous travels, while also doing our very best for Planet Earth. Through case studies and storytelling, you’ll learn about the environmental and social effects of tourism and gain a deeper understanding of cultural sensitivity. And through simple, achievable tips and practical lifestyle changes, you’ll discover how you can make an almighty difference in reducing your impact. Empowered with this information, perhaps your next adventure will be inspired by consideration, understanding and compassion.
I had no life experience, zero common sense and had never eaten rice. I suffered from debilitating anxiety, was battling an eating disorder and had just had my heart broken. I hoped by leaving to travel the world I would be able to heal myself.
Instead, Lauren’s travels were full of bad luck and near-death experiences. Over the space of a year, she was scammed and assaulted; lost teeth and swallowed a cockroach. She fell into leech-infested rice paddies, was caught up in a tsunami, had the brakes of her motorbike fail and experienced a very unhappy ending during a massage in Thailand. It was just as she was about to give up on travel when she stumbled across a handsome New Zealander with a love of challenges…
If you think writing a guidebook is easy, think again…
They were bored, broke, burned out and turning 40, so when Ben and Dinah saw the advert looking for a husband and wife team with young kids to write a guidebook about family travel around Britain, they jumped at the chance. With naïve visions of staring moodily across Coniston Water and savouring Cornish pasties, they embark on a mad-cap five-month trip with daughter Phoebe, four, and son Charlie, two, embracing the freedom of the open road with a spirit of discovery and an industrial supply of baby wipes.
Fired by a long enthusiasm for all things Greek, Edward Enfield mounts his trusty Raleigh to follow in the footsteps of such notable travellers to Greece as Benjamin Disraeli, Edward Lear and the Romantic poet Lord Byron.
Fortified by delicious fish dinners and quantities of draught retsina, he tackles the formidable roads of the Peloponnese before plunging, on a later trip, into the rugged heartlands of Epirus and Acarnania. His travels are set against the great panorama of Greek history – Greeks and Romans, Turks and Albanians, Venetians, Englishmen and Germans all people his pages.
An enchanting travelogue that combines wit, charm and scholarship, Greece On My Wheels is a superb example of travel writing at its unforgettable best.
We were aware of a dreamlike quality to our trip. There was something far-fetched about it, something out of this world.
Austerity might be getting everyone else down, but Steve is waving his worries goodbye on another of his light-hearted trips around the picturesque English waterways.
This time it’s a bit different, though. This time he’s not just cruising with his cat, Kit, but with his long-suffering wife, Em, who’s given up work and wants her share of easy living too. They’ve rented out their home for the ups and downs of a life afloat, and there’s no going back now as they cruise from the historic River Thames, through the Midlands and westward into the hills of Wales, meeting a familiar cast of eccentrics and oddballs along the way, and experiencing one of the hottest summers of recent years.
But how, after life in a four-bedroom house, do they manage to survive together squeezed into a space the size of a potting shed? Other books pretend to tell you about life afloat – this one shows you what it’s really like.
‘Watch out for men with too much wooden jewellery, Amy. I know what you’re like… you’ll let them sucker you in with their yoga chat but essentially, they’re unwashed… and you don’t want to put your face anywhere near an unwashed penis, let me tell you.’
Having announced her plans to quit her job and backpack around South America, humourist and gonzo journalist Amy Baker found herself on the receiving end of a whole bunch of over-the-top and seemingly unnecessary advice. Amy shrugged it all off of course… that is, until she ran into trouble.
After falling into a crevasse, swimming in crocodile-infested waters, dodging cocaine con artists and encountering handsome soothsayers, Amy soon starts to wonder if her Mum, boss and Carol from reception really were onto something. Weighing up their advice against that of known ‘Clever People’ like Tina Fey, Salvador Dalí and Mother Teresa, Amy finally establishes once and for all who it might actually pay to listen to.
Deep in the Limousin countryside, Richard Wiles bought his dream home. But little did he expect to be living full time in the dilapidated farmhouse while struggling to finish the conversion during the insect plagues of summer and the harsh blizzards of winter. Watched by his bemused neighbours, Richard also pursues his more unusual dreams of raising llamas, hot-air ballooning and marathon running whilst trying to keep the roof over his head. Told with unfailing humour and optimism, this is a unique tale of overcoming the formidable challenges of building a home, and a life, in France.
Creatures from another time, volcanic mountains five million years old, Indian tribes surviving from the pre-Inca period, jungles and rainforests: Ecuador has all this and more. Only in its Galapagos Islands did Charles Darwin discover such a variety of extraordinary fauna that on his return to England he wrote his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species. With a philosophical yet humourous approach, Neville Shulman provides an in-depth background to Ecuador and its diverse peoples and tells intriguing stories of spectacular creatures and exotic flora, many not found anywhere else in the world.
With passion and wit, Bernard Levin describes his travels on foot through the beautiful countryside of south-eastern France. He follows in the mighty footsteps of the great Carthaginian enemy of Rome, Hannibal, who made the expedition with an army and elephants nearly two millennia before.
From the Camargue via the Rhône Valley, across the Alps and into Italy during August snowstorms, he comments on the social and historical importance of the landscapes he passes through, taking detours to the table of chef Jacques Pic at Valence and the Arles region immortalised by Van Gogh. The journey would not have been complete without enjoying the hospitality of the Moussets – the fifth generation of their family to produce wine at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, before turning eastwards, to face the greater challenge of the Alps.
‘Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book… give it all.’
WRITE MORE – WRITE BETTER – WRITE NOW!
This colourful little book of uplifting quotes and tailored tips delivers motivational sparks and creative signposts for writers. Read it, write on it, put it in a frame on your desk – whatever you do with it, the aim is simple: to get you writing!
Do you have a phone front to match every outfit? Do you text faster than you can write? You could be suffering from the spreading epidemic of mobile-addiction – check out the symptoms in this volume. Put your feet up, have a listen and let your answer-phone take your messages.
Experience the world by train alongside best-selling travel writer Tom Chesshyre, as he takes a whistle-stop tour around the globe in 49 unique journeys
Why do people love trains so much?
Tom Chesshyre is on a mission to find the answer by experiencing the world through train travel – on both epic and everyday rail routes, aboard every type of ride, from steam locomotives to bullet trains, meeting a cast of memorable characters who share a passion for train travel.
Join him on the rails and off the beaten track as he embarks on an exhilarating whistle-stop tour around the globe, on journeys on celebrated trains and railways including:
– India’s famed toy train
– Sri Lanka’s Reunification Express
– The Indian Pacific across the Australian outback
– The Shanghai maglev
– And the picturesque rail journeys of the Scottish Highlands
Plus trains through Kosovo, North Macedonia, Turkey, Iran, Finland, Russia, America and France, with short interludes in North Korea, Italy, Poland, Peru, Switzerland, England and Lithuania. All aboard!
‘Brussels and all those Eurocrats on the gravy train? It’s just so boring. Why, you can’t even name ten famous Belgians!’
Until 1993, Alec had never been to Belgium, so it came as some surprise when in August that year he found himself at the altar of a small church in Flanders, reciting wedding vows in Flemish. It was the start, for better or for worse, of a long relationship with this unassuming and much maligned little country.
As he ordered yet another pint of Stella, it dawned on him that perhaps it was time to immerse himself in Belgian culture, especially when there were over a hundred locally produced beers on the menu. He vowed to put worldwide opinion to the test: just how boring can Belgium be?
There was someone standing further along the beach, facing out to sea. An old man dressed in… I blinked… battle fatigues? Second World War U.S. by the looks of the helmet. I looked on for a moment, squinting into the sun-streaked coconut smoke.
‘You won’t like Bonga’s Guest House, I can tell you now. Maximo Bonga…’
said the fisherman’s wife. She was lost for words, shaking her head.
‘Maximum Bongo?’ I asked.
‘Bonga,’ she said. ‘It means flamboyant.’
Based on a true story
On one of South East Asia’s most remote beaches, a young woman’s body is found. The corrupt local police think they have found the perfect fall guy in Maximo Bonga – cantankerous World War Two veteran and owner of the weirdest guesthouse in town.
But unbeknownst to them, an unlikely friendship has been forged between Maximo and John, one of the boarders of Maximo’s guest-house-cum-boot-camp, where an old machine gun and camouflaged mantraps stand guard, sandbags form fences and a tyrannical pet rooster terrorises the guests. Along with an eccentric bunch of modern-world rejects, John sets out to defend the old soldier in a kangaroo court set up at the local cockpit, in a paradise like no other.
There is a moment every morning when the countryside takes a pause. The birds stop singing, the dogs choke back their barks, and cats pause mid-stride. Everything waits. It’s in this vacuum that a man working alone has the best chance of finding truffles. The plot of land was perfect, just what they’d been looking for, offering expansive views across the valley and within walking distance of the local village. There was only one small problem, there was no house. And yet the land was affordable and came, the agent promised, with a possible income from a copse of truffle oaks. Just after the birth of their first daughter, after leaving the London rat race behind, here was a chance for Jamie and his wife to finally realise their dream of owning a property. With one final salivating glance at the oak trees the decision was made. All they needed now was a dog. And their quest to find and train a truffle dog turns out to be as full of hidden discoveries as a truffle hunt itself.
With delicious humour and superb storytelling, Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog is sure to delight anyone who loves dogs, food and rural France.
Do you love trains? Do you love adventure? If so, join Tom Chesshyre on his meandering rail journey across Europe from London to Venice.
Escaping the rat race for a few happy weeks, Chesshyre indulges in the freedom of the tracks. From France (dogged by rail worker strikes), through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, he travels as far east as Odessa by the Black Sea in Ukraine. With no set plans, simply a desire to let the trains lead the way, he heads back via Hungary, the Balkans and Austria. Along the way he enjoys many an encounter, befriending fellow travellers as well as a conductor or two.
This is a love letter to Europe, written from the trackside.
Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer
Travel opens our minds to the world; it helps us to embrace risk and uncertainty, overcome challenges and understand the people we meet and the places we visit. But what happens when we arrive home? How do our experiences shape us?
The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met before. Someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.
This is a collection of stories by accomplished travellers and adventurous souls like Sarah Outen, Benedict Allen, Ed Stafford and Al Humphreys, who have completed daring journeys through challenging terrain, adventuring from the Calais Jungle to the Amazon, from Land’s End to the Gobi Desert, from New Guinea to Iran and many other places in between. Each has a story to tell of a time when they were vulnerable, when they were in need and a kind stranger came to their rescue.
These are stories that make our hearts grow, stories that will restore our faith in the world and remind us that, despite what the media says, the world isn’t a scary place – rather, it is filled with Kind Strangers just like us.
All royalties go directly to fund Oxfam’s work with refugees.
Martin Strel looks like your typical middle-aged bloke. He likes a laugh, a drink and the sight of a pretty woman. But put him in water and he turns into a swimming machine.
In April 2007, after 66 days, he became the first person to swim the Amazon, 3,274 miles from the Peruvian Andes to the Atlantic shores of Brazil. On this extraordinary journey he dodged piranhas, sharks and river pirates, met indigenous tribes who either revered him as a god or chased him with machetes, and swam from dawn to dusk for 60 miles every single day. Like pioneers before him who first climbed Everest or explored the poles, Martin shifted the limits of human capability.
His story – of endurance, of determination, of dehydration and exhaustion, of illness and blood pressure that reached heart-attack levels – is an inspiration to people everywhere.
There were five rules of Twitchhiker:
I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation from people on Twitter. I can’t make any travel plans further than three days in advance. I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase. If there is more than one offer, I choose which I take. If there is only one, I have to take it within 48 hours. If I am unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home. Bored in the bread aisle of the supermarket one day, Paul Smith wondered how far he could get around the world in 30 days through the goodwill of users of social networking site Twitter. At the mercy of these rules, he set his sights on New Zealand – the opposite point on the planet to his home in Newcastle. All he had to do next was explain the idea to his new wife.
In an adventure wrapped in nonsense and cocooned in daft, he travelled by road, boat, plane and train, slept in five-star luxury and on no-star floors, shmoozed with Hollywood A-listers and was humbled by the generosity of the thousands who followed his journey and determined its course.
@twitchhiker I can send you to Wichita by Greyhound if that’s any good… Sent 10:13 AM Mar 12th
I was more or less in the exact geographical centre of a different continent, and a nameless woman some 4,000 miles east in Dublin was buying me a bus ticket…
It was an empty landscape now with huge horizons in every direction, a compressed, steam-rollered desert where man had no place. We lacked the skills to carry out even basic fixes. If the van stopped working we were really stuck. No one knew where we were and our last mobile phone signal had been 150 miles ago.
Fifty-something and tired of arguing with John Humphrys over the day’s headlines, BBC journalists Geoff and David found themselves eagerly volunteering for redundancy. But rather than easing into retirement with the odd round of golf, they decided to buy a van and drive off to Mongolia. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…
In an epic journey through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Siberia and across the Gobi Desert, they discover more about each other in a few weeks than they did sharing an office for years.
Lying in wait are crooked cops, bent border guards and terrible roads, but also welcoming and curious locals, eager to help the pair on their mission.
Leaving the blinding sand for the cool shade of the trees, I walked carefully through the undergrowth to where Dave, using two twigs as chopsticks, was picking up a freshly severed human finger…
John’s trip to India starts badly when he finds himself looking at the sharp end of a knife in a train station cubicle. His life is saved by the enigmatic Rick, who persuades John to abandon his mundane plans for the future for much, much more. Fast forward to the Thai island of Koh Pha-Ngan where they pose as millionaire aristocrats in a hedonistic Eden of beautiful girls, free drugs and wild beach parties. Soon pursued by Thai Mafia, they escape to Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong, facing danger at every turn.
Filled with wild adventures in exotic locations, this is not travel writing for the faint-hearted: this is an amazing true story of the hunt for excess at any cost.
Tips and Ideas for Making Your Gap Year Great
Gap years are bursting with possibility, begging to be filled with new experiences and unforgettable moments. But how do you make the most of your time out? This handy guide is packed with exciting and creative ideas that will take you all over the world. Whether you’re in search of a thrilling outdoor activity or a spiritual awakening, here’s how to make it truly memorable.
… one of the best ways to get to know a country is to take yourself to the less touristy, less obvious destinations. And let’s face it: things don’t get much less touristy than Slough…
As staff travel writer on The Times since 1997, Tom Chesshyre had visited over 80 countries on assignment, and wondered: what is left to be discovered?
He realised that the answer might be very close to home. In a mad adventure that took him from Hull to Hell (actually a rather nice holiday location in the Isles of Scilly), Tom visited secret spots of Unsung Britain in search of the least likely holiday destinations. He got to know the real Coronation Street in Salford, explored Blade Runner Britain in Port Talbot, discovered that everything’s quite green in Milton Keynes, met real-life superheroes and many a suspicious landlady, and watched a football match with celebrity chef Delia Smith in Norwich.
With a light and edgy writing style Tom peels back the skin of the unfashionable underbelly of Britain, and embraces it all with the spirit of discovery.