When we’re not actually driving the van or hiking up and down hills and mountains, we like nothing better than to bury our heads in a good book.
Lounging lazily in the van with an engrossing book in one hand, mug of tea in the other, we are transported to even further away, far-flung places. It’s a bit like having an adventure within an adventure, like a dream within a dream.
On this page we’ve got some reviews of our favourite van life and travel books, some of which always go with us on our wanderings.
We’ll provide a brief snippet here and then for the full reviews just click the links below…
Our Favourite Van Life and Travel Books
#1 – How to Live in a Van and Travel (Mike Hudson)
We stumbled upon Mike’s story on his blog a few years ago and downloaded his ebook that chronicled the conversion of an old van he’d bought. We enjoyed it so much that it was a no-brainer to get his follow-up book.
Where the first book detailed the how-to of van conversion from bare shell to a comfy living space, Mike’s second offering goes into the heart of actually living and travelling in his van. And what a book it is – probably our all time favourite van life book.
#2 – Under the Stars – a journey into light (Matt Gaw)
We sometimes park up for the night in our motorhome on unlit byroads and laybys. Once darkness engulfs the view of the surrounding countryside we put the cosy lamps on and settle down. The night is shut out like an unwelcome visitor, ignored and shunned for fear of what it may be hiding. But reading this book may change all that!
Matt Gaw’s Under The Stars, A Journey into Light is about being out and walking in the night time, losing the comfort and security that light gives us and daring to dance with the darkness. If you’ve ever done a spot of wild camping in your van out in the middle of nowhere this book will be a welcome source of comfort.
#3 – Take the Slow Road – Scotland (Martin Dorey)
Like all of Martin Dorey’s other offerings, Take the Slow Road – Scotland, is another superb travel guide.
When the world was normal (back in 2019) we took this with us on our honeymoon all the way around Scotland. Dam good job we did because without it, we would have missed some amazing places!
With the lockdown hopefully lifting in 2021, we can once more look forward to taking some journeys in our vans! This book review will hopefully whet your appetite for adventure and is essential reading if you’re heading to Scotland.
#4 – The Salt Path (Raynor Winn)
The Salt Path is a book which resonates with hobos – homelessness, travelling in search of “something”.
Work. Food. A future. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The book documents the author’s journey with her husband when he’d been diagnosed with an incurable illness along the South West Coastal Path. This would be a major road trip in a van, but they attempted all 630 miles of it…on foot!
#5 – Deep Country – Five Years in the Welsh Hills (Neil Ansell)
So many of us dream of rural living and escaping the rat-race to live a life of freedom and idyllic tranquillity. It’s one of the reasons we got our van.
We imagine ourselves in a perpetual summer evening; songbirds serenading us as we breathe in the smell of freshly mown hay and drink our slightly chilled wine. No beeping phone alerts, no passing traffic, no 6am alarm.
Is this real life though? Well, Neil Ansell lived that life in the Welsh hills for five years.
#6 – Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)
One of Hobo Gav’s favourite ever travel-cum-adventure books and a true story.
Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless who, in his early 20s, quit normal life and became a wandering hobo. He followed his destiny to Alaska where he spent the summer living in an old 1940s bus.
Perfect reading for those lazy van life days when you just want to chill. And it’ll stir something in your soul, for sure!
#7 – Mountains of the Mind (Robert MacFarlane)
Finally, Gav has an explanation for his love of mountains! The search for higher places seems to be built into the human spirit.
Robert MacFarlane writes beautifully and poignantly about the brave and often foolhardy souls who first ventured towards earth’s summits.
But more than this, Mountains of the Mind explores the need for adventure and how mountains have come to symbolise the pinnacle of what it means to leave our comfort zones behind and climb into extraordinary landscapes sculptured by nature herself.
Another perfect holiday read!
More van life and travel book reviews coming soon…
As we’ve always got several books on the go at once, we’ll be adding more van life and travel book reviews to this page over the coming months.
Here are some more of our favourites…
The Snow Leopard tells the real life adventures of Peter Matthiessen as he searches for the elusive snow leopard high up in the Himalayas. It’s a book us Hobos read together at bedtime during our early days together in our motorhome. It’s been described as one of the best travel books of the 20th century. We’d have to agree.
Driving Over Lemons is a wonderful account of the trials of setting up a farm on the hills of Andalucia in Spain.
Hobo Gav loved reading this book as it reminded him of his travels in a hired car throughout the Alpujarras mountains of Southern Spain and, in particular, the town of Orgiva where he stayed.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee held us spellbound!
It’s a memoir of Lee’s ‘tramping’ back in the 1930s, leaving the Cotswolds on foot for London and then travelling around Spain, scraping a living playing his violin in the streets – and surviving the Spanish Civil War.
Lee’s writing is exquisite, and his use of metaphor is second to none. This has to be one of the best ever travel books!
Vagabonding continues in the same vein as Laurie Lee’s ‘midsummer morning’. Whereas Lee called it ‘tramping’, these days we know it as backpacking.
Author Rolf Potts refers to it as ‘an uncommon guide to the art of long-term world travel’. The book is full of great advice and Rolf’s philosophy could easily be applied to van-life.
The Motorcycle Diaries captures Che Guevara’s travels around South America on a 500cc Norton, eight years before the Cuban Revolution.
We saw the film first, but the book is just as good – if not better – and gets you right in the mood for an epic road trip of your own.
And finally, no list of travel books can be complete without mention of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
Hobo Gav first read this under the shade of a palm tree in Cyprus. It might only take 2 or 3 hours to read but the story stays with you a lifetime! No wonder it’s sold over 60 million copies worldwide.
If you’ve not read it, make sure it goes with you on your next trip.
DON’T WANT TO BUY FROM AMAZON? TRY BLACKWELL’S INSTEAD – BOOK PUBLISHERS SINCE 1879
Click the banner and start browsing…
We have a few books of our own to sell! Take a look at our Hobo Reading Room on Ebay!
We’d love to know your favourite van life and travel books. Which have you enjoyed the most and would re-read time and again? Tell us in an email or leave a comment below.