A good author should always suffer for his or her art. The best travel writers suffer more than most, so that's why their books are so memorable. A journey without problems is a dull one and this selection of essential travel writing details obstacles like freezing to death, fleeing for your life or a country on the brink of civil war. When a book is called In the Land of White Death then you know the author faced more problems than missing a bus, or losing your boarding pass.
Although drama is always close at hand for a committed traveler, writers now face the dilemma that no path has been left untrodden. Victorian and Edwardian travelers had a vast choice of countries to visit and describe. Today, Lonely Planet writers have already been there and written about that, and yet travel writing remains a vibrant genre. The best travel writers go beyond vivid descriptions of their destinations. They study modes of travel and fellow travelers. They also seem drawn to understanding the history of their surroundings and the legacy of previous travelers.