The time that Robert Louis Stevenson spent abroad inspired him to write about his journeys and he is known as being one of the first writers of travel literature. In 1876, when he was 26 years old, he went on a canoeing holiday through France and Belgium with his friend Walter Simpson. The trip inspired him to write his first travel book An Inland Voyage. It was written in a time when outdoor adventure holidays were very unusual and the two men were often mistaken for travelling salesmen.

Three years later he went for a two week 200km hike with just a donkey for company in France. He recorded his adventures in Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. It is one of the first books to introduce the idea of camping as a fun, free-time activity. He also mentions his sleeping-bag: it was 6 feet (1.8m) squared, waterproof, lined with sheep’s wool and so heavy that his donkey had to carry it! Years later his travels continued in places like Tahiti, Samoa and Hawaii, where he became good friends with the King! He sums up his travelling philosophy by saying, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.”


Illustration by ​Paolo D’Altan, taken from The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson, Reading and Training, Step 3 (B1.2)