If you are a book lover and love to travel, then you have come to the right place! Have you ever asked yourself why you choose a specific city or country to travel to? Most likely it is because of someone you know went there, a photo on Instagram or a book you have read inspired you. There are many ways to fuel your wanderlust and the best one, in my opinion, is diving into books to inspire travel!
Reading travel books are an excellent way to get inspiration for your next destination in the world. And many times, a great book can allow you to escape to another place without leaving your home!
I have found reading the best travel books transport me to a magical place for those periods that I can’t actually travel.
For me, traveling is so much more than staying at a resort and neglecting to connect with the people, city, and country I’m in.
Granted I have had those trips where I’m in need of some serious downtime by the pool with a cocktail at hand. But having unique adventures and creating unforgettable memories is always a goal.
I also believe that knowing a little bit about a location or culture prior to arriving makes me more aware and appreciative of a new place.
It motivates me to venture out and discover things I might not normally do. I guess you can say it ignites a desire to see a place differently.
Join me as I turn page after page from fascinating books about travel and self-discovery that will persuade you to plan your next trip!
Tips To Fuel Your Wanderlust
- Strive to read 1 to 2 books per month as an effective way to reduce stress and inspire your next getaway.
- Struggle to find time to read? Set aside 30 minutes first thing in the morning, at bedtime or when you eat your lunch. I find reading at bedtime can help me relax and fall asleep easier.
- I love reading a physical book but when I am on the go or traveling, carrying the least amount of weight is key. That’s why I love taking my Kindle with me practically everywhere just in case I have a few minutes to sneak in a few pages!
- Sometimes picking a book on a destination that you have no desire to travel to can change your perspective on it!
- Many times, reading books on travel can give you the motivation to be more adventurous in your own home town.
- Need to find a gift for someone that is both a book lover and has a serious case of wanderlust? The Wordy Traveler will satisy both desires with 3 handpicked books, an organic tea and printed art in every box!
“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” – J.K. Rowling
I have chosen books that are completely fiction, some are based on a traveler’s own experience and others are a mix of both!
I will be continuously adding and modifying this list as I read and come across more intriguing books. So, save or pin this post so you have it available the next time you are looking to roam the world!
* In no particular order here are the best travel books that will take you to another place without even leaving home!
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Best Travel Books
1. The Elephant Whisperer
If you have a love and respect for elephants then you will enjoy The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. It is much more than a book about elephants. It is a story of Anthony’s journey taking on a rogue herd of elephants on a game reserve in Africa.
What started out as an attempt to save these elephants transforms into lessons about life, loyalty, and freedom both with the animals but within our own lives.
It is a heartwarming story that gives you a first-hand insight into what life on an African game reserve is like. What I loved most is the kind of lessons Anthony learned from the incredibly intelligent elephants that we can all benefit from.
Note: Non-fiction, Memoir
You might be thinking isn’t this a TV show? And yes, it is but long before it became popular, this was one of the first travel books that I read over 20 years ago. Not many had really heard of it at the time but I remember (as a high school student) falling in love with Scotland, the characters, and well the idea of traveling more!
I had spent the summer living in Europe the year before and having been bitten by the travel bug I couldn’t wait to explore more!
Outlander is the first book in a series by Diana Gabaldon that mixes history, romance, time travel and adventure all in one magnificent place.
It moves back and forth between the 1740s and 1940s where the main characters Claire Randall travels back in time and meets Jamie Fraser. Their different worlds collide and build into a steamy and magical relationship. Look no further for one of the best wanderlust books ever.
Don’t be deterred by Outlander’s 600 pages as I promise you won’t be able to put it down! You will be booking a flight to Scotland before you know it…
3. Snow Flower and The Secret Fan
Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See describes through the main character Lily what it is like to be a daughter and wife in 19th century China. It was a time in China’s history where the feet of women were bound and lived mostly in a life of seclusion.
It is a remarkable story of how women survived the limited ways to communicate, socialize and express themselves as individuals.
I found it fascinating that at the age of seven, girls were many times matched with another girl or with “laotongs”. Laotong’s would be bonded together for their whole lives.
Lisa See allows you to dive deep into a culture that many would struggle to comprehend. She beautifully intertwines history with fiction and makes you love the characters for their flaws and all. I read through this pretty quickly as I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next!
4. In A Sunburned Country
If you are in search of a lighthearted, humorous depiction of traveling in Australia then In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson will delight you on every page!
Bryson takes you along on an adventure with him as he travels in a land with some of the hottest temperatures, lethal animals, and conditions that might not be the easiest as a traveler.
He doesn’t just focus on some of Australia’s less charming attributes but brings his love of the country to you the reader.
He guides you through his journey in exploring Australia’s beautiful wonders, meeting happy Aussie’s and enjoying a cold beer. This is an easy read with high entertainment value!
Note: Non-Fiction, Memoir
5. In Arabian Nights
At a travel conference, I was fortunate to hear Tahir Shah speak and meet him at a book signing. He is one of the most talented and captivating storytellers you will meet.
Shah grew up in Britain but is of Afghan descent and from an eclectic upbringing that is the most entertaining.
In Arabian Nights takes place in Morocco’s Casablanca but his journey in finding his truth takes him to the vibrant markets and streets of Marrakech, Fez and the Saharan desert.
He welcomes you into the life of his home, the interesting characters that are part of his life and the quirky ways of Moroccans.
Although they may seem odd to Western standards, he vividly shows how thinking and doing things another way doesn’t have to be wrong.
I have not read his other book, The Caliph’s House but adding it to my must-read list for later! In his writing and storytelling, Tahir Shah takes you on an unforgettable adventure where you feel you are in the heart of a Moroccan medina and its exotic ways…
Note: Non-Fiction. Many have recommended reading Caliph’s House first, although not necessary.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is about the journey of Santiago who is a shepherd in Spain yet believes there is more to life than herding sheep.
He is a young man who decides to make the choice to leave a safe and practical life to venture out and follow his dreams. He takes off from Spain to the lands of Morocco and Egypt.
The book is an excellent reminder for everyone that life will not always be easy, you will fail but no matter what go after your dreams and find your purpose.
For those that love to travel, you can feel Santiago’s strong passion and desire to see the world. This is one of those classic books to inspire travel that every traveler should read…
7. Love With A Chance Of Drowning
I absolutely loved everything about Love With A Chance Of Drowning by Torre DeRoche. It perfectly mixes humor, romance, wanderlust, and adventure! It captivates your attention to where you can’t put it down.
Oddly with her extreme fear of the ocean, Torre finds herself embarking on a sailing adventure with a guy she barely knows.
As they sail across the Pacific Ocean we glimpse into the harsh reality of what life at sea is like mingled with her hilarious views, experiences, and lessons of tackling a new love life.
As someone who loves sailing, I found myself excited to make the same journey one day and above all else to face my fears. I will definitely be reading this one again… If this book doesn’t fuel your wanderlust, I’m not sure what will!
Note: Non-Fiction, yep this really is her real story.
8. The Shadow Of The Wind
Set in Spain’s Barcelona, The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon takes place from the early 1900s to 1966.
At first, I found the book somewhat hard to get into and confused. I am so glad that I stuck with it as it completely won me over and a book I highly recommend! After about 1/3 in, I couldn’t put the book down…
It is really two separate stories with their own characters that due to Daniel Sempere’s (main character) fascination with a book connects the two stories.
In his intrigue to learn more about the book’s author, Daniel finds out that someone is burning all the books of this one author, Julian Carax.
It is then that Daniel sets off onto the path of solving a years-long mystery, corruption, love, heartbreak, and murder.
If you have a love for books and the places they can take you then you will love The Shadow Of The Wind. It also takes you through Barcelona’s streets, parks, and landmarks that you can clearly visualize in your mind.
9. Good Girls Guide To Getting Lost
In A Good Girls Guide To Getting Lost, Rachel Friedman takes you along on her path of being a good girl who is practical and then one day decides to book her first trip.
This is a fun and lighthearted book that intrigued me and kept me wondering what she would encounter next.
Her journey starts when she buys a ticket to Ireland to somewhat stall the life decisions she needs to make back home after graduating. In Ireland, she meets a free-spirited Australian that convinces her to travel to Australia and South America! There are definitely moments that I think we all can relate to a bit.
10. The Da Vinci Code
This is one book that probably doesn’t need any introductions. But in case you aren’t familiar with The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, it is a suspenseful mystery that has you holding your breath in anticipation of what happens next!
It starts with the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon who is urgently called upon to Paris for his expertise. His knowledge of symbols, history, and riddles is vital in solving a murder and deeply hidden secrets.
The Da Vinci Code became a movie blockbuster but I still enjoyed the book more. It is a historical thriller that you won’t be able to read fast enough! And yes, it is full of conspiracy theories but for me, it just made it more intriguing to read!
11. Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons is another thriller/mystery book by Dan Brown that will keep you on your toes just like The Da Vinci Code succeeded to do. Although most read (or watched) Angels & Demons after The Da Vinci Code, it was actually written first.
If you haven’t read either, read Angels & Demons first. But it won’t ruin anything if you don’t! The book starts out with an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati. They are a powerful world organization that plans to use a secret weapon to destroy the Catholic Church.
With his expertise in symbols, Robert Langdon is brought in to help solve this suspenseful adventure through Rome in an attempt to stop the Illuminati. It is where science and religion collide creating many questions…
I had the chance to hear Cheryl Strayed speak at a travel conference last year and meet her briefly afterward. Listening to her speak about the epic and literally Wild journey she took at 22 years old blows my mind.
Her story Wild is her attempt to make sense of the world after losing her mother and hitting rock bottom.
With no real hiking experience Cheryl decides to take on one of the most difficult hikes there is by trekking the Pacific Coast Trail.
The trail begins in California’s Mojave Desert, up through Oregon and on to Washington state. What seems so cool and crazy is that she did it alone!
And remember that there wasn’t all the light and awesome hiking gear during that time like we have now.
Over the 1,100 miles of the PCT, she emotionally and physically comes to grip with her losses, life choices, and what to do next.
Don’t be surprised if you shed some tears at points along her 3-month expedition. It is truly one of the best books about travel and self-discovery that will move you…
Note: Non-Fiction/ Travel Memoir
13. Under The Tuscan Sun
In Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, Frances decides to pack up her bags and move to Tuscany, Italy after a divorce. She unexpectedly buys an old abandoned Tuscan villa and takes on the project of renovating it.
Little does she know how big of an undertaking fixing up the villa will be. In her navigating the workings of Italian culture and her Polish workers, Frances begins a new life.
Healing a broken heart has never seemed better than living in Tuscany with unique friends, good wine, and mouthwatering food!
The message I took away from this lovely book is to take risks, celebrate and enjoy life to the fullest. It is about self-discovery but in a fun and humorous way. And if you close your eyes you can almost smell the incredible Italian food under the warm Tuscan sun!
Note: Non-Fiction, Travel Memoir
14. The White Tiger
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a novel about an extremely poor Indian man (Balram Halwai) who grew up in a rural village and is a driver for a very wealthy family.
In anger at the disparity of wealth, he kills his boss in anger. He then flees to Bangalore on a journey that covers poverty (different classes), religion, morale, and emotional struggles.
Balram later transforms becoming a successful businessman and rises above his humble beginnings.
Balram got his nickname of “White Tiger” because of his intelligence and abilities that are rare like a white tiger. White Tiger lets you see into the raw and shocking view into life in India.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts starts out in Australia where the main character Lin is a bank robber. He flees into hiding in Bombay, India finding himself working for the Bombay Mafia.
It is an entertaining book that is mostly fiction blended with facts. The book is a story of mystery, murder, passion, betrayal, and love. It is a story that will draw you in and keep your attention until the end!
16. The Birth of Venus
Set during the late 15th century Florence (Italy), Sarah Durant tells a story of a young girl who falls in love with a painter her father has hired. Coming from an affluent family, Alessandra Cecchi struggles between her passion for the painter and her duties to marry someone of the upper class.
The Birth of Venus is set from Alessandra’s perspective looking back over her life. She eventually marries a man chosen for her but her love for the painter never wanes.
If you love Italy and its history then you will be pulled in as it tackles what life in Florence was like at that time. Her words will take you back in time to a turbulent period in Florence when religion, politics, and art come alive.
17. A Year Of Living Danishly
In this fun and upbeat book by Helen Russell, she brings us along on her move from London to Denmark. In A Year Of Living Danishly, you will find yourself laughing and enjoy her view on what it’s like to live in Denmark.
Knowing that Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on earth but Denmark is, Helen is determined to find out why. She ponders whether the Danish are born that way or if it has more to do with their society, traditions, and culture!
As I read along with Helen’s year of living Danishly, I felt like I had moved in getting to experience Danish life with her! I enjoyed the mass consumption of eating danishes, learning about endless activities, and the very cool concept of hygge or cozy living…
Note: Travel Memoir
18. On The Road
The book On The Road by Jack Kerouac is a classic if you have always wanted to do a cross country road trip.
On The Road is a story based on Kerouac’s own travels of two friends who decide to drive from America’s East Coast all the way to California. The book touches on what America was like post World War II touching on how jazz, sex, and drugs influenced life.
It is so much more than just taking a road trip but is about coming of age, in search of one’s freedom and life in the United States in the 1950s. Kerouac will take you on an adventure of a road less traveled that many travelers can appreciate.
In Wanderlust, Elisabeth Eave narrates her 15 years of travel and her personal journey over 5 continents. She dives into her experiences with honesty about her travels, her many lovers, and life in general. Elisabeth’s hunger to meet people, experience new cultures live a bit on the edge is the core of her adventures.
Over the years she has many relationships, loses herself, and eventually finds herself again. She embraces and celebrates women who travel and the sense of freedom that comes with it. She is a great example that you don’t always need to live a traditional life!
Note: Non-Fiction/ Travel Memoir
20. Life Is A Trip
As an award-winning travel journalist, Judith Fein provides an entertaining guide on how experiential travel is life-altering in a good way! She shows how experiencing different cultures opens up one’s eyes to see the world with a new perspective.
In Life Is A Trip, the book is comprised of 14 various journeys where she shares what she has learned from each culture. What makes this book stand out, is that she not only brings to life the location but the people too.
Note: Non-Fiction/ Travel Literature
21. Dark Star Safari
The Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux is so much more than just going on a safari in Africa. It goes deeper into life on the African continent while taking a road trip from Cairo to Cape Town. Theroux takes you on a wild, dangerous and incredible journey
He shares with you the good, bad and the ugly of what life is like on the dusty roads to Cape Town. With his words, he will make you feel like you traveled to Africa yourself!
I love his quote from the book “Safari in Swahili, has little to do with looking for animals; it simply means “journey”, a word used to say someone is far away.”
Book Lover Alert!
Are you looking for additional books to inspire travel or maybe want to get a unique gift for a fellow travel lover? The Wordy Traveler is the perfect choice as you get 3 handpicked books, an organic tea from around the world, and printed art from the region in the world you choose.
These books and items have been hand-picked by world travelers so they will satisfy that wanderlust when you can’t get away. And a surprise in each box! How cool is that?
Got Travel Insurance?
Don’t leave home without travel insurance as you never know what might happen on a trip! It is always when you least expect it that something can go wrong like getting sick, in an accident or cancellation of some sort. Get a no-obligation World Nomads travel insurance quote today for peace of mind!
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