After being grounded for a year, it is time to start dreaming again. The best way I know how to spark my wanderlust is to get inspiration from great travel books.
So, as I countdown the days until the world opens up I want to share some of the best travel books that made me laugh, made me cry, and inspired me to get out and travel around the world.
Best Travel Books to Explore the World
My favorite travel books cover everything from a life changing experience to overcoming adversity. They make me laugh out loud and inspire me explore the world. These books don’t focus on one theme they focus on many. So get your Kindle ready and start downloading today!
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1. Masked Rider by Neil Peart
Many people know him as a massively talented drummer from Rush. But what they do not realize is that Neil Peart was not only one of the greatest drummers in the history of music, he was also an avid cyclist. Sadly, Peart died of cancer, but through his music and travelogue books his genius lives on.
Masked Rider is an honest and undisguised account of his time cycling in West Africa. It’s a must read for anyone who wants to go on a great adventure. Neil Peart lets us see the man behind the rock star and he makes us realize that superstars are people too. Purchase Masked Rider – Neil Peart on Amazon
2. Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard
If you love dogs, this is one of the best adventure travel books you’ll read to make you smile. Ultramarathon runner Dion Leonard traveled to China with one thing on his mind; to finish on the podium of a 155-mile race through the Gobi desert.
Follow the story of Leonard, whose heart is warmed by the persistence of a stray dog that kept pace through heat and exhaustion for 70 miles. See how Leonard is transformed from a focused veteran to a man that gives up what little food he has in his pack to share with the stray dog that he named, Gobi. Buy Finding Gobi – Dion Leonard on Amazon.com to see what happens next
3. American Shaolin by Matthew Polly
A regular American guy, Matthew Polly recounts his time living, studying, and performing with the Shaolin monks in China. This is one bizarre and hilarious travel memoir about fulfilling your dreams. Follow along as Matthew drops out of Princeton to pursue his ambitions of transforming his scrawny physique into that of a kung fu master.
He tells tales of breaking into the secret world of Shaolin Kung Fu which has strange disciplines like “The Iron Crotch” and other various indestructible body parts. Check out American Shaolin – Matthew Polly today.
4. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
The movie took the world by storm and it is one of the few travel books that translates to screen beautifully. Peek behind the looking glass of the secretive billionaire families that have more money than Vladimir Putin.
Follow along as Rachel joins her boyfriend in Singapore on a summer holiday only to find out that her humble boyfriend is Asia’s most eligible bachelor and everyone (including his mother) is out to tear them apart. Read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan now.
5. White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
White Tiger tells of a dirty and unforgiving India, an India that doesn’t allow people to claw their way out of their Caste. It is now a movie on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet but if it’s good you can be sure I’ll add it to my favorite travel movies.
This is a book that neither of us could put down and a book that we feel is a must read for everyone traveling to India. Those who have spent their time in an Ashram or driving around the country in an organized tour isolated from the truth won’t like it. But, like one review said, “This is the book that India Tourism doesn’t want you to read.” Get White Tiger by Aravind Adiga on Amazon.
6. The Beach by Alex Garland
Let me set one thing straight, I hated the movie The Beach, but I loved the book by Alex Garland. The Beach captures what travel was like in Thailand way back in the 1990s. (trust me, we were there).
The rooms in Thai guesthouses were disgusting, and the streets were filled with backpackers seeking adventure while escaping the world drinking cheap beer. There were still undiscovered coves and beaches that nobody had heard of, and there were probably several drug kingpins running the land.
Visiting Thailand for the first time is still a great adventure and this is a must read anyone going to the land of Smiles for the very first time! The Beach by Alex Garland is available on Amazon.
7. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Anything by Bill Bryson is a winner, but my personal favorite memoir by Bryson is “In a Sunburned Country”. This was the first book I read by Bryson and it inspired me to read them all! I laughed out loud.
Written at a time when the world was still getting to know Australia, it shows the quirkiness of the island country and makes you want to book a ticket to see it for yourself. If you pick up any book by Bill Bryson, you won’t be sorry but, In a Sunburned Country is our favorite.
Go Around the World with Bill Bryson:
- A Walk in the Woods
- A Stranger to Myself
- The Best American Travel Writing
- The Road to Little Dribbling – An American in Britain
8. Dave Barry Does Japan
He may be old school, but Dave Barry is hilarious. It was Dave Barry who sparked my love for travel writing and how powerful, funny, and inspiring it could be.
I never thought I’d become a travel writer, but I loved reading about his escapades around the world. He explains Japanese traditions through humor and experiences at karaoke bars, geisha encounters, kabuki theatre, and confusing comedy clubs. Japan is still very confusing even today so it is worth a read. Check out Dave Barry Does Japan and have a great laugh today.
9. Love Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman
Love Africa tells the story of Jeffry Gettleman the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times. It begins with his first trip to Africa when he volunteered and fell in love with the continent.
But he kept being called back to the United States to his other love, his girlfriend Courtenay who is a criminal defense lawyer. Follow along as he navigates his career as a journalist, to his love for Africa and his true love relationship with Courtenay. We know how Africa can tug at your heart.
Can you have it all? Read follow along on this travel memoir through Africa, because we’re not giving it away. Buy Love Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman on Amazon.
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
It’s an oldie but a goodie. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who sells his flock and purchases a ticket to Tangier, where he is robbed and must work at a shop to find his way home.
He ends up taking a great adventure across the Sahara and after all his adventures, discovers his fortune right back where he started. I read this book before we started traveling full time and it put me in the mood to wander. And to appreciate life. I think the Alchemist was the catalyst to me dreaming about becoming a travel writer and taking the leap to explore the world. Buy the
11. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
This no-holds-barred autobiography of a child soldier, Ishmael Beah, is gripping. A Long Way Gone tells how an innocent child can be forced into savage warfare in Sierra Leone.
Having lost everything including his family, his home, and his soul, Ishmael tells of his journey to evade the military. For three years he hid in the jungle and half-starved to death. It recounts the fear and despair he felt each day until he was finally captured by the government army.
Hopped up on drugs, he was forced to commit unthinkable acts. This is a story of going to hell and back, living a life of revenge and violence. He was rescued by UNICEF but it was a long and painful rehabilitation. Read A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
12. The Bang Bang Club – Greg Marinovich & Jaoa Silva
Set in Apartheid-Era South Africa, the Bang Bang Club is a true account telling the tale of the four photojournalists that dared to enter the townships and document history as it was happening.
It was written by two of the journalists Greg Marinovich & Jaoa Silva Heartbreaking and shocking, the Bang Bang Club doesn’t hold back when telling of the brutality of that time. The photographers had to come to terms with their own demons and what they witnessed day in and day out as war correspondence reporters. Their photos made history and set new standards, earning a Pulitzer Prize for two of the photographers. Get Your Copy of The Bang Bang Club – Greg Marinovich & Jaoa Silva
13. The Girl in the Picture – Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, photographer Nick Ut captured the shocking photo of children running from a napalm blast. Kim Phuc was the center of that photograph, with her naked body covered in severe burns. It became known as “the photo of the century” winning the Pulitzer Prize
In her own words, Kim tells her story of what happened to “The Girl in the Picture” Read the fascinating tale as she journey’s from Vietnam eventually landing in Canada where she faced many hardships along the way. The Girl in the Picture – Vietnam
14. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson
Joe Simpson recalls his harrowing climb of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes back in 1985 with Simon Yates. Disaster struck after their summit when Joe fell into a crevasse and broke his leg (very badly).
We love adventure travel, but this is an entirely new level. The book stands the test of time as Joe recalls the three days he spent trying to get down the mountain after a near fatal fall and what he had to endure along the say. It was also made into a movie in 2003. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson
15. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
Many people put “Into the Wild” by Krakauer on their “best of lists”, but I enjoyed “Into Thin Air” more. Maybe it’s the adventurer in me, but reading about those who choose to summit Everest and understanding what it is like to go into the Death Zone is incredible. Krakauer recalls the fateful climb in 1996 where 8 people died.
We’ve been to Mount Everest Base Camp and it was exciting to read about a place that we’ve been to and retrace steps through Namche Bazaar, the Tengboche Monks, and the Sherpa monuments to those who have fallen. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
16. Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is one of the Greatest Travel writers of our time. And he has written many classics such as Mosquito Coast and the Great Railway Bazaar, but our favorite travel book by Paul Theroux is Dark Star Safari.
Dave and I started our travel adventures cycling from Cairo to Cape Town and Dark Star Safari takes Theroux overland as he revisits the continent. This book took us back to Africa and brought back all the feelings we had – the good, bad, the ugly, the depressing parts that we forget. Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
17. Wild – Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Adventure travel can be transformational. When taking on a challenge, it is an emotional roller coaster. I’ve definitely been there with negative and productive thoughts and regrets. But as at the end of any grand adventure, it can be healing and you can come out triumphant. Follow along as Cheryl Strayed faces her demons and struggles her way along the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild – Lost and Found on The Pacific Crest Trail. Buy it here.
19. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz
1,000 Places to See Before You Die is the original brainchild of the talented and wonderful Patricia Schultz. If you have a serious case of wanderlust to travel around the world, buy this travel book by Patricia Schultz. I’ve taken my Sharpie Marker and gone through all the destinations around the globe that she recommends. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die is the world’s best selling travel book. I wish I had thought of this idea.
20. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert while traveling through India, so it certainly reminds me of my travels there. It is the real life story of Elizabeth Gilbert finding herself after divorce. I didn’t identify with the India (pray) part of the book since I was there at the time, but I could definitely get on board with eating through Italy and finding love in Bali.
21. Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys
Grand Adventures is written by National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Alastair Humphreys. We first heard of Alastair while he was cycling around the world and were inspired so much by him, we followed in his bike peddles to cycling Africa. This book round up the world’s most grand adventures to inspire you to try your own. (We make an appearance or two from one of our adventures around the globe as well.)
22. Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio
Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio gives the inside scoop from behind the scenes of the rich and famous. He was New York’s top concierge and he shares stories and secrets from the madness of catering to the elite. From the ridiculous demands to having to get people into anywhere, it’s an at times hilarious read. I wouldn’t want his job for the world, but it is fun to take a peek inside the secret life of a concierge.
23. Ontario Escapes by Jim Buyers
Ontario Escapes is written by Veteran journalist and top travel writer in Canada, Jim Byers. He shares his personal experiences and tips for traveling around Ontario Canada. As a native Ontario resident, I found so many hidden gems in this book offering great Ontario travel tips and ideas. I love Jim’s writing style as he shares practical information with inspiring personal stories and recommendations.
24. Ultimate Journeys for Two by Mike and Anne Howard
Ultimate Journeys for Two was written by our friends Mike and Anne Howards Mike who are currently on the world’s longest honeymoon. And you can find us in there too talking about Greenland travel! This book gives people travel ideas to inspire couples to go out and see the world and have a great adventure. There are ideas for couples to travel on every continent!
25. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day – Matt Kepnes
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes shares money-saving tips on transportation, food, beverages, accommodation, and airline tickets, it’s the how-to guide for twenty-something budget travelers. Nomadic Matt has parlayed his highly successful travel blog into a best selling travel book on the New York Time’s best sellers list.
If you are looking for good travel guide books while traveling we recommend Lonely Planet. It is still our go-to travel book to help plan our adventures.
So are you ready to go around the globe? What is the best travel adventure you’ve ever read?
65 thoughts on “25 Best Books About Traveling the World”
Doing great job man… Keep it up.
Wonderful list. This is what I was searching for. Thanks for doing the hard research for me.
Awesome list. Thanks for sharing. It’s really very useful.
Thanks for sharing!
These are very interesting books about travel, I had the opportunity to read some of them. very nice
I can’t wait to read more of these books! Reading has always been one way that I keep my wanderlust alive and well.
I was just searching for some good books which can take me into the world of wanderlust. As expected, you are on the internet with your awesome experience. I would love to read all of them. The Alchemist I have done and I am approaching other ones from now onwards. Thanks for sharing this post.
Very useful thing for those who like traveling. Thanks for sharing this with us,
Love those books… thanks for sharing
Michael Palin’s Pole to Pole and Levison Woods Walking the Himalayas!
The only book in this list that I have read (partly) is Eat Pray Love but I also didn’t love it! I was actually in Bali when I started it and it just didn’t grab me, but I’ll definitely be trying out some others on this list! A good book on holiday can do wonders!
I hope to get my hands on Eat, Pray, Love soon. It must be a great read coz it’s on every travel books list.
Wonderful collection. I was in deep search. Thanks a lot to write about these books.
Thanks, Actually I am searching these collection from so many times. Great !!
Thanks for sharing. I was actually not aware about Michael Crichton’s book. Great list of books, I better start reading.
Lot’s of new books for me to add to my list! Thank you! I loved In A Sunburned Country, I consider it one of my favourite travel books and it definitely encouraged me to travel to Australia where I am now!
Thanks, guys some great books there. Think I need to get my hands on Dave does Japan. I am hoping to visit next year.
My all time favourite travel book that I never seen included on any lists is called WorldWalk by Steven Newman. In his early 20s, over a period of 4 years, Steven walked around the world relying on the kindness of strangers. This was the mid-1980s well before the time of internet and mobile phones being common place. His book is inspirational and entertaining and eye-opening all at once. I can’t recommend it enough.
it is very helpful for me like a traveler
An amazing list of books. I watched the film Eat Pray Love (starring Julia Roberts, maybe) but never took the time to read the book. THis list inspired me.
I think one books may be worth adding is Vagabonding.
I just want to say “wow” you have an amazing collection of books.
I was looking for a list like this! I just finished reading a series of books for foodies and Eat Pray Love was one of them. Thanks for sharing yours! Concierge Confidential seems like an interesting read.
thanks for sharing
i have planning to travel 2or3 places.i read this article.it is very helpful it provide great ideas.amazing article thanks for sharing.
Great recommendations! Some of it are already on my list. I just pick some great additions on my list. Thanks!
I think i watched the movie American Shaolin like 20 years ago. I didn’t know it was from a book. Gonna check it for sure.
Thanks for great post.
I really love “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer as well as his other book “Into the Wild”, The book and Sean Penn movie are amazing.
I also love anything by Bill Bryson with my favorite being “A Walk in the Woods”
For something hot off the press, check out Oblivious; the story of a ride through Africa on a Royal Enfield.
Lost teeth, hitchhiking on iron ore trains in the Sahara, romance… Check it out: obliviousthebook.com
Thank you for this! I’ve been into Kerouac lately because I love (and love to hate) his frantic writing style but I needed some other material =)
Hey Awesome List of books,
I read eat pray love that is totally awesome and every traveler must read.
Now I am going to add The Alchemist and American Shaolin in my bucket list.
Nice post! thanks for sharing.
I was searching for best travel books ad I found this. I have only Paulo Coelho from this list and i am definitely going to get myself a few. Thanks for the wonderful list. Really useful.
This is a great list – most of these I’ve not read so my reading list has just grown! A Long Way Gone is one book, though, that has been on my shelf for years – I’m a bit afraid to read it….
(I don’t admit this too loudly, but I couldn’t stand Eat Pray Love …)
Which is your favorite?? Obviously not Eat Pray Love! lol
The alchemist from the Paulo Coelho is very good book….i´m brazilian and like Paulo Coelho
Whenever I enter a bookstore, I always look for books pertaining travel, whether they are memoirs or a compilation of essays. I also made a post about these books that I have in my shelf. I can spot three of them here in your list. I’m interested in the other books you have cited here and I hope to get my own copies.
I am so happy to read this blog about 21 travel book. it is so much interesting and helpful for every person of the world who travel form one place to another. Canada is consider most visited place in the world. So Hamilton Airport Limo service is well known for Ground transportation medium to or from airport.
This is a great list… there’s also a lot of great poetry (Heights of Machu Picchu- Neruda) and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse really had me thinking Southeast Asia big time! Great post, guys!
I love to read travel books. This is a very resourceful list. I have read some of the books from this list. Very inspiring post. Loved it:)
This post has defiantly inspired me to get reading! please take the time to check out my travel blog: earthsmagicalplaces.com
All of these traveling books look amazing, especially if you’re on a long journey or waiting for your ride and need to kill time! Thank you for sharing these.
Awesome list, thanks for sharing with us
Many read and many added to the list. I’m neither a fan of books that paint a pretty picture of a country nor of the ones that put down a country altogether. But I still read them because there is no such thing as bad book 😉 We all learn a thing or two from a book anyway 🙂
I’m ashamed to admit that, of these, I’ve only read The Alchemist – although White Tiger is sitting waiting patiently on my bookshelf.
I do like to read books about / set in places I’m going to travel to, though. One of the best examples was before I went to Kansas last summer, I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books, and it actually really opened up the history of the area for me, and helped me to understand the formation of the state, and why it looks & is the way it is.
I’m currently reading Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel, and it’s really making me think about how I write about my own travels, and how I tie together my travel blogging with my other writing (poetry & fiction).
All of Bill Bryson’s travel books make me want to just get off the couch and just go (and record my travels with dry wit and sarcasm), but aside from Bryson’s Road to Little Dribbling, I think my other favorite travel read of the last year was Mo Willems’ You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day. Not only does one cartoon a day actually create a bizarrely interesting read, but it makes you start noticing the little moments that make your day. I also enjoyed Storybook Travels by Colleen Dunn Bates and Susan La Tempa. It’s a great book for parents traveling with children!
Awesome list, I will definitely be picking up a few of those, and read some of them again. Thank you Dave and Deb 🙂
Ha! I loved The Beach, the movie! Haven’t read the book but maybe I’ll put it on my list. 🙂
I did stopped reading Eat, Pray, Love in the India chapter but I went back to read it a second time and I’m glad I did. Her book, Big Magic, is really great for aspiring creatives so I would recommend that. 🙂
Interesting. I should maybe read Eat Pray Love again. The India chapter might be better for me since I’m no longer in India. Being removed from the location might put her writing into a different perspective
Great recommendations! I can’t wait to check a few of these titles out!
Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org/
I’m saving this post in Bloglovin’ for as a future shopping reference, haha. I’ve gone through all my books and need more reading material. Thanks so much for sharing! I own and have already read Nomadic Matt’s book. It was super helpful!
Oh lordy my stack of books that I want to read is already sizable but I can see I’m going to add a few more to it….you have some great recommendations here. 🙂
.-= Trisha´s last blog ..PR-Blogger Relations Manifesto =-.
I agree – I loved White Tiger and couldn’t put it down. I read about five or six of the “must reads” that were popular for India travelers at the time and White Tiger and Shantaram were tops!
I have to read Shantaram. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before writing this post. That is what I love about posts like this, you can learn so much from other people.
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is really cool and also Travels by Michael Crichton…great list D&D!
.-= agentcikay´s last blog ..Hokkien Mee and its Cult status =-.
Thanks. I am glad that someone else has read travels. When we tell people that Michael Chricton had a travel book they think we are mistaken. But it is very good.
Hahaha, I am laughing because the two books I can’t stand about India are The White Tiger and Shantaram — and both are mentioned here, in your post and in the comments. I have read a lot of books about India and I think there are far better books, more balanced, more insightful, more honest. I find these two blow a lot of hot air.
I think there is a kind of reactionary response to the “shining” India of economists or the “magical” India of travel writers and spiritual seekers. In fact, India — like life — is all of these things. Magical, poor, spiritual, dirty, friendly, nerve-wracking. A lot depends on your perspective, attitude and perception.
I have said before that India is like the cave that Yoda sends Luke into. When Luke asks, “What will I find there?” Yoda answers, “Only what you bring in with you.”
.-= Mariellen Ward´s last blog ..Photo of the Week- Naga Sadhu =-.
Well, we will agree to disagree on this subject. We enjoyed many parts of India and made friends with many wonderful people, but a book that talks about the negatives of any country is important. That is how change is made. The poor need a voice and White Tiger gives them one in a very entertaining way to let people know their side of the story. I would love to know the books that are more balanced and insightful, it would be great if you could list a couple of recommendations and I will check them out.
And your Star Wars quote (while very profound) has nothing to do with the book and the point we are making. White Tiger is about the people that are living in India, not about what a tourist is supposed to get out of their spiritual journey to India.
Thanks for your comment Mariellen, I know that you love India and this recommendation isn’t meant to offend people that do, it is just a book that we felt hit the nail on the head of a lot of what we saw and read in the papers while we were there.
I’m glad you replied to this Dave, the post made me feel stupid and ignorant when I first read it, but then I thought about it more and my point still stands – I read the book and it made me want to go to India. I will stand with the agreement to disagree – Shantaram is a work of fiction, which is a story with hints of lives and attitudes in India, but through extreme views. It’s like saying you’d never go to Virginia because of Patricia Cornwell’s books. If I wanted earnest travel writing with a true anthropological view, I’d have gone to the travel writing or the history section. Perhaps it’s even more impressive that a work of fiction can open your mind to a country. I get a better view of what it’s really like from Indian friends, but I’m also a literature fan and have many influences in my travel life.
I’m currently struggling through Open Veins of Latin America, which is a socio-historic view of the region, before travelling out to Costa Rica later this year. It’s very worthy and I would really like to understand more of the politics, history and culture before I go but I’m highly unlikely to finish it as history presented in fact is rarely inspirational and certainly more difficult to absorb. My partner bought me Costa Rica: A Traveller’s Literary Companion, which is a series of local, translated short stories and folklore. I’ve whizzed through it because it was enjoyable and accessible – far more inspiring than the worthier tome that will give me a ‘better’ view.
Sorry to rant – apparently I feel quite strongly about this!
Thanks for the comment and don’t be sorry at all. That is what we love about blogging, it encourages discussion. I think that your point is bang on. Books of extremes can make me want to go the a country even more. The Bang Bang Club is very unforgiving and yet, I think that it inspires people to go to South Africa. I read it while I was there and loved it even though it didn’t portray the country is a perfect light.
I guess, a lot of the books we mentioned don’t paint a pretty picture of any country, but they all have inspired us to explore them more.
And you are right, this is a book of fiction and it is impressive that a book can open your mind to a country and evoke such strong feelings on either side of the coin. That makes for great writing I think, when people feel passionate about it either way…absolutely loving it, or genuinely hating it.
Shantaram is also a very inspiring picture of India. Bittersweet, laugh out loud, exciting book. I’d never wanted to visit before reading this, now it’s definitely on my list.
Laura, I will definitely have to check out Shantaram thanks for the recommendation.
Oops, I replied to Trisha on the wrong post, that is supposed to be on Celebrities that inspire travel post. Taking it off now, but didn’t want you to think that I was a crazy person and going off on a tangent regarding celebrities:) Sorry Laura.
I must say it did confuse me!
Haha, sorry about that. If you didn’t reply back, I would have never known and we would have had an odd message on our books post about celebrities. 🙂