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16 Best Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust

16 Best Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust

Travel books are a way of escaping everyday life and discovering new and magical destinations through the pages of a novel. Even from our armchairs, we can be transported to distant lands and capture the smells, sounds, and sights through descriptive words and authentic storytelling.

While guidebooks (and travel blogs) are great ways to research specific trip details, reading travel books written through someone else’s eyes, whether fictional or nonfictional, is an excellent way to inspire you to wander the world.

Explore new places, new experiences, and new adventures and escape to other lands from the comfort of your home. Immerse yourself in someone else’s footsteps, soak up their feelings, desires, and wanderlust, and make it your own.

Whether you love the intrigue of the Far East and Africa or dream of sipping coffee in the Tuscan countryside, a book awaits you. For those looking for even more adventure, read about the exploits of writers who have travelled worldwide and let yourself live vicariously through their excitement, fear, and intrigue.

Whatever kind of traveller you are, or indeed would like to be, there is a travel book just waiting to inspire you to wander to faraway lands.

This travel guide may contain affiliate links – please read my disclaimer and privacy policy for more information.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

Adventure Travel Books

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century by Levison Wood and Guests

If you are an avid traveller or want to live vicariously through others, this travel book is ideal reading. It celebrates outstanding travel storytelling from around the world.

It features topics including adversity along the Congo’s raging River Lulua, making new friends aboard Iraq’s night train, and embarking on life-changing pilgrimages from India to Saudi Arabia.

Pour a cup of tea, sit back and be transported around the world!

Click the link to purchase your copy of the Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century.

I Hope There’s A Kettle In My Room by Paula Rooney

This is the inspiring true story of Paula and her first solo backpacking journey around Europe at age 55.

She travels to mountain tops across the Swiss Alps, melts in Venice, feels emotional in Ljubljana, falls in love with Czech and is surprised by Germany.

All the while searching for a decent cup of tea and hoping there’s a kettle in the room. This book is ideal if you are a mature traveller and have always wanted to backpack.

Click the link to purchase your copy of I Hope There’s a Kettle in My Room.

 The Wrong Way Home by Peter Moore

This is one of my favourite travel books. Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t put it down.

It fuelled my desire to travel around the world.

This is a hilarious look at how Peter backpacked from London to his home in Sydney, Australia, encountering all sorts of mishaps and funny experiences on the way.

Click the link to purchase your copy of The Wrong Way Home.

Nala’s World by Dean Nicholson

If you love to travel and adore cats, this story of a friendship forged on a global journey will be a perfect holiday read.

Discover how Dean and Nala met when he was trying to find himself after a misspent youth and found Nala as a stray kitten. Read how they travelled across Europe together and the adventures they had on the way.

A heart-warming look at the compassion of a burly Scotsman and his feline travel companion.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Nala’s World.

It’s on the Meter by Paul Archer

This is a humorous true story about three friends who decided to buy a London black cab and go on an adventure from England to Australia.

Their 43,000-mile trip took them to some of the most dangerous places on earth, but not to be defeated, they circumnavigated the globe and broke two world records in doing so.

Click the link to purchase your copy of It’s On The Meter.

The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff

Conde Nast lists Anna as one of the 50 most influential travellers in the world.

She lets us into her world in her book as she runs New Zealand’s 3,000 km long Te Araroa Trail.

Her story paints a picture of the New Zealand countryside while allowing us to see her vulnerability as she pushes herself to complete the trail.

Click the link to purchase your copy of The Pants of Perspective.

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

The author re-connects with an Africa he last visited in the ’60s, now seen through the eyes of Africans he meets on his journey.

It was an adventurous, challenging, and dangerous solo trip from Cairo to Cape Town, and, in true Theroux style, the book is hard to put down.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Dark Star Safari.

Slow Boat to Uruguay by Andrew Tunstall

This delightful travel book is a true story of a family selling up & sailing around South America is a travel writing delight.

A leaky boat, eccentric locals, and killer whales make a delightful tale that will inspire and amaze the reader.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Slow Boat to Uruguay.

Down Under by Bill Bryson

You know that you will be entertained as soon as you turn the pages of a Bill Bryson book, and this one is no exception.

A travelogue detailing his trip around Australia, the things he sees, and the characters he meets.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, you will be itching to book a ticket to Oz.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Down Under.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure.

Santiago’s journey teaches us to listen to our hearts and recognise the opportunity to follow our dreams.

Click the link to purchase your copy of The Alchemist.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

After a failed relationship, the author takes us on her real-life discovery journey from Italy to India and Bali.

She describes the destinations and characters she encounters with depth and feeling and transports us on her travels.

It’s a story of love, understanding, and finding yourself through your journey when all else seems futile.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Eat Pray Love.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

The author buys a villa in Tuscany, Italy, and then devotes time, money & energy to remodelling and renovating it.

The book is about her time in Italy, and her description of the countryside and the characters around her is enchanting. There are even some Italian recipes in the book.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Under the Tuscan Sun.

Swahili for the Broken-Hearted by Peter Moore

The second book on my list from this author, and this time he takes us on a whirlwind tour from Cairo to Cape Town following a break-up with his girlfriend.

He sets off to find himself but, in true Peter Moore style, finds he is at the centre of some crazy situations.

Experiences include facing a wild Hyena with terrible breath, crossing the treacherous Sani Pass, the highest in Africa, narrowly escaping a riot by hiding in a coffin shop and acting as an extra in a WW2 epic. Hilarious.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Swahili for the Broken-Hearted.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I read this book and saw the film version after travelling around Asia, and I loved it. The Blue Mansion in Penang was featured in the film, and as I had stayed there, it made the film even more interesting to watch.

This funny novel is about three super-rich Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

If you have enjoyed “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” you will enjoy this read.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Crazy Rich Asians.

An Elephant in My Kitchen by Francois Anthony

If you have ever visited Africa, then you will know the plight of some of the animals. 

This incredible true story spreads awareness about the horrors of poaching and highlights the courage and bravery of those trying to protect the animals.

Francoise left Paris’s comforts to start a reserve, “Thula Thula”, to protect elephants and rhinos, but after the death of her husband, things got very hard for her.

One woman’s remarkable story of courage and determination in the face of adversity.

Click the link to purchase your copy of An Elephant in My Kitchen.

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer

Atlas Obscura is more of a coffee table piece than a “read on the plane” novel, but It takes us to destinations that offer us curious and strange things to see and do.

Photographs, illustrations, maps, and charts highlight our wonderful world with many weird and beautiful destinations for the curious traveller.

Click the link to purchase your copy of Atlas Obscura.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

How to Connect with Other Book Lovers

If you want to meet like-minded people who want to share and discuss their favourite reads, I suggest joining a book group or starting one yourself.

Register on Reading Groups for Everyone if you are keen on setting up an online group and are looking for people to join.

As a registered group, you’ll receive the latest book news through monthly newsletters and have access to exclusive publisher offers and opportunities.

Make sure you put as much information as possible on your profile (including how your discussion will take place, what kind of books you want to read, etc.) so people can choose the right group for them.

Please Pin for Future Inspiration

Renee | The Holidaymaker

Thursday 16th of April 2020

I usually consider myself an avid reader, but when I only have read 4 on this list I think I need to rethink that ‘self proclaimed’ title! I love reading travel themed books, it has inspired some great trips for me.


Thursday 16th of April 2020

Glad to hear that, I have read the majority myself and would recommend them all.


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I loved reading An Elephant in my kitchen. Have read quite a few books these days which keeps my old brain ticking. At the moment I am in love with Italy, so thinking of reading one of your recommendation - Under the Tuscan Sun.


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

It is a great one and another person just said she was going to try that one as well. Be transported to Italy from the comfort of your own home 😃


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I have always wanted to read Under the Tuscan Sun, and I actually borrowed it from the library once, but life came between me and book so I never finished it... maybe I should order it and give it a good go :)


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I think you will enjoy being transported to such an amazing part of the world. All you need is sunshine and a glass of good wine while you are reading it and you will be set.

Suzanne Jones

Saturday 4th of April 2020

What a fab list of books to while away the spare hours I have at the moment! Some I've read but lots I haven't. Can't wait to get stuck in and let the words transport me to faraway places :)


Saturday 4th of April 2020

Glad you like my choices. I have read nearly all of them and they really are great.


Saturday 4th of April 2020

I enjoy reading, and now that I'm locked down at home I have more time for it. I also enjoy reading about travel - particularly fiction books which are set in places I want to visit. I will try out a few of these books :-)


Saturday 4th of April 2020

I hope you enjoy them, they are all quite different but great for travel lovers.