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14 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Wanderlust

Travel books are a way of escaping everyday life and discovering new and magical destinations through a novel’s pages. 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 guide books (and travel blogs) are a great way to research specific trip details, reading travel books written through the eyes of someone else, whether they be fictional or non-fictional, is an excellent way to inspire you to wander the world.

Explore new places, new experiences, and new adventures and escape to other lands all from the comfort of your own home. Immerse yourself in someone else’s footsteps for a while and 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, there is a book waiting for you. For those looking for even more adventure, then read about the exploits of writers who have travelled across the world 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 article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. Read the full disclaimer here.

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

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If any of my 14 Best Travel Books inspire you to wander, please click the book icons to purchase them on Amazon. Alternatively, if you are considering switching from paperback to Kindle, you can also buy one from Amazon.

 

The Wrong Way Home by Peter Moore #1

One of my favourite travel books and once I started reading this book, I just couldn’t put it down. It fuelled my desire to travel around the world. A hilarious look at how Peter back-packed from London to his home in Sydney, Australia, encountering all sorts of mishaps and funny experiences on the way.

The Wrong Way Home Book
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It’s on the Meter by Paul Archer #2

A humorous true story of 3 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.

It's on the Meter Book
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The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff #3

Conde Nast list Anna as one of the 50 most influential travellers in the world. In her book, she lets us into her world 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.

The Pants of Perspective Book

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Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux #4

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. An adventurous, challenging, and a dangerous solo trip from Cairo to Cape Town and in true Theroux style hard to put down.

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Down Under by Bill Bryson #5

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 and the things he sees and the characters he meets on his travels. From the sublime to the ridiculous, you will be smiling all the way and itching to book a ticket to Oz.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho #6

The story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. Santiago’s journey teaches us about listening to our hearts and recognising the opportunity to follow our dreams.

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Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert #7

From Italy to India and Bali, the author takes us on her real-life discovery journey after a failed relationship. She describes the destinations and characters that she encounters with depth and feeling and transports us with her on her travels — a story of love and understanding and finding yourself through your journey when all else seems futile.

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Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes #8

The author buys a villa in Tuscany, Italy, and then devotes time, money & energy to remodel and renovate 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.

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Swahili for the Broken-Hearted by Peter Moore #9

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 on from a break-up with his girlfriend. He sets off to find himself but in true Peter Moore style finds he is the centre of some crazy situations such as coming face to face with 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.

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Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan #10

I read this book and saw the film version after I had travelled around Asia and loved it. 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,” then you will enjoy this read.

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Angels and Demons by Dan Brown #11

Love him or loathe him, for me, Dan Brown is one of my favourite authors as his writing not only has suspense and thrills within it, but all his books are located in cities around the world. By turning the pages of a Dan Brown book, you are transported to historical and religious monuments, are given insights into locations you would not have necessarily even knew existed. It led down a trail of clues that help solve a final riddle. Angels and Demons is set in Rome and Vatican City.

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Three Seconds in Bogota by Mark Playne #12

The gripping true story of an English author and his companion who travel around South America on a one-way ticket and try to make some money to get a flight home while stopping in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Bolivia before ending up in Columbia. It is here that they fell into the hands of the Colombian underworld — a story of what to do when things turn sour.

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An Elephant in my Kitchen by Francois Anthony #13

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” for the protection of 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.

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Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer #14

More a coffee table piece than a “read on the plane” novel, but Atlas Obscura takes us to destinations that offer us curious and strange things to see and do. Photographs, illustrations, maps, and charts highlight the wonderful world we live in with a heap of weird and beautiful destinations for the curious traveller.

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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 feel isolated in your own home, then may I suggest joining a virtual book group or starting one yourself. You only need a few like-minded people and hey presto, you have yourself a friendly group of book lovers.

If you are keen on setting up an online group and are looking for people to join, register on Reading Groups for Everyone. As a registered group, you’ll be updated with the latest book news through monthly newsletters, and will have access to exclusive publisher offers and opportunities. Make sure that you put as much information as you can 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.

5 Reasons to Join or Start a Travel Book Group

  • In times of isolation talking and interacting with others who enjoy the same things as you is very beneficial to your health and wellbeing.
  • Reading broadens your horizons.
  • When the world heals, we will want to travel again, and maybe you will have found inspiration for your adventure from the pages of a book.
  • Books allow you to escape one world and discover another.
  • You may get to read travel books that you may not necessarily have considered on your own.
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Read Next: How to Stay Positive in Uncertain Times

About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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Renee | The Holidaymaker
Renee | The Holidaymaker
10 months ago

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.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Renee | The Holidaymaker
10 months ago

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

Georgina
10 months ago

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.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Georgina
10 months ago

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 😃

Ann
10 months ago

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 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Ann
10 months ago

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
10 months ago

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 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Suzanne Jones
10 months ago

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

Runawaybrit
10 months ago

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 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Runawaybrit
10 months ago

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

Heather Markel
10 months ago

The Alchemist is one of my favorite books, read it three times! What a great reading list you have compiled, thank you!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Heather Markel
10 months ago

Thank you 😊

Sinjana Ghosh
Sinjana Ghosh
10 months ago

Great list. I have not read any of them, so thanks a lot for this collection. I can recomment you the books of Ruskin Bond. It will transport you to the world of Himachal wherever you are.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sinjana Ghosh
10 months ago

Thank you, I will have a look for them.

Yukti Agrawal
Yukti Agrawal
10 months ago

I love traveling and so books inspiring travel is a good way to enjoy author’s experiences. I would love to read Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux as he lists his dangerous trip from Cairo to Cape Town and in his true style.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Yukti Agrawal
10 months ago

It is a good read, I would recommend it.

Jay Artale
10 months ago

I’m going to have to read the Alchemist again. I read it years ago and then didn’t some sketches and drawings of the things he wrote about .. just to tap into the creative inspiration the book gave me. It’s a simple story, but really gives the reader a lot of food for thought. You can read it on multiple different levels, and I think it shows you just have subtle you can be as a writer, and still get your thoughts, ideas, and concepts over to your readers.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jay Artale
10 months ago

I totally agree. The Alchemist is a book you can return to time again and find new inspiration from how it is written

Kathy
Kathy
10 months ago

Thank you, another great blog & an inspiring choice of books – have picked at least 2 that I will definitely listen to, and probably would never have come across independently. It’s nice to have a distraction from the current situation, and I love the idea of the online book group. Thanks for the tips! Happy travel planning 😎

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Kathy
10 months ago

Thank you Kathy. I hope you enjoy your two choices. I would love to know whether you enjoyed them once you have read them 😀

Nicola Foster
Nicola Foster
10 months ago

What a great article! This has given me a a superb list of books that I can’t wait to get reading. Thanks!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nicola Foster
10 months ago

Thank you Nicola, I hope you enjoy your books 😃

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