30 Best Travel Books To Fuel Your Wanderlust

Best Travel Books of All Time
What are the Best Travel Books?
Travel Inspiration

These are some of the best travel books ever (in my opinion). If you’re looking for travel inspiration, you can’t go wrong with this collection of travel stories & guides.

I’ve been traveling the world for 9 years now, and it all started after I was inspired by reading some incredible travel books.

Some of my favorite travel books are based on other people’s travel adventures, while travel how-to guides taught me that international travel is accessible to everyone, not just wealthy & retired people.

So here is my personal list of the best travel books of all time.

I’ve split the list up into two sections. My favorite travel stories/novels, and the most useful books about how to travel the world.

Once I’ve finished reading any of these books, I feel the instant urge to pack my bag and head out to explore the world somewhere new!

Well written travel books like these have helped inspire my own personal travel goals over the years — and will continue to do so.

So if you’re looking for motivation from great travel writers, or experience a travel adventure of your own, make yourself comfortable and grab a couple of my favorites listed here.

They are sure to inspire wanderlust in everyone who reads them…

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine

My Favorite Travel Books For 2020

Best Travel Stories & Novels

1. Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes is one of the first travel books I ever read. It takes you on a walking journey with Robert and his donkey Mosestine across a mountainous region of France.

You get to feel what traveling through 1870’s Europe was like, including the landscape, religion, and the people. Robert & his donkey don’t get along at first, but through trial and error they learn to become travel companions.

Best Travel Books: Travels With A Donkey

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2. Shantaram

By Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is set in the underworld of contemporary India, where an escaped convict from Australia named Lin is hiding out. He searches for love while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums and simultaneously working for the Bombay mafia.

It’s one of the best-written novels I’ve read and sucks you right into an amazing story full of love, beauty, betrayal, brutality, and compassion. The book has been criticized for being more fiction than fact, however, I still highly recommend it as a great travel book. It’s incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking either way.

Best Travel Books: Shantaram

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3. World Walk

By Steven Newman

World Walk is the story of newspaper writer Steven Newman who at the age of 28 packed his bag to start a 4 year long journey around the world on foot. He walked his way across 22 countries in 5 continents.

He shares heartfelt stories of the people he meets along the way, as well as wild adventures including arrests, wars, blizzards, wild animal attacks, wildfires, and more. A lesson of hope and love told through the exciting adventures of independent budget backpacking.

Best Travel Books: World Walk

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4. On The Road

By Jack Kerouac

On The Road is a classic American travel book. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac himself) & Dean Moriarty’s cross-country hitchhiking and train-hopping journey across rural America in the 1940’s.

Written in a rambling diary style, and a bit hard to follow at times, Kerouac takes to the road looking for adventure, sex, drugs, and mischief. A great read for those who would like to escape the real world for a while and just go where the wind blows them.

Best Travel Books: On The Road

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5. The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is an international best-seller that tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of treasure. However on his adventurous quest, he finds himself instead.

This is a powerful book that inspires courage & chasing your dreams. It teaches important life lessons using entertaining stories. It helped me overcome my own fears about what to do with my life, as well as millions of other readers around the world.

Best Travel Books: The Alchemist

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6. In A Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

In A Sunburned Country follows Bill’s hilarious journey through the sunbaked deserts and endless coastlines of Australia, trying not to get killed by the deadly wildlife. It’s full of fun & interesting facts about the country.

It’s not your typical guidebook to Australia, but a must-read if you plan on traveling there. He really gives you a sense of the place, its quirks, and the people using some very entertaining storytelling and history.

Best Travel Books: In A Sunburned Country

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7. Marching Powder

By Rusty Young

Marching Powder is the true story of a British drug dealer’s five years inside a very strange Bolivian prison, where whole families live with inmates in luxury apartments and cocaine is manufactured.

When you spend time backpacking around the world, you sometimes find yourself in ridiculous situations no one back home would believe. This is one of those crazy stories — and one of my favorite reasons to travel.

Best Travel Books: Marching Powder

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8. The Cat Who Went To Paris

By Peter Gethers

For the wary soul who needs a bit of extra convincing of the life-changing wonders that await abroad, there’s perhaps no better resource than The Cat Who Went To Paris. Peter Gethers’ global journeys with a cat named Norton puts a dose of adorable humor into many common travel situations.

Norton accompanies Gethers on filmmaking trips and helps convince the love of his life that he is the one. After years of adventuring the three settle in New York, Norton is one of the city’s most well-traveled felines.

Best Travel Books: The Cat Who Went To Paris

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9. Love With A Chance Of Drowning

By Torre DeRoche

Love With A Chance Of Drowning is the travel memoir of Torre, who reluctantly leaves her corporate lifestyle to live on a sailboat with a man she just met, and their adventure across the South Pacific together.

Along with all the challenges and wonder they experience on the trip, the book takes you on a beautiful, romantic and deeply personal journey of self-discovery. It’s very entertaining and funny, I couldn’t put it down. Chasing dreams is always scary, but usually worth it.

Best Travel Books: Love With A Chance Of Drowning

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10. Dark Star Safari

By Paul Theroux

Theroux earned his reputation as one of the all-time great travelogue writers because he lives every word that he writes. Dark Star Safari takes readers through his voyage from the top of Africa to the bottom.

He often finds himself at the bottom of his own barrel and unsure of what will happen next. It’s an honest account by a writer that is as ‘working class’ as travel writers come. Overall, an honest if not always refreshing take on overland travel in Africa.

Best Travel Books: Dark Star Safari

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11. Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

By Douglas Adams

When Earth is taken over and ultimately destroyed by alien ‘Vogons’, Arthur Dent makes a lucky escape as he is rescued by his friend, Ford Prefect (who turns out to be an alien researcher for the titular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a huge guide detailing every planet in the universe).

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first of a hugely popular series of books, which I would recommend to any travel lover. But you don’t have to take my word for it, the first book alone sold around 16 million copies and has been translated into 35 languages.

Best Travel Books: Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

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12. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

By Anthony Bourdain

If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, you will know that he spent a lot of his time in some of the world’s most fascinating places. He traveled from his hometown of New York to Tanzania and everywhere in between, soaking in every experience he could get his hands on.

‘World Travel: An Irreverent Guide’ is a collection of Bourdain’s journeys, injected with his famous frank and honest tone of voice. The book also includes essays written by his friends and family that will bring you even deeper into his stories.

Best Travel Books: World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

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13. The Lost City Of The Monkey God

By Douglas Preston

For the mystery novel fans out there, The Lost City Of The Monkey God is a fascinating medical mystery, based on a pioneering adventure into the world’s densest jungle. It is believed that this particular jungle holds immense wealth inside, but you will have to find it. The only problem is, Indigenous tribes who fled there have warned that anyone who finds the sacred city will die.

While Journalist Theodore Morde thinks that he has returned from the rainforest safely, with bags filled with artifacts, he mysteriously commits suicide and never reveals the location of the sacred city. This book will draw you in from the get-go.

Best Travel Books: The Lost City Of The Monkey God

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14. Bad Lands: A Tourist On The Axis Of Evil

By Tony Wheeler

Bad Lands author Tony Wheeler, has a fantastic way with words, as he details his travels through destinations that are often described as some of the most repressive and dangerous countries in the world. With stories about Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and many more, Wheeler explores each country’s attitude towards human rights, terrorism and foreign policy.

It’s not all bad though, he shares the tales of countless locals, tour guides and travel industry workers, who bring a real insight into each country and debunk the popular myths. Wheeler also happens to be the founder of Lonely Planet, so he has gathered plenty of fascinating stories over the years.

Best Travel Books: Bad Lands: A Tourist On The Axis Of Evil

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15. The Geography of Bliss

By Eric Weiner

When Eric Weiner took a deep dive into the worlds data on happiness, he discovered that there are many other countries doing a much better job of keeping their population happy and content in their day to day lives. Traveling from America to India, with many stops along the way, Weiner documents his journey to investigate what true happiness is.

This book is a wonderful combination of travel tales, science, data and psychology, mixed in with some of Erics famous sense of humour. In his search for answers, he will teach you the key takeaways from the world’s happiest nations.

Best Travel Books: The Geography of Bliss

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16. Sex Lives Of Cannibals

By J. Maarten Troost

Can you imagine packing up your belongings for a remote life on Tarawa in the equatorial pacific. An island that is just over 100 square miles, located right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t get much more remote than that! Sounds like an adventure right? That’s exactly what Maarten Troost and his fiancé did.

However, Tarawa is not what they expected it to be. From cultural differences, to the daily challenges of life on an island, such as sleeping with bugs, picking ants out of their food, defecating in the sea – this story will have every adventure traveler relating in some way shape or form.

Somehow, Maarten and Sylvia stuck it out on the island for nearly two years. Now, looking back on his time there, Maarten shares the lessons he learned in friendship, culture, and community.

Best Travel Books: Sex Lives Of Cannibals

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17. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

By Alfred Lansing

This action-packed book details the difficult struggles of the 28 man crew onboard the Endurance ship in 1914, as they set sail for Antarctica. After almost 2 years at sea, and only 1 day away from reaching their destination, the ship was crushed by a large pack of floating ice in the Weddell Sea, leaving the men stranded on the pack ice. But it doesn’t end there – the crew continued to drift on the ice for just over a year.

That’s only the beginning of the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew. Alfred Lansing will take you along on the 850 mile journey that followed.

Best Travel Books: Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

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18. Lands Of Lost Borders

By Kate Harris

Lands Of Lost Borders, tells the adventurous tale of Kate Harris and her bicycle journey down the Silk Road. In between her studies at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off on an adventure with her childhood friend Mel. While they pedalled for miles on end, their journey takes them to some of the remotest places on earth.

Her story is incredibly reflective of life and our connection to nature. It tackles the boundaries that we set ourselves and the importance of forging new paths, just like Marco Polo and Magellan did.

Best Travel Books: Lands Of Lost Borders

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19. The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini

This heart-wrenching book tells the story of Amir and his father, baba, in the town of Kabul, Afghanistan. One day, after a kite competition, Amir’s friend Hassan runs to catch their kite, but is attacked in the process and raped by a local bully. ‘The Kite Runner’ details the inner turmoil Amir struggles with throughout his life, knowing that he has betrayed his friend, by allowing the rape and never correcting his failure.

It is a story of childhood trauma, family, friendship and love, that will bring you on a course of emotions through the destructive backdrop of Afghanistan over the last 30 years.

Best Travel Books: The Kite Runner

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20. Wild

By Cheryl Strayed

This modern day classic is based on Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile solo hike through the Pacific Crest Trail. It all began at 22 years old with the passing of her mother, and her divorce from her husband, which found Strayed at the lowest point of her life. After a brief encounter with heroine, she makes the decision to rebuild her confidence, her self respect and her life.

Starting in the Mojave Desert, she slowly finds her way through California and Oregon, facing every barrier that nature can throw at her, from snakes and black bears, to epic snow fall and sheer loneliness. This story perfectly captures the biggest journey of Strayed’s life.

Best Travel Books: Wild

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21. A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush

By Eric Newby

Fashion industry worker turned Mountaineer? After 10 years in haute couture, Eric Newby decided to invite his friend Hugh Carless to join him on a hiking trip to Afghanistan. The only issue was that Newby had little to no experience in hiking, but that didn’t seem to stop him.

This must-read book, breaks down his courageous adventure to the remote peak of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan – a peak that had never been climbed before. Although I am sure he wouldn’t recommend it to his readers, his account of the experience is endlessly entertaining and inspiring to push yourself beyond the limits you have set within your own mind.

Best Travel Books: A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush

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22. Stranger On A Train

By Jenny Diski

With the backdrop of two cross-country trips on Amtrak, Jenny Diski writes about her experience arriving into the heart of America, while still reflecting on the scars of her past. “I travel in order to keep still” she explains in this vivid travelogue/memoir, as she dives into American culture and the demons of her past, often in the same page. Diski’s story is both captivating and relatable at a human level.

Best Travel Books: Stranger On A Train

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23. Journeys Of A Lifetime

By National Geographic

Imagine a compilation of the most incredible storytellers and travel photographers all in one book! National Geographic have gathered the best trips from their writers and brought them together to create a journey around the globe.

From the world’s most famous destinations and adventures to the lesser known sojourns, this book features the ultimate list of adventures that you will want to add to your bucket list the minute you read it, from cruises around Antarctica to horse treks in the Andes and every other experience you could ever imagine.

Best Travel Books: Journeys Of A Lifetime

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Best Travel How-To Guides

Ok now that we’ve got some of my favorite travel novels out of the way, I also wanted to include some more useful travel books in the list too. Books to help you travel cheaper, better, or show you how to travel more!

24. Vagabonding

By Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is what encouraged me to put my real life on hold to backpack around the world for a bit. This book is essentially about the process behind taking time off from your regular life to discover and experience the world on your own terms.

It won’t tell you exactly how to do it, but gives you ideas and confidence to figure it out for yourself. Many long-term travelers have been inspired by what Rolf talks about, including Tim Ferriss. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to travel more, but thinks they don’t have enough money or time.

Best Travel Books: Vagabonding

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25. How To Travel The World On $50 A Day

By Matt Kepnes

Coming from a fellow travel blogger, I’ve got to give Kepnes (also known as Nomadic Matt) props for his New York Times bestselling book How To Travel The World On $50 A Day. Matt knows what he’s talking about, and it shows as much in this book as it does on his blog.

He goes into detail on how he’s stayed on the move for so long on a shoestring budget, with tips and tricks coming to life through relatable stories. Also seeping through the pages is a heavy dose of modesty, a necessity when venturing off the beaten path abroad.

Best Travel Books: How To Travel The World On $50 A Day

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26. Travel As Transformation

By Gregory V. Diehl

Travel As Transformation takes you on Diehl’s journey from living in a van in San Diego, growing chocolate with indigenous tribes in Central America, teaching in the Middle East and volunteering in Africa.

Through these stories, it shows you how profoundly travel can influence your perception of yourself. Diehl has spent the best part of 10 years exploring the world in countries many Westerners couldn’t even place on a map. The journey helps him find who he really is and what freedom means.

Best Travel Books: Travel As Transportation

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27. Microadventures

By Alastair Humphreys

Microadventures is an uplifting and original concept evolved out of the travel blogosphere and into a catchy book. Instead of pushing his readers to drop everything and hit the road full-time, Humphreys champions the weekend warrior and after-work types with this one.

Among other things, Humphrey’s excursions in his native UK are featured prominently along with tricks of the trade for quick adventure travel. After all, some of the best explorations can happen on your own side of the planet. No need to travel far!

Best Travel Books: Microadventures

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28. How NOT To Travel The World

By Lauren Juliff

In How NOT To Travel The World Lauren expertly conveys the fears of a first-time solo traveler who, prior to hitting the road, as she lived a rather sheltered life. The overarching theme is conquering fear and living your dream.

She does a solid job of discussing the emotional steps involved in her process too. I don’t know how Lauren gets into so many crazy situations on her travels, but they make for a very entertaining read!

Best Travel Books: How NOT To Travel The World

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29. Food Traveler’s Handbook

By Jodi Ettenberg

The Food Traveler’s Handbook is an extension of Jodi Ettenberg’s excellent travel blog Legal Nomads, a go-to for all things street food (and eating while traveling in general). So it’s no wonder she’s got a top book on the subject.

Any who are gluten sensitive or have other dietary restrictions can finally rest easy as she breaks down where to go and what to avoid if you want to eat well while traveling.

Other volumes of The Traveler’s Handbook series are equally as helpful:

Best Travel Books: Food Traveler's Handbook

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30. World’s Cheapest Destinations

By Tim Leffel

The thought that exotic travel has to break the bank is an assumption as sad as it is untrue, and long-time travel writer Tim Leffel proves it in The World’s Cheapest Destinations. Active storytelling and honest facts on not only where to go but how to travel once you get there.

The key takeaway from this book is that proper research and planning, along with a willingness to see a culture for what it really is, can save you a fortune. Oh, and don’t hesitate to bargain – just be respectful when you do so.

Best Travel Books: World's Cheapest Destinations

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BONUS BOOK: 100 Hikes Of A Lifetime

By Kate Siber

From short day hikes to multi-week backpacking trips, this great coffee table book from National Geographic will inspire you to get out into the wilderness on your next adventure. They highlight some of the world’s best hikes, with awesome photography and summaries for each one.

Make sure to turn to page 148 to see my own personal contribution, photography from Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail — as they licensed some of my images for the guide. It’s well put together, and I’ve already added a bunch of hikes to my own personal bucket list for the future!

100 Hikes Of a Lifetime Book

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Well, that’s it for now. I hope you got some good ideas for travel books to read in 2020! I’ll keep updating this list every year with fresh options. ★

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Check out this list of the best travel books to read for inspiration and become a better traveler.
Check out this list of the best travel books to read for inspiration and become a better traveler.


I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best travel books of all time! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

What are some of your favorite travel books? Did I miss any good ones? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (216)

  1. I loved Shantaram, the geography of bliss, the alchemist, and the kite runner 👌🏽 Great books! A thousand splendid suns by Khalid Al Husseini is also great, better than the kite runner in my opinion.

  2. Always hunting for travel books, I must have read more than most. Scouring the comments for anything gems and many of my favorites are mentioned. The second novel I ever read was about a gypsy girl. I must have been only about 8. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance was a huge influence. Lucy Irvine’s Castaway, William Least Heat Moon, 7 years in Tibet. There have been so many zany adventure I didn’t manage to hang onto, names lost but memories like old friends. The Burial Brothers is definitely one of those, driving an old hearse across central America

  3. Hi!,l have been solo travelling since retiring in fall 2014. I have written a book , Immersed in West Africa, which was launched in August 2019. Can you give me some advice regarding the best book review sites for travel books.

  4. Hi Matt, very interesting article. I am actually putting together a website with travel books movies and documentaries recommendations. I have recently read Step by step: The life in my journeys by Simon Reeve -A fascinating memoir by British TV presenter and traveller (audiobook narrated by the author himself). The expedition trilogy by Jason Lewis is mind-blowing who circumnavigated the globe using only human power. Tim Butcher’s Blood river is also one of my favourites.

  5. I bought my husband a book called Man Mission by Eytan Uliel. So far he says he really likes it. I think somewhere on the inside cover it’s described as “Eat, Pray Love” for Men. I thought that was a clever way to put it, eytanuliel.com is the author site. That is actually where I decided my husband would really enjoy this book!

  6. All so good!!! I would recommend Two Years of Wonder by Ted Neill. This memoir will change you, and Africa?!!! What a place, with all you can handle in the beauty and devastation.

    • Happy you got some new travel book ideas Alexandra, hopefully you’ll get to read a few of these on your next trip!

  7. Oh wow Matthew you have some great taste! I love reading old travel diaries and guides. Right now I’m reading James Boswell’s 1765 diary about his tour through Europe and Italy. (I’m in Italy right now). Dude was an OG traveller, befriended Rosseau and Voltaire, met the pope and had multiple affairs with the wives of Italian aristocrats. Talk about traveling with style. He’s inspired me to write an article on the history of backpacking!

  8. My small contribution, a longer read but well worth it: the biography of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, by E. Rice.

    His Wikipedia page says: explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat.

    He spoke several European, Asian, and African languages. He wore a mustache. He was also a character in many of Rudyard Kipling’s stories.

    As he departed from Bombay toward Africa, the beginning of his expedition to find the source of the Nile, he wrote:

    “Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks [he had written on sailing], is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Home, one feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood… A journey, in fact, appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope, -the three sister Graces of our moral being.”


  9. I loved the recommendations but I absolutely love the Alchemist. Coelho is such a good author! Was binge -reading his books last year. They are short,easy and meaningful!

    • It’s hard to find it in all those comments, but it’s there!

      She recommended: “Neither Here Nor There: Travels In Europe” by Bill Bryson

  10. Great list – I should definitely add some of these books to my list (to finally finish my Goodreads Reading Challenge hehe)! However, my absolutely favourite travel book is actually not on your list – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

  11. I havent gotten to travel much which I have always wanted to do. But I can read about traveling I will certainly be checking these out thank you so much !!

  12. Nice list, going to check some of these out.

    Have you read Seven Years In Tibet? I read it after seeing the movie and loved it. The writing is basic but the story itself is incredible. A real inspiring adventure story. While I enjoyed the movie too, it was pretty dramatized compared to the book, however that’s to be expected with Hollywood!

  13. DESTINATIONS OF A LIFETIME by the staff of National Geographic, I have not finished it yet but it makes me want to see all of these amazing places so bad!

  14. Nomadic Matt’s book How To Travel The World On $50 A Day has been my go to… I love the practical information and advice!!

  15. finally found your page AFTER I had to leave a comment on the entry form. So I answered that I did not know the page to comment at. Once I commented it let me see the facebook page and so here I am. I love the Cheap Destinations. I think seeing as much for as little lets you see more.

  16. I don’t have a favorite, I just like to look at different ones for inspiration! Different ones, for different areas of the world!

  17. Definitely the Food Traveler’s Handbook. Food hunting is one of the most important part of my journey, so a handbook is definitely helpful.

  18. “Best travel books ever” – a daring attempt! … and a little bit of promotion campaign too? Better: “Travel books that had a strong impact on me.”
    BTW: How about Jon Krakauer? And there are travel authors and books in other languages too! I personally like W.G. Sebald (German).

  19. Have just cancelled any subscriptions/tv to save for travelling … and now all I want is these books! Such a good & varied selection. X

  20. I love Travels with Charley: in search of America by John Steinbeck ! really takes you to the landscapes and people in yhe deep south of America

  21. Shantaram had to be one of my all time favorite books; it is so very well written. On the Road, I read so many decades ago (no wonder the gypsy blood runs so thick). Many of these I have read and enjoyed. There are a handful I would like to check out in the near future. Great collection.

  22. Love this list – Kerouac´s “On the Road” is a classic and one that definitely inspired me to travel when I read it as a teenager. Kindles are definitely one of the best travel accessories for space and weight saving!

  23. Absolutely loved reading Paule Coehlo, thanks for the additional suggestions! Will love to read them on my travel friendly Kindle *winkwink

  24. Interestingly I get more inspired to travel by reading books set in foreign cities than travel books. I still like reading both of them, but books just set in a foreign culture somehow spark more curiosity in me.

  25. So many great suggestions! I’ve already read some of these but I can’t wait to get my hands on more of them…especially The Alchemist!

  26. I love Matt Kepnes book! Its completely dogeared and full of paperclips marking the best bits. I will definitely be trying a few more of these books!

  27. I read on the road as a high school student, but look forward to giving it another try. My friend also swears by the Alchemist, although I haven’t gotten around to it.

  28. I am an avid reader. However, there is only one book on this list that I read. Thanks for the recommendations. I will gladly read some of them.

  29. Thanks for the list. I look forward to reading may of these.
    My fav travel book is The Zoo Quest Expeditions. It taught me so much about paraguay before my 1st trip there. And the story of mixing up the meaning of the word Tatu just had me in stitches.

  30. I’ve read a few of these, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest. Thanks for putting together this list!

  31. I’ve only read one of the books on this list, The Alchemist, and I loved that! Looking forward to reading some of your suggestions.

  32. 👌🏾💪🏽 Just bought How Not To Travel the World. Haven’t read it yet, but if it made this list, it must be good. I look forward to reading it.

  33. I haven’t read many book about traveling or vagabonding, but I think this is a great place to start… I think I’ll go with How To Travel The World On $50 A Day for a starter… Anyways… Wish me luck!!

  34. My favorite and first is Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I’m going to buy Matt Kepnes “travel..on 50$ a day” next and one of the “funnier ones” you recommend, probably “How Not to Travel..” and “World’s Cheapest.” I love your blog Matt, the photo of you framed in books is charming – you’re as handsome as ever (and lookin buff) – the wedding ring looks great on you.

  35. I like the Microadventures. Often, I believe almost every place on earth is a travel destination. Which means that most likely our local place of residence is one of those destinations. We just need to learn to see things differently with a brand new set of perspective just like a tourist in a foreign place

  36. This is a great selection of books to choose from! One I would also recommend is the classic, “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon. Although I read this book many, many years ago, I occasionally still remember some of his travel adventures in off beat areas of the USA.

  37. My favorite travel book is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. I discovered this book while listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, a beautiful source of inspiration!

  38. Great list! One of my favorite travel books I could not put down is The Geography of Bliss. It involves travel with the search for the world’s happiest places.

  39. Thanks for the great suggestions! I’m currently reading and really enjoying HOLY COW, which was one of your previous recommendations.

  40. Have read several on your list. My all-time favorite is Shantaram. Ordering some more from your list. thank you! I carry hundreds of books in my phone. would be easier to read them on a Kindle!

  41. Great reading list, Matt! My favorite is probably The Alchemist. I re-read it all the time! I also love Ernest Hemingway’s books – they always leave me with a perfect sense of place. Still reading Shantaram, which is also incredible! p.s. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hi at TBEXIreland. It’s been way too long since our joint panel in Mexico! Cheers, and congrats to whomever wins the Kindle! ~ Kristen

  42. My favorite is the “The 4 hour workweek”
    It is a book which inpires me how to manage life to travel extensively. :)
    And second same as yours, “The Alchemist”

  43. So glad you added Vagabonding because also one of my favourites. Eat, pray, Love is another good one that’s a travel story/novel. Some of my favourites also include the Nationals geographic books.

  44. Thank you for the list. All the books are new for me. I`ve read only The Alchemist. I enjoy reading and rereading books by Gerald Durrell about his expeditions to different continents in search of animals for zoos.

  45. bill bryson has several wonderful and highly-inspiring travel books. in my opinion you can’t go wrong with taking a few of his works with you on your journey, wherever it may take you.

  46. Lonely Planet New Zealand on the road by jack kerouac Alaska (Travellers’ Wildlife Guides) by Dennis Paulson; Les Beletsky :)

  47. Thank you for this list! I am familiar with about half, and since I totally agree with your opinions on those, I am confident that I will like the rest…..so now I have answers when family ask what I want for Christmas 😁 My own wanderlust began with children’s book like Swiss Family Robinson, moved on to Hemingway and Steinbeck in my teens, and then firmly entrenched, on to Theroux, Bryson etc in more recent years. If, and this is really an impossible choice, I did have to opt for just one I think (today at least) I would choose Ghost Riders by Richard Grant, or Kook by Peter Heller. Suspect you would love both!

  48. So many great suggestions! I look forward to getting through your list. Where to start? I’m leaning toward The Cat Who Went to Paris. :-)
    BTW…I found your post about Iceland’s Ring Road to be the best resource when I was preparing for my trip with friends. Thank you for that…

  49. I love the Expedition book series by Jason Lewis. It is a harrowing story about how Jason Lewis and Steve Smith became the first individuals to attempt a human-powered circumnavigation around the globe. No motor, no sails. They do it purely on human muscle tissue. Whoa cuz!!! It’s a 3 book series filled with so much emotion and show how far the human spirit can push the limits. WOOOO!

  50. I just finished a book called John Garstang’s footsteps across Anatolia which is about an archeologist/ethnographer in Turkey pre WWI. Fascinating stuff

  51. Great list! My favorite travel book is Forster’s “A Passage to India”. Being an expat in India, I’m biased, of course, but the novel is undeniably worthy. There is also a fabulous movie based on this book – directed by David Lean.

  52. I’m a huge fan of your travel adventures, and the great/realistic advice you give about traveling! I like your book selection and I’m hoping to read one of these books to get inspired and do some traveling of my own :)

  53. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors ever. I recommend his “A walk in the woods” if you haven’t read it. Nomadic Matt’s book was very helpful for our trip. Look forward to checking out some of the others!

  54. I loved Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Wild, Life of Pi… I also love NatGeo Traveler and Backpacker magazines. Thanks so much for the list! I have some reading to do!

  55. I enjoyed Vagabonding but On the Road was a slog for me to get through. I really didn’t enjoy it, but since I worked so hard at it, I’ll probably never forget it.

  56. I just added every single one of these books to my “must read” list…now to actually make some progress on reading that list!

  57. I am currently traveling in Ecuador with my 12 year old son, and two friends recommended “The Map-Maker’s Wife” which tells about the race to measure the circumference of the earth in the late 1700s. I am always looking for great stories that bring the location’s history to life…

  58. Thanks for the great list — has some of my favourites (Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux) and lots of suggestions to explore.

    Here are some of my favourites:
    1. One Year Off, by David Elliot Cohen. The author and his wife take a year off to travel the world with their children. This inspired my husband and me to do the same with our three kids. We bought RTW tickets and homeschooled them on the road for a year, proving that not only do you not need to be rich or retired to travel, but also that having children should not limit your wanderlust either.
    2. Time Was Soft There, by Jeremy Mercer. About a Canadian journalist who spent a year living above Shakespeare & Co. book store in Paris.
    3. The Tao of Travel, by Paul Theroux. Excerpts from the best of Theroux’s work plus selections from other travelers.
    4. Travels with my donkey, by Tim Moore. Like Robert Louis Stevenson, he walks a long way with a donkey, but Tim does it on the Camino de Santiago. Hilarious.
    5. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson. His latest. I’ve read and loved everything he’s written.
    6. The End of Elsewhere, by Taras Grescoe.
    7. Travelling with Che Guevara, by Alberto Granado. The other side of the Motorcycle Diaries story.
    8. Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? By Thomas Kohnstamm. The underside of writing for travel guides.
    9. Travel with Children, by Maureen Wheeler. A Lonely Planet guide that helped and inspired me when planning our year-long trip around the world.

  59. If anyone is interested in traveling the Alps, you’ve got to to read Stephen O’Shea’ s book on the Alps. Stephen, a Canadian, that lived for years and wrote from Southern France, he now lives in Providence, RI

  60. I absolutely love On The Road by Kerouac, it can get a bit uncomfortable at some points in the book but it is absolutely a wild read, I never thought a book would give me such a sense of adventure

  61. My favorite travel book is a blank, unlined journal book where I write, draw, paste souvenirs and create a one of a kind token of my trip.

  62. My 90 year old mum is an avid reader, actually, voracious…and an armchair traveller at her age! I would love to give her a kindle paper white to let her armchair travel around the world! …and, oh my gosh, at an island off the Yucatan, Isla Holbox, I saw this woman reading this giant book, dying to know what it was, loving giant books….it turns out it was Shantaram! What a reading coincidence…I’m ordering it! Just wondering if 974 pages will fit on my sad old kindle. lol!

  63. Just ordered Vagabonding and am in the process of figuring out the details around ditching my six figure job, house, stuff, and everything else for a long term multi-year adventure to get my country count from 22 to at least around 50. From one goofy bald white traveler dude to another, thanks for the inspiration.

  64. This summer I discovered “Destination Earth – A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler” written by Nicos Hadjicostis. It was very inspiring and made me start planning for a year long journey throughout Asia that I’ll start next year. It’s an excellent read and I think it should be on your list!

  65. Loved the list! I’ll have to check some of those titles out. “The Sun Also Rises” is a great book for feeling like you’re on a roadtrip through Europe… that being said, it’s much more scattered and less fun than actually doing it! But the history of the book is interesting.

  66. While on the road for 14 straight months, I chose to read each of JRR Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” books sequentially, completing one on each continent! While in South Africa, I visited the area that Tolkein lived in, Hogsback, and hiked everywhere I could…it was like being in the books! Mirkwood, Rivendale, you name it!!!
    Point is, they are great books for the imagination, and directly relate to being a nomadic traveler!

  67. Two travel books I like, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin and Following the Equator by Mark Twain. I know there’s more, but those jumped out at me.

  68. That’s a great list! I’ve read 4 of those myself and Nomadic Matt’s book is what got me into long term backpacking!
    Thanks for hosting the contest!

  69. Many of the books in your list are some of my favorites, too. Vagabonding was a great resource and inspiration for my year-long around the world trip as well as other months-long travels. I also enjoyed Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad.

  70. Wonderful list! I’m about to retire and have children who are very interested in travel. Think some of these will be Christmas presents:) I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 88-90. Hope it’s on a lot of people’s lists of places to visit. Gorgeous country and welcoming people.

  71. Does Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy count? I’ve read the Alchemist, great book, and I own Shantaram but haven’t picked it up yet (my goodreads to-read list exceeds 200 books). Into the Wild is my pick.

  72. My favorite book about traveling is the magazine National Geographic Travel. Unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to travel, but I like to read interesting about different countries.

  73. The Only Road North by Eric Mirandette. Not a feel-good travel memoir, but it was the first book that encouraged me to get out and see the world.

  74. Great post and love that book photo. My favorite travel book is mentioned, “Love with a Chance of Drowning”. I also love the series, “The Best in Women’s Travel Writing”, the stories are short, but the writing styles and content are really inspiring.

    • Hey Sheri, Torre’s book is really good! I’ll check out the other one too. Shorter stories are great if you don’t feel like spending days reading a single book.

  75. Does it Yurt? Travels in Central Asia or How I Came to Love the Stans
    Stephen M. Bland

    It’s a great read. A must for fans of the Stans and very funny.

  76. One of my personal favorites is “A Cook’s Tour. Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines” by Anthony Bourdain – a must-read for every foodie traveler!

  77. My favorite travel book wasn’t given to me as a gift two Christmases ago. On and off the beaten track presents 1000 places to see before you die – a traveler’s life list by patricia schultz

  78. The Alchemist is one of my favorite ones to read! Another book I like to read while on the road is Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

  79. I usually only take random books along with me when I am traveling; whatever happens to pique my interest when I’m browsing bookshelves, really. I have yet to read any on your list though, so I am excited to pick a few up next time I need some new literature!! Currently by my side wherever I am traveling at the moment is the novel Orphan Train!

  80. Three Letters from the Andes
    Patrick Leigh Fermor

    Learned about this incredible individual by reading “Natural Born Heroes” by Christopher MacDougall (another incredible book, also author of Born To Run, yet another great book.)

  81. I LOVE reading travel books for inspiration, especially when I need to pass the time like on buses, trains and planes! I usually take a hard book but now that there are Kindles it seems like a great investment due to being so compact and the amount of books it can hold!
    I’m actually reading How Not To Travel The World at the moment and loving it!

  82. My personal favorite will always be The Alchemist. I was in Vietnam while reading it, started on a rainy day in the morning, and even though the sun started shining, I could not stop reading!

    • It shouldn’t change too much… but I will be posting some more general travel tips articles like this one, now that I have more time to spend on the blog!

  83. Hi Matt, great post! Travel books are something that you may not initially think about as a great resource. I know what’s going on my Christmas list now lol. I have read some Bill Bryson books like The Lost Continent which was great as a road-trip though America memoir. Thanks for sharing!

  84. Awesome, I’ll add some of those to my reading list! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Colin Fletcher’s The Man Who Walked Through Time a few years ago; it’s another inspiring one. Looking forward to hiking that trail you did in Greenland.

    • You’ve listed some of my favourite reads (Shantaram, The Alchemist, Dark Star Safari, On The Road, and Love with a Chance of Drowning) and also some I’ve never heard of before, and which I’m immediately adding to my Good Reads reading list :-)