Some of the greatest travel inspiration can come from Music, Movies, TV Shows, and especially the best travel books. Some of the best travel books can sweep you away to a far off lands, escaping your daily routine; or they can motivate you to get off the couch, pack your bags and set out on your own adventure. But for those of us who live super busy lives at home, the time you spend away traveling just might be the only time where you can finally relax and actually read a book!
We recently asked several travelers what books have inspired them and why. The result is this inspirational list of books will surely have you packing your bags and dreaming of your next destination. So add these books to your iPad or Kindle and set off on your own journey today. Enjoy!
We asked fellow Travel Nuts what they think are the Best Travel Books
A Fortune – Teller Told Me — Tizian Erzani
“Beware, you run a grave risk of dying in 1993 – You must not fly that year. Don’t fly, not even once” where the words that a Fortune teller told to Tiziano, an Italian journalist working for Die Spiegel.
This book are the stories gathered after one year of traveling all around Asia without flying. While doing so, Tiziano went to visit the most renowed fortune teller of the places he was traveling.
This book will open your eyes to different beliefs and superstitions that even if you are traveling in these countries are difficult to perceive.
– Alejandro Nuñez — Mi Viaje por el Mundo
Three Men in a Raft — Ben Kozel
I was maybe only 15 when my grandfather gave me this book to read – The story of three friends who decided to raft the entire length of the Amazon River, starting in the Andes, despite having no rafting experience or any clue on how to survive in the jungles of South America. While not being a literary masterpiece, something about this adventurous tale stuck with me and I started daydreaming about my own improbable journeys in the future. Now after 6 years travelling the world and in the middle of an overland adventure from Thailand to South Africa without flying, I can’t help but wonder how much of that the story of three men in a raft subconsciously crafted me to be the wanderer I am today.
– Jazza — NOMADasaurus
Invisible Cities — Italo Calvino
My favourite travel book of all times is Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, roughly based on the Silk Road travels of Marco Polo. I love how the author blends the real and imaginary aspects of travels, and the famous quote ‘You can take delight in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours’. Somehow, it summarizes travel for me.
–Margherita Ragg — The Crowded Planet
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years — Donald Miller
To be insecure, bored or depressed is something that everybody experiences in their lives (it may it be in different times and volumes) and we often try to look for help outside rather then inside. This book helped us a lot before we set off for our trip because it gave us the confidence that it’s only us who can create the stories of our lives and there is nothing to worry about when ‘writing’ them your own way.
– Ivana Greslikova — Nomad is Beautiful
Shantaram — Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram is definitely one of, if not THE favorite travel book I’ve read. It’s about a guy who escapes prison in Australia and makes his way to India on a fake passport. To survive he has to totally integrate and blend in into Indian society, and even joins the Bombay Mafia. Its such an awesome book that really made me want to see India. The best part though, is that its based on a true story and his real experiences. Definitely something you NEED to read!
– Justin Carmack — True Nomads
The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
It’s a bit of a cliché, naming The Alchemist to be your favourite travel book, but it is for good reason. This fictional story about a young shepherd named Santiago who longs to see the Pyramids of Giza inspires the wanderlust in any person who reads it. The great thing about the way Paulo Cohelo has written it is that you can really place yourself in Santiago’s shoes and substitute the Pyramids for any personal goal you have, not just for travel. I try to read this book at least once a year to make sure I am still on the right path.
– Lesh — NOMADasaurus
Hailed as a modern classic, this book talks about the story of Santiago, a young shepherd from Spain who traveled to the pyramids of Egypt to follow his heart. Along the way, he learned about life and the world as he met several people who have either helped him or hindered him. Still and the same, he persevered because he believed in his dream. This is truly a wonderful story packed with a lot of lessons that can inspire any dreamer. Because of that and more, The Alchemist has become one of my favorite travel books since it can really fuel a traveler’s drive to pursue his/her adventure. But I guess a huge part as to why I love this book is because of the fact that it reminds me a lot of my aspirations and my past. People will really try to bring you down and you can develop thoughts of giving up, but it’s always important to go after what you truly want — big or small, it is always important to make your dreams a reality. You see, I have dreamed of living a sustainable travel lifestyle and being my own boss. I thought it was impossible but then here I am today, living my dream! True enough, for as long as you work for it and yearn for it strongly, you can achieve whatever it is that you desire!
– Aileen Adalid — I Am Aileen
Neither Here Nor There — Bill Bryson
While there have been many good (and bad) travel books that I’ve read over the years, I must say that one that has stuck with me over time is Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There.” During his quest to recreate a journey across Europe with a friend (as he did just out of college), he tells humorous anecdotes that compare his new reality with those of his former glory-days. I always love Bryson’s humor and heavy sarcasm, especially when it comes to strange and awkward situations that he encounters on the road. An entertaining read that always makes me want to return to Europe.
– Liz Smith — Peanuts or Pretzels
A Moveable Feast — Ernest Hemingway
I first became enamored by Paris and the idea of traveling to cosmopolitan cities around the world when I read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I wanted to have the kind of vibrant and spontaneous life Hemingway had in 1920s Paris. That book is always enough to motivate me to travel and see as much as possible. I read it whenever I need to be inspired.
– Laura Lynch — Savored Journey
A Tramp Abroad — Mark Twain
When I moved to Germany, I only had a basic knowledge of German, and even though I was trying to learn the language, I still yearned to read the English newspaper while having breakfast or spending hours in bookstores,reading English books. I knew that I would for sure need a long time to have the same level of comfort in German.Anyhow,on one of my less happy days, I chanced upon a bookstore selling English books and bought myself a copy of Mark Twain’s ‘A Tramp Abroad’. I was excited to see that the novel was based on his travels in Europe and he had spent a lot of time in my city,Heidelberg! Reading that book was a wonderful journey for me, as I got to know so much about the history of my city, other parts of Germany, and got a perspective of how it was like to travel around Western Europe in the 1800’s. Mark Twain had a great sense of humour, which was visible in a lot of his work. As and when I travelled to Switzerland and whenever I get around to planning other trips in France,Switzerland or Germany, I often think of his adventures (or misadventures) and have a good laugh!
– Menorca — Europe Diaries
Little Princes — Conor Grennan
The author of this book went to volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal because he thought it would be a good way to impress women, but he ended up trekking to remote villages to reunite families torn apart by child trafficking and crippling poverty. Little Princes inspired me to travel to Nepal and see this country full of contrasts for myself (although I chose a slightly easier trekking option than he did!).
– Jon Algie — Jon is Travelling
I Grew My Boobs in China — Savannah Grace
I remember talking to Savannah online before my big trip in 2013, I didn’t know she wrote a book and when I discovered it I was curious but i wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it is! She was only 23 at the time and she brilliantly tells how a round the world trip she was initially forced in by her mother, turned to be the best thing that had ever happened, transforming her from a child to a very wise young woman. I highly recommend that book! For all those people who love adventure and true inspirational stories…This is it!
– Clelia Mattana – KeepCalmAndTravel
Eat Pray Love — Elizabeth Gilbert
I love it because in the book, Liz Gilbert is trying to find herself and she does it by traveling for a year to three different countries. Even though people thought she was crazy. Even though she was by herself. Even though, at times, she was scared. She proved that she could go beyond what she thought she was capable of, and as a female traveler that often travels alone, I think she has pushed me beyond what I thought my limits were. Reading Eat, Pray, Love even inspired me to travel to Bali!
– Vicky Sosa — Buddy The Traveling Monkey
The Motorcycle Diaries — Ernesto Che Guevara
Not that I ever need to find inspiration and motivation to travel, but “The Motorcycle Diaries”, of Ernesto Guevara, was the final thing to convince me that I needed to visit South America on a trip that would last more than the 2 or 3 weeks I would normally take off. Ernesto “Che” Guevara has always been a myth to me, for his incredible political message, his fight for a better world and for his work in the revolution and other freedom fights across the world. The Motorcycle Diaries was a great read, funny in most parts, but also very deep in the analysis of the many inequalities that the indigenous groups of South America suffered (and still suffer). All the more interesting to me, as a former human rights lawyer.
– Claudia Tavani — My Adventures Across the World
Wild — Cheryl Strayed
Fact is – life can go terribly wrong, for everyone and anyone. There will be at least one moment in your life when you will be completely lost, shattered and clueless. For whatever reason it may be. And that will also be the only moment in your life when you will want to desperately find yourself. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is about her own lost life, which she found back only by loosing herself on the hike for her life. An experience that made her angry, frustrated and then strong and healed – defining the true essence of travel. What will you learn? – “I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.” And why will you love the book – because it’s REAL.
– Shraddha Gupta — StreetTrotter
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek — Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” is a perennial favorite of mine. It’s a great book to read while traveling because ultimately, it’s about seeing the world … not traveling the world, but seeing what is around us — noticing it, contemplating it, reflecting upon it and ourselves within it. The prose is splendid and the number of pages I have dog-eared for poignant passages is almost silly. What I love is it doesn’t focus only on the beauty of our natural world, but also on the stark and the disturbing … it presents the “whole” view, which is what I think every traveler should seek while we’re out there exploring.
– Shara Johnson — SKJ Travel
Long Way Round — Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman
I discovered this book while recovering from a surgery and was unable to travel for a period of time. I became absorbed in their adventures and was transported away from my bed into the wilds of Siberia. I loved this book!
– Lance Longwell — Travel Addicts
Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw — Will Ferguson
One of my favourite travel books is Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson. This nonfiction book incorporates Ferguson’s travels across Canada, as well as some Canadian history (which Ferguson writes about in a very humorous and approachable way). I was actually inspired to check out a few sites in Victoria, British Columbia and in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan after reading this book.
– Alouise Dittrick — Take Me to the World
The Power of NOW — Eckhart Tolle
I love and adore ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. Though not essentially a travel book at first glance, this book will totally inspire and reawaken people to live every moment in the present and fully appreciate what is right here, right now. For people who are stressed to the max and considering throwing in the towel to go travelling, this is the perfect medicine.
– Alice Teacake — teacaketravels
Beach Money — Jordan Adler
This is a book I read over and over again on my kindle whenever we’re relaxing on a beach somewhere as it reminds me that it is completely possible to earn money while sitting on the sand. If you’re open to new ideas then grab this book on Amazon and make sure you read it overlooking a beautiful beach somewhere. Really gets you thinking about the possibilities!
– Victoria McEwan — The Freedom Travellers
One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Much of the book is based on tales that he heard from his grandmother, and it has this personal yet highly magical tone throughout it. For me as a traveler it is the people and their dealings with one another. It is also about their town, their country and its history and all of the global issues that beset them through many generations. That is what traveling is about – the people and the situations.
– Paula McInerney — Contended Traveller
The Lonely Planet Story — Tony & Maureen Wheeler
This book is a first hand account about the humble beginnings of the world famous Lonely Planet travel guides, written by the creators themselves. The story begins by introducing you to the two of them (Tony and Maureen), how they met in school, and developed a desire to travel. They continue to describe how The Lonely Planet got started, and how they were able to overcome obstacles (such as crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia with only $0.95 cents to their name!) to become the powerhouse travel guide it is today. Tony and Maureen are an extremely humble couple, who turned their passion into a successful business. They were able to travel, write, and grow a business…all while raising a family. This is a great read and I highly recommend it to all types of travelers.
– Josh Wilson — Peanuts or Pretzels
Faerie Tale — Raymond E. Feist
I’m a voracious reader, and virtually anything can make me want to travel. My absolute favorite book for travel inspiration, for example, is in the fantasy genre: Raymond E. Feist’s Faerie Tale. Since I’ve read it over 20 years ago, I couldn’t stop dreaming about going to Ireland and getting immersed in Irish culture. I have both a hard copy and an ebook copy, and I read the book again and again every year. Someday, I’ll make it to Ireland, and will hopefully encounter firsthand the Little People and all the other creatures of Irish mythology.