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33 Travel Books to Inspire Your Wanderlust

You can travel the world without ever leaving home with a good travel book. And for all my fellow literary travelers out there, travel books can make great inspiration for your upcoming destination. Check out these must-read travel books to ignite your wanderlust.

A good book is a great companion for any traveler. We have plenty of time to fill on long train, plane, and car rides where a book is just what we need. Travel books can even help us prepare for our upcoming destination.

And when we’re stuck at home and can’t travel, these reads can help transport us to far-off places.

Person Traveling Abroad While Reading Books

Post Contents

Books to Spark Your Wanderlust

Fun Travel Guidebooks

These aren’t like regular guidebooks, they’re cool guidebooks. Let these books guide you to the whacky, wonderful, and weird of your favorite destinations!

1. What’s With Atlanta?: The Quirks, Personality, and Charm of the ATL by Paige Watts

Destination: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Why is every street in Atlanta named “Peachtree”? What do Atlantans mean when they say “Inside the Perimeter” or “Outside the Perimeter”? Honestly, What’s With Atlanta??

I may be a little biased (because this is my book, I wrote this book), but if you’re going to buy any book on this list, it should be this one.

Whether you’re a local or are just passing through, this entertaining guide will satisfy your curiosity about all the little things that make Atlanta tick. Get all of your burning questions about Atlanta answered, finally!

Click here to buy the book.

2. Secret Washington DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure by JoAnn Hill

Destination: Washington D.C., USA

Go beyond the standard tourist attractions to get the the secret hear of the nation’s capital with Secret Washington DC. This fun guidebook takes a look at the weirdest and most obscure parts of the city.

If you like mysterious relics, underground societies, forgotten and abandoned buildings, or controversial scandals, then this is the book for you!

Click here to buy the book.

3. 100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die by Melody Pittman and Angela Richards

Destination: West Virginia, USA

Don’t ever say there’s nothing to do in West Virginia, because this book is literally giving you 100 things, and that’s just the beginning! 100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die is your ultimate bucket list for visiting West Virginia.

Written by two locals (one of whom is my friend!), this book gives you history, places to eat, hidden gems, and your new favorite things to do in West Virginia.

Looking for a different destination? No worries, there’s a whole series of 100 Things To Do Before You Die books.

Click here to buy the book.

Nonfiction Travel Memoirs

Explore the world through someone else’s eyes. Travel memoirs are a great way to get to know the people, the culture, and the feel of a destination. Go beyond the guide books and check out these awesome travel memoirs to help plan your next vacation.

4. Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure by Monisha Rajesh

Destination: the world

Join Monisha Rajesh along for the ride as she circumnavigates the globe by train. In this witty book, Rajesh offers a vivid account of world cultures and breathtaking views along her journey.

Click here to buy the book.

5. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple

Destination: Delhi, India

In this memoir, William Dalrymple spends a year in Delhi, a city watched over and protected by the mischievous invisible djinns. While lodging with the beady-eyed Mrs. Puri and encountering an array of characters, Dalrymple comes to know the city intimately.

Click here to buy the book.

6. Don’t Try This at Home: One Family’s (Mis)adventures Around the World by Daria Salamon and Rob Krause

Destination: the world

Daria and Rob each write from their own perspective about their year-long journey around the world with their two young children. The two provide a thoughtful look at the family’s dynamics and challenges as they travel across 15 different countries.

Click here to buy the book.

7. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

Destination: Patagonia

In this classic, Bruce Chatwin treks through the stretch of land at the southern tip of South America in search of almost-forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy.

Click here to buy the book.

8. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Destination: Alaska, USA

In this engrossing book, Jon Krakauer tries to piece together why Christopher McCandless traded his bright future to disappear into the Alaskan wilderness only to die by starvation months later in an abandoned bus in the woods.

Click here to buy the book.

9. The Long Hitch Home by Jamie Maslin

Destination: Tasmania to London

Over 18,000 miles and 19 countries, Jamie Maslin sets out to discover how many rides it takes to hitchhike from Tasmania to London. Join Maslin on the adventure of a lifetime through dessert, mountain, jungle, and places that are truly off the beaten path.

Click here to buy the book.

10. Marching Powder: A Ture Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South American’s Strangest Jail by Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden

Destination: La Paz, Bolivia

Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran illegal tours inside Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro prison. The two formed an instant friendship, and Young bribed the guards to allow him to live in the prison with McFadden for the next three months, recording one of the strangest prison stories of all time.

Click here to buy the book.

11. Me, Myself & Prague: An Unreliable Guide to Bohemia by Rachel Weiss

Destination: Prague, Czech Republic

When Rachel Weiss uproots her life from everything she knows to reinvent herself in a beautiful European city, write a novel, and fall in love, things don’t exactly go as planned. But through her year in Prague, Weiss creates a second home, a second family, and ultimate finds herself again.

Click here to buy the book.

12. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story by John Berendt

Destination: Savannah, Georgia, USA

For nearly a decade, a shooting in Savannah‘s grandest mansion captured the attention of the South’s prettiest town. John Berendt’s narrative of events gives an enthralling first-person account of life in Savannah during the landmark murder case.

Click here to buy the book.

13. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Destination: Kenya

In this memoir, the author gives an account of her life on her plantation in Kenya, the ways of the country, the beauty of the landscape, and the wildlife that were her neighbors.

Click here to buy the book.

14. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

Destination: Tibet

In this vivid memoir about life in Tibet just before the Chinese Communist takeover, Heinrich Harrer recounts his adventures as one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet and encounter the Dalai Lama.

Click here to buy the book.

15. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

Destination: Tarawa, Kiribati

J. Maarten Troost and his girlfriend move to Tarawa, a remote island in the South Pacific, hoping for a romantic island paradise. Instead, they find one misadventure after another while trying to adjust to this island life.

Click here to buy the book.

16. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Destination: Nepal

In 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare snow leopard. During the climb, Matthiessen charts his inner path as well, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of the world.

Click here to buy the book.

17. Step by Step by Simon Reeve

Destination: the world

In this memoir, TV adventurer Simon Reeve gives the behind-the-scenes story of some of his favorite adventures, from journeying across epic landscapes, to dodging bullets on frontlines, to being detained for spying by the KGB. 

Click here to buy the book.

18. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes

Destination: Tuscany, Italy

Frances Mayes bought and restored an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside. During her journey, Mayes learns about the Italian dolce vita and, of course, the pleasures of Italian food.

Click here to buy the book.

19. West with the Night by Beryl Markham

Destination: Kenya

Beryl Markham was a bush pilot and the first person to fly solo, east to west, across the Atlantic. In this memoir, Markham writes vividly about her adventures as a bush pilot in Kenya, her explorations in East Africa, and her narrow brushes with death.

Click here to buy the book.

20. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Destination: from California to Washington, USA

With no experience or training, Cheryl Strayed set out to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State alone.

Click here to buy the book.

Fiction Travel Novels

Imagined stories in very real places. These novels will take you to new places and connect you with characters and cultures just as well as any nonfiction. Check out some amazing fictional travel books you should read.

21. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Destination: Spain to Egypt

An Andalusian shepherd wants to travel the world in search of treasure. Instead, he finds something infinitely more valuable. His adventures lead him to find himself and to find the meaning of life.

Click here to read the book.

22. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Destination: France and Germany

A blind French girl and a German boy’s paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Anthony Doerr’s writing gives a beautiful sense of place in this award-winning historical novel.

Click here to buy the book.

23. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Destination: the world

Phileas Fogg makes a wager that he can travel the world in 80 days. In his whirlwind journey around the world, every day is a new adventure as Fogg travels the globe by train, boat, elephant, and more.

Click here to buy the book.

24. The Beach by Alex Garland

Destination: Thailand

A young backpacker goes on a search for a legendary, idyllic beach untouched by tourism where a small community of international travelers have settled in their own Eden. On finding the Beach, however, the idyllic setting soon gives way to the troubles of reality.

Click here to buy the book.

25. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Destination: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and New York City, USA

This is the compelling story of a man born in Africa, living in exile in America, then returning to Africa to confront his past and the twin brother who betrayed him.

Click here to buy the book.

26. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Destination: Afghanistan

This is the heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of a servant set in Afghanistan at a tense moment of history.

Click here to buy the book.

27. The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Destination: Saigon (present-day Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

This story of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire.

Click here to buy the book.

28. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Destination: Japan

In this fictional biographical novel, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. The novel is a great insight into Japanese culture as well as the rigorous life of a geisha.

Click here to buy the book.

29. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Destination: Colombia

This story chronicles the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendiá family. Though the town itself is not real, the depiction of Colombian culture is. As a classic work of Latin American fiction, this is the ideal book to read before any trip to Colombia.

Click here to buy the book.

30. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Destination: cross-country USA

Two friends set off on a cross-country road trip in a quest for meaning and true experience. This novel is the quintessential young American idea of freedom and adventure.

Click here to buy the book.

31. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Destination: Bombay (present-day Mumbai), India

Lin, an escaped Australian, and his guide and friend Prabaker enter the hidden underworld of Bombay. This is a huge novel that captures the soul of the people of India.

Click here to buy the book.

32. The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Destination: Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka)

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper marries Laurence, the mysterious owner of a vast tea empire in Ceylon, after a whirlwind romance. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected, and Laurence’s mysterious past becomes more and more troubling.

Click here to buy the book.

33. Turbulence by David Szalay

Destination: the world

This novel interweaves the story of twelve people, circumnavigating the globe in twelve flights, who have a surprising ripple effect on each other as they cross paths all around the world.

Click here to buy the book.

Literary Travel Sights

Visit the homes of some of your favorite authors, and see where your favorite stories were penned. Check out these amazing literary destinations you should add to your buck-list.

Ready to take a vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.



30 Travel Books to Inspire Your Wanderlust

How many of these amazing travel books have you read? Let me know in the comments!

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