I don’t know about you, but I can remember the exact moment I caught the wanderlust bug. I didn’t know it had a trendy name at the time. In fact, I dont even think “wanderlust” had been coined as a term in the early 90’s. Both of my grandparents were instrumental in putting that fire to travel inside of me. From weekend drives with no real destination along side my paternal grandfather to bookshelves filled with far off lands and characters that I wanted to meet with my maternal grandfather, both men influenced me.
My grandfather always recited poetry when we could get together as a family before we went to bed. Thinking about it now, it is very Pride and Prejudice-esque, but at the time it was an opportunity to hear about far off lands and magical places. His favorite poem to recite was by Jorge Robledo Ortiz and I can still see the sepia colored book he used to read from, though over the years of reciting Cuento de Mar he could go from memory.
The poem spoke to me as its first line boldly states that the narrator is going to drink the sea. With no plan, no map, our narrator plans to simply go with Don Quijote at the helm. Setting up a grand adventure that would make even The Alquemist quite jealous, he asks his sweet heart to join him. The poem then turns into a passport as he lists off what they will do and where they will go, personifying each location as they go…
The fatigue of the Sahara. A baby elephant in South Africa. In Japan they will make a bamboo boat to navigate a river of hopes. Along the Rhine they will search for Wagner and his music. To catch shooting stars they will make a net of her eyelashes. In Siberia they will search of bears and camomille roads in Spain.
This poem became not only the roots for my nostalgia but set a foundation for day dream of far off places. My grandfather was also an avid reader so he inspired me to read from a young age. As I got older, I self identified my two addictions and passions.
As a self-diagnosed bibliophile with a bad case of wanderlust, I decided to find 50 of the best travel books to fuel your wanderlust and inspire you to go farther.
Best Travel Books to Inspire you
There are books on this list that will make you a better traveler. Some books that will push you out of your comfort zone. A few books that are eye candy to inspire you. But all of them have one thing in common, they are the best travel books to fuel your wanderlust.
You can click on any of the images or titles to see options available on online from paper backs to Kindle versions.
No money? No problem. This New York Times Best Seller gives you all the tools you need to start packing your bags for that trip you’ve been dreaming a lifetime about.
Matt Kepnes (of Nomadic Matt) has been showing the world that traveling isn’t expensive and that it’s affordable to everyone. He proves that as long as you think out of the box and travel like locals, your trip doesn’t have to break your bank, nor do you need to give up luxury.
Discover tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel based that Matt has used while traveling the world without giving up some of the comforts he enjoys. Offering a blend of advice ranging from travel hacking to smart banking, you’ll learn how to stretch your dollar!
Few and far between are the times where simply reading about someone else’s adventure is enough to fuel your own wanderlust. But Kate Harris manages to do it somehow.
“In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. The farther she traveled, the closer she came to a world as wild as she felt within.”
Lands of Lost Borders is the chronicle of Kate’s odyssey that shows the importance of breaking the boundaries we set ourselves that so often hold us back. Part self-discovery, part existential need to explore, and part longing to discover your place in the world, this book will inspire you to go farther, do more, be more.
America’s national parks are some of the most beautiful landscapes and environments in the world. This book delves into the history of the park idea, the creation of Yellowstone (the first national par), up to the recent additions to our National Parks System that encompasses nearly 84-million acres and 400 hundred sites.
The authors tell stories of the adventures, mythmaking, and political battles behind the park system. From Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas, this book will make you set a bucket list goal to visit each of the American National Parks.
Even if you just get this book for the stunning photos, it is enough to make your heart go a pitter-patter.
“In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
This book has inspired a number of adventurers to find more and push themselves outside of our traditional views of happiness. If you’re heading to the great north or feeling like you just want to get lost in the wilderness, Into the Wild is the book for you!
Talk about a book with a bad ass woman! Gail Francis decides to quit her job before her 40th birthday and set out on an amazing journey. Walking from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, Gail carries everything she needs on her back. Along her 5 month journey, she faces some hard moments: she lost her pack in the desert, struggled to overcome high mountain passes, and walked across lava fields.
This book is the perfect read for outdoor enthusiasts, national park lovers, and anyone who needs a little inspiration to take on the world.
One of the first books that stemmed my wonderlust and wanderlust, Coelho’s The Alchemist tells the story of a shepard boy who longs to travel the world in search of worldly treasures. The book’s main character, Santiago, and his journey teach us to listen to our hearts, recognize opportunity, and follow our dreams.
This journey of self-discovery is perfect for those who have never traveled, those that have traveled for years, and everyone inbetween. If you’ve read it, you even owe it to yourself to pick it up again and join Santiago on his magical, mystical journey.
For animal lovers and those who are volunteering abroad, Jane Goodall’s story will inspire you to appreciate the world around you. Long before ecotourism and volunteer based trips were a thing, brave scientists were trekking into the unknown to grow our knowledge of amazing spicies and beautiful remote places.
Even if you aren’t looking to spend time among the Chimps, this book will show you a side of the African Bush few have seen.
Another great book about a woman who gets lost on the trails and found more than just who she was. When her mother passed, Cheryl thought she had lost everything. Her marriage fell apart soon after and with nothing left to loose she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. With no prep or experience, the impulsive decision takes her more than a thousand miles from Mexico to Canada alone.
Solo female travelers will relate to a number of Cheryl’s struggles. This book will show you that you can believe in yourself again, do anything you set your mind to, and inspire you to go off the beaten path.
Machu Picchu has inspired travelers from all corners of the globe since Hiram Bingham “discovered” the site in 1911. With Bingham rumored to have stolen artifacts and antiquities, this book focuses more on the journey that led him to discover the site.
Mark Adams’s book takes a comedic tone making it an easy and fun read for anyone planning a trip to Peru.
Another Jane Goodall book makes the list! Jane paints a painstaking picture of what life was like with the wild chimps of Gombe in Tanzania that was well worth the wait. With only her mother and a few assistants to join her, she set up a remote camp where she hoped to see the animals and learn more about them.
Karen Balwin’s memoir is beautifully written and keeps you turning each page. As an award winning journalist, Balwin brings you a raw and honest work that chronicles her journey as an American woman alone in South Africa there to teach Zulu children. In her book you see the real Africa, not the illusion or overly romanticized version we have been fed. Among the pages you find candid stories of cultural tension.
Gorillas in the Mist
It has been said that Gorillas is in the Mist is one of the most important books ever written about our connection to the natural world. The book recounts Dian Fossey’s thirteen year long stay in the remote rain forest of Africa, living among the greatest of great apes. Along side candid photos, Fossey combines her personal narrative with scientific reporting, creating an unforgettable portrait of man’s closest primate relative.
“I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”
This book is on the list for a number of reasons and the message you take from it as a reader will change the way you see the world around you. Malala Yousafzi fought against the Taliban for her right to an education and spoke out. When she was shot in the head at point blank, no one thought she would survive the attack. But Malala’s miraculous recovery has inspired students, women, and activists around the world as a symbol of peaceful protest.
As a woman, you should read this book to see the struggle millions of women around the world experience in societies that favor men.
As a traveler, you should read this book to understand the political climate of a misunderstood region and see how the actions of one can change the community.
As a human being, you should read this book and feel empowered that one person’s voice, even (especially) that of a 15 year old girl, has the power to change the world.
Andrew and Gwynn bring you the story of a modern fairytale with a big side of funny, touching, and suspenseful. When they sell everything and move to Botswana, their inexperience suddenly becomes an issue as they attempt to run a luxury game lodge.
Rory Stewart’s remarkable journey started in 2002 when he decided to walk across Afghanistan. He is joined by an unexpected companion. Babur, a retired fighting mastiff, follows Stewart as the pair follow the footsteps of Afghanistan’s first Mughal emperor.
Along the way, the pair pass through mountains, encounter Taliban commanders, slept on the floors of villagers, and listened to the stories of both recent and ancient past. They met heroes, tribal leaders, teenage soldiers, and foreign-aid workers that each leave a mark on his journey. This book shows us that the journey is more important than the destination, and the moments in-between help us grow.
How you feel about Che Guevara aside, this book defines youth and adventure. As Che and his friend travel across the continent, they fall in love with a continent they hadn’t previously explored and discover their place in world. It isn’t hard to identify with the man who narrates such a spontaneous and character defining trip.
Che develops as a character and grows as his journey progresses. His starts to comment on the social and political climate around him as his words get a bit darker…
Without a doubt, this experience led Che down a social revolutionary path. For anyone lost and ready to wander, looking for their place in the great big world, read this book. Besides, there is something poetic about a young future doctor turned revolutionary who chronicles his adventures on the back of a motorcycle as he goes all over South America.
Man, oh man. I feel like this book was the original Eat Pray Love. Long before Julia Roberts played the leading lady that finds herself around the world, Diane Lane was inspiring all of us to buy property in Europe, restore it to its grandeur, and fall in more ways than one.
Frances Mayes is a widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer that opens the door to a beautiful world when she purchases an abandoned villa to restore in the stunning Tuscan countryside. Her emotive language takes you through a magical journey as she discovers the beauty of Italy and the joys in simplicity.
Celebrated as one of the most exciting modern epics that transformed a generation, this book continues to inspire. A narration of a father-son summer long motorcycle trip, the book is a personal and philosophical quest into how to meaningfully live your life. His relationship with his son turns into meaningful self reflection as the summer sun leads their way. This touching book is a favorite of many travelers.
If there was ever an author that defined a generation and location it was Hemingway. I find it hard to read his novels without getting lost in the settings, be is Spain or the sea, he takes me places. And even when his settings vaguely make their way into my mind, I am still transported to the cities he loved. I see myself drinking whiskey in Paris, smoking a cigar along the streets of Havana, and sailing into the sun in Key West.
This novel defined the Lost Generation that Hemingway has written so much about and many say it is one of his masterpieces. As the main characters, Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley, become friends to the reader they go from the wild nightlight of Paris to bullfighting in Spain.
Bryson’s book about the walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, is more light-hearted than some of the others out there. After 20 years of living as an expat, Bill Bryson decided to get to know his native country again. With astonishing landscapes, silent forests, sparkling lakes, and gorgeous views the AT also provides an array of characters with trail names that tell a fascinating story. An adventure with comedy that makes a moving plea for conservation, this book has become a modern classic of travel literature.
In 1855, Walt Whitman published, on his own dime, the first edition of Leaves of Grass. This visionary volume of twelve poems exalt nature, show love, celebrate the human body, and praise the senses. Whitman edited and reedited Leaves of Grass over four decades, which resulted in carious editions that were vastly different from one another. The first edition was a small book with twelve poems and the last a large compilation of over 400.
Call me a puritan, but I think the original is the most beautiful. In its raw and pure form, Leaves of Grass defines a love of nature, simplicity, and life.
“A remarkable book that will both guide and inspire, The Happiness of Pursuit reveals how anyone can bring meaning into their life by undertaking a quest.”
When Chris Guillebeau, a compulsive goal seeker, set out to visit all of the countries in the world before he turned 35 the stage was set for a journey unlike any other. Chris quickly realized that all over the world there are thousands of others on quests, though not always travel related. While some seek exploration others battle against injustice or poverty. Along his journey, Chris find ordinary people working towards some pretty extraordinary goals.
This book challenges each reader to take control and to make our lives be about something. It is quite literally the playbook for making the most of your life!
Travel experts at National Geographic showcase the best travel experiences by state. From the obvious to not so obvious and unexpected, you’ll encounter national parks, hotels, civil war sites, out-of-the-way museums, quirky road side attractions and so much more! Each entry is filled with detailed travel information paired with cool facts about each state.
“You’ll discover the world’s longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America’s oldest street in NYC, and the best spot to watch for sea otters on the central California coast.”
After Cassie De Pecol was on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, she was inspired to accomplish something remarkable: becoming the first woman on record to travel every country on the Earth AND she did it faster than anyone in history. Though many have criticized her methods and challenged her claim to being the first woman to do so, her story is still inspiring.
In Expedition 196, Cassie shares with readers her personal triumphs and amazing achievements. At its core, the book is the story of a dreamer and a doer who took herself from a restless college dropout to a fearless badass adventurer, philanthropist, and humanitarian activist.
We’ve all come to love Anthony Bourdain’s quick commentary, big heart, love of food, and ability to connect with strangers while sharing a meal. And the truth is that the only thing he loved more than cooking was traveling- a passion you can so clearly see in Parts Unknown. This book is the Vegas chapel shotgun wedding of his two passions. On a quest to answer “What would be the perfect meal?” Tony sets out on a journey that has him dodging mines in Cambodia, eating Fugu in Japan, and diving into the articly icy waters of Russia as he searches for his
foodie culinary holy grail. And that isn’t even the whole of it!
I recently re-read transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and realized that the movement is still alive and well! Walden is Thoreau’s reflection on simple living in beautiful natural surroundings, which reminded me so much of the Tiny House Movement and the number of people who are getting back to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.
The book itself will make you long for trees that tower above as the sounds of the evening settle in. Every outdoor enthusiast looking for a good read should pick up a copy as soon as possible!
After you read A Walk in the Woods it is time to pick up In A Sunburned Country. In this book, Bryson finds himself in a very different place. Bill, we aren’t on the AT anymore! Bryson adores Australia and he paints a gorgeous picture of a land that can so easily kill you with sharks, snakes, crocs, riptides, and deserts.
Join your perfect Australian guide, Bill Bryson, and discover Oz in a new way.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love made us all want to quit our jobs, eat pizza, and fall in love. Set against the back drop of 3 very different cultures, Gilbert finds herself throughout her journey. This is one of those books where we are going to say less, because in the end that is more.
Paris is a city filled with little corners hidden away but filled with history and quaint shops. This book shows the secret side of Paris through the eyes of Parisian when he discovers the quartier’s oddest hangout.
The earth’s oceans are gorgeous sites to be seen as shades of greens and hues of blue mix together. In Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die Chris Santella has invited diving experts and enthusiasts from around the globe to share their favorite destinations. From hot spot destinations off the coast of West Guinea like Raja Ampat to old Caribbean favorites, readers will get to swim along side amazing sea creatures like whale sharks, wolf ells, and giant mola mola.
Inside Jamie Jensen’s best-selling Road Trip USA, you’ll find cross-country routes that take you along America’s back roads. With mile-by-mile highlights that celebrate major cities, obscure towns, and popular attractions, you’ll be able to easily find roadside curiosities if you just happen to be looking for the world’s largest jackalope! The book even includes local lore, and oddball trivia covering more than 35,000 miles of classic highways that will take you into the heart of America!
“The Dive Atlas of the World offers an inspirational tour of top dive sites around the world, based on first-hand experience, and photographed by experts.”
From the Blue Hole at Lawson Reef to the wreck of the Umbria in the Red Sea, to Michaelmas on the Great Barrier Reef, this beautifully photographed (by experts!) book gives readers a tour of the top dive sties around the world.
It covers well know dive spots that have been favorites of divers around the world for years as well as those that have only recently been discovered.
The book is penned by experienced divers and their first hand experience in these spots. You’re dive wanderlust is sure to get going when you see the amazing photographs of famous wrecks, reeds, and a huge diversity of species.
If there was ever a collection of stories to fuel your wanderlust, it was this one!
Every night for three years, King Shahriyar sleeps with a different virgin who meets her end when he orders her execution her next morning. To save her own life, the vizier’s daughter, Shahrazad, begins to tell the king tales that capture his imagination. Tales of adventure, love, riches and wonder… tales of mystical lands peopled with princes and hunchbacks… tales of the Angel of Death and magical spirits… the tales of the voyages of Sindbad. She kept him entertained as she told him stories of Ali Baba’s outwitting a band of forty thieves and of jinnis trapped in rings and in lamps.
Tim and I decided a few years ago that while we love traveling abroad, getting to experience new cultures, and see new places we really weren’t spending a lot of time exploring our own backyard. So, we set out on a mission to get to know our own home, to travel the back roads, see our national and state parks, and explore the United States a bit more.
With this book in hand, we have seen the US like never before and we have discovered compelling, essential, offbeat, utterly unforgettable places.
The book includes pristine beaches and national parks, world-class museums, mountain resorts, salmon-rich rivers, scenic byways, the Oyster Bar and the country’s best taco, lush gardens and coastal treks at Point Reyes, rafting the Upper Gauley… there is so much to explore! It will show you amazing vineyards, hot springs, classic ballparks, and the Talladega Speedway (if you want to meet Ricky Bobby).
When we moved to Tennessee, Tim and I both took up cycling. And since we own a Jeep Wrangler that is already an adventure mobile, we started looking at some places that are great for cycling.
When I came across Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die, I was already familiar with Chris Santella’s series. Truth be told, biking has grown increasingly popular in recent years so as novice cyclists it is great to see Santella cover trips for cyclists of every level.
Fifty Places to Bike covers from the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, the Indochina Trail in Vietnam, and the urban jungle of New York City. Even if you don’t cycle this book will make you want to!
If you haven’t noticed yet from our blog or our social media accounts, we are big on road trips in this house. This National Geographic book covers some of the most amazing drives and road trip routes across an array of locations. Back your car, grab the kids, and don’t forget the snacks! You have everything you’ll need to navigate 500 of the world’s most spectacular trips.
I won’t lie, this book is pretty broad. But truth be told, if you are looking for a book to spark and fuel your wanderlust one that covers 400 extraordinary places is a great place to start!
From entire countries to quaint mountaintop villages to pristine lakes to ancient wonders, this book is filled with images that take your breath away.
A Year Off is the kind of book that is one part travel guide, one part travel essays and photos, and one part memoir.
Documenting the story of Alexandra and David Brown after the decide to quit their jobs and travel the world together. Though they had only known each other a few months, the embarked on quite the remarkable journey!
The book covers practical travel guide providing tips on how to leave your job, budget, pack, plan your route, pace yourself, adjust to culture shock, and re-enter life as a 9-5er if that is what you want to do.
Hector Jesus Arencibia is a successful real estate agent from Miami, Florida who decides to abruptly abandon his life and travel the entire world on one way tickets. The male version of Eat Pray Love, if you will… but less cheesy and way better.
“As Tsh Oxenreider, author of Notes From a Blue Bike, chronicles her family’s adventure around the world—seeing, smelling, and tasting the widely varying cultures along the way—she discovers what it truly means to be at home.”
At Home in the World follows their journey from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. This family of expats traverse bumpy roads, stand in awe before a waterfall with their kids that feels like the edge of the earth, and chase each other through three-foot-wide passageways in Venice. The whole time, Tsh tries to understand the concept of home as she and her family learn what it means to be lost and yet at home at the same time in relatively close proximity.
#SoloTravel has found on home on Instagram as beautiful photos along side beaches, dreamy buildings, and picturesque settings. This book is your one-stop shop for everything solo travel and will give you everything you need to prepare, how to travel safe, tips on romantic happenings and, how to travel on a budget!
National Geographic does it again! In this book, they take you on a photographic tour of the some of the world’s most spectacular destinations. Along the way, you’ll get inspiring and tangible ideas for your next adventure!
Destinations of a Lifetime has all you need: when to go, where to eat, where to stay, and what to do to ensure the best experience ever!
Named as the Lonely Planet 2017 destination of the year, Chile has been Suzanne Adam’s home for over 40 years. She knows the area, its culture, the people, and its landscape. In this collection of 63 personal essays, Adam covers her search for universal truths, small daily moments, as well as how both the United States and Latin America shaped her.
In the kind of story that inspires fairytales and blockbuster movies with A-list leading ladies, this book is the perfect for anyone heading to France or with a love of history. The book follows Louisa Deasey who receives a message from a French woman named Coralie. Coralie has found a stack of letters in her attic that are written about Louisa’s father. The letters date back to 1949 and detail a passionate love affair between Louisa’s father and Coralie’s grandmother in post-war London.
Louisa’s journey to discover who her father was takes her on a remarkable adventure. She makes her way to the libraries of Melbourne and the streets of London to cafes in Paris and southern France. Louisa discovers the story of a fascinating man….
Alaska has long been the last frontier yet brave souls are still adventurous enough to live there. This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke’s is filled with the day to day explorations, adventures, and activities that Dick carried out, alone.
The title ready does say it all: one man, one bike, one long ride, the adventure, the pleasure, and the pain. Leaving behind the life he know,
Martijn Doolaard traded that convenience for a cross-continental cycling journey. This biped adventure is one that would take him from Amsterdam to Singapore as he learned some amazing things about himself along the way.
“With 1,000 adventures for all ages, it’s never too soon or too late to begin the things you’ve only dreamed of doing.”
This is the only guide you need for fantastically fun life-affirming activities that feature an eclectic range of things to do. From sports-related endeavors, natural wonders, cultural experiences that will make your mouth water, and culinary delights, there is sure to be something for everyone in your group!
“From glassblowing in the Czech Republic to swimming with dolphins in New Zealand, The Bucket List is the perfect gift for the passionate traveler—an around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of beaches, museums, monuments, islands, inns, restaurants, mountains, and more.”
Written by Mike and Anne Howard, the founders of HoneyTrek.com and longest honeymooners around, this book reveals a number of hidden-gem destinations. With gorgeous photos, insider tips for unforgettable couples trips, it is time to grab your suitcase and partner (or friend) so you can head out on your next grand adventure!
The chapters are organized by type of destination to help you discover new places based on your interests, so narrowing down where to go is easy!
National Geographic knows their travel. After years of being at the top of the travel and exploration game, they’ve given us the top travel picks in one amazing book!
This lavish volume reveals their top picks for most fabulous journeys as well as all the practical tips for your own travels. Compiled from the favorite trips of NatGeo’s travel writers, this gorgeous (and informative!) book highlights the best of the world’s most famous and lesser known destinations.
After a year of living in Tennessee for the past year, we’ve discovered we have a bunch of new hobbies! Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has turned into one of our favorite ways to spend time on the weekends.
This book celebrates more than 50,000 miles of America’s most iconic trails. As you go through 49 states and 8 national parks, each trail has its own section, map, and photo gallery. The book also gets into history of the trails, how they were created, and key players who have helped preserve these iconic trails. America’s Great Hiking Trails is perfect for anyone interested in outdoor recreation and conservation.
With a laundry list of books to pick from, it is time to let your wanderlust run wild! So if you are looking for a good read to finish on your next long flight or one to enjoy while you soak up the sun, you’ve got some great ones to pick from. If we missed any of the best travel books on our list, let us know! We are always down to get new book suggestions!