Do you ever need some inspiration for where your next trip will take you–or have to settle for a period of armchair travel when the time is just not right for an actual physical trip? We’ve rounded up our top 10 books that we think will satisfy the travel bug (and perhaps inspire future travel plans…).
by Cheryl Strayed
If you’ve ever been down on your luck or feel like your world is collapsing around you, then let author Cheryl Strayed take you through her therapy — hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. With no experience or training, driven only by impulse, she hiked more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail: from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State all by herself. Told with suspense and style, peppered with humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
2. A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemmingway
If you love Paris or have daydreamed of visiting the ‘city of romance’, you’ll enjoy Hemingway’s short memoir, A Movable Feast. Featuring tales of his early days as a struggling writer and his friends and acquaintances (including F Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein), this serves as true roadmap to life in Paris during 1920’s. Hemingway describes, in detail, the names and locations of bars, cafés and hotels, as well as where he and his famous friends lived during their trajectory to literary fame.
3. Tales of a Female Nomad
by Rita Golden Gelman
This book is special because it proves that it’s never too late to rediscover yourself or start a new hobby. Written by Rita Golden Gelman, the author abandons her elegant life in Los Angeles to follow her dreams of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. What starts off as a getaway to clear her mind following a separation from her husband, turns into a nomadic lifestyle she still enjoys today. While Rita experiences a few uncomfortable moments and some mild loneliness, her transformation and courage is inspiring and a reminder that no matter where you are in life, find the things that fulfill you even if it’s frightening at first.
4. 1000 Places to See Before You Die
by Patricia Schultz
This is not your typical book–in fact it has no story at all, but it’s worth including since it serves as both a wish list and practical guide. Author Patricia Schultz has traveled the world several times over and narrows down her top 1000 travel experiences in this book. Each entry tells why it’s an essential place to visit and includes all the information you need to get you there. Helpful tips like websites, phone numbers, prices, best times to visit, etc. are all included.
5. The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
A classic! Though most have probably already read this book, it wouldn’t be a travel book list if we failed to include it. This short novel is a testament to following our dreams and the importance of listening to our heart. The story follows a young shepherd boy from Spain to Egypt in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. What starts out as a journey to find riches turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. The book is filled with wonderful and inspirational quotes, it’s thought-provoking and helps you reflect on your own life.
6. Atlas of the Human Heart: A Memoir
by Ariel Gore
Ariel Gore’s thirst for adventure started at a young age and her memoir, Atlas of the Human Heart, chronicles her travels as a penniless sixteen-year-old wandering the world. From China to Kathmandu; India and Amsterdam, London to Italy, we follow Gore’s journey of self-discovery and the colorful characters she meets along the way. From finding love in cold-war China, to squat-living in Thatcher-era London, to arriving in Italy pregnant with very little money, Gore’s story is one of resilience and how her travel experiences shaped the woman she is today.
7. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton
Pour yourself a cup of tea and get ready to armchair travel to some of the world’s most interesting sites. The editors of atlasobscura.com compiled a wanderlust-worthy coffee table book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Most Hidden Wonders, guiding travel lovers to over 600 of the world’s most esoteric places and festivals. Learn about the “poison garden” of England, a supposed “devil footprint” in a Bavarian church, the Park of Monsters outside of Rome, an Indian temple dedicated to rats, and much, much more. With useful maps, images, and city guides, this book is a must-read for any travel addict.
8. On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
One of the most iconic travel books out there, Kerouac’s On the Road has inspired wanderlust in readers for more than 60 years. Kerouac takes readers on a journey across America (with a detour to Mexico) where he and his friend dive headlong into living life at the fullest in their search of jazz- and the meaning of life—along the way. This book is a must for every travel enthusiast.
9. M Train
by Patti Smith
M Train is writer, performer, and visual artist Patti Smith’s travel journal which she describes as the “roadmap of my life.” In this book, she documents the many cafés she’s written in around the world, while flashing back in time on her memories of the first time visiting her favorite sites, and the places she often returns to that inspire her. Through her ruminations and black and white polaroid photos, we catch a glimpse of her creative process and how her travels inform her art.
10. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
by Bill Bryson
Lace up your virtual hiking boots and get ready to start an adventure along the Appalachian Trail. A Walk in the Woods is Bill Bryson’s personal account of his hiking adventure across the famed route that spans from Georgia to Maine. Bryson, after years of living abroad, decided to conquer the trail to rediscover his home country. With his out-of-shape friend in tow, it’s a hilarious tale that weaves friendship, thoughts on conservation, history, and a rediscovery of one’s homeland.