Here is our recommendation of the best travel books to feed your wanderlust until you can take your next adventure. From harrowing journeys to tales of whimsy, these selections are bursting at the seams with inspiration for a future trip.
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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner
The title alone makes us want to dig into this book that has been described as part travel memoir, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide. Travel across the world with Eric Weiner as he attempts to answer where happiness lies.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
With The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway became the voice of the Lost Generation. Drawing from his life in Paris and his annual trip to Spain to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights, this novel about life post-World War I is one of Hemingway’s greatest works.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Take a spin around the globe in this Jules Verne story about Phileas Fogg’s bet with his friends that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. If it inspires your next journey, check out some of these destinations pulled straight from the story.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Follow detective Hercule Poirot to uncover a mystery on the Nile River in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous works. Travel to the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan Hotel where Christie penned the novel and see where the scenes unfold along the Nile River.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
One of the best travel books that show us life is about the journey. In this international bestseller, Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, desires to travel in search of treasure. Through his adventures, he finds himself instead.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
A swashbuckling adventure on the high seas where buccaneers search for buried gold in Spanish America. If you are a fan of tropical tales, be sure to check out more of our favorite beach island-inspired stories here.
One Thousand and One Nights
A collection of classics with magical tales of genies, villains, beautiful princesses, and adventurous heroes spanning many countries from India to Egypt.
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris
Is there any place left to discover or have all the roads been traveled before? In her memoir about a year spent cycling the Silk Road, Kate Harris contemplates these questions.
Out of Africa by Isak Denisen
Out of Africa, penned by Karen Blixen under the name Isak Denisen, is ranked as one of the best nonfiction books of all-time. Her memoir of time spent on a coffee plantation at the foot of the Ngong Hills in Kenya portrays life as it was over 100 years ago. It became an Oscar-winning movie in the mid-eighties starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. After reading the book, head to Angama Mara where some of the scenes from the movie were filmed.
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
Nan Shepherd spent her life exploring the majestic beauty of Scotland’s Cairngorms mountains. The manuscript for this masterpiece of nature writing was composed during World War II. It wasn’t published until thirty years later.
The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux
This book captures a healing journey for author and intrepid traveler Paul Theroux. The novel chronicles his voyage of paddling through the South Pacific to 51 islands in a one-man collapsible kayak.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
For a quick read, indulge in this classic Poirot mystery novel from the world’s best-selling author. The page-turner, set on the famed Orient Express, will leave you guessing the whole time.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
In 1960 at the age of 58, American author John Steinbeck set out in a camper truck with his companion, a standard poodle named Charley, and a desire to see America. Steinbeck’s great American road trip is engaging and reads more like a novel than nonfiction.
Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds by Joy Adamson
A heartwarming story of a lion cub’s transition from being born in captivity to living in the untamed wild and the couple who made it happen.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Journalist David Grann weaves his journey into the Amazon jungle with stories from British Explorer Percy Fawcett’s quest to find a fabled civilization. This narrative nonfiction seeks to unravel the mystery of what happened to Fawcett, who never returned from his 1925 journey to “Z”.
Fresh Air Fiend by Paul Theroux
For those that want to take a quick adventure somewhere new, pick up Fresh Air Fiend, a collection of travel essays from Paul Theroux. His stories and the destinations he travels to span five continents from the islands of Nantucket to the Zambezi.
Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside by Martin Walker
The slow rhythms and small pleasures of southern France mix vividly with a classic whodunnit mystery. The chief character, Benoît Courrèges — aka Bruno — solves crimes while also making time for the finer things in French life, such as drinking wine, shopping at the local market, and cooking up delectable slow-food dishes.
Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
A slightly fictionalized account of Hemingway and his wife’s safari through East Africa in 1933. While the subject matter deals with Hemingway’s obsession with big game hunting, it’s a beautiful look at safaris of a bygone era and the people who made them happen.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Set in a beautiful Italian villa during World War II, this sweeping drama focuses on exploration of the North African desert. Pair the book with the Academy Award-winning film of the same name for a visually-exquisite representation of the regions.
Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa
This rich memoir provides a glimpse into the fascinating human experience in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. The author, a young Canadian teacher, offers insight into the topography of the land, the political and religious history of the country, and the way of life of the self-described happiest people in the world.
Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker
This charming read transports you to the magical, untouched world of rural Romania. William Blacker still owns a house in Transylvania, in the village where he fell in love with a gypsy woman, after discovering the magic of people and traditions in Maramures.
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
Follow Captain James Cook on a thrilling adventure as you dive into three of his epic journeys from the 18th century.
London by Edward Rutherford
With all the social distancing we’re doing right now, you probably have a lot more free time to indulge in a lengthy book. If you are a fan of history, consider London, a 1,100-page book that follows the story of the great city’s inception to the end of the twentieth century.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
Could there be a more appropriate selection for best travel books in this era of homebound-ness that we all find ourselves in? Bryson’s travel memoirs of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Appalachian Trail are really insightful and hilarious. This book is completely different though still insightful in its own way. In the novel, Bryson takes us on a trip through his own home. He researches every aspect of the rooms we live in, from why they exist to what they looked like hundreds of years ago.
The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman
Journalist Carl Hoffman embarks on a six-month journey traveling around the world on some of the most dangerous roads, ferries, airlines, and trains that many of the world’s poor travel on each day. Through traveling and swapping stories with his seatmates and deckmates, he discovers travel as it used to be – a true adventure in a highly urbanized world.
A Primate’s Memoir by Robert Sapolsky
This book is a witty chronicle of scientist Robert Sapolsky’s 21 year study spent with a troop of savannah baboons in remote Kenya. Saplosky mixes dry wit with his personal observations and curiosities in a way that is both engaging and informative.
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Peter Matthiessen travels to the mountains of Nepal on a quest to study the Himalayan blue sheep and catch a glimpse of the rare snow leopard. He is on a quest simultaneously to find the Lama of Shay at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. This book is about a physical journey as much as it is a spiritual one.
A Wolverine is Eating My Leg by Tim Cahill
A collection of adventures from Cahill’s travels around the globe. The stories are varied enough that each person will find one that’s their favorite.
Strange Tales of World Travel by Gina and Scott Gaille
If someone asked you, “What’s the strangest thing you have ever seen or experienced” what would you say? That’s exactly what authors and Ker & Downey clients Gina and Scott Gaille asked in their travels to over 100 countries around the world. In the pages of this book are the stories that resulted from that question. From a CEO who had someone fly 12 hours to Paris from Abu Dhabi to buy clean underwear to a diplomat who ate the flesh of a venomous cobra bird in the Sahara Desert. The stories are unforgettable, and truly extraordinary.
What We’re Reading Now
The Book of Joy by Dalai Lami, Desmond Tutu, & Douglas Carlton Abrams
“It was originally supposed to be my Lenten read. It has since transformed into a necessity in finding joy & happiness amidst the madness.” – Elizabeth, Latin America and Europe Product Manager
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
“I recently read Born a Crime and The Moment of Lift. Born a Crime is Trevor Noah’s hilarious account of growing up in apartheid South Africa. If you listen to the audiobook, it’s actually Trevor who is reading it. Once I started listening to it, I could not stop. I was constantly going on walks or cleaning my house while laughing out loud. His retelling is as funny and endearing as he is.
The Moment of Lift is Melinda Gates’ book on uplifting women in Africa. This book made me want to strap on my boots and start advocating for women’s rights. It’s incredibly smart, well-written, and provides actionable solutions to empower women all over the world. ” – Amy, Graphic Designer and Philanthropy Manager
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
“I’m currently listening to A Gentleman in Moscow on Audible. It’s about a count who is sentenced by a Bolshevik tribunal to house arrest in the grand Metropol hotel, just across the street from the Kremlin in 1922. It’s a fascinating look at a man adjusting to his reduced circumstances inside the hotel while Russia experiences a tremendously tumultuous time outside of it.” – Haley, Assistant to the Director of Marketing
See our full list on our Amazon Travel Book Club list. What travel tales are we missing? Jump over to our Facebook page and let us know which travel books we should add to our list. You can find our full list of the best travel books on the Ker & Downey Amazon list.