My Favourite Travel Book

Travel Books to give you Wanderlust


Travel Bloggers recommend their Favourite Travel Book

Travel Bloggers recommend their favourite travel book

There’s nothing like a good travel book to transport you to faraway places in between adventures.

Everyone loves inspiring travel books that they can read and get motivated by. Not only that, but we all love books we can take with us and read on the road, on long train journeys, bus rides, road trips and on planes.

I love reading while travelling, but since there are limits on weight and space in my backpack, I have to really prioritise what I pack. So I only take the best, and when I’ve finished reading them, I’ll either trade them for new ones at a second hand bookshop or a Hostel with a “Take One, Leave One” bookshelf or give/exchange them with other travellers.

I asked some travel bloggers to recommend a favourite travel book, some are new, some older, but all excellent reads. You’ll want to pick up a few of these to stoke your wanderlust as you plan your next trip.

So ready your favourite reading chair, but keep the computer handy—you may be booking tickets sooner than you think.

Favourite Travel Book quote
Emily from Wander-Lush recommends

1. The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux

If there were ever a travel book to inspire old-fashioned adventure it would be Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar. As a fan of slow travel and long, lingering journeys, no travelogue has ever captured my imagination in quite the same way. 

 Penned in 1975, the book recalls Theroux’s quest along the much-fabled ‘Hippie Trail’ from the UK through the Middle East to India by train, then onward to Southeast Asia and Japan. Along the way, he namechecks some of the continent’s great rail journeys: The Orient Express, the Mandalay Express, and the Khyber Pass, culminating with a homeward voyage through Russia on the Trans-Siberian.

As the reader travels with Theroux, four months’ worth of evocative descriptions about the countries he visits and more importantly the characters he encounters on board flow as smoothly as the trains glide along their tracks.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux Favourite Travel Book
Far from a passive passenger watching the world race by from the window, the author is an astute observer – valuable insights into the state of the world at the time of Theroux’s writing can be found in his reflections on everything from religion to urban poverty and colonialism.

Favourite Quote from the book“Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night’s sleep, and strangers’ monologues framed like Russian short stories.”

Sarah from Life Part 2 and Beyond recommends

2. Around the World In 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

I love travelling by train and have been fortunate enough to have taken some incredible train journeys myself. So, when I saw this book in a store at a train station, of course, I had to have it. Although, strictly speaking, it doesn’t cover the whole world – there’s no Australia, no Africa, no South America, but nevertheless, it’s a great read. 

It’s the story of a seven-month train journey that the author Monisha takes with her fiancé, covering more than 45000 miles.

Around the World In 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
The rail adventure begins in London, takes you through Europe to Asia and beyond. I really enjoyed reading her tales of train journeys that we had in common such as through Thailand and Vietnam. But I also loved learning about new train trips that I hadn’t thought of before – Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

My favourite line from the book is,“Trains are rolling libraries of information, and all it takes is to reach out to passengers to bind together their tales.”

So true, I’ve met some wonderful and interesting people on journeys.

Rachel, from Children of Wanderlust recommends

3. The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold, By Tim Moore 

This is my favourite of the travel books by the author, Tim Moore, who has created a whole series of interesting stories recounting various unusual challenges that he has set for himself. In this book, he sets out to cycle the length of Europe’s Iron Curtain (as it was), all on a MIFA 900, a completely unsuitable Soviet-era East German shopping bike.

The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold, By Tim Moore Favourite Travel Book
This adventure takes him from the freezing cold of Finland in the north, all the way to the sun-scorched Baltic coast in the south. As well as having to overcome a range of hilarious obstacles along the way, he provides some vivid descriptions of the historically interesting places that he visits, many of them well off the beaten track and leaving you wanting to set out and discover them for yourself. 

A favourite line of mine from the book is his fitting description of Berlin as, “In Peep Show terms, Berlin is a city of Jeremys marooned in a nation of Marks”.

Missy from Travels with Missy recommends

4. Down Under by Bill Bryson

Down Under was one of the first books I read by travel enthusiast, Bill Bryson. He quickly became one of my favourite authors with his brilliant wit and laugh out loud moments that pepper his books. 

Down Under is a fantastic introduction to the strange and incredible country of Australia. Bryson takes readers on a journey through Australia’s famous cities and into the outback, educating and informing us about its truly fascinating history and the minor characters in Australian history that makes it so very special.

Bryson has a knack for encountering really bizarre monuments or people which ignite his curious mind and send the reader on absolutely fascinating journeys discovering this truly unique country.

Down Under by Bill Bryson
Published in 2000 it remarkable holds up well and only a few mentions of paper maps will alert the reader to a time before the invention of Google Maps.

For curious minds and readers in search of adventure and history, Down Under makes the perfect companion. 

My favourite Quote: “On my first visit, some years ago…I encountered the startling fact that in 1967 the Prime Minister, Harold Holt, was strolling along a beach in Victoria when he plunged into the surf and vanished. This seemed doubly astounding to me – first that Australia could just lose a Prime Minister (I mean, come on) and second that news of this had never reached me.”

​Heather from Conversant Traveller recommends

5. A Year in Marrakesh, by Peter Mayne

Reading Peter Mayne’s “A Year in Marrakesh” really helped set the stage for my first foray into the red city. It’s one of the best books set in Morocco and the descriptions of life in the ancient medina during the 1950s still ring true today. 

Mayne lived among the locals in the labyrinthine streets of the old town, and his daily observations give an intriguing insight into a community that hasn’t much changed over the decades. 

A Year in Marrakesh, by Peter Mayne

He was so moved by his experience that he wrote “They, who have never gone away – how should they know what parting means, that it means dying a little?”.

I felt the same when I departed Marrakesh, having falling head over heels in love with the place. Even as I returned for my 10th visit, I recalled Mayne’s detailed accounts of bustling markets and secret passageways that always seemed to lead to new adventures.  

Talek from Travels with Talek recommends

6. Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

In high school I discovered an incredible book titled Ali and Nino by Kurban Said about a Muslin boy and Christian girl in Baku. That book influenced my love of travel.  Many years later I read a comment by writer, Paul Theroux where he said that as a boy he read Ali and Nino which influenced his wanderlust and profession as a travel writer.

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Since then, I’ve read almost everything Paul Theroux has written. My favorite is Dark Star Safari relaying his travels in Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. Theroux’s descriptions are just so vivid.

His description of the Ethiopian Consulate in Cairo makes you feel like you are there, “faded glory, dust and worn furnishings, high ceilings, un-swept floors, a slight stinkiness of old-fashioned men’s suits and stained neckties and the lingering odors of the national dish.”  Perfection! 

Martina from PlacesofJuma recommends

7. Into the Wild, written by Jon Krakauer

“Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past” (Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild)

Into the Wild is definitely one of my favorite travel books. It is a travelogue written by Jon Krakauer, who reconstructs the life of Chris McCandless, who tragically died in 1992. He tells his story in the most fascinating and inspiring way!

Into the Wild favourite travel book

While reading, you will dive into the beautiful, and at the same time, so sad life of a seeker. It’s all about the searching for freedom that leads a young man to leave modern society behind. He is traveling through the USA, is meeting new interesting friends and is visiting amazing places.

At the very end, he went to Alaska for finding peace in the deepest nature. He hiked through Denali National Park, where he finds an abandoned bus which was actually his final base camp. He stayed 112 days in Alaska’s wilderness where he meets his lonely death.

Donnamarie from Explore the Road with Donnamarie recommends 

8. Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene

For anyone who hasn’t read this book, it tells the tale of a middle aged man with an average life who meets his eccentric aunt after not seeing her for decades. She then talks him into travelling with her. They end up having all sorts of wild adventures that prove to be way out of his comfort zone. 

Favourite travel book Travels with my aunt by Graham Greene
When I was in my early 20s, my eccentric aunt gave me this book as a Christmas gift with a note attached. The note had a British flag and the flag of Italy on one side. On the other was a brief paragraph telling me to save money for airfare.

A year later I spent two weeks traveling with my aunt through Europe having our own wild adventures. I love this book because it really encourages thinking outside the box and inspires a curiosity for travel. 

I appreciate this quote now that I am older. It inspires me to have a whole new outlook on life.

 “Age, Henry, may a little modify our emotions – it does not destroy them.” 

Paula from Australia Your Way recommends

9. World Walk by Steven Newman

My copy of World Walk is old and falling apart. When I first read it in the 1990s, I was completing an Internet Studies degree and took a class that pondered how the internet would change life as we knew it – and I chose travel as my area of research. 

I am sometimes sad those days of travelling with just a paper map and a few tips from friends are gone.

It’s hard to believe there was a time when travel was so incredibly different. Before the internet changed how we experience unknown places. 

This book, set in 1983, highlights just how much technology has changed the way we travel. We follow a young Ohio born journalist, Steven Newman, on his quest to walk around the globe, relying only on the kindness of strangers. 

Over four years, he experienced new cultures while testing his physical and mental stamina. No GPS, no translation tools, and no phone calls home to friends when the going got tough. 

World Walk by Steven Newman cover

Today it would be all but impossible to replicate his trip, but this book allows you to glimpse a moment in time. You might find the Newman a little naïve and even privileged, however, I found it hard to put down. 

One of my favourite quotes from the book 

“In all my meandering along the Ganges River, I had seen enough sewage, corpse and pollution to convince me it was the dirtiest waterway in the world. Yet here I was-in it to my chest, feeling as strangely elated as I was concerned that any minute everything from leprosy to leeches would be covering my skin”

Shireen from The Happy Days Travels recommends

10. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

One of my favourite travel books, and favourite stories, is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Although this book isn’t specifically in the travel writing genre, it is a novel that will inspire great wanderlust to see the world.

The story follows protagonist, Nora, who, unsure if she wants to continue with her life, is taken to the midnight library where there are millions of books she can read about how her life could have turned out if she changed a decision in her past. We then go on a journey with Nora through these alternative lives and we are taken around the world to places like Brazil, Australia, Norway, Japan and Italy.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
I like this book because it reminds me how much I love travelling to these places in my lifetime and how grateful I am that I have the opportunity and determination to do so. The place descriptions, including those of Nora’s hometown in England, make the reader want to visit and, in my opinion, turning this into a film would be a fantastic idea.

My favourite quote from the book is:

‘I am also skydiving in Arizona. And travelling around Southern India. And tasting wine in Lyon and lying on a yacht off the Cote d’Azure.’

See my full book review here on The Midnight Library!

​​Haley of HaleyBlackall recommends 

11. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In pursuit of her happiness and spirituality, 34-year-old New Yorker, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts, sets off on a self-discovery trip. The classic travel novel Eat Pray Love is a story of travel, enlightenment, adventure, self-love, and romance. 

Beginning her epic trip in Rome, the grand capital of Italy, she wanders the charming ivy-covered alleyways and dines solo in the most enchanting squares of the city. After making friends with locals, she moves on to the chaotic and colourful city of New Delhi, India. Here she looks for serenity and peace in the local ashram. During the final stretch of her journey, Liz visits the paradisical island of Bali, Indonesia, where an ancestral healer lightens her spirit and a mysterious stranger opens her heart.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat Pray Love is a must for any solo female traveller looking for inspiration and a paperback companion for their next adventure. Great for anyone wishing to live out their dreams of travelling the world!

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.” is one of my favourite lines from the book.

Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes recommends

12. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World – Eric Weiner

The Geography of Bliss is a travel memoir by Eric Weiner, a former correspondent for the New York Times and National Public Radio. His mission was to travel to the happiest places on earth to discover what makes them so happy and what we can learn from them. He also visits some of the unhappiest places in the world that aren’t war torn, which gives a very interesting perspective.

When you read The Geography of Bliss, it feels as though you are traveling with Eric Weiner on his journey around the world. His stories, realizations and the people he meets are fascinating insights into the unique culture of that country. The book has a good mix of wit, science, psychology and learnings from different lifestyles that you will find yourself reflecting on after you put the book down.

The Geography of Bliss One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World - Eric Weiner
I read this book when I was planning a trip around the world and it influenced my travels to Bhutan. It left me feeling inspired to venture out into the unknown to discover new cultures and ways of living.

“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling that you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.” – Eric Weiner

Paulina from Paulina on the Road recommends

13. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On The Road is a book by Jack Kerouac (American writer). He wrote it in 1957, making it among the best wilderness survival books. The thing I liked the most about the book is that it is surrounded by the writer and his friends’ journey around the US. Its main characters’ lives are beyond jazz, poetry, and drug usage.

It is primarily nonfiction that represents various important personalities of the Beat movement that include Willian S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg who have changed identities in the novel.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
On The Road is the representation of Kerouac’s line of cross-country tours from 1948 to 1950. The novel highlights the bond of the author, Kerouac with Neal Cassady. Kerouac’s understanding of language as jazz and his love towards America together make On The Road a classic and inspirational travel book.

That’s what makes it everyone’s favorite travel book- it’s a mix. 

I love this line as i can really relate to itNothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Phil from The Gap Decaders recommends

14. Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon

Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon is the 1970’s book which inspired Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Road trip. Way more authentic and brilliantly written, Ted’s story of his motorbike journey around the world also inspired me to travel Europe on a motorbike, and then sell up to travel and live in a campervan!

Covering a four year journey of 63,000 miles through 54 countries, the story is remarkable. Told with humility and an observing eye, Ted brings the ordinary into sharp focus with colour and depth. Any biker will recognise some of his random thoughts as he speeds along on his Triumph 500!

Regardless of how you travel, this book will suck you in and give you serious wanderlust.

When I first read this back in the 90’s the words “you either travel and write yourself, or read about what others have done, experiencing the adventure vicariously” made me determined to have my own adventure, however long that might take.

Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon
Regardless of how you travel, this book will suck you in and give you serious wanderlust.

When I first read this back in the 90’s the words “you either travel and write yourself, or read about what others have done, experiencing the adventure vicariously” made me determined to have my own adventure, however long that might take.

Haley from Gathering Waves recommends

15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

My favorite travel book is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It is a memoir about the author’s experience hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail completely alone in 1995. 

Before hiking the trail, Cheryl Strayed lost her mother and was spiraling into a pit of grief and despair. On a whim she decided to hike the PCT, and somewhere along the trail she found herself, and probably saved her life. She is honest and raw with her emotions and experiences on the trail, and it almost feels like you’re hiking with her, which is why this is my favorite travel book. It’s not only an inspiring story, but gives a glimpse into what it would be like to hike the PCT yourself!

My favorite quote from this book is “It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fad…It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild”. I love this quote because I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in being prepared for a journey, we can forget that the most beautiful part of travel and adventures is simply the feeling of being in a wild or unknown place.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

My favorite quote from this book is “It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fad…It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild”.

I love this quote because I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in being prepared for a journey, we can forget that the most beautiful part of travel and adventures is simply the feeling of being in a wild or unknown place.

Jitaditya from The Travelling Slacker recommends

16. Seven Sacred Rivers by Bill Aitken

As an Indian, I am usually very critical of books written about India by foreign visitors because most of them (including many bestsellers) do not do justice to the diversity and complexity of the country. This is what makes Bill Aitken a must read, in case you are interested in India. He hitchhiked across continents to reach India in the late 50s and has lived here since then.

While the bulk of his books describe his Himalayan adventures, I prefer Seven Sacred Rivers as his most complete work as it covers the whole country. It is not merely an account of visiting different regions but these “seven rivers” here basically encompasses his observations about the complex civilization and it’s many sub-cultures that thrive on the banks of these rivers. 

Seven Sacred Rivers by Bill Aitken
Aitken’s views on various aspects of society, culture, and politics of various regions are razor sharp. Such clarity and insights are possible only when one has lived for a significant amount of time in a country and has allowed himself to be assimilated, instead of remaining a mere observer.

If you want to get deeper into India beyond a few touristy monuments, this book should be a good starting point.

 If you identify with this great quote, then you would love this book: ” The mark of a successful man is one who can sit by the river all day without feeling guilty about it “

​Tell us about your favourite travel book

There are so many great books out there, that I will probably always be adding to this post! In the mean time, if you have a recommendation of your own, no matter how well-known or not, let us know in the comments below!

For now, here is a quick list of a few more that either I or other travellers recommend

  • By any Means by Charley Boorman
  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  • Round The World With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
  • Last of the Donkey Pilgrims by Kevin O’Hara
  • Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
  • The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton
  • The Backpacker by John Harris
  • The Beach by Alex Garland
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