If you’re looking for travel inspiration, then you must read these fifteen travel books in 2019.
One of the best ways to learn about a new culture is to read about them. And if you’re lucky, a good book can change your life. That’s what we’re hoping you’ll find after reading a few of these incredible travel books in the new year. In our opinion, reading these travel books is the next best thing to traveling itself. And in some ways, it’s even better.
Before you set off on your next adventure, do yourself a favor and read one of two of these travel books. We guarantee at least one of them will change how you see the world.
Ready? Let’s begin.
1. “On The Road,” By Jack Kerouac
This is one of the best books about travel of all time. It’s also a classic. So you may have read it once or twice in English class back in the day. Even if you have, we highly recommend reading this one again. Written in 1957, this book by Jack Kerouac is timeless. The story follows the main character, Sal, as he leaves New York City and heads west. Along the way he rides rails, meets new friends and acquaintances, and parties the nights away. The main themes of the novel are Sal’s frustrations and desires to see everything in the world. We can say with confidence that these are themes that resonate with many of us at Trekbible. And they likely resonate with many of our readers, too.
This is one of those travel books that will challenge you. It will make you want to become a stronger, better person. You will want to dare yourself to set off on an adventure and experience something new. Just like Sal does in “On The Road.”
2. “The Alchemist,” By Paulo Coelho
“The Alchemist” is another timeless classic. Not to mention it is an international best-seller. Written in 1988 by Paulo Coehlo, this is a mystical story that follows the life of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy. Santiago longs to travel the world in search of treasure. Therefore he ventures from Spain to Egypt to follow his dreams. And naturally, he learns many lessons along the way. Santiago learns how to love and gets a better understanding on what it means to be alive. In other words, he finds a bit of himself along the way. And that’s something many avid travelers can certainly relate to.
If you don’t take the time to read “The Alchemist” – which is hands down one of the best travel books of all time – then at least peruse some of its best quotes for inspiration. One of our favorites is, “When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” Once you read the novel, you’ll find a few favorites of your own.
3. “Vagabonding,” By Rolf Potts
The next on our list of great travel books is not a novel. Rather, it’s the stories of a man, Rolf Potts, who spent 10 years on the road. He even walked walked all the way to Israel. And in his book he provides insights, tips, tricks, and lessons he learned during his decade-long journey. So if you want to become a long-term traveler, this is easily one of the best travel books you can read. Rolf Potts shares everything from funny stories to valuable lessons he learned. He includes quotes for inspiration in addition to practical information that all travelers can benefit rom.
“Vagabonding” is a must-read for anyone who wants to live a life on the road. While you are sure to experience many of your own struggles on your journey, reading up on what Rolf Potts went through will held provide insight of what may came.
4. “Eat, Pray, Love,” By Elizabeth Gilbert
We’re pretty sure you have heard of this travel book even if you’ve never read it before. Or maybe you’ve seen the movie adaptation with Julia Roberts. Either way, this is a great story to start with for those looking to read more travel books. Written in 2006, the official title is, “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.” The memoir follows author Elizabeth Gilbert’s trip around the world following her divorce. Throughout the story Elizabeth, AKA “Liz,” delves into the lessons she learned along the way.
Liz dares herself to step out of her comfort zone. And we think this story will make you want to do the same. This is one of the best travel books to read for travelers who are feeling a little stuck. Or maybe you’re at a crossroads and don’t know which way to turn. “Eat, Pray, Love” will remind you that there are more doors open to you than you might think.
5. “Into The Wild,” By Jon Krakauer
This is another one of those travel books that you have likely heard of. At the very least you probably watched the 2007 film adaptation sometime in school. This 1996 non-fiction book, written by Jon Krakauer, follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless. Born into a well-off family, in April 1992 McCandless decided to leave everything behind and hitchhike to Alaska. He gave the $25,000 he had in savings, abandoned his car and more of his possessions. McCandless even burned all the cash in his wallet before setting out. Once he arived in Alaska, he walked along into the wilderness in search of a new life. “Into The Wild” tells the story of McCandless’ epic, final adventure.
This travel book touches on the ideas of how to accepted in society. And how to break out of the norms that society places on us. “Into The Wild” may challenge you to break away from stereotypes and dare to try something new. At the very least, it’s an interesting read we think you’ll enjoy.
6. “Marching Powder,” By Rusty Young
If you are in search of feel-good travel books, then “Marching Powder: The Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail” may not be the one for you. The 2003 memoir, written by Australian journalist Rusty Young, follows Rusty’s backpacking trip in South America. Along the way he learned about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who “ran tours inside Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro prison.” Rusty was instantly interested and wanted to learn more. So he went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas’s illegal tours. After developing a friendship with Thomas, Rusty manages to stay in the prison for three months. The story that results is one of the most eye-opening prison stories of all time.
This story will show you that anything can happen while you travel. It hopefully will also remind you the importance of staying safe during your adventures. Either way, “Marching Powder” is an exhilarating, insightful read. We cannot recommend Rusty’s story more.
7. “Less,” By Andrew Sean Greer
We’re going to take a more light-hearted turn with the next travel book on our list. “Less,” written by Andrew Sean Greer, is a 2017 novel that follows the humorous journey of gay novelist Arthur Less. Arthur travels the world on a literary tour, just as his 50th birthday is approaching. But the thing is, Arthur’s career as a novelist isn’t going so well. Neither is his love life. In fact, half the reason he decides to travel is to avoid the wedding of an ex-lover. Arthur’s adventure will lead him to almost falling in love in Paris. He nearly falls to his death in Berlin. And runs into the last person he would ever want to see in the last place he would ever expect to see them. This is a wonderful satirical comedy that you will want to read time and time again.
This is one of the best recent travel books to read if you want something more light-hearted (though it isn’t hard to find a lighter read than “Marching Powder”). Still, there is plenty that can be learned from “Less.” Themes touch on aging and travel, love and confronting turning points, and so much more.
8. “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day,” By Matt Kepnes
Yes, it is possible to travel the world with just $50 a day. And Matt Kepnes can help show you how. This is one of the best travel books to read for adventurers on a budget. Or for those who simply prefer minimalist travel. Matt Kepnes’ New York Times bestselling book goes into detail on how he was able to travel so long on such a small budget. Matt Kepnes goes in depth on tips and tricks on traveling the world without spending a dime that you don’t have. He also shares plenty of relatable stories about the lessons he learned along the way.
If you have heard about Matt Kepnes but are unfamiliar with his book, you may know him from his blog, Nomadic Matt. Both his book and his blog are great resources for travelers who want to see more, but spend less. If you want to plan more adventures in 2019, then this is one of the best travel books for you to read.
9. “The Geography Of Bliss,” By Eric Weiner
“The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World,” is a humorous, insightful memoir. The book was written by National Public Radio foreign correspondent Eric Weiner in 2008. Throughout the chapters, Eric Weiner recounts his year of traveling the world is search of the happiest places on Earth. Destinations he explores in his book includes Iceland, Bhutan, Moldova, Qatar, and more. But there’s more to the story that simply searching for the happiest places on Earth. Throughout his travels, Eric Weiner investigates how different countries define and pursue happiness.
This is one of the best travel books to read for adventurers interested in learning the ins and outs of other cultures. According to Eric Weiner, he used “ancient philosophers and the much more recent ‘science of happiness'” as his guide as he traveled the world in search of the “happiest places and what we can learn from them.”
10. “Shantaram,” By Gregory David Roberts
Another one of our favorite travel books is “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts, In this 2003 novel is set in modern day India, where Australian bank robber Lin is hiding out. Lin passes the time but simultaneously running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest regions and working for the Bombay mafia. If you have a particularly fascination in Indian culture, then “Shantaram” is one of the best travel books for you. The novel is highly regarded for its vivid portrayal of the tumultuous reality of life in Bombay.
Though “Shantaram” is technically a novel, the story is based on Gregory David Roberts’ own experiences. In 1980, while serving a 19-year sentence for robbery in Australia, Gregory escaped from prison and fled to India. He spent a decade in India before being recaptured and extradited. Knowing that there is so much truth in Lin’s story makes this book all the more riveting to read.
11. “Half The Sky,” By Nick Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn
“Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide” is one of the most eye-opening travel books of the century. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, “Half The Sky” takes the readers on a journey through Africa and Asia and introduces them to incredible women who are living – and struggling – there. Amongst these women is a Cambodian teenager who is sold into sex slavery. Another story follows an Ethiopian woman who suffers devastating injuries during childbirth.
By the time you finish reading “Half The Sky,” you will realize how much of a difference you can make in another person’s lives. The book explains how the Cambodian girl was able to escape from a brothel with the assistance of an aid group. And how she then built a successful retail business that now supports her family. It also shares how the Ethiopian woman healed from her injuries and eventually became a surgeon. This book will make you grateful for what you have and change the way you view you the world.
12. “In A Sunburned Country,” By Bill Bryson
This is one of the top travel books you should read if you plan on going to Australia any time soon. “In A Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson is one of the funnier, more peculiar Australian guide books you will come across. The first book the Bryson wrote was “A Walk In The Woods,” which is an account of his time spent along the Appalachian Trial. Bryson followed suit with “In A Sunburned Country” by visiting a place he’s never been before. And though he found it to be one of the oddest, arguably most dangerous, and hottest places he’s ever been, Bryson absolutely loves Australia. An adoration that quickly becomes evident when reading this tale.
This is a great travel book to read before going to Australia to get an authentic look at a foreigner’s experience there. You will laugh, your curiosity will spike, and you will undoubtedly want to visit the land down under ASAP.
13. “A Moveable Feast (Life Changing Food Adventures Around The World),” Edited By Don George
If you’re a foodie who loves to travel, then “A Moveable Feast” is the book for you. Edited by travel writer Don George, the book in an incredible compilation of short stories from famous chefs, writers, and foodies around the world. Readers will enjoy stories about eating bats on the island of Fais and chicken on a Russian train. There are tales of feasting on barbecue in the American heartland, couscous in Moroccos, tacos in Tijuana, and mutton in Mongolia. Needless to say, you will be pretty hungry by the time you’re doing with this book. But “A Moveable Feast” does more than share stories about good food. It opens your eyes to the idea that food nourishes the body not only physically, but spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, too.
Furthermore, “A Moveable Feast” gives the reader insight on different cultures and how they socialize. After all, one of the easiest ways to learn about a different group of people is by judging how and what they eat. Whether you’re a culinary fanatic or not, “A Moveable Feast” is worth the read.
14. “The Art Of Travel,” By Alain de Botton
There is often a lot of pressure placed on people to get out and travel. This pressure can stem from internal desires, social media, travel books, and more. But even though we know that we want to travel, we often forget why we travel. Alain de Botton’s “The Art of Travel” serves as a reminder of the how and why when it comes to traveling, said Michelle Halpern, travel blogger at Live Like It’s The Weekend. One eye-opening realization that Alain de Botton brings to light is that oftentimes a destination is more fantastic in our heads than in reality. In other words, we dream so much about traveling that we find ourselves disappointed when we actually take part in the act. This is a reality that some of us here at Trekbible have ran into. Chances are, some of you readers have, too.
This is one of the best travel books to read to remind you that traveling isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes it’s difficult. And sometimes it’s no fun at all. Maybe that’s the difference between traveling and vacationing. Or maybe that’s simply the point of traveling. Either way, “The Art Of Travel” is an insightful read that will surely alter you viewpoint on why you chose to start traveling in the first place.
15. “A House Somewhere,” Edited By Donald W. George and Anthony Sattin
“A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad” is a collection of stories by some of the best and brightest contemporary travel writers out there. Each story shares some bits of perils and pleasures that different writers have experienced while living abroad. Contributors to the book include Paul Teroux, Frances Mayers, Alex Kerr, Chris Stewart, Vida Adamoli, and more. This is one of the best travel books out there for readers who want a taste of a variety of different adventures. It’s also a great book to read if you have any interest in being a travel writer, yourself.
This book can help give you an idea of what it’s actually like to live abroad, and whether or not it’s the life for you.
There are so many other incredible travel books out there just waiting to be read.
This list is just a snippet of all the amazing travel books out there. Whether you’re looking for intel on other countries or cultures, preparing for a trip, or simply want to read a great story, travel books hardly disappoint. And the more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more willing you are to open your eyes to new people, places, and things. This is a great trait to have if you want to be an avid traveler.
Do you read travel books often? Which one is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know which travel books we should add to our reading list in 2019!
Related Article: How To Become A Travel Writer