Graphic Novels To Inspire Your Next Trip

by Charlotte Ahlin

Travel! Nearly everyone agrees that traveling is a wonderful, beautiful, educational, expensive thing. Every once in a while, we all have the impulse to throw some clothes in a backpack and hop on a plane... but then something comes up, like work or rent or groceries, and travel plans get put on the back burner. Even if you can't afford to travel right now, though, you can read about people bumbling around in far-flung locations while you plan your own trip. So here are a few graphic novel travelogues to read before your next adventure.

I'll be honest: travel books are very hit or miss for me (I have ruined dinners with my opinions on Eat, Pray, Love). But there's something about a travelogue as a graphic novel that feels more like peering into someone's journal than listening to them brag about their very expensive vacation. A graphic travelogue is a sketchbook of a place, something that quite literally paints you a picture of the artist's journey. Whether these illustrators and cartoonists are traveling for fun or out of necessity, these graphic novels are a testament to the transformative power of travel.

So check out these graphic novels and travelogues, and just try not to be inspired to plan your own trip:


'An Age of License: A Travelogue' by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisely has written and illustrated several adorable travelogues, but An Age of License stands out. Unlike her previous (highly enjoyable) books, this one focuses less on delicious foods and more on the author's anxieties and growth as she travels through Europe on a book tour. The result is honest, romantic, and beautifully done.

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'Burma Chronicles' by Guy Delisle

When Guy Delisle's wife is relocated to Burma for work, he comes along with their young son and too much time on his hands. Burma Chronicles is a series of cartoon vignettes detailing his day-to-day experience living in Burma, with his own humorous spin on current affairs.

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'Just So Happens' by Fumio Obata

Travel isn't always for fun. In the graphic novel Just So Happens, Yumiko is a young Japanese woman who has relocated to London. Her whole life is in London now, until she is called home suddenly for a funeral. The story follows her back to Tokyo, where she is confronted by the tough choices of her past.

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'You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons' by Mo Willems

In 1990, children's book author Mo Willems set out to see the world, sketchbook in hand. He drew one cartoon a day to document his travels, resulting in the supremely silly and captivating You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons.

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'Ruins' by Peter Kuper

American couple Samantha and George are planning to spend a year in Oaxaca, Mexico. For Samantha, it's a return to her past. For George, it's unknown territory. For the Monarch butterfly, it's an annual migration pattern. Ruins is a beautiful, surreal story about butterflies, history, and survival.

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'Carnet de Voyage' by Craig Thompson

When Craig Thompson was researching the graphic novel Habibi, he spent three months traveling through Barcelona, the Alps, France, and Morocco. Carnet de Voyage is his diary of sketches from the trip, documenting his misadventures as well as quiet, intimate impressions of everywhere he went.

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'To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story' by Steven Weinberg and Casey Scieszka

Steven and Casey first meet in Morocco on a study abroad trip. They have a long distance relationship across the U.S. Then, naturally, they move to China, and then Mali. To Timbuktu is the simple, true story of a new relationship unfolding across continents, and it's sure to inspire your wanderlust.

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'Empire State' by Jason Shiga

Rom-com meets road trip across America. What's not to like? When Jimmy's best friend Sara moves from California to Brooklyn, Jimmy summons the courage to admit his true feelings and follow her on a haphazard bus trip across the U.S. so they can (hopefully) meet on the top of the Empire State Building.

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'Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey' by GB Tran

Vietnamerica is not really a road trip story, but it is a superbly written graphic memoir about one family traveling from Vietnam to America and back again. GB Tran was raised in Southern California, but in Vietnamerica he visits Vietnam for the very first time to reconnect with his roots and uncover his long lost family history.

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'The Venice Chronicles' by Enrico Casarosa

Enrico Casarosa is an artist for Pixar, and it shows. This is an utterly adorable travelogue through Venice. In pencil and gorgeous watercolor, Casarosa explores the canals and side streets of "The Sinking City," sketching out a simple story of joyful travel.

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