It’s officially the time of year for hitting the road, and few things will make you more eager to feel those miles flying by beneath your feet than diving into some great travel books. Whether you are looking to roam across the air, land, and sea, or you’re just gearing up for some serious armchair adventures, these books will make you want to travel ASAP. (Be sure to keep that passport handy, just in case.)
As a book lover, the only thing my book-lovin’, travel junkie self loves almost as much as hitting the actual road is taking a trip of more bookish proportions — courtesy of a great travel writer (or a few) who has penned their own globe-trotting adventures to page. From walking the streets of Paris or trekking through the Andes Mountains, to taking an epic road trip across America or wandering through the savannas of east Africa, the FOMO-inspiring travel writers on this list will leave you lusting after some serious ‘round the world wanderings of your own, in no time flat.
So, cozy up into that armchair or start packing your carry-on bag (or both!) because here are 13 books that will make you want to travel ASAP.
1. 'Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders' by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, and Dylan Thuras
There is one word for my feelings about this book: OBSESSED. Featuring over 700 of the strangest and most off-the-beaten-path places in the world, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders details all the kinds of places and events you’d ever want on your must-see bucket list. Including hundreds of photographs, charts, maps, and have-to-see-to-believe global wonders, this is the kind of book you'll want to keep in your back pocket (well, it’s a tad too large for that… but you know what I mean) whether you’re traveling in the world or from your armchair.
2. '100 Places Every Woman Should Go' by Stephanie Griest
I absolutely love Stephanie Elizondo Griest — writer, wanderer, world-adventurer, she has written about traveling to some the most far flung locales on the globe. In 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, Griest encourages her fellow women to see the world, featuring everything from places where women made history to destinations for adventure or indulgence, and more. Whether you’re planning a group trip with your gals or taking on the world solo, Griest’s advice and experience will not only inspire serious wanderlust, it’ll help you plan your next great adventure as well.
3. 'At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe' by Tsh Oxenreider
This is a perfect travel memoir for anyone with a bucket list (several) miles long. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe follows Tsh Oxenreider and her family as they dedicate nearly a year to fulfilling a bucket list of their own — traveling around the world together, taking in wonders they’d only previously dreamed about. Think: China, Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, France, Croatia, and beyond.
4. 'Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse' edited by Brian Bouldrey
We all take off into the great, wide world for myriad reasons, and Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse, a collection edited by Brian Bouldrey, explores not only amazing locations but some of the reasons why we feel pulled to travel in the first place. The travel writers featured in Inspired Journeys are all on literary pilgrimages, of sorts: to Dracula’s castle, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s prairie, the Grimms’ fairy-tale road, Nathaniel West’s California, the Marquis de Sade’s haunted manor, and others. Searching for inspiration, connection, epiphany, or just a really good story, these writers invite you along for the ride.
5. 'By the Seat of My Pants' edited by Don George
Another great collection of travel writing, the Lonely Planet-published By the Seat of My Pants, edited by Don George, tells hilarious and relatable tales of adventures and adventures-gone-awry. The 31 wanderlusters in this collection share stories of chance encounters, unexpected detours, unplanned adventures, and all the things that can go absolutely right when everything goes wrong on the road. Anyone who has ever endured their own #TravelFail will love this collection — and will probably long for the next adventure.
6. 'The Streets of Paris: A Guide to the City of Light Following in the Footsteps of Famous Parisians Throughout History' by Susan Cahill
There are few places in the world more beautiful than Paris, and through Susan Cahill’s The Streets of Paris: A Guide to the City of Light Following in the Footsteps of Famous Parisians Through History, you’ll be able to travel there by simply flipping pages (but go for real too.) Part history and part travel guide, each chapter opens with FOMO-inspiring color photographs and a different Paris metro stop, taking readers on a tour of the city’s iconic figures, places and dramas.
7. 'Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries' by Kim MacQuarrie
As the world’s longest mountain chain, the Andes Mountains trail through most of South America and have been home to some of the greatest discoveries, adventures, and occasionally-nefarious activities in the history of human life. In Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries, Emmy Award–winning filmmaker and author Kim MacQuarrie takes readers on an epic journey through the Andes, trailing the histories of figures like Charles Darwin, Pablo Escobar, Che Guevara, and more, while introducing readers to the folks who live within this mysterious and wondrous landscape today.
8. 'Without Reservations' by Alice Steinbach
For anyone who has ever dreamed of spontaneously hitting the open road, leaving everything behind, and transforming their life, Alice Steinbach’s memoir, Without Reservations, is definitely worth checking out. Taking readers to some of the most beautiful cities in Europe: Paris, Milan, and England, Steinbach embarks upon a search for her most authentic, independent self, making friends (and writing plenty of postcards) along the way.
9. 'Travels With Myself and Another' by Martha Gellhorn
As a journalist, Martha Gellhorn was a woman and a writer ahead of her generation — covering military conflicts from the Spanish Civil War, to Vietnam, to Nicaragua. Away from the battlefield she was a woman who captivated everyone who met her. In Travels With Myself and Another (the “another," in case you didn’t know, was none other than writer Ernest Hemingway) Gellhorn describes her globe-trotting adventures, from Moscow, to China, to east Africa, and beyond.
10. 'The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean' by Philip Caputo
Published in 2014 The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean is writer Philip Caputo’s account of his 6,000-mile journey from Key West, Florida, to the Alaskan coast — a landscape that spans from the southernmost point of the United States to the northernmost tip. Along the way, Caputo explores the myriad cultures, people, places, and ways of life that make up the United States, questioning everyday folks along the way about what keeps such a diverse country united (relatively, I suppose). Perfect for anyone who thinks you have to travel across the world in search of a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
11. 'Schadenfreude, A Love Story: Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For' by Rebecca Schuman
For the less “misery-loves-company” inclined, who may not yet know, schadenfreude is the German word for deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune — and memoirist and Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman takes you on a journey of all-things-schadenfreude (and German) in her memoir Schadenfreude: A Love Story. Over the course of two decades of beautiful, sad, and hilarious coming-of-age years, Schuman falls head-over-heels in love with the German language, culture, and people — even if they don’t always love her back.
12. 'Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail' by Cheryl Strayed
Are we book-lovers and travelers ever going to tire of Cheryl Strayed? No? OK, great. Because Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is my go-to solo-girl-wandering read. Taking readers through Strayed’s life-changing hike up the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild is a travel memoir that journeys through the world and into the heart; and it's one that might just inspire you to tackle a seemingly-unconquerable adventure of your own.
13. 'The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes' by Malachy Tallack and Katie Scott
Now we’re really talking about FOMO (because, as you’ll learn in Malachy Tallack and Katie Scott’s The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes) you really did miss out. This award-winning book takes readers through two dozen islands — once believed to be real locations, but no longer found neither in the world nor on any modern maps. Describing an archipelago of once-islands and mysterious landscapes, The Un-Discovered Islands will transport you across imagined, forgotten, and perhaps never-real terrain.