12 Inspiring Travel Reads


Looking for a good book to read during your next trip abroad? We’ve compiled a list of 12 novels for you to choose from, whether your looking for inspiration or entertainment. Happy reading!

1. The Art of Travel by Alian de Botton

This philosophical look at travel explores why people feel the need to traverse the world. Alian de Botton analyzes our inherent need to travel and the disappointment we often feel when romanticized trips don’t live up to their high expectations. Take the time to ponder traveling before setting off on your own adventure by reading The Art of Travel.

2. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy

As the title suggests, Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, is a novel recalling one woman’s solo journey across Europe and the Middle East. Dervla Murphy’s adventure with her trusty bicycle is filled with trials and obstacles that make it difficult to stop reading.

3. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

No list of travel novels is complete without at least one tale by Mark Twain. The Innocents Abroad is a novel that was originally a series of travel articles Mark Twain wrote for a San Fransisco newspaper. His travels took him through Europe and the Holy Land in the Middle East. Twain takes on stereotypes as he shares his thoughts on culture in this satirical novel.

4. The Size of the World by Jeff Greenwald

The Size of the World is a travel novel by an incredibly experienced world traveler. After having already ventured through most of the world, Greenwald realized that airplanes were ruining the potential for true global adventure. He decided to travel the world sans flight, and the results make for an excellent travel read.

5. A House in Bali by James Murdoch

A House in Bali is a novel by a classically trained America musician who fell in love with the music of Bali. While band nerds may have an extra appreciation for this novel, it is a great read for anyone interested in travel or Bali. Murdoch spent eight years living in Bali and composing his thoughts on the local culture and music.

6. Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming

This humorous novel is the account of a man who joined an expedition to find the missing Colonel Fawcett in Brazil. While Fleming felt the journey would be a fun adventure and escape from reality, he quickly realized that he was in for an interesting trip when things went wrong. Brazilian Adventure is a good-humored travel novel that’s hard to put down.

7. Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher

Two Towns in Provence is a memoir that tells of life in the French provincial capital of Aix-en-Provence. Fisher goes through two centuries of the province to explore the history and nature of its people. This is a must read for those interested in traveling to France.

8. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is another notable travel author who’s penned novels documenting his travels through Australia, the Appalachian Trail and more. In his novel Notes from a Small Island, Bryson describes England through the eyes of an American Midwestern man. After spending nearly 20 years in Britain, Bryson analyzes the country in this witty novel.

9. The Backpacker by John Harris

The Backpacker is a memoir that tells the journey John Harris took around the world with a risky travel partner. This novel includes parties, drugs and cons, making it an incredibly interesting read filled with dangerous adventure.

10. The Beach by Alex Garland

Having inspired a movie featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, The Beach is a thrilling novel that may make you think twice about traveling. After hearing folklore of a secret island said to be a real life Eden, protagonist Richard journeys to find the secluded spot. When he finds the island Richard realizes that paradise comes with a price. While this novel may be more horrifying than inspiring, it is still a terrific read for travelers.

11. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This coming of age novel follows Kerouac’s years of traveling through North America and befriending some interesting characters along the way. Written with a jazz-like, scatting rhythm, this philosophical novel marks the Beatnik generation of the ’50s and ’60s and their journeys of spiritual self-discovery. On the Road is a classic, must-read travel novel.

12. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild is a memoir about a young woman who finds herself after the death of her mother and the deterioration of her marriage plunges her into a state of despair. Having no prior experience with long-term hiking, Strayed decides to take a solo trip across the United States along the Pacific Crest Trail. This memoir tells the tale of a 26-year-old woman redefining herself through a testing journey.

Check out our Books for the Traveler board on our Pinterest page for more travel novel recommendations!

Have a book in mind that’s not on the list? Tell us about it in the comments below!

13 Responses to “12 Inspiring Travel Reads”

  1. Walt Goodridge
    Monday, 30 July 2012 at 10:13 #

    Well, um, of course I think Jamaican in China: Guess Who’s Coming to Dim Sum is a great travel read! It’s just been released in full color paperback! It’s a reality show travel guide blog book lifestyle adventure!

  2. Zoë Dawes
    Monday, 30 July 2012 at 11:40 #

    Perfect timing – have just got a Kindle and going on holiday in two weeks – def tempted by a couple incl A House in Bali and The Size of the World. I’d add ‘My Family & Other Animals’ for Greece and ‘Miss Garnett’s Angel’ for Venice 🙂

  3. Ania
    Monday, 30 July 2012 at 3:54 #

    How come we’re missing Paul Theroux and Ryszard Kapuscinski? These two are the true geniuses of travel writing.

  4. Lauren Seidl
    Tuesday, 31 July 2012 at 10:43 #

    Thanks for the additions! There are way too many great travel novels out there to fit into just one post.

  5. Tanzania Safaris
    Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 7:41 #

    This is such a neat list! I am a fan of Alian de Botton’s writings. How Proust Can Save Your Life is also a nice read written by the same guy. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Bill Weston
    Monday, 17 December 2012 at 11:47 #

    I like the list please keep adding to it I am almost done with all 12!!!

    • Tiffany Harrison
      Monday, 17 December 2012 at 3:48 #

      All 12?! That’s awesome! Do you have any other good recommendations?

      • Bill Weston
        Wednesday, 26 December 2012 at 11:45 #

        Well a few of them were a given like Fisher, Murdoch and Twain…I am about halfway through Tim Butcher’s Blood River and so far so good I will let you know if it is a must read after I am finished!!!

  7. Gökhan - Yoldaki.com
    Saturday, 1 March 2014 at 5:31 #

    read almost all! gotta start writing one 😀

  8. Thom
    Tuesday, 17 March 2015 at 8:38 #

    Wild was fantastic.

    I also loved Chasing Ataturk by R. W. Barwick


  9. JennieM
    Wednesday, 18 November 2015 at 2:42 #

    Impressive list, thanks for sharing. I have read The Innocents Abroad, a wonderful piece it was. Definitely worth reading!


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