Best Travel Books | 24 inspirational books about wanderlust

Whether it’s marvelling at the grandeur of Peru’s Machu Picchu or devouring descriptions of icy Antarctica, there’s nothing like a good book to help you escape from the confines of your armchair and go travelling the world through the written word. Even if you can’t catch a flight to one of these epic destinations, we’ve brought them to you: a run-down of some of the world’s best books about wanderlust.

Give these a listen instead, with Audible.

Whether you’re an avid Kindle reader or prefer the feel of pages beneath your fingertips, it’s also worth trying out audiobooks; the perfect way to read all of these books if you’re busy and on the go.

Audible actually offers a free trial Get it here!, or you can take them up on their special offer, which gets you 50% off their membership for 3 months. Get that offer here!.

While we’re both bookworms (whether that’s the trusty paperback type or jabbing furiously to turn the page on our Kindles), we had to ask some other bibliophiles and travellers for their favourite books from countries they’ve visited or lived. That means we’ve covered all the key continents with some of globe’s best travel books in this epic list, curated by other travellers.

Ready to get reading? Let’s dive right in for some travel inspiration…


Nigeria: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Read by Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations

Books about wanderlust - Lagos Nigeria

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, is the story of Okonkwo, a member of the Igbo people from southeastern Nigeria. Okonkwo adheres to the traditions of his people, which we learn about in the first part of the story. Those traditions, though, are threatened with the arrival of British colonial rule and the Christian missionaries. These influences – changes in the power structure as well as changing belief systems – pull apart the ties that bind the indigenous society together. Written in the 1950’s but set in the 19th century, it’s a powerful and moving description and indictment of the effects of the arrival of Europeans.

Anyone who wants to understand modern-day Africa should first learn about the history of colonialism, the “Scramble for Africa” and the effects of conversion to Christianity. This novel is a gripping place to start. I say “Africa” rather than specifically Nigeria because this story applies to sub-Saharan Africa in a broader sense: anywhere where the Europeans arrived and took power. It puts a human face on a phenomenon we may have only seen in very general terms in history books. Don’t expect the Africa you visit to be anything like what is described in the book, but keep the story in mind. It explains a lot.

South Africa: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Read by James from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Table Mountain South Africa

One of the absolute must read books about South African life, this novel – penned by South African comedian, Trevor Noah, now a global talk show personality – is a laugh a minute affair.

Told in Noah’s characteristic witty tone, it sketches his life growing up as a ‘mixed race’ kid in what was a ‘black or white’ apartheid South Africa; including amusing anecdotes of him being hidden indoors by his doting ‘Gogo’ (grandmother) to avoid police. The son of a black Xhosa woman and a white Swiss man, Noah had some real issues in segregated South Africa, all of which he tells in his usual sardonic style.

It’s a remarkable story of how a poor kid struggling with his identity has grown to become an international name, with some comical stories around Noah’s many enterprising businesses, including selling bootlegged CDs and his brushes with the law (and his mother!).

This is a great novel to give you some insights into South Africa’s bustling townships and it’s quieter suburbs, while also providing heaps of hilarious content for you to devour. Definitely one of our favorite travel books about wanderlust, and a must-read about South Africa!

Kenya: The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann

Read by Martina & Jurgi from PlacesofJuma

Books about wanderlust Kenya

One of the most beautiful books I ever read about Kenya is the book The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann.

The book is autobiographical and gives deep insights into the cultural life of Africa, as well as into the breathtaking landscapes. It’s about a 27 year old Swiss girl called Corinne who is with her boyfriend Marco on a holiday to Kenya.

On an excursion, she meets the local Masai warrior Lketinga and falls n love with the mysterious man straight away. Both of them only speak broken English and therefore they have communication problems, but still they quickly get closer. And he seems to be returning her feelings. She visits his village, which is not far from her hotel and also gets to know the local Priscilla, who speaks English well and can mediate.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of the country and her feelings for Lketinga, Corinne decides to move to Kenya. But first she has to go back home. She ends her relationship with Marco, sells her business and her flat. Despite all warnings from friends and relatives, she actually moves to Kenya after half a year. In this compelling tale, Corinne narrates her own story about the many wonderful moments, but also the tragic problems of this unusual relationship, about new friendships, her serious illness and how she survived in the bush.

Egypt: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Read by Lee from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Pyramids Egypt

It’s one of the most magical stories from Coehlo’s already impressive arsenal of novels: the story of Santiago, a young shepherd who travels from Spain to Tangiers and over the deserts of Egypt to find buried treasure.

He encounters some interesting people along the way including an Englishman, an old king and the love of his life: Fatima. But it is his meeting with an alchemist that truly makes this story special, as he goes on a journey of discovery to find himself.

The Alchemist is one of the world’s best-selling and most beloved novels for a reason: it’s subject matter is more than a haunting homage to the beauty of Egypt, but rather provides a number of key themes and life lessons for the reader. It’s all about finding your destiny; one of the best fiction books about travel to also offer you something for your soul.

Fun fact: Coehlo wrote the acclaimed novel is only two weeks! He said that the story was “already written in his soul.”


Peru: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams

Read by Julie from The Bamboo Traveler

Books about wanderlust - Machu Picchu Peru

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Mark Adam’s account of his retracing of the route that explorer Hiram Bingham took in 1911 when he “discovered’ Machu Picchu and three other important Incan sites.

Adams, a New York editor for an outdoor adventure travel magazine, also tells both the stories of how the Spanish conquered the Incans and how the Incans fought back as well as how Bingham found the Incan’s lost ancient cities and shrines.

The first part, Adams’ own expedition and my favorite section, is filled with fascinating descriptions of his interactions with and observations of the local Quechua people, revealing a great deal about the local culture. His comments are never condescending, always filled with warmth and respect for the people. Adams isn’t an expert hiker. In fact, he hadn’t slept in a tent since he was a child. So, I could relate to the pain and exhaustion he felt during his month-long trek through the Andes.

The other two parts are also interesting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the history of Peru and South America. Bingham, supposedly the model for the Indiana Jones character, is a fascinating but flawed human being. There have been many books written about him, including Bingham’s own recounting of his expedition. I’ve read several, but I particular like Adams’ own enthusiastic retelling because, as he reveals in the book, he’s sort of obsessed with Bingham’s story. Yet, Adams doesn’t tip toe around Bingham’s flaws.

This is an excellent book to read if you’re planning to hike the Incan Trail. If not, it will inspire you to.

Related: Books about Brazil to read before you go

USA: Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens

Read by Danielle from Rambling Companion

Books about wanderlust - Swamps USA

Where the Crawdad’s Sing is a fiction book that will transport you to the marshlands of North Carolina in the United States. Two storylines are followed throughout the book: the first storyline observes “Marsh girl,” Kya, as she grows up and learns to care for herself within the marsh, while the second storyline tracks the investigation of a mysterious death of a respected man.

With veins of love and mystery, I devoured every page of this coming-of-age story. Where the Crawdad’s Sing has been widely consumed throughout the United States, as the book topped the New York Times Fiction Bestseller list for 30 weeks throughout 2019 and 2020. It has been read and highly reviewed by book clubs throughout the country.

Additionally, Where the Crawdad’s Sing is a great showcase of North Carolina’s marshland as Kya learns about the marsh ecosystem in order to survive within it. She navigates relationships based on her understanding of her natural environment.

Through Kya’s eyes and education, we begin to learn to admire and respect the marsh. We gain an understanding that the marsh provides life, guidance and protection to its inhabitants. Vivid imagery and strong emotion throughout the story ensures the reader walks away with a new appreciation for North Carolina marshlands.

Mexico: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read by Megan from Red Around The World

Books about wanderlust - Chichen-itza Mexico

Casiopea Tun is always busy cleaning floors for her wealthy grandfather. Meanwhile, the Jazz Age is in full swing around her.  All this time she is dreaming of a new life that is all hers in southern Mexico even though it seems so far off.  At least it did until she found a mysterious wooden box in her grandfather’s room.  When she opens it, the Mayan god of death is set free and now it’s her job to help him recover his lost throne from his brother.  If she fails, it will bring about her demise, but if she succeeds, all her dreams could come true.

This is the perfect read for anyone that loves Mexico.  It’s not your average travel book, but a more fantasy/contemporary look at life in Mexico during the jazz age with a more magical twist.  It showcases a different side of Mexico that we don’t see a lot of anymore and will have you wanting to pack your bags, even if you can’t travel the country with an ancient Mayan god at your side.  Not only will it take you on a trip through Mexico, but through time, too.  I would highly recommend this is you want a light-hearted read set in Mexico.

USA: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Read by Lee from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Pacific Crest Trail USA

Even if you don’t agree with her haphazard approach to hiking (and life), you’ll really identify with the author of this book, Cheryl Strayed, and fall in love with the landscapes she describes in Wild.

A memoir documenting her time on the Pacific Crest Trail, the book chronicles how her mother’s death and her own divorce prompts her to trade in her suburban existence for a gruelling solo hike. Strayed walks over 1000 miles on some of the toughest terrain in North America, from sizzling hot deserts to icy, dangerous snowy peaks and conditions.

It’s a triumph of a tale as Strayed is a wonderful writer – you’ll feel transported into the canyons of California and along the unforgiving landscapes of Oregon – although a slightly unreliable narrator at times.

What’s clear is that regardless of your feelings towards the author, you’ll be mesmerized by the descriptions of this dynamic journey and her emotional growth, as its one of the best books about travel and self-discovery.

One of the best books about traveling alone, Wild is definitely a book to add to your bookshelf or your watchlist, as it was later made into a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon.

Recommended: Best road trips in the USA!

Cuba: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Read by Marcie from Marcie in Mommyland

Books about wanderlust - Cuba

Cuba has been on my travel bucket list for years and years. It’s one of the destinations that sounds so romantic because it’s been trapped in time. I’d seen lots of photos and a few movies set in Havana, but really didn’t know much about its history or culture. When I read Next Year in Havana, I was really moved.

It’s actually the first book in a trilogy all about life in Cuba during the rise of Fidel Castro and beyond. It’s historical fiction that follows the journal of a sugar heiress in the 1950s who had to flee Cuba as well as her journalist granddaughter who returns to Cuba in the 2000s. The dual timeline is a fantastic way to peek into this world as the borders closed and re-opened.

Even though it’s historical fiction, many of the plot points are real events that happened to real people. The author does a great job of showing what it was like to be rich in Havana and then have it all come crashing down. Once you read this story, you’ll have a new understanding of what Cubans went through and how to be respectful if you are able to travel to Cuba in the future.


Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Read by Pamela from Directionally Challenged

Books about wanderlust - Antartica

Antarctica is one of the most remote destinations in the world. Traveling there requires heading to Ushaia, Argentina – the southernmost city before crossing the epic Drake Passage which could have waves as large as 30 feet (10 meters!). All of this is quite the adventure but imagine doing this same crossing in 1914 without the technology we have today? Then, imagine crossing a continent filled with ice, freezing temperatures, and dangerous wildlife.  That’s exactly what Ernest Shackleton did.

During the journey, the ship became trapped and crushed in ice almost half a continent away from their intended destination. The following story is one of survival that is still unparalleled in our times.

Endurance is the definitive account of this fateful trip. Ernest Shackleton’s leadership, bravery, and heroism are on full display while capturing the heart and soul of Antarctica. This captivating tale of one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age is an absolute must-read before visiting the ice continent. When you’re sailing through icebergs, next to penguins and whales, you’re following in the footsteps of Shackleton. He set the stage for Antarctic expeditions, scientific research, and eventually tourism. If you only read one book before visiting Antarctica, make it this one.


India: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read by James from The Travel Scribes

Books about Wanderlust - Mumbai India

It’s collectively one of our favourite books – the searing, epic story by Gregory David Roberts that has attracted thousands of visitors to India, while sparking a side of criticism for Robert’s ‘colourful’ embellishments.

You can almost smell the curry spices as you open Shantaram, as it richly describes the sights, sounds and smells of Mumbai’s most notorious slums.

Following the story of an Australian convict, Lindsay or Lin, as he escapes from jail in Australia and finds his way to India, this is an epic travel memoir. Lin not only manages a health clinic in the slum but finds himself in some rather unusual situations: falling in love with a Swiss-American woman, evading the law and even smuggling weapons for freedom fighters in Afghanistan.

The novel is definitely one of the best books for travelling, and will inspire you to book your ticket to India. That being said, there is some controversy around the book – it was originally marketed a true story but later, upon investigation, it seems that Roberts had taken a few liberties in telling his story and it wasn’t all necessarily true.

Malaysia: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Read by Kirsten from Sand In My Curls

Books about wandelust - Penang Malaysia

The Gift of Rain is Tan Twan Eng’s first novel set in his homeland of Penang, Malaysia. It’s a historical fiction book that journals the time before and during the Japanese occupation in WWII.

Phillip Hutton, the main character, is a half-English, half-Chinese Malaysian. He doesn’t fit in with any one cultural group which is still a common thread in the Malaysia of today. To complicate matters, Phillip befriends a Japanese diplomat who eventually becomes his mentor. He learns about the Japanese language, culture, and the art of aikido.

But that knowledge and friendship comes with a price.

When the Japanese invade Penang, Phillip needs to choose between his Chinese-English family, his Japanese mentor, and Malaysia. He walks a fine line.

The themes of the book are intense, but Tan Twan Eng writes so beautifully, often prose-like that you are swept away in the pages. You are transported to a different time and place yet can relate to the struggles of each character.

Eng beautifully describes the people of Malaysia and their vulnerabilities while being ravaged by war. It’s the story of a country divided by its people and ethnicities, interwoven with cruelty, courage, love, and endurance. It’s a must-read.

Japan: Shogun by James Clavell

Read by Cristina from Honest Travel Stories

Books about wanderlust - Japan

For most people, Japan is something else. It’s not like the old, historic Europe. It’s definitely unlike the new and shiny North America. It’s not even like the rest of Asia. It’s just, if I may say it, like another planet.

And it was like another planet back in the 1600s as well. At least this is how John Blackthorne sees it when he finds himself on the shores of Japan, thus becoming the first Englishman to set foot on this land, previously discovered by the Spanish-Portuguese alliance.

In a time when the so-called civilized world was fighting terrible epidemics, most of them due to poor hygiene while having lice and bathing once in a lifetime, Blackthorne gets to know this society where everyone bathes at least once a day, keeps their houses, gardens, and streets clean, and have immaculate ships.

At the same time, he comes from a society that considers life itself as the most important thing, along with money and power, and blames sexual relationships outside marriage or even openly discussing about intimate acts. He will soon start to know this new world of honour and duty and a world where personal relationships are not that secret after all.

Again, this was happening in the 1600s. Can you even imagine how far has Japan gone since then? Believe me, it’s still light years ahead of us all, and you’ll hopefully agree with me after your trip there.

India: The Discovery of India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Read by Sundeep and Bedabrata from Delhi Fun Dos

Books about wanderlust - Taj Mahal India

As per carbon dating, it’s said that Indian civilization goes back to at least 2500 BCE. Being one of earliest civilizations of the world, India is still an enigma to even us who have lived most of our life in this country. As Indian travel bloggers we have been to many places in India but every time we see a very different India where language, food, art and culture change every few kilometres. What keeps us, the largest democracy together?

One of the books that provides an answer is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India. Nehru wrote the book in English during 1942-1944, while in jail for anti-British activities during India’s freedom struggle. It gives an insight into the philosophy that establishes India as a sovereign identity with a common value system. Ten chapters start from ancient Harappan civilization, Vedas, Upanishad, epics Ramayan and Mahabharat and end at the last phase of British rule in 1900s. In his inimitable literary style, Nehru uses a storytelling narrative that would captivate young and old. At places, we feel as if it is a picture drawn with words.

The book was first published in the year 1946. Some theories like the Aryan Invasion have since been challenged, but that has not changed the relevance and appeal of this fascinating tale.

Nehru went on to become the first prime minister of India. His The Discovery of India is a classic that takes the reader on an enjoyable journey through the inroads of culture and history of India.

Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje 

Read by Zinara from Nat N Zin

Books about wanderlust - Nine Arches Bridge Ella Sri Lanka

Running in the Family is one of my favourite books written about my home country, Sri Lanka.

This book, a semi-autobiography and travel memoir of Ondaatje, illustrates the postcolonial island life, from the sophisticated life the aristocrats lived in Nuwara Eliya (a mountain town in the country) to vivid memories of the tropical jungles.

Ondaatje, like me, was born in Sri Lanka. He later relocates to Canada and returns to Sri Lanka as an adult. He decides to write Running in the Family upon his return.

This book deals with the modern, evolving Sri Lanka and the country lost in its history. It’s not one story, but a collection of anecdotes, poems, maps, and letters.

If you visit Sri Lanka, it’s a must-read because this book highlights how the island nation evolved after British colonisers left Sri Lanka in 1948. It brings glimpses into the vibrant culture, family traditions, food, and of course, the rural life of the countryside.

One thing I absolutely love about this book is that there’s so much history. He brings bits and pieces from history books, narrations, and pieces of old literature to retell the stories of the island that once lived. In Running in the Family, Sri Lanka’s history is recollected and retold in a humorous, heartfelt manner.

Related: The ultimate 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary

Thailand: The Beach by Alex Garland

Read by James from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Maya Bay Thailand

Is there any more famous book about Thailand than Garland’s The Beach? The novel, which was actually inspired by Palawan in the Philippines, is a story for the ages, outlining the quest of a British backpacker, Richard, to find a legendary enclave on an idyllic island, set in Maya Bay near Koh Phi Phi.

After finding a secret map of the retreat from a dubious Scotsman named Daffy, Richard sets off to find the famed getaway and what is ensues is a journey dubbed “a Lord of the Flies for Generation X”.

It’s an epic tale which has some interesting turns of event while, regardless of its outcome, has tempted thousands of travellers into making their way to Thailand, in search of their own ‘beach’ experience.

Made even more famous by the blockbuster film featuring Leonardo di Caprio, The Beach is the novel that made a thousand nomads; one of the best books about backpacking and for sketching visions of tantalising Thailand.

Recommended: Our perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary


England: Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Read by Alysa from Voyaging Herbivore

Books about wanderlust - Stonehenge England

Picture this: a middle-aged man in the 90s trekking across the UK. Sounds kind of boring, right?

Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island is anything but yawn-inducing. This laugh-out-loud tale is easily one of the best things to read that everyone with a bit of wanderlust and a love for comedy needs to try.

Bryson narrates his way across England, mocking the unique names of English towns from an American perspective. As he makes his way via train, car, and often walking, the reader is invited into what feel like hidden parts of the United Kingdom that have been unexplored by all but locals for years. Bryson doesn’t take himself too seriously and invites the reader not to either.

Bryson’s writing is something unique to anything else out there. The story itself is nothing particularly unique, but as the author explores everything from well-known cities to the Lake District and unheard of North Yorkshire towns in an era before smartphones and Kindles, the book will have you grinning ear to ear.

I read this book while on lockdown in England, and it was just what the doctor ordered. A healthy dose of humor and a reminder not to take life too seriously is something we can all use a little of! If you’re missing England (or want a taste before you visit), this book perfectly encapsulates the country with a healthy dose of dry British humor.

Spain: All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo

Read by Sam from Alternative Travelers

Books about wanderlust - Camino de Santiago Spain

All This I Will Give to You is a great modern novel about Spain in which the country, specifically the misty region of Galicia, plays an integral part in the story.

The main character of the novel feels as out of place as any new traveler to Galicia, even though he’s Spanish himself. Born and raised in Madrid, he travels up to Galicia following the tragic death of his husband. He’s a fish out of water in an unfamiliar part of the country, and soon finds himself embroiled in aristocratic family secrets, trying to uncover the truth behind who his husband really was. The novel is very meditative and thoughtful, yet at the same time gripping and at times thrilling, with surprises coming when you least expect it.

All This I Will Give This to You is such a fantastic read because it introduces the reader to an often-overlooked part of Spain. When thinking of Spain, typically we think of sun-drenched scenes of flamenco dancing, which is more typical of the south. But with its lush, green, rolling hills, Celtic heritage, and rainy weather, a visitor dropped from the sky into Galicia might very well think that they were in Ireland! All in all, this is a great novel for readers who want to learn about a different part of Spain from that typically showcased abroad.

France: A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

Read by Pauline from Bee Loved City

Books about Wanderlust - Paris France

A Year in the Merde is undoubtedly one of the best books that was ever written about France.

It tells us the story of Paul West, an English man who goes to France to work for a year. As he arrives in Paris, he discovers every aspect of French culture very quickly. Working somewhere offers a very different experience to going there on a holiday and Paul gets to figure that out very quickly.

He bumps into every French stereotype you can think of: beautiful Parisian ladies, a cocky French boss, French administration… everything is there!

This book was written by Stephen Clarke who is particularly famous for writing a lot of books about the French.

A Year in the Merde is the perfect mix between accuracy and comedy. As a French person, I can testify to how accurate the things he says are and I loved it! It’s so interesting to discover the way a British man sees us.

Of course, it’s also very sarcastic. But if there is one thing about this book that needs to be highlighted, it’s love. As much as he is making fun of the French, you can feel the love for France and its people. It’s not just a funny book, deep down it’s a declaration of love.

Middle East

Turkey: Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin

Read by James from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Istanbul Turkey

There aren’t many stories told about the role of Turkey within World War II and this historical novel, which is also a compelling love story, is one of the best.

Last Train to Istanbul is a bestselling work by a famous Turkish novelist, Ayşe Kulin. Opening it’s scenes in Istanbul, the book focusses on two sisters, Selva and Sabiha, with all the usual trimmings of sibling rivalry, a bit of jealousy and then their love interests, as Selva marries a Jewish man and moves to Paris.

The story moves focus, covering the rescue attempt of Turkish Jews from France back on ‘the last train to Istanbul’ and is a beautiful, moving read. While the English translation can be a little clunky at times, what I loved about this book was that it almost reads like a collection of short stories, each one richly told.

If you haven’t ever considered going to Turkey, this is a definitely book to read before travelling there, for the vibrant descriptions of Istanbul and the cultural influences dotted throughout the chapters. One of the best books about Turkey, and a fabulous read for anyone who loves World War II literature.

UAE: The Doomed Oasis by Hammond Innes

Read by Paula from La Vie En Marine

Books about wanderlust - Oman UAE

There is something captivating and overwhelming about deserts – the desolation, the solitude and the splendour. And it’s with this in mind that Hammond Innes, the author of this book, wrote an entire novel dedicated to its beauty.

The Doomed Oasis tells the story of a young man that must face the fact that he isn’t the son of the man he took as his father for his whole life. Due to unfortunate events he has to leave Wales and, with the help of a helpful solicitor, he sets off to look for his father who lives in Arabia. While looking for him he gets caught up in the fight for survival of a small oasis.

The whole story takes place in the 1950’s between Oman and the United Arab Emirates and picks up crucial topics like the fight for fresh water and fountains or the right to drill for oil.

Reading this while you are visiting (or just before) the Middle East will make you see your trip with different eyes; a dreamy perspective of the desert you will never forget.

Read next: The best books about Jordan to satisfy your wanderlust


Australia: Tales from a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Read by Lee from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Australia

It might be the second Bryson book on this list, but for absolutely good reason – his Tales from a Sunburned Country is one of the best travel memories from the country ‘down under’ and a must-read book for travelling to Australia.

This travelogue book, also known as Down Under in Britain, is one of the most loved collections of impressions about Australia, of course told with Bryson’s very dry wit and prose.

Bryson veritably skips across vast swathes of Australia, chortling at the sheer number of dangerous animals (sharks, snakes, spiders and the like), the weather and the friendly people, who he absolutely adores and paints in the most glowing of terms.

As soon as he says anything negative like, “Australia is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents,”, he’ll follow that with a ringing endorsement of the many beautiful cities, the exquisite landscapes and the icy cool beer.

One of the best armchair travel books by one of the funniest writers on the planet, anyone even attempting a trip to Oz without reading Tales from a Sunburned Country should immediately reconsider and purchase it immediately!


Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

Read by James from The Travel Scribes

Books about wanderlust - Backpacker

When looking for books about vagabonds or nomads, this is often one of the most often-touted works that other backpackers recommend. Why? Because although it’s a slightly dense (and oftentimes obvious) read, Vagabonding is a book that defined a new normal for travellers: the art of taking off time from your normal life to discover the world.

Before Potts’ book in 2002, the idea of financing full-time travel wasn’t really often discussed and life ‘on the road’ wasn’t well documented. That’s why this non-fiction book about travel really took off and became a well-thumbed ‘bible’ for backpackers looking to travel longer term.

It’s jam-packed full of resources, advice and sometimes slightly annoying motivational quotes but, on the whole, offers a great reference for anyone wanting to give up the 9 to 5, even for a few weeks on the road.

The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big and Small by Kath Stathers

Books about wanderlust - Patagonia Argentina Chile

There’s nothing like exquisite imagery to transport you to a foreign land. And so we had to add a coffee table book to this list of the best books for travelling, even if it’s just for some travel eye candy to inspire your next jaunt.

One of the firm favourites (in what could be its own article just on great travel coffee table books), has to be The Bucket List, curated by editor Kath Stathers.

Presented in a slightly curious format, organized by latitude (north to south), this is a book with 1000 short stories or travel tips for faraway places and exotic locations and experiences you should add to your travel bucket list.

With jaw dropping photos of everywhere from Argentina to Australia, this book is great for those looking for an adventure – everything from searching for polar bears and penguins to bungee-jumping, climbing volcanoes and running with the bulls.

A feast for the eyes, try and get your hands on a copy of this book to spark your wanderlust.

Did you love our journey through the world’s literature, and feel like you went traveling through books? Let us know what you thought about our selection of books about wanderlust in the comments below, or get in touch here!

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Looking to get inspired from the comfort of your armchair? We've got a definitive list of the best books to inspire your wanderlust, from across the globe!


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  1. Kirsten
    12th May 2020 / 12:34 am

    Love love love this list! My Goodreads “Want to Read” list just got longer.

    Lovely being a part of this! Thanks for the opportunity!

    • James & Lee
      12th May 2020 / 8:41 am

      Thanks for being part of this Kirsten! Definitely have a few new travel books now added to our must read lists.

  2. Nikita
    3rd June 2020 / 12:32 am

    Thank you for the recommendations!