Looking for the best books to read while traveling? You came to the right place. We asked frequent travelers which books inspired wanderlust when they traveled. Their answers are interesting and intriguing.
If you love to read while you travel, as I do, you’ll appreciate these literary traveling companions. Some are fiction books about travel, some are travel guides offering valuable travel tips and advice, but all are good books to read while traveling. There’s something here for everyone.
I always regretted I couldn’t read at inconvenient times like driving (obviously), exercising, cleaning the house or falling asleep in the dark. Enter audible.com to the rescue! I banish boredom by listening to a good book.
I used to think that I wouldn’t appreciate listening to a book as much as actually reading. That I would miss the feel of a book in my hands. That I would somehow be betraying a precious, lifelong friend…a book. Actually the opposite happened. I started listening to books on audible.com and never looked back. I also saved a ton of money because books don’t cost as much as the real thing.
I recommend audible.com and for a limited time – actually until December 31, 2020- they are offering a free membership AND 2 free eBooks of your choice. They know if you try them you will be hooked as I am. Use this link and tell me if I’m not right.
8 of the Best Books to Read While Traveling
Blood of Brothers. I love reading about the history of a place while I am travelling in it and this book is the best I’ve come across. Written by the bureau chief for The New York Times during the Sandinista revolution, this book recounts in vivid detail the history and aftermath of the Sandinista uprising and the CIA-backed Contra insurgency.
I read it while traveling Nicaragua and it really gave me a much richer appreciation for the complex social tapestry that is Central American politics (not to mention the role that my own country played in the region). The history is so unbelievable that in places it reads more like a novel than non-fiction.
My pick to add to this list of the best books to read while traveling is Ali and Nino. When I was a teenager in high school, I used to stop at a candy store that also sold paperbacks on my way to and from school. One day I found a book called Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. It was a Romeo and Juliet themed love story about a Muslim boy and a Christian girl. The story took place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. What impressed me the most about the book was the description of Baku which made me feel like I was inhaling the aromas of the roasting meats I was reading about, and feeling the sun on my face in the plazas the author described. I fell in love with the place and determined to see it someday.
Years later I became a fan of Paul Theroux’s travel writing. His books on train travel fascinated me; The Great Railway Bazaar, Riding The Iron Rooster, The Old Patagonian Express and his most recent, Dark Star Safari.
Reading a small bio on Theroux I learned about one of his favorite books, Ali and Nino. He said this book made him fall in love with Baku, Azerbaijan and influenced his life-long passion for travel. I was amazed, delighted and intrigued that someone like Paul Theroux had the identical reaction to the same book as I did!…and around the same tie too. It’s worth a read. Maybe you too will develop a passion for travel and fall in love with Baku. I still occasionally take this book with me on trips as I find it is one of the best books to read while traveling.
A History of the World in 500 Walks. I enjoyed reading it because it gives the reader so many great ideas of places to visit! My family and I enjoy hiking and this book has inspired me to learn about the history and culture of a destination by walking and hiking! Also includes great maps and important information to consider on each hike.
Credit: Jacki Dyrholm
For this entry, two readers chose the same book, The 4-Hour Work Week, as their favorite travel book.
The 4-Hour Work Week. Tim Ferriss is my ultimate life guru and in this book, he teaches all about designing your ideal life. Ferriss teaches how to work less and travel more, including real-world templates and case studies. It’s all about creating an income machine that creates passive income for you so that you can take sabbaticals around the world!
Kaila Yu’s blog is Kaila Yu.
Check it out here.
This book is definitely one that made me realize just how attainable long-term travel can be. It was a big catalyst in making travel a bigger priority in my life.
Danielle Isbell’s blog is Snaps, Scribbles, and Suitcases.
The Backpacker by John Harris. John’s adventure takes you through some of the most interesting countries the world has to offer and leaves you hungry for more. The book is a whirlwind of emotions and leaves you feeling the way any good travel book should – like you’re itching to pick up your passport.
Check it out here.
Sheree Hooker’s blog is Winging the World.
American Shaolin. This is a hilarious account of a guy who went to live at Shaolin Temple in the early nineties and the adventures he had learning Kung Fu and living in a China that was just opening up to the outside world.
Will William’s blog is Monkey Steals Peach.
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. I love traveling by trains; as the author quotes “…I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I were on it”. His odd experiences and acquaintances reminded me of some of my own that I will never forget. This travel book really made me travel.
Check it out here.
Gina Theodoropoulou’s blog is Traveling Soul.
How To Travel the World on $50 a Day written by Matt Kepnes from “Nomadic Matt.” This is the first book I read before I went on a 6-month backpacking trip around the world. This book made me believe it was possible to live my dream of seeing the world without spending a lot of money if I followed some of his money-saving tips before I left and while on the road.
Check it out here.
I recommend this book to any traveler but especially the first time traveler who is unsure how they will be able to fund their own adventure.
These books are great to read while traveling by plane, ship, train or car. But if you go by car, make sure the vehicle is in prime road trip condition.
Do you have a book to add to this list of the best books to read while traveling? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this post, you may also like my interview with travel expert, Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. You should also check out Best travel apps for worldwide travel.
BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:
- Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options.
- For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
- You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
- Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
- If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here are get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
- Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
- Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
- For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
- Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.
I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.