Whether you are planning your next vacation or an epic backpacking trip around the world, this is a list of 25 books that are sure to induce wanderlust. They are the best books to read while traveling to inspire you to want to travel more and have more epic adventures. From backpacking books to children classics this list is the ultimate reading list from travelers.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There are very few tales in the world as universally loved and cherished by people of all ages like this one. And in Richard Howard’s translation, he has done a wonderful job of showcasing the author’s unique writing style. It’s a perfect companion on a long journey that will transport you to the Sahara Desert, and introduce you to the prince of a planet where he is the only human inhabitant. It’s a children’s book but still just as relevant for grownups.
The Beach by Alex Garland
This is an irresistible novel about a man named Richard who receives a map that has been meticulously illustrated and that leads to “the Beach.” As Richard soon learns, this Beach is a well-known legend among young Asian travelers. According to rumors, very few people have been chosen to find and settle into this communal Eden. This is a hallucinogenic and spellbinding tale that’s perfect for those who love to travel. If you like the film, then you will love the book! It’s a must read for anyone traveling to Thailand.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s extraordinary tale caught the attention of travelers all over the world with its wonderful combination of wisdom, mysticism, and magic. It is a story of self-discovery that will inspire people of all ages. The Alchemist is a modern classic that has transformed the lives of countless people across the globe. There is a reason this is one of the most loved books for travelers. Of all of the backpacking books on this list, this is probably the most universally loved, reading it is a rite of passage for all travelers.
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This contains an entire volume of Douglas Adams’s classic novels from his well-loved Hitchhiker series. If you love stories about time and space (what traveler doesn’t), this is an excellent option as it includes the following titles:
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
- Life, the Universe, and Everything
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
- Mostly Harmless
- and a bonus story entitled, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is another inspiring tale that touched the lives of countless people all over the world. It’s the perfect book for those who wish to travel to find the best version of themselves. This book is so iconic that it was even made into a movie. But as any avid reader knows, there’s nothing like reading a book to experience the tale completely.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
This is a pretty iconic true story about Christopher McCandless who hitchhiked all the way to Alaska, then took a solitary journey into the wilderness. After letting go of all his worldly possessions, Christopher created a new life for himself, in the wild. Sadly the story doesn’t end well but the book is beautifully written, poignant, and unforgettable.
How to Travel without Seeing: by Andrés Neuman
This book offers a fast-paced, kaleidoscopic tour of Latin America, as the author, Andrés Neuman, wrote it while on the move. As Neuman traveled through nineteen different countries, he started to realize that traveling mostly consists of “not seeing,” hence the title. This book is poetic, puckish, and it brims with curiosity. It’s the perfect written piece to read if you want to experience travels through reading before you actually take a trip. It’s must-read travel book for anyone traveling in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World by Anne Mustoe
When Anne Mustoe, an ex-mistress, quit her job and took a solitary bike ride, she didn’t even have the ability to mend punctures. Fifteen months and twelve-thousand miles later, Anne was back at home. She had taken an epic journey around the world, facing different people and challenges along the way… and she told her incredible story through this inspiring travelogue. If you are a solo female about to embark on your own adventure, read this book! You won’t regreat it.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
This is one of the most life-changing backpacking books out there. As described by Rolf Potts, one incredible, long-term trip has the potential to change your life for the better. This book will help you learn how to think and how to travel no matter where you plan to go. By nature, vagabonding means taking time off from your normal routine, and there is no better book to learn more about the art of vagabonding that this one. It’s a must-read for any backpacker.
Tracks by Robyn Davidson
In this book, Robyn Davidson shares the tale of her perilous journey across the hostile desert of Australia and into the sea accompanied by only a dog and four camels. According to Davidson, there was a point where she experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach because she knew that she had convinced herself into doing something extremely difficult and there was no way to go back. Still, she survived the journey and shared her compelling story of transformation and self-discovery. Another must-read backpacking book for any women needing some inspiration before your own solo adventure.
True Spirit by Jessica Watson
This is a story about Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old who triumphantly sailed her 33-foot boat for over 22,000 nautical miles at sea for a total of 210 days. After this life-changing journey, Jessica was the youngest person to sail on her own around the world, unassisted and without making any stops. In this epic book, Jessica shared her incredible story.
One River by Wade Davis
This is an epic story of scientific explorers from South Africa coming from two generations. Professor Richard Evan Schultes embarked on an adventure with Wade Davis, his protégé, to explore natural history. After taking a leave from Harvard, Schultes went into the Amazon, where he spent 12 years living among the natives while mapping uncharted rivers. This is a story of destruction, betrayal, discovery, and adventure that will surely keep you at the edge of your seat. If you are planning on going anywhere in the Amazon (Peru, Colombia, or Brazil) then you have to read this first it’s one of the best non-fiction adventure books on the market.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
According to The New York Times, this book is deeply poetic and passionately felt, and I’d have to agree! It is an inspiring autobiographical book about the life of Edward Abbey in the wilderness. Abbey’s descriptions of the desert really bring it to life thanks to his unique position as a conservationist and park ranger. He talks about his unique conflicts and adventures in detail, presenting it as a collection of stories and a philosophical memoir.
One Year Lived by Adam Shepard
When Adam Shepard was 29-years-old, he took a trip to seventeen different countries on four continents, spending less than $20,000. Through this journey, he was able to experience some incredible adventures. This journey also showed him how different life is in different countries compared to life in the US. This is a story about different cultures, places, and the development of identity.
First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
This story comes from a survivor of the Cambodian genocide under the Pol Pot’s regime. It’s a compelling and gut-wrenching narrative describing desperate actions, war crimes, the astounding strength of Loung Ung and her family, and how they triumphed over everything. Ung shares a powerful story of survival as she had to endure unspeakable brutality growing up. If you are traveling to Cambodia and want to expand your knowledge of Cambodian history, read this.
Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts
This is a breathtaking first novel by David Roberts set in modern-day Bombay’s underworld. The story is narrated by an escaped convict named Lin who was able to escape from a maximum-security prison using a false passport. He headed to the teeming underworld of Bombay in hopes of disappearing amidst the society of gangsters, beggars, holy men, prostitutes, and other exiled individuals. It is a compelling story told using a unique perspective you should read if traveling to India.
Spark your Dream by Herman Zapp
This is one of the best books to read while traveling for inspiration when you’re preparing to travel. It is a true story that presents the challenges so many face when they start chasing their dream—and, of course, how to overcome them. Through this book, you will experience the risk along with the passion, frustration, success, and a sense of freedom that comes with the fulfillment of any dream.
Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
This is a bittersweet story that’s raw, unforgettable, vibrant, and filled with hope. It’s so powerful that those who have read it describe the story as poetic. This story by Janice Lynn Mather is all about resilience, healing, and the struggles of Indira Ferguson, a 16-year-old girl who struggles to hide her pregnancy while trying to deal with her life. It’s an excellent choice for a thought-provoking piece that deals with difficult topics.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This is another book made famous thanks to the film. But trust me, the book is better. For those who don’t already know the plot, when Cheryl reached the age of twenty-two, she thought that she lost everything. Her mother died, her marriage ended, and her family was scattered. Since she felt like she has nothing more to lose, she made an impulsive choice to hike all by herself on a quest over one thousand miles long. This story sparkles with humor and warmth while still having style and suspense. It’s all about a journey that healed a broken woman and made her stronger.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This legendary novel follows the story of a pair of friends who travel across the country on a quest to find true meaning and experiences. It is told with a blend of wild ambitions and just enough naiveté to keep you intrigued. Here, you will feel the author’s love for America, how compassionate he feels about humanity, and a vision for hope and freedom.
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
This is the vibrant travel diary of the young Ernesto Che Guevara and it’s wildly entertaining. The new edition of The Motorcycle Diaries features unpublished photos taken by Guevara when he was 23 years old, traveling across the continent. He tells his story in a spontaneous way, and whether you’re a fan of Guevara or not, you’re sure to fall in love with him after reading about his travels.
The Answer Is YOU by Joseph P. Kauffman
Throughout our lives, we are always searching for answers—to happiness, health, love, life, freedom, and success. While most people search for the answers outside of themselves, the answers can actually be found within. No matter who you are or where you came from, the answers lie within yourself. And you can learn more in this inspiring and enlightening book. It’s a great book for travelers to read on their journey and really helps to put things into perspective.
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
In this book, Paul Theroux is endearing, observant, and witty as he takes you across Africa by different means of transportation. This is another epic tale and enlightening adventure filled with dismay, dangers, and delays. Theroux describes his interactions with the people in Africa, the beauty of the country, and a series of dramatic events that will unfold right before your eyes.
The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy
If you’re looking for a soulful book to read, this is the one to choose. It’s elegant, vibrant, and it shines with intelligence. Here, Andrew McCarthy will take you on his own personal journey among some of the most evocative locales in the world. As McCarthy embarked on a journey to self-discovery, he bared his soul in the pages of this book making for a wonderfully intimate memoir.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
This is a coming-of-age story told with complex enchantment. While surfing is nothing but a sport to most people, it is a way of life to William Finnegan. For surfing was a beautiful addiction, something he learned to do as a child. In this book, Finnegan shares the adventures he experienced throughout his life while surfing through the most challenging waves.
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.