The Best Travel Books for Globetrotters to Get this Christmas

The Best Travel Books for Globetrotters to Get this Christmas

This post contains affiliate links. Before I started travelling the world full-time, I escaped to foreign worlds with books. They were not necessarily all travel books but I quickly became addicted to a recurrent theme of crossing borders and diving deep into new cultures. Does it surprise anyone that my final thesis in the subject of literature was all about crossing oceans, the feeling of displacement and finding a home wherever you go? A classic foreshadowing case for me.

So no matter if you have been hopelessly bitten by the travel bug (there’s no known remedy except giving in to it altogether), need a little travel inspiration or just want a good book, here are my personally selected books I love and recommend. If you have some of your own to add or want to chime in on book praises, the comment section is all yours! (I would love to hear your thoughts.)

The Best Travel Books for Globetrotters to Get this Christmas

The Snarky Anthropologists

A big chunk of my heart I left behind in England and before I travelled the world, I constantly travelled to the Isle. Therefore, I also read quite a lot of British literature – both by British authors as well as about Britain. A remarkable and timeless piece that observes and hilariously comments on British culture and its many manifestations (always see pubs as its own strange microcosm, for instance) is Kate Fox’s Watching the English. If you need more input on British quirks and places to be equally amazed and puzzled by, are Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island and The Road to Little Dribbling.

In fact, any of Bill Bryson’s travel books (or any of his books) are worth a read. I cannot stress enough of I am seriously struggling not to burst out in laughter every single time. His piece on Australia, called simply Down Under, still rung in my head as I travelled the country. I remembered the time a couple drowned over the Great Barrier Reef when I nearly met the same fate. I rejoiced over beholding the breathing rocks that Mr Bryson was so fond of. (Clearly everybody else in my tour group was not fazed at all by them.) In short, if you want to get a certain sense of awe (and fright) from travelling Australia served with a hefty dose of humour, check it out!

Places to discover - Europe

The Travel Bloggers

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recently published my very first travel stories on my adventures in Australia and New Zealand (also available in German!). But of course, other bloggers have their own pieces as well. A read I enjoyed tremendously was Gloria’s From Excuses to Excursions. It is basically a walkthrough guide to her kick-ass attitude and how to take on globetrotting yourself.

If you need more disaster stories after reading my book, check out How Not To Travel The World by Lauren Juliff. She has had some pretty bad luck throughout her travels but has quite the stories to tell! I love how she always gets back on her feet and still remains so passionate about travel. Another travel blogger read is Kristin Addis’s A Thousand New Beginnings on her travels throughout Asia.

Places to discover through travel books - South and Central America

The Magical Fiction

Remember my literary thesis? A big part of it was about the enchanting novel Away by Jane Urquhart. It is an intergenerational love story to the power of water, the love for life and takes place in Ireland and Canada. For those more interested in the Amazon, have a look into State of Wonder to feel as if you’ve joined a mysterious jungle expedition with some unexpected twists.

Do I even need to talk about Harry Potter’s last book, the Deathly Hallows? It is about travel as well. (Is this too far a stretch? I just HAD to please my inner fangirl). Keeping with magical powers, have you read the Midnight Circus? It’s about a travelling circus that is utterly bewitched and fascinating. It might not actually be a travel book, but it does take you to another world.

Places to discover through travel books - Asia

The Autobiography

Sometimes life writes the most dazzling and befuddling travel stories! A story that especially captivated me was Robyn Davidson’s Tracks. As a young girl, she was determined to cross Australia’s deadly stretch of desert with camels. It seemed ludicrous to most people but she succeeded and went on many more adventures afterwards. Truly inspiring!

A piece on how travel can save you from falling off the tracks and getting your life together again is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Most people know the film with Reese Witherspoon (which was awesome), but you could try the travel book if you haven’t seen it yet (just like with Tracks).

Places to discover through travel books - England

The Classical Pieces

Since I’ve studied British and American literature, I cannot possibly write a post on travel literature for book worms without diving straight into the classical and world renowned writers. Here’s a quick shout out to Homer’s Odyssey (try it in Latin!) or – if you’re feeling meta – Joyce’s Ulysses. Ernest Hemingway is a good bet as well.

Students of British literature and lovers of travel books, listen up. Shakespeare might be a good idea to check out again if you want to enter a heated debate on if Shakespere was Shakespeare and how he knew (or made up) all these details about Italian places. Try Merchant of Venice and Much Ado about Nothing. One of my favourite novels about culture clash and relocation is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It could be described as a Pride&Prejudice during England’s Industrialization, but it’s so much more than that!

Places to discover through travel books - the USA

The Travel Journalists

Of course I won’t forget American literature gems. What about Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn or The Innocents Abroad? For the adventurous, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road will delight as well as Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.

If you need a bit of a wakeup call in case you want to be an explorer yourself, read Krakauer’s Into the Wild, which is based on a true story. (The film is great, too!) However, there are not only travel books on road adventures with the young and curious. Not exactly a true story, but still, Graham Swift’s Last Orders is a quirky and award-winning novel on crossing the country to fulfill a last will, which is to travel the sea eternally.

Which travel books do you love or would love to read? Let’s exchange some book and travel inspiration!

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It had to happen, after ditching the 9-5 for a prolonged break, Annemarie's wokaholic tendencies led her to start a daily blog about her adventures. Realising how much travel has helped rebuild her confidence and and general #GirlBoss-iness, Travel on the Brain released a book about her adventures in Down Under and New Zealand and creates quirky video series focusing on story telling in destinations around the globe.
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    • chrysoula
    • 06/12/2016

    My passions are books and travelling. I love your recommendations!

    1. Reply

      Hey Chris, so glad we share the same passions. I hope you will find a good read among my suggestions. Have a great day!

  1. Reply

    Whoa! That’s a wonderful list. I just ordered Pico Iyer’s travel books, ‘Falling Off the map’ and ‘Video Nights In Kathmandu’ I am going to order the books mentioned by you the next time.

    1. Reply

      Hi Abhinav, I haven’t heard of these books before, thanks for mentioning them. Have to check them out now. Let me know how you liked the books when you’ve read some of my suggestions. :)

  2. Reply

    Bill Bryson is hilarious. When I was at university I shared a house with a guy who had an amazing belly laugh. The walls were paper thin in that house and I always remember him laughing so loud reading Bill Bryson. HIs observations are spot on. I’m an Aussie :) I love A Room with a View and Jane Austen and I am sure reading those books spurred my travels to the UK. Great list, thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply

      Hi Katy, he absolutely is! That’s quite a nice memory. I got acquainted with Bill Bryson’s books through university as well. We had to read one of his books for a course and I remember not wanting to buy it. Now I have several of his books.^^
      A Room with a View is also great. Totally forgot about that.

    2. Reply

      I too am a huge Bill Bryson fan! Do you still know this guy? Perhaps he can do the audio book for the next Bryson book. :)

      The only other travel-related book that’s made me laugh as much as anything by Bryson was ‘Wayward: Fetching Tales from a Year on the Road’ by Tom Gates.

      Thanks for sharing this, Annemarie–I love adding new books to my to-read list! :)

      1. Reply

        Hi Andrew! Yay, another Bill Bryson fan. He’s the best. I don’t listen to audio books, so I don’t really know anything about that. I once watched a speech by him on youtube but wasn’t very impressed by the way he delivered it, so maybe it’s for the better if a professional voice actor does the job?^^

        I have to look into wayward, thanks for the tip! I think one can’t read enough books.

  3. Reply

    Also a big Bill Bryson fan here (I’m going through I’m A Stranger Here Myself at the moment)! And I absolutely loved Wild, haven’t seen the movie yet though..

    1. Reply

      Hi Maria, that book is hilarious! I still occasionally refer to parts of this book in the most random moments. The movie Wild is also really good. It’s definitely worth a watch if you get the chance.

  4. Reply

    Great suggestions, I’ll have to add some to my list! I would definitely recommend The Alchemist. It is such a beautiful story of inspiring those to go after their dreams. It follows a wandering sheep herder protagonist and really inspires the traveling spirits.


    1. Reply

      Hi Rah! Thanks for your addition, that is a great story indeed!

  5. Reply

    Love the The Autobiography choices. I have watched the movies, but I would love to read the books. I am going to bookmark this so I can come back to have some travel book ideas to choose from!

    1. Reply

      Hi Chasa! This makes me happy that you liked the films; I did too! They were very well done. Let me know how you enjoyed the books if you get to read them. Feel free to pin the post for later use, too. Happy Christmas time!

    • Sab
    • 10/12/2016

    I gotta start reading again! Thanks for this list, I pinned it too!

    1. Reply

      Hey Sab, I know the feeling. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to since I started blogging. There’s always so much to do and write that I feel like not having enough time.

  6. Reply

    This is a very classy selection. I would love to read ‘Away’, and “State of Wonder”. Of course, it is always a great experience to read and re-read Shakespeare and Hemmingway too.

    1. Reply

      Hi Sandy, thanks for your compliment. Away is a beautiful book with wonderful characters, altough a little sad. What’s your fave Shakespeare play?

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