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15 inspiring travel books that will take you around the world

Aside from actually boarding a plane or train, there is no act more transportive than reading a book. With a bit of imagination, you can be on your own journey in a couple of minutes, all from the comfort of home. From the remote islands of the South Pacific to the mountains of Bhutan, these 15 inspiring travel books will take you on a literary trip around the world.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has written some of the most loved travel books on the market, and “In a Sunburned Country” is no exception. This book tells the story of Bryson’s hilarious adventures across Australia. And although it’s home to more things that can kill you than anywhere else, Bryson loves the place. He’ll take you on a journey far beyond the typical tourist path, where you’ll explore lesser-known corners of this giant island-country. With Bryson’s humour and captivating descriptions, this inspiring travel tale will make you fall in love with Australia.

book resting on a woman's lap while she's holding a cup of tea

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

This story chronicles the travels of writer Mark Adams as he follows in the footsteps of archaeologist Hiram Bingham III, the man who reportedly discovered Machu Picchu. Adams sets out to recreate the original expedition, despite never having slept in a tent before. This warm-hearted journey will guide you through some of the world’s most stunning and remote landscapes while explaining the history of the legendary area.

Beyond the Sky and The Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

At age 24, Jamie Zeppa leaves North America for the first time and moves to a Himalayan village in Bhutan to teach English. This memoir details Zappa’s experiences and transformations as she overcomes many personal challenges while living in Bhutan for three years. Beautifully written, Zeppa’s passionate descriptions of Bhutan’s landscape and culture will quickly transport you to this unique country.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“The Alchemist” is one of the most-read books in recent history, and with good reason. It tells the mythical story of a young shepherd boy, Santiago, who follows his heart from Spain to Egypt. He sets off on a quest to find treasures, but throughout the journey, he learns valuable life lessons that help him find himself instead. Filled with beautiful quotes, this inspiring story will move you to forge your own path in life, and remind you to always reach for your dreams.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After experiencing the loss of her mother and a failed marriage, Cheryl Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Coast Trail by herself with no hiking experience whatsoever. The journey takes her from the Mojave Desert through California, Oregon, and Washington state, helping her to heal in the process. “Wild” is a compelling memoir that will show you how to believe in yourself again, and, if you are or have ever been a solo female traveller, there’s a good chance you will relate to a number of the author’s struggles throughout her journey. 

solo trekker looking out at the water after a long hike

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris

This travel book follows the journey of Canadian author Kate Harris. Inspired by explorers like Marco Polo, Harris leaves her life of academia to spend a year cycling the silk road with her best friend. Cruising through some of the most remote areas on earth, this book gives readers an intimate look into life in countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Harris chronicles the journey with deep reflections that will leave you will feeling hopeful for the future of humankind.

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin America Journey by Che Guevara

This is the story of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s eight-month motorcycle trip across South America. A powerful memoir that traces the early life of the young revolutionary, Che was a medical student when he decided to embark on a journey that would teach him about poverty, politics, philosophy, and about himself. A gripping narrative full of good quotes, it may even inspire your next adventure.

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

“In Patagonia” is the story of Bruce Chatwin’s six-month journey across Patagonia to the world’s most southern city, Ushuaia. Chatwin gathers stories from the people he encounters along the way, painting a captivating picture of what life is like in this hostile yet beautiful environment. If you’ve wanted to visit Patagonia, definitely add this to your reading list.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

Writer and NPR Correspondent Eric Weiner sets out on a yearlong journey to find out what makes people happy and why. He heads to countries all over the world, including Iceland, Qatar, Denmark, India, and Bhutan — all of which measure Gross National Happiness. “The Geography of Bliss” is a mix of travel stories, psychology, history, and humour that takes readers around the world while searching for the secret to happiness.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

“Love With a Chance of Drowning” is the story of how author Torre DeRoche found herself sailing across the Pacific — with a man she had just met — even though she had a terrible fear of the ocean. This cheerful memoir will take you across the Pacific Ocean via a string of remote islands with vivid descriptions of the scenery and people along the way. It’s a fun and inspiring read that proves anyone can face their fears, take big risks, and, hopefully, reap great rewards.

bird's eye view of tropical coast line and luscious green mountains

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

A bible for solo female travellers, this inspiring story follows Elizabeth Gilbert as she leaves a comfortable life (and marriage) that is no longer serving her and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. She eats her way through Italy, practices meditation in India, and falls in love in Indonesia. “Eat Pray Love” will not only inspire you to travel, but also to uncover your own path to becoming the best version of yourself.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

“Into Thin Air” is the story of Jon Krakauer’s personal experience in the 1996 Mount Everest tragedy, in which eight climbers were killed and a storm stranded several others. You’ll be gripping the edge of your seat as Krakauer provides a detailed description of the people and events he witnessed on his disastrous descent, as well the intense range of emotions experienced by those who choose to climb.

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau is on a personal quest to visit every country in the world by age 35. And throughout his journey, he realizes just how many people in the world are pursuing a challenging crusade that is important to them. Sharing the stories of the people he meets along the way — such as a teenager who sails across an ocean alone — Gullibeau reveals how anyone can bring meaning to their life by fulfilling a personal journey.

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux

“Dark Star Safari” details the author’s journey of travelling from Cairo to Cape Town through any means of land transportation available. It takes you into the heart of Africa by chicken bus, cattle truck, military convoy, train, canoe, and more. This captivating travel memoir showcases the highs and lows of what it’s like to travel overland through this somewhat unknown and misunderstood continent.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

“On the Road” is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows Kerouac and his friends on a series of road trips across the US after the Second World War. Now a modern classic, you’ll hitchhike alongside this free-thinking group — from New York to Los Angeles to Mexico — as they stumble into the offbeat experiences that can only be had on the road. It’s a captivating read for anyone yearning to take the road less travelled. 

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