Where does inspiration come from? For those us up with serious Wanderlust we may find the desire to travel is just innate. It is in us and we cannot seem to explain it.

Riomaggiore, Italy

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

Add to that a book or three and a good movie with a travel theme and we are pretty much gone.

Here are some of the best travel books that may just have you packing your bags.


best travel books into the wild
Into the Wild– In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.


top travel picture book
Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places– Does anyone know the world better than National Geographic? National Geographic takes you on a photographic tour of the world’s most spectacular destinations, inspiring tangible ideas for your next trip. Hundreds of the most breathtaking locales—both natural and man-made—are illustrated with vivid images taken by the organization’s world-class photographers. The #1 Best Seller in Travel Pictorial Reference Books for a good reason!


top travel books eat pray love
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia– This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life.


best travel books vagabonding
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel– There’s nothing like vagabonding: taking time off from your normal life—from six weeks to four months to two years—to discover and experience the world on your own terms. In this one-of-a-kind handbook, veteran travel writer Rolf Potts explains how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel.


best travel books geography of bliss
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World– Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author’s case, moments of “un-unhappiness.


best travel books
Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy– When Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) learns her husband is cheating on her from a writer whom she gave a bad review, her life is turned upside down. In an attempt to bring her out of a deep depression, her best friend, Patti (Sandra Oh), encourages Frances to take a tour of Italy. During the trip, the new divorcée impulsively decides to purchase a rural Tuscan villa and struggles to start her life anew amid colorful local characters


the beach
The Beach– Also a movie with Leo DiCapprio(which is pretty damn good). The Khao San Road, Bangkok — first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard’s first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to “the Beach.”


Walden On Wheels
Walden on Wheels: On The Open Road from Debt to Freedom– Not exactly a travel book per se, but this one had me laughing out loud. In this frank and witty memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a 3-year transcontinental journey, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York. Ultimately it changed his life.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine


There you have it. Just a short list of some of the best travel books to inspire you to venture off and embrace the wanderlust that may be coursing through your veins. Goodness knows that there are countless others!

What other books have led you to travel and explore the world?  Please share them with us in the comments.

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“Quit your job. Travel. Die happy.”


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