The end of the year is just that time for favorites lists – and I’ve written about the best travel books many times over! I love talking about travel books. Why? Because part of the tool belt of any traveler is a good book. Long bus, train, or plane rides can get pretty boring and can give you a lot of “dead” time if you haven’t mastered the art of the 10-hour blank stare. Additionally, reading travel books helps you learn about the destinations you are visiting. The more you know about a place, the more you can understand a place.
A books about following your dreams, this is one of the most-read books in recent history. The story follows a young shepherd boy from Spain to Egypt as he follows his heart, goes with the flow, and learns love and the meaning of life. The book is filled with wonderful and inspirational quotes. My favorite: “If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.” I can’t recommend this book enough. It will move your soul On the Road,
Written in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation classic is a timeless travel novel. The story follows his character, Sal, as he leaves New York City and heads west, riding the rails, making friends, and partying the night away. The main character’s frustration and desire to see the world are themes that can resonate with many of us. What I especially love about this story is that through all his travel adventures, he becomes a better, stronger, and more confident person. I can personally relate to that.
Written by the godfather of vagabonding, Rolf Potts, this book is a must-read for those new to long-term travel. Rolf spent 10 years on the road (he even walked across Israel), and his book contains valuable insights, interesting quotes, and a lot of practical information. From saving to planning to life on the road, this is a must for newbies. It’s an inspirational book and one that really affected me when I was planning my trip. It delves deeply into the why and philosophy of long-term travel that no other book has come close to doing.
A year of living danishly :
This was probably my favorite book of the year. When her husband gets a job at the Lego offices in Jutland, Helen Russell decides to head to Denmark with him, freelance write, and try to figure out why the Danes are so happy. From childcare, education, food, and interior design to taxes, sexism, and everything in between (turns out the Danes love to burn witches), Helen’s funny, poignant story kept me enthralled from start to finish. It’s informative, hilarious, self-deprecating, and tells a great story of someone trying to fit in. As someone who loves Denmark, has lots of Danish friends, and thinks Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world, I couldn’t put this down. If you read just one book from this list, make it this one!
The beach :
Besides The Alchemist, this is probably my favorite travel book. (I like the movie too, but the book is way better.) What I love about Alex Garland’s tale about backpackers and their search for paradise is that you can identify with Richard and his quest to “do something different and get off the beaten path,” but in the end see that as an illusion. It’s also a good tale about how backpackers’ search for the ideal can end up ruining that ideal. I love this book a lot — I’ve read it twice. Now that I am writing about it again, I think I might re-read it soon.