Traveling is one of life’s greatest experiences. It broadens your horizons, expands your worldview, and gives you a newfound appreciation of the world around you. But no matter how long you travel for or wherever in the world you set out on your journey—whether it be by plane, train, boat or foot—there is always something new to discover.
With so many thrilling destinations begging to be explored and amazing stories just waiting to unfold, it takes courage and wonderment to take the leap. To make those first steps into an unknown future full of possibilities — that’s what makes a traveler passionate about their craft. Whether you are an avid adventurer looking for inspiration before taking off on your next excursion or simply just curious about the thrilling tales that await our exciting globe, look no further than this list of the best books about traveling the world!
Best Books About Traveling
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.Lao Tzu
Vagabonding — Rolf Potts (2002)
Summary: Vagabonding by Rolf Potts is a comprehensive guide to traveling the world, which provides readers with essential tips and strategies for successful long-term travel.
With practical advice on choosing destinations, managing finances, and mastering the art of living on the road, Vagabonding is an invaluable resource for experienced travelers as well as those just starting out. It contains thought-provoking essays about cultural encounters, including personal stories from Potts’ own travels, making it a unique addition to the genre of travel literature.
In addition to its advice on planning and budgeting trips, the book also offers philosophical reflections on life and freedom while traveling abroad. From preparing for an extended journey to finding meaningful connections in unexpected places, Vagabonding is an inspiring exploration of what it means to live adventurously.
Memorable Quote: “The value of your travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home — and the slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries.”
GoodReads Score: 3.95/5
The Alchemist — Paolo Coelho (1988)
Summary: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho is a classic novel about self-discovery. It follows the journey of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, as he travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a worldly treasure.
Along the way, he is guided by mysterious forces such as omens and symbols that help him realize important truths about himself. He ultimately learns that true fulfillment comes not from material wealth but from finding and following one’s own Personal Legend. Through vivid imagery, complex symbolism, and timeless messages about pursuing one’s dreams, the story of The Alchemist has resonated with readers around the world for over 35 years.
Memorable Quote: “We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”
GoodReads Score: 3.90/5
The Beach — Alex Garland (1996)
Summary: The Beach by Alex Garland is a classic novel that details the story of a young backpacker, Richard, as he embarks on a journey to an island paradise in Thailand. The book follows him as he uncovers the secrets of the hidden beach and explores his own inner world.
Throughout his travels, Richard meets different people from all walks of life, each with their own stories and perspectives. He soon discovers the truth behind the mysterious beach and its inhabitants, and must confront his own prejudices and fears. With vivid descriptions of exotic locales, thrilling suspense and thought-provoking themes, The Beach is an exhilarating adventure that has been praised for its perfect balance between realism, comedy and fantasy. It is no wonder why this book frequently considered one of the best books about traveling the world.
Memorable Quote: “If I’d learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.”
GoodReads Score: 3.96/5
Into the Wild — Jon Krakauer (1996)
Summary: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is an epic tale of adventure, discovery and tragedy. It’s the the story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandons his comfortable middle-class life in search of a greater understanding of the world and himself.
After graduating from college, McCandless forsakes his possessions, gives away all his savings to charity and sets off on a two year journey across North America. Along the way he encounters numerous challenges including lack of money, harsh climates and unpredictable people. Eventually he finds himself in Alaska where he attempts to live a life of complete autonomy in the wilderness outside Denali National Park. Despite his best efforts however, tragedy eventually strikes.
Into The Wild is an inspiring yet cautionary tale that acts as a testament to one man’s courage and spirit as he pursued his dreams no matter what obstacles presented themselves. It has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest books about traveling ever written and continues to inspire generations of adventurers today.
Memorable Quote: “Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”
GoodReads Score: 4.0/5
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — Hunter S. Thompson (1971)
Summary: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson is a cult classic that follows the story of journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, as they take a road trip to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race and attend the Mint 400. In the city, the two indulge in all kinds of excesses such as drug abuse, alcohol consumption and general debauchery. The novel provides an intense exploration of the culture of Las Vegas and offers readers an insight into the wild world of ‘gonzo journalism‘.
With its darkly comedic depiction of drug-fueled exploits and its raw commentary on modern America, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has become an iconic literary work that resonates with readers more than 50 years after its release.
Memorable Quote: “No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
GoodReads Score: 4.07/5
The Art of Travel — Alain de Botton (2002)
Summary: The Art of Travel is an engaging exploration of the beauty and joy of travel.
Through humorous anecdotes, philosophical musings, and personal reflections, de Botton takes the reader on a journey that goes beyond the traditional experience of sightseeing and instead focuses on how one can have extraordinary adventures. It examines the importance of discovering one’s own self within new environments and cultures, encouraging readers to embrace the unfamiliarity of being a stranger in strange lands while being simultaneously open to learning from others.
It also offers lessons about paying attention to details when traveling, such as savoring small moments like drinking coffee in a café or attending a local festival. De Botton ultimately argues that travel should be seen not only as a means for relaxation and pleasure, but also as an opportunity for personal growth and deeper understanding of oneself. The Art of Travel is lauded for its thoughtful examination into how travel can shape us—and our outlook on life—in unexpected ways.
Memorable Quote: “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”
GoodReads Score: 3.82/5
Dark Star Safari — Paul Theroux (2002)
Summary: Dark Star Safari is a travelogue written by renowned travel writer Paul Theroux. It follows Theroux’s journey as he travels overland from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa and includes his experiences with the people, landscapes and cultures encountered along the way.
The narrative combines Theroux’s often-humorous observations of the places he visits with personal reflections on politics, religion, and history.
Through his journey, Theroux gives readers a better understanding of life in the African continent and offers keen insights into its people, customs and culture. Dark Star Safari has been hailed as one of the best books about traveling the world due to its captivating storytelling that provides vivid depictions of what Africa truly looks and feels like.
Memorable Quote: “You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back.”
GoodReads Score: 3.98/5
On the Road — Jack Kerouac (1957)
Summary: On the Road by Jack Kerouac is an iconic American novel, widely considered a classic in literature about travel and exploration.
The novel follows Sal Paradise, a young writer who embarks on a series of road trips across the United States with his friend Dean Moriarty. As they traverse the country, Sal and Dean experience all kinds of adventures — meeting new people, visiting different cities, and exploring life away from their homes. Along the way, they learn lessons of love, loss, and friendship as they explore freedom on the open road.
Written in a unique stream-of-consciousness style that reflects Kerouac’s own experiences traveling around America during the 1950s, On the Road is an inspiring tale of self-discovery that captures both mundane moments as well as emotional highs. It has left an indelible mark on generations of readers, who have embraced its free-spirited spirit and use it to find inspiration for their own travels.
GoodReads Score: 3.62/5
The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia — Paul Theroux (1975)
Summary: The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia is an acclaimed travel book that takes readers on a journey through the diverse cultures, landscapes, and people of the Asian continent.
In this book, Theroux details his experiences while riding a variety of passenger trains in countries such as India, Japan, Iran, Afghanistan and Thailand. Along the way he explores various aspects of the destinations’ culture and history, from their religious beliefs to their cuisine. He also sheds light on the struggles faced by many locals due to poverty and inequality.
With his vivid descriptions and humorous anecdotes, Theroux presents a compelling account of his adventures and provides readers with a unique insight into life in Asia at the time.
Memorable Quote: “All travel is circular. I had been jerked through Asia, making a parabola on one of the planet’s hemispheres. After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.”
GoodReads Score: 3.90/5
The Innocents Abroad — Mark Twain (1869)
Summary: The Innocents Abroad is a classic book about Mark Twain’s travel experiences while journeying around the world. It is written in a humorous and satirical yet insightful style, making it one of the most beloved books about traveling ever written.
In this novel, Twain and his fellow travelers explore numerous exotic locales including Italy, France, Palestine and Greece. Throughout their travels they’re met with various adventures that help to broaden their perspectives and provide readers with an entertaining yet meaningful glimpse of life abroad. Twain’s witty writing style not only entertains readers but also provides unique insights into the cultures he encounters during his journey around the world.
The Innocents Abroad is considered one of the best books about traveling because it captures not only the experience of being on the road but also conveys a deep insight on what makes travel so rewarding — learning about different cultures and expanding our understanding of humanity.
Memorable Quote: “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
GoodReads Score: 3.84/5
Blue Highways: A Journey into America — William Least Heat-Moon (1982)
Summary: Blue Highways: A Journey into America is a captivating travelogue about the author’s journey across the United States. Taking place in 1981, Heat-Moon leaves Missouri and begins his journey along small roads, or what he deems ‘blue highways’. These roads take him to places not seen by most tourists, providing an insight into the everyday life of America.
The story is rich with vivid descriptions of the people he meets, the landscapes he crosses and the issues facing those living in rural America at that time. He records his journey with stories from locals and anecdotes from history. This thought-provoking book provides an eye-opening look at American culture and delves deep into its complex past.
Memorable Quote: “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
GoodReads Score: 4.03/5
The Epilogue: Books About Traveling
Traveling the world is a unique and enriching experience. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures, see stunning landscapes, enjoy delicious cuisine and make memories that will last a lifetime. With this list of the best books about traveling the world, now you can prepare for your upcoming trip with confidence and knowledge.
We wish you a safe, enjoyable journey! To make sure you have the best possible travel experience, don’t forget to purchase one of these great books and learn more about your chosen destination before setting off on your adventure.
Finally, we’d love to hear your stories! Did any of these books help you while traveling? What’s your favorite book about traveling?
Leave us a comment with your experiences!
P.S. You might also enjoy these related posts:
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- A Guide to Being a Digital Nomad
Originally Published: February 24, 2023