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Best travel books to inspire your next trip

Travel inspiration is found in all number of different places, from friends and family recommendations to Instagram. But there’s nothing quite like reading about other people’s adventures and immersing yourself in exceptional storytelling from some of the world’s best travel writers. 

We take a look at the best reads that will get you booking your next trip in no time.

Around The Bloc Front Cover

Around the Bloc documents Griest’s journey from South Texas through 12 countries in the communist bloc – including Russia, China and Cuba.

The book takes us volunteering in children’s shelters in Moscow, working for the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and belly dancing in Havana. The 4 years journey dispels myths around what she considered at the time the ‘Evil Empire’ and instead asks some serious questions about what democracy really means.

Not only does this book answer questions about how other countries are run, and explores the traditions and cultures of the regions she travels through, but it culminates in a greater appreciation and understanding of South Texas, it’s people and what it has to offer.

A must read for anyone exploring China, Cuba or Russia in particular or looking to understand how travel can change our perceptions of not only the places we go, but also our view when we arrive back home. 

The Geography of Bliss Front Cover

This book doesn’t look for what happiness is but rather where in the world happiness can be found, and it does it in an accessible, humorous way that is almost a combination of self-help book and travel memoir.

It explores the effect of different culture on happiness as well as what importance different countries around the world are putting on happiness and how changing your destination can change your mood.

We head to Switzerland to understand if content-ness is found in equality and democracy, and attempt to find out why the cold, isolated island of Iceland is widely considered one of the happiest places in the world.

If you’re looking not only for a sunnier destination to travel to but also one that’ll make you sunnier on the inside then this is the perfect read. 

Eat, Pray, Love Front Cover

Eat, Pray, Love is a touching memoir of a 30 year old who had everything, but nothing at the same time. A highly educated, ambitious, married homeowner with a great job was left unfulfilled and wanting more from life.

The book charts a radical life change. Quitting her job and selling belongings, Elizabeth sets out solo on a year-long journey to explore the world and find herself at the same time. We venture to Italy where we over-indulge in the Italian history, language and food. Then take a spiritual journey through India before heading to Bali, Indonesia to find the balance between indulgence and spirituality and divinity.

Most people probably know Eat, Pray, Love best as a film with Julia Roberts, but reading the book gives you that first hand insight from the author.

Perfect for those taking a longer backpacking, sabbatical or gap year adventure.

Venice Front Cover

This book is widely regarded as one of the best written books on the city – in fact – one of the best travel books ever written full stop.

Many travel books look at the history of a destination of concentrate in on an aspect of it. Venice, combines every facet of Venetian life, from the temperament of the city’s inhabitants, to its physical features - canals, bridges, churches, palaces – woven in with the sensual - smells, sounds, lights and colours of this unique city.

This is the perfect book if you are planning a trip to Venice as it will do nothing except raise your excitement levels. Or, if you’ve not already booked a trip to the city, then we don’t think it’ll be too long before you do.

Vagabonding Front Cover

This inspirational book will make you think twice about what you think travel is all about and what you need in order to be able to fulfil your travel bucket list.

Vagabonding focuses on 3 key lessons which will help to change your attitude to travel.

  • Changing your relationship with money
  • Adopting the vagabond mindset of working only so that you can travel
  • Embracing the art of simplifying material possessions

This book promotes a lifestyle that not all of us will be able to embrace, particularly if we have family, mortgages and all the things that come with complex modern life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t dream.

For students, graduates, school leavers this book is perfect in order to realise that nomadic travelling life and make adventures of a lifetime.

The Art of Travel Front Cover

This is a philosophical look at travel, exploring why and how people travel, not just where they choose to go.

The book explores the effect of travel on our character, values and the potential we can reach in life. It also raises the question of what travel needs to satisfy in us to be valuable and enjoyable, enjoyment may not be the idyllic white sand beach in the Caribbean but as much enjoyment can be found in a cold, rainy night in London….as strange as it may seem.

The Art of Travel is a fascinating look into what it is that really drives us to travel and what we hope to achieve or acquire through it.

Perfect for all travellers of any age looking to understand the philosophy of travel. 

A Moveable Feast Front Cover

One of the joys of travel is eating new cuisine and experiencing new flavours. A Moveable Feast is a compilation of stories from world famous chefs including Anthony Bourdain, food critics such as Matthew Fort, presenters and food and travel writers including Jan Morris.

38 stories are included in this anthology and each come together to explore the life changing adventures that food can provide when travelling across the world.

The book explores the adventure that comes with eating exotic foods such as sampling bat in Micronesia, but it also explores the dishes that make the region what it is. So we find out how the experience of eating couscous in Morocco,  tacos in Tijuana and mutton in Mongolia changes us and enhances our travelling experiences. It explores very much the effect of the place enhancing the dining experience.

Perfect for any traveller, but particularly interesting for you foodies!

Lands of Lost Borders Front Cover

The Silk Road is a historic trading route that connected Europe to Asia, dating back to 2 BCE and in use until the mid 15th century. As well as facilitating trade, it shaped the way that cultures and religions have grown and spread across the globe.

Lands of Lost Borders is the debut work from Kate Harris and chronicles her journey cycling the Silk Road from start to finish with her childhood friend, Mel.

The book takes a look at the adventures the two had travelling along the route, along with the history that litters this part of the word, culminating in a deeper reflection on the region, travel more broadly and self-reflection.

A great option for those travelling destinations on the Silk Road or looking for inspiration of less popular destinations.

A Woman Alone Front Cover

Solo female travel is a growing genre within travel, and A Woman Alone is one of the best books around even though it is now over 20 years since it was first published. An uplifting collection of 29 true stories from solo female travellers which really convey the freedom, excitement, joy of solo female travel.

The book takes us across the globe from Mumbai in India, Belize in Central America to Bhutan in Asia, but equally as interesting as the destinations themselves is learning more about the motivations of the authors had for wanting to travel.

This book doesn’t shy away from the dangers of travel either. A unique insight into the dangers and loneliness that comes with travelling alone and the specific worries that are faced by women as they journey the world.

With so many different stories and authors from a variety of backgrounds you are bound to find some commonalities with the storytellers in the book. Perfect read for women who are looking for a solo adventure. 

The Crossway Front Cover

The Crossway is a very honest and open travelogue written about Stagg’s pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem on foot.

Despite the word pilgrimage, Stagg is a non-believer and the book is not specifically focused on religion, instead the journey that Stagg embarks upon is in response to a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt at the age of 23.

As a first step Stagg set out from London to Canterbury - a well-known pilgrimage route. It was this journey that he realised something beneficial had happened, it wasn’t an epiphany but just the inkling of something positive. From here we head on to Rome, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and finally, Jerusalem.

The book takes us through the journey, we meet the strangers who offer shelter after long days of walking and we learn more about the mental challenge and emotional state of Stagg as he makes progress along the route.

This is an honest take on the journey both physically and mentally and an enlightening read for backpackers, gap years and anyone looking for how travel can impact and benefit mental health.

We hope that you have found some inspiration in the books listed and that they can encourage you to take the journey of a lifetime or just a way to find some escapism at home or abroad.
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