Books To Inspire The Travel Bug

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Y’all. I was so excited to put together this blog post. A while ago my husband and I were up in the mountains for an event and as we were driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway listening to a playlist with the top down, I had an epiphany.

The Need to Travel

I miss travel. I miss travel so so much. Traveling is not a panacea that will cure all that ails you, but it is a disruption to your normal routine that can be so healing.

I’ve always naturally been a wanderer, I’m half Finnish and we used to spend our summers in Finland and Sweden visiting family. 

When I was sixteen, I did a two-week trip through four countries through a student ambassador program. I’ve gone on two backpacking trips and am always scheming where to travel to next.

I moved abroad for four years when I was eighteen, and I recently realized that I tend to pack up and make drastic moves every five years or so.

Wanderlust Has A Hold On Me

All that to say. The wanderlust is real. It’s been tough as an “adult”. Especially within the US where it’s common for entry-level roles to have only ten days of vacation. After I visit family, I have no time left to explore somewhere new.

However, I’ve always prioritized travel whether it’s short local jaunts or big trips abroad. The pandemic really made me understand how much I NEED travel in my life. 

Traveling Enriches Life

What does one gain from traveling? It’s those moments. Walking along a small country path from the farmhouse to the lake and listening to the wind in the leaves of the birch trees as the tall grasses sway.

 The light hits the ground *just so* and you feel it so deep into your soul that this world is a magical place and you are experiencing a perfect moment in time.

It’s when you meet someone new and recognize a kindred spirit. Within mere hours, the two of you are bearing your deepest secrets, things you haven’t told many others. 

Because that’s what travel does, it minimizes boundaries and creates human connections on steroids. 

Travel is standing at the top of a pyramid in Mexico and realizing that humans are fascinating and that there are so many wonders in this world. It’s learning history you didn’t know existed so that you can carry it with you. 
Travel is so many things. To me though, it’s joyful. Since things still seem so uncertain with the Omicron Variant, I thought I would put together a list of travel-themed books to help us all daydream a little about our next trip. 

Books to Spark Your Travel Bug

Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Atlas Obscura has been described as “more a cabinet of curiosities than traditional guidebook”.  This book combines maps, photos, and curiosities to really whet your traveling appetite. 

Cheryl Strayed

Wild was famously made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon. It tells the tale of a young woman with nothing left to lose embarking on a solo through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Sometimes harrowing, very honest, this book will get you itching to put on  your hiking boots. 

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a modern classic, a quintessential bohemian primer if you will. I have fond memories of the magic of reading the Alchemist while on a long train journey in India and the feelings it inspired in me were strong. 

The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian Shepherd boy who yearns to travel. 

Elizabeth Gilbert

The book that launched a thousand dreams of leaving it all behind to find yourself. Eat Pray Love might not completely stand the test of time, but it will certainly make you long for self discovery via travel. 

Elizabeth Gilberts memoir of stepping away from the life she thought she wanted will kick your wanderlust into overdrive. 

Frances Mayes

Part memoir, part travel guide, part cookbook. Under the Tuscan sun sparked a serious need to buy a dilapidated villa in Tuscany to live out my days. 

Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle decided to follow his dreams and move into a 200 year old farm house in France with his wife and two dogs. 

He very kindly shared this experience with us and now I wonder why any of us live in the US at all?

Further Reading: Best Beach Reads

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson brings us back to hiking. His account of hiking the Appalachian train will have you laughing the whole way. Highly recommend listening on audio.

If you are looking for a fun read, this one is the one. 

Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is a book that might just make you re-evaluate the way you travel and have you considering a long term trip. 

Americans are notorious around the world for being reluctant to take even a week off work, this perspective on long-term travel might just have you shifting your perceptions. 

Andrew X Pham

Catfish and Mandala is part memoir part travelogue. After the death of his sister, Pham sells all of his possessions and embarks on a year long epic bike journey that spans the world. 

He finds himself in his homeland of Vietnam trying to understand where he fits in. 

Mark Adams

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is the tale of an adventure writer who was not very adventurous. 

Follow along as he tries to finally go on a real life adventure, following the path of Hiram Bingham III who “discovered” Machu Picchu. 

Andrew Sean Greer

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is all about running away from the reality of your life. Isn’t that exactly what we all need in these times? 

Less tells the story of a failed novelist about to turn fifty who accepts every invitation to half baked literary events around the world. Funny, warm hearted, and well written. 

Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

World Travel an Irreverent Guide is a mix of travel stories and recommendations from Anthony Bourdain, supplemented with notes from friends and family alongside illustrations. 

Monisha Rajesh

Monisha Rajesh gives us a witty and irreverent book documenting her 45,000 mile train adventure. 

From Tibet’s Qinghai railway to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Rajesh invites you to travel the globe via the  best mode of transportation. 

Go Forth and Be Merry

There you have it. All the books that are making me swoon with the need to go somewhere, anywhere! 

Leave your favorite travel books below! I’d love to add some more to my already way too long TBR.


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