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Armchair Adventures: Must-Read Travel Books

must-read travel books, travel literature, armchair travel

Have you ever wanted to sail across the Pacific Ocean? Move to France? Volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal? The truly great thing about travel literature is that you don’t have to wait for your next big trip to experience these life changing, soul-inspiring journeys. Just grab one of these must-read travel books, find a cozy place to read, and let the armchair adventures begin!

Travel Literature by Female Authors
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris
By Sarah Turnbull

Sarah Turnbull is a young Australian backpacker who meets a charming Frenchman on a visit to Bucharest, Romania. He invites her to France and she accepts on a whim—then promptly falls in love, moves to Paris and starts a new French life. At first, Sarah feels like an outsider in every way—personality, fashion, language—but over time she makes friends, learns the local customs and integrates herself into society, becoming in fact, Almost French.

Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents
By Elizabeth Eaves

Elizabeth Eaves has a severe case of wanderlust. From New Zealand to Egypt, she is on a journey of self-discovery, but meets with a little romance and adventure along the way. Elizabeth is fascinated by far-flung locales, and her decadent descriptions of the jungles of Papua New Guinea and Australia’s golden beaches are likely to give you a case of wanderlust  in turn.

Adventure Travel

Love with a Chance of Drowning
By Torre De Roche 

Torre De Roche is terrified of water, but when she meets a handsome Argentine sailor who asks her to sail from California to Australia with him, she can’t say no. The epic journey takes her from the Southern California coast, to Mexico, then across the ocean to the mesmerizing islands in the South Pacific before arriving in Australia one year later. Torre struggles through seasickness, storms and equipment failure, but realizes that she can indeed endure more than she ever thought possible.

Into Thin Air
By Jon Krakauer

Riveting from page one, this fast-paced, first person travel tale takes place on the world’s tallest mountain and chronicles the ill-fated Everest expedition of May 1996 that took the lives of eight climbers when a rogue storm struck the mountain.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
By Conor Grennan

Many people say that they want to volunteer in a foreign country, but Conor Grennan actually did it, and got way more than he bargained for. He arrived in Nepal, and immediately fell for the cute kids in a Kathmandu orphanage. He was shocked to discover that these kids weren’t orphans after all—they were the victims of child traffickers who had coerced the parents into paying for their children to be taken to safety from the civil war that was raging in Nepal at the time. Once the traffickers received the money, they would abandon the children in Kathmandu with no way for them to reconnect with their families. Conor sets out on a dangerous trek through the Himalayas to find the parents and reconnect them with their missing children, all the while learning incredible lessons about life and love.

Spiritual Travel

Eat Pray Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert

There’s a good chance that you’ve already discovered this widely-read tome—after all, it was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 200 weeks. Liz writes of her struggles to come to terms with her post-divorce life. She does this by traveling through Italy to rediscover herself through the medium of food, India for a spiritual awakening and Indonesia in an attempt to find love again.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
By Sarah Macdonald

India is a dizzying array of colors, sights, smells, and sensations, some good some bad, but always fascinating. Sarah Macdonald visits once, and swears she will never return. But 11 years later, when her fiancé is relocated to India for work, she has to make a choice—return to a country she is less-than-fond of, or leave the love of her life. Love wins, and she finds herself transported to New Delhi—the most polluted city on earth. Here she struggles through the culture shock of day-to-day life, and with her negative feelings towards one of the world’s most densely-populated countries. When tragedy strikes, Sarah must determine what is really important in life and sets out on a spiritual quest to determine what that is.

Budget Travel

The Avant-Garde Life
By Jamie Bowlby-Whiting

Written by a guy who has hitchhiked from Turkey to England, cycled across Europe for under $50, and built his own raft to sail hundreds of miles down the Danube River, this book redefines what it means to create your own reality and to travel on the cheap.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter
By Matt Kepnes

Matt Kepnes, also known as the budget travel blogger Nomadic Matt, outlines smart strategies and easy solutions to the quest for affordable and attainable travel. Most of us think that travel is expensive, and we’re lucky to take two weeks off from our day job per year. But Matt shows readers that a life of perpetual travel is possible, and it’s not necessary to spend your whole life savings to get it. 

Famous Travel Literature

The Beach
By Alex Garland

A cult classic on the Southeast Asian backpacking circuit, The Beach will take you to the grungy dives of Bangkok’s Khao San Road to the turquoise waters and white sand of Thailand’s southern islands. Though many people are familiar with the film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this tale about pushing the boundaries of the conventional, fitting in and finding adventure is worth the read.

Shantaram
By Gregory David Roberts

India is a humid melee that teems with life, a country of over a billion people where you can show up and completely disappear. That’s what this author did after he escaped from prison in Australia, and sought to start a new life on the chaotic streets of Mumbai. Loosely based on a true story, Lin finds himself falling in love, staring a clinic in a slum, fighting in the mountains of Pakistan and reassessing his life to find acceptance and new meaning.

The Great Railway Bazaar
By Paul Theroux
If trains are your thing, then this modern classic of travel literature will capture your imagination and have you hankering for a railway journey of your own. Theroux starts his journey in England and continues overland by train to Japan. Thousands of miles, hundreds of cities and a cast of various characters make the exotic railways of Europe and Asia come to life.