50+ best books to read while traveling

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At first, I planned on creating an awesome resource with the very best books to read while traveling to inspire our readers. Very soon, this quest got to me and it pushed me further and further into this amazing list of travel books.

So, a tiny list of books became this extensive list with all the books I love and other books I added to my own reading list.

Some of these books are among the best adventure books of all time, while others are tear jerking memoirs of people living in distant places in another era. All of these books will inspire you to discover and explore in one way or another!

I really hope you’ll find a few gems in this list and some inspiring books you didn’t find in other travel books lists before!

What we talk about in this article hide

Best books to read while traveling

Memoirs of a geisha – Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a geisha is a book that captured me from the first chapter. It’s a well-told story of a young girl in a fishing town in Japan, who gets catapulted into a new and undesirable life. You follow her difficulties and see her grow as a person.

This book takes you through the years and it is filled with slumbering desire, but also with disgust as the virginity of a young girl is sold to the highest bidder. Prepare to be haunted and obsessed with this book! I completely fell in love with it and I’m guessing you might too!

Setting and destinations: Japan

Era: 1930 – 1940

One hundred years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall of a magical city of Macondo, (more or less) based on the real-life town of Mompos. The book is often taking you along a spiral of insanity where the characters appear to go completely mental! The storyline follows the Buendia family through various generations and it’s a true work of art.

For me, this story was unforgettable, and I casually remember pieces of the story that I’m able to connect to my actual life. Even though the story is quite crazy, there’s so much truth in it too.

Setting and destinations: Colombia (South America)

Era: Some time ago

Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is one that I finished within a few weeks. Especially the first few books are so unique and witty, you just have to read them!

In the beginning of the first book, the earth has to make room for an intergalactic highway and humanity is wiped out. The books take you through an unbelievable saga in which the main character experiences life as an intergalactic hitchhiker. This is one of the most amazing and fun books to read while traveling!

Setting and destinations: Space!

Era: unknown

Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

After escaping prison in Australia, the main character flees the country and takes refuge in various destinations, eventually ending up in Bombay, India. This is also where the majority of the book is set. You follow Lin through his life changing saga in the slums of Bombay. He finds his way as a medic in the slums, intrudes into the underworld of the Golden City and ends up fighting a war for his mentor.

Shantaram offers a lot of insights into the Indian culture and the way of life in Bombay. The book will catch your attention and it won’t allow you to put it down before you turn the last page!

Setting and destinations: India

Era: 70’s

Turn right at Machu Picchu – Mark Adams

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is a captivating and funny travelogue. It combines the story and facts about the discovery of these impressive ruins and the intriguing history of Inca culture, with his own unadventurous mishaps along the way.

This travel read is one of the New York Times best selling travel memoirs ever and it should definitely be on your reading list, as it is on mine!

Setting and destinations: Peru

Era: Various times

The Lost City of Z – David Grann

The Lost City of Z is an intriguing book about the Amazon jungle and the obsession of men to find the golden city of El Dorado.

This book tells the story of Percy Fawcett, an experienced explorer who ventured off into the Amazon in order to find the city in 1925, but never came back, and a journalist who wants to find the complete history of Fawcett.

The Lost City of Z sure is an interesting and sometimes scary book about the dangers of the jungle. It takes you deep into the green hell to make sure you won’t ever venture out there on your own!

Setting and destinations: Brazil and South America

Era: 30’s and today

The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto Che Guevara

The Motorcycle Diaries is a classic you can’t afford to skip. This entertaining travel diary takes you along on a journey through the Argentinean Patagonia. Ernesto and his cousin venture off from Buenos Aires and make their way through a large part of South America with an old motorcycle.

If you’re looking for a book about the adventure of young travelers, this might be just the one for you!

Setting and destinations: Patagonia – Argentina and South America

Era: 1952

Adrift – 76 days lost at sea – Steven Callahan

This novel tells the horrifying story of a single sailor who loses his boat in a vicious storm. He survives in his life-raft for 76 days!! Before he finally reaches on of the islands of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

Adrift is definitely an intriguing story full of fear, pain, hunger, and thirst. Still, the writer doesn’t lose hope and he keeps fighting for survival.

Setting and destinations: The Atlantic Ocean

Era: 1982

7 years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer

7 Years in Tibet is an all-time classic and we all know it because of the movie with Brad Pitt. Well, the books tend to be better, right? If you’re into incredible adventure stories and epic quests, this book is right for you.

Heinrich Harrer tells his own story about his quest into the Himalaya mountains and being one of the very first European travelers in the country of Tibet. This book takes you over some of the highest peaks in the world during a 2-year trek through the region. In the end, he gets a chance to meet the Dalai Lama.

Setting and destinations: Tibet / Asia

Era: 40’s – 50’s

A short walk in the Hindu Kush – Eric Newbie

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is a travel novel that has been praised over and over again. I added it to my reading list, as it appears to be exactly the type of book I love!

In this novel, the writer Eric Newbie wants to escape the post World War II England and he decides to go hiking in Asia with a friend. They travel overland to Afghanistan where they go climbing some of the most impressive mountains in the world, without any climbing experience at all.

Did they experience tons of beginner luck on this journey? Must add to your list of best books to read while traveling!  

Setting and destinations: England / Pakistan / Afghanistan

Era: 50’s

Slowly down the Ganges – Eric Newbie

Another novel by Eric Newbie has also been added to my reading list. In Slowly Down the Ganges, the writer ventures out to travel the entire length of the Ganges River together with his wife.

Eric Newbie is an engaging storyteller who draws you into this journey until you reach the last page of the book!

Setting and destinations: India

Era: current day

Neither here nor there – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is a famous travel writer who already wrote quite a few successful travel books in the past. In Neither Here nor There, he describes his travels to Europe, decades after he first visited the continent.

I really enjoyed reading this book, as it is super recognizable and entertaining. I chuckled a few times and enjoyed reading the story a lot. I even learned a few things along the way!

Setting and destinations: Europe

Era: Current day

The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage before he published the wildly successful The Alchemist. I have to admit that I haven’t read his books yet, but I added them to my reading list as they appear to be pretty exciting!

In The Pilgrimage, Coelho travels along the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage path. The book takes you into a magical world, thanks to the excellent writing and storytelling. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

Setting and destinations: Spain

The Lost Girls: Three friends. Four continents – Jennifer Baggett

Three girls in their twenties make a pact to leave behind their busy lives in New York to go backpacking around the world for a year. Follow their adventures and experiences, which are sometimes funny, otherwise emotional or eye-opening.

Are you thinking about choosing experience over career? Then The Lost Girls could be a very inspirational book for you… and for everyone else too!

Setting and destinations: all over the world

Era: Current day

Passage to Juneau – Jonathan Raban

In Passage to Juneau, Jonathan Raban isn’t just telling a story about his journey from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska. Not at all! In this novel, you experience a lot of history about the region and I really enjoyed that.

Passage to Juneau is the story of a lonely sailor who left his wife and daughter at home, to travel the same journey as the first European explorers once did. The novel is captivating, emotional, and inspiring.

Setting and destinations: USA / Alaska

Era: Modern day with loads of history

A room with a view – E.M. Forster

A room with a View is a classic novel about a young English woman, traveling in Italy. There, she falls in love with George. She’s torn because she has to choose between her lover George or the more socially acceptable choice of marrying her fiancée.

About love and travel! Expect to get some close up insights about life in the early 20th century in Europe!

Setting and destinations: Italy

Era: Early 20th century

Sahara – Michael Palin

Sahara by Michael Palin is an exceptionally well-written book about, you guessed it: the Sahara. Palin is the perfect narrator to explain all there is to know about the culture, the diverse landscapes, the history.

This book and the author use a nonchalant approach where the writer is willing to try anything in order to experience the culture to the fullest.

Setting and destinations: Sahara Africa

Era: Current day

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

This all-time favorite has been turned into a film and a game, but have you read the book yet? Agatha Christie is an established mystery writer and with Murder on the Orient Express, she takes Hercule Poirot onto a mysterious adventure by train!

It’s a phrase you don’t want to hear while traveling by train: “The murderer is with us right now… on this train”. That would be enough for me to take a break during my Orient Express adventure. It is, however, the setting for this nerve-racking mystery novel.

Setting and destinations: Aleppo to Istanbul

Era: Early 20th century

Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

The next travel book on our list is another success story. Elizabeth Gilbert was praised after publishing Eat, Pray, Love and the book sold millions of copies worldwide.

In this travel novel, the writer escapes her life in the US in order to find herself. To do that, she travels to Italy, India, and Bali. Each setting and culture offers new insights and tons of inspiration to find yourself.

Setting and destinations: USA / Italy / India / Indonesia

Era: 90’s

Chasing the Monsoon – Alexander Frater

Chasing the Monsoon is a travel memoir about the author while actually chasing the monsoon through India. Alexander Frater follows the monsoon through the country and documents the impact of these torrential rains all over India.

And in fact, there is a lot of change during monsoon season, because locals know exactly when the rain will come, and they live their life accordingly. They prepare, they go through it, and they clean up afterwards. Read about the fascinating and sometimes hilarious experience of an English travel reporter.

Setting and destinations: India

Era: Modern day

A year in Provence – Peter Mayle

What happens when you follow your dream and buy a 200-year-old farmhouse in the Provence, to live there with your wife and dogs? Read along while Peter Mayle actually does this in A Year in Provence.

He escapes the rat race and starts living from season to season instead of day by day. The author beautifully describes how their life changes as they make the move to the Provence in the South of France. Especially if you have a similar dream or if you’d love to travel to France some day… get inspired by this delicious tale.

Setting and destinations: France

Era: 1980’s

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

The Outlander Series is a compelling fictional novel with quite a few accurate history facts. In this story, the main character Claire has an extraordinary experience when she’s taken back in time to the 18th century. She gets to experience first-hand how the Scottish Highlanders protect their land from invaders when she becomes romantically involved with the beautiful Highlander Jamie.

Throughout the Outlander series, Claire travels back and forth between era’s, gives birth to a beautiful daughter, and finds herself over and over again.

Just to reinforce how successful this story really is, people organize Outlander tours in Scotland to visit the points of interest in this series.

Setting and destinations: 18th century / 20th century

Era: Great Britain / Scotland

The good girl’s guide to getting lost – Rachel Friedman

In this coming-of-age novel about a girl that’s always been a good and responsible person, you can see how travel impacts every soul and turns it into an adventurous traveler.

The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost is a travel memoir told by Rachel Friedman. The story begins with the unexpected purchase of a flight ticket to Ireland. There, she meets an adventurous and free spirited girl who encourages her to explore the world and feel how exciting life can be.

Setting and destinations: the world

Era: Modern day

Into the wild – Jon Krakauer

Into The Wild is one of these captivating stories that can not be skipped in a list with the best books to read while traveling!

The story of Christopher McCandless has been told worldwide. There have been documentaries and a movie about the young guy who breaks with society and escapes into the wild. The book is based on the real journal written by McCandless and you can read about the joy of his escape. He burns his money, credit cards, and passport in order to be completely free. Unfortunately, a few months later, the young man dies in the wild after eating poisonous berries. Read more about the possible how and why in this novel by Jon Krakauer.

Setting and destinations: USA / Alaska

Era: 1990’s

Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes

Feel and absorb Italy through this delightfully written novel about life in a beautiful house in Tuscany. Under The Tuscan Sun describes the enchanted life one gets when moving into the house of their dreams and eating the food they love, all while living in Italy.

You can expect tons of mouthwatering food descriptions, finished off with a smudge of poetry.

Setting and destinations: Italy

Era: Late 20th century

Nothing to declare: memoirs of a woman traveling alone – Mary Morris

Nothing to Declare is the memoir of the journey of a young woman into the unknown. In her early thirties, the writer Mary Morris moves to a cute town in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende. She hasn’t been there and she’s all by herself. This novel follows her journey into a new life at a new place.

Setting and destinations: Mexico : San Miguel de Allende

Era: 1970’s

The geography of bliss – Eric Weiner

In this travel memoir, Eric Weiner is searching not only happiness, but especially the geographic location where people are happier. The Geography of Bliss is a humorous, but very real book about why people are happy in certain places. It’s interesting and entertaining for readers, because it has a mixture of science, humor, psychology, and of course: travel.

Setting and destinations: The world

Era: Modern times

Around the world in 80 days – Jules Verne

This classic novel by Jules Verne is a travel book everyone should read at least once during their travels. In Around the World in 80 Days, a British adventurer takes on a bet from his friends. Can he travel around the world in 80 days with his French Valet Passepartout on 20.000 British Pounds?

If you like adventurous tales and you don’t mind being transported into the 19th century, then don’t skip this exciting novel!

Setting and destinations: The World

Era: 19th century

In a Sun Burned Country – Bill Bryson

Down under – In a Sunburned Country is a travel memoir by the renowned travel writer Bill Bryson. His other novels are super popular worldwide and this book is just as funny and well-written!

If you plan on traveling to Australia someday, make sure to read this book before you leave. It will offer you tons of valuable insights and interesting facts. Plus, chances are good that you’ll laugh out loud while reading it!

Setting and destinations: Australia

Era: Modern day

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

More Bill Bryson with this fantastic travel memoir: A Walk in the Woods. In this novel, Bryson goes on a journey in his own back yard. Together with an old travel companion, he decides to walk the Appalachian Trail in the United States, which is located literally in his own back yard! Walk along the paths with stunning scenery: beautiful mountain ranges, lakes and, forests.

A Walk in the Woods is an international best-selling book and it was the first Bill Bryson novel I ever read. I enjoyed reading it so much, I was certain that I would also love the other books by the same author. This travel novel is engaging, inspiring, and relaxing to read.

Setting and destinations: USA

Era: Modern day

On the road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road by Jack Kerouac is a travel novel that has caused quite a bit of controversy around the world, but nonetheless, it’s still a great read!

In this book, 2 young friends travel around the United States and this book shows a lot of love for the entire continent. Aside from the travel focus, this novel also puts a lot of focus on the differences between the 2 young men and their vision of life.

If you want to know more about the ‘book that changed American literature forever’, or you want to feel like a changed person yourself: read this travel book!

Setting and destinations: USA

Era: Early 20th century

A lady’s life in the Rocky Mountains – Isabella Bird

This epic novel tells the tale of an adventurous woman who sets off into the American Wild West. She leaves home on her own, with just her horse and some personal stuff in order to find ‘health’. The book is told through a series of letters, which sketch the beauty of the unspoiled landscape and the nature of true adventure.

In A lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, the main character Isabella encounters wild animals, like bears and snakes, but she also meets settlers and miners along the way.

Interested in reading more stories about this brave female adventurer traveling through unspoiled territory? Pick up the book!

Setting and destinations: USA

Era: 19th century

Compass Points – Edward Hoagland

Compass Point is the autobiography of the author himself. Edward Hoagland has lived a rich and exciting life full of thrills and adventure. His other novels have also received 5-star reviews and this novel is an actual recapitulation of all of his experiences through life.

I haven’t read the book just yet, but I did add it to my reading list. So I can’t give you my own experience, but I believe I’m going to like it a lot.  

Setting and destinations: Everywhere

Era: 20th century

The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux

If you ever traveled by train in Asia, The Great Railway Bazaar will probably bring back some memories about that journey. Even though this book was published over 3 decades ago, it’s still an interesting and entertaining story in which you can recognize the Asian cultures and way of life.

This novel will make you feel as if you’re the one traveling through Asia by rail. Follow Paul Theroux on the Orient Express, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express and a few other iconic railways!

Setting and destinations: Asia

Era: 19th century

Riding the Iron Rooster – Paul Theroux

Another readers’ favorite by Paul Theroux also takes the reader onto an Asian railway trip. Riding the Iron Rooster is a tale about an epic journey through China and it’s one of three railway novels by the same author.

Just like we do, Paul Theroux also enjoys the charm of traveling by train in order to truly explore a culture from within. Follow this popular travel writer on a one-year journey through the vast country of China!

Setting and destinations: China

Era: 19th century

Little Princes – Conor Grennan

Little Princes by Conor Grennan is a travel book that really grasped me by the throat. Starting out as a short-term volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal, Conor quickly gets emotionally attached to the young kids who have been purposefully orphaned. In fact, these kids didn’t lose their parents, but they were taken away by a child trafficker from their homes in the Nepalese mountains.

Conor can’t stand the thought and returns to the orphanage and starts a quest to find the parents of these lost children. He ventures out deep into the wild and pure landscape of Nepal and manages to find some of the parents whose children have been taken away.

This novel is a definite must-read, not just for travel enthusiasts!

Setting and destinations: Nepal

Era: Modern day

My life on the road – Gloria Steinem

In My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem sketched the funny and inspirational story of her life as she experiences it. After growing up in a family that used to travel as much as possible, she realizes that she wants to continue this lifestyle. She doesn’t want to settle down at all.

While traveling solo as a journalist, she visits India and this trip changes her to the core. She becomes an activist for women rights.

This travel book is an interesting read for men, but especially for women who love reading about powerful women who want to make a change!

Setting and destinations: Worldwide

Era: 20th century

Red dust: A path through China – Ma Jian

Red Dust: a Path Through China is a novel about self-discovery and about the discovery of the beauty and beast, both found in the large country of China.

Artist Ma Jian, the main character leaves Beijing behind after divorcing his wife and being charged for ‘Spiritual pollution’. He ventures out without any luxury or possessions and travels through the large, polluted cities of China, but he also explores the beautiful rural areas and mountain villages.

Follow a Chinese traveler in China on his 3-year journey through his home country, which is as strange to him as it is to us!

Setting and destinations: China

Era: 1980’s

In Patagonia – Bruce Chatwin

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin has been called a ‘masterpiece of travel writing’ by more than one media outlet in the past few decades. This travel book takes you to the Southernmost tip of South America, which used to be an unspoiled and undiscovered piece of land where bandits ruled the land.

The book doesn’t only describe the journey of a traveler, but it also offers insight in history and the legends that had been forgotten.

Setting and destinations: South America

Era: 20th century

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the story of a young American women who lost most things of value. After the death of her mother and a divorce, she leaves her home solo and starts hiking the over 1500-kilometer-long Pacific Crest Trail. She has no previous hiking experience when she starts her journey. This novel tells the story of a broken person, healing herself through self-discovery and the experience of being alone for a long time in nature. Prepare for a wild ride! This book has also been turned into a film.

Setting and destinations: USA

Era: Modern day

River Town – 2 Years on the Yangtze – Peter Hessler

River Town – 2 years on the Yangtze is a travel memoir by Peter Hessler, who went to a small Chinese town on the banks of the Yangtze River in China. After arriving as a Peace Corps volunteer, he completely immerses himself in the local culture and traditions. He’s the first American who visits the place in over half a century and he can learn as much from his Chinese students as they can learn from him.

A funny and compelling story about culture and a radically different society.

Setting and destinations: China

Era: Late 20th century

Game of thrones – George RR Martin

The Game of Thrones saga may not be a travel book pur sang, but it is definitely a wonderful series of books to read while traveling. Even before the series first aired on tv, I picked up this book in a book exchange somewhere in Peru and I could not put it down. After finishing the first book, I just had to find the second, because I was so intrigued by the plot and powerful storytelling.

For fans of the popular HBO series, you have to read the books!

Setting and destinations: Fictional

Era: Fictional time

Smile when you’re lying – Chuck Thompson

Smile when you’re lying: confessions of a rogue travel writer is a novel by Chuck Thompson, which addressed the fakeness of travel brochures and the travel industry as a whole. In this hilarious book, he states that travel writers lie (he’s definitely not talking about us!)

Follow the writer through a series of anecdotes which prove that the travel industry is a lying bunch of salespeople who want to lure travelers in with their images of pristine beaches and gorgeous people drinking cocktails.

Setting and destinations: Worldwide

Era: Modern day

Almost somewhere: Twenty-eight days on the John Muir Trail – Suzanne Roberts

Almost Somewhere is a travel memoir in which Suzanne Roberts leaves home to hike the John Muir trail in the Sierra Nevada for 28 days with two girlfriends, utterly unprepared. She had just finished college and her view of the future was confused and uncertain. The adventure changes her life and opens her eyes to aspects of life she never experienced before.

Setting and destinations: USA

Era: 1990’s

A field guide to getting lost – Rebecca Solnit

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is an intriguing journey of self-discovery. This memoir of a female traveler is meant to inspire and educate about how women often see the world as it is told by men. Follow the author on a journey through different emotions: fear, loss, uncertainty, desire, …

A field guide to getting lost is a very personal story with tons of philosophical thoughts. This one is a book you either completely fall in love with or don’t like at all.

Setting and destinations:

Era: Modern day

The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard is a spiritual story about a field biologist who travels into the Himalaya’s to study the Himalayan blue sheep, but accidentally stumbles upon the beautiful and rare snow leopard. This novel is soaked in spiritualism and Buddhism and it describes the spiritual path, as well as the actual journey.

Setting and destinations: Nepal

Era: 1970’s

Papillon – Henri Charriere

The story of the French inmate Papillon has also been filmed, but I must say that the book goes way deeper than the film ever did.

Papillon is a French prisoner who was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Still, he gets transferred to raw Devil’s Island in front of the South American coast: a penal colony of the French. Escape from the island is impossible, but Papillon is obsessed with escape and eventually he manages to pull it off.

I enjoyed reading this novel from the first letter to the last. This story really happened and it’s heart breaking to read what this man went through. Get inspired by the immense will power of one man.

Setting and destinations: South America

Era: 1930’s

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Life of Pi has also been turned into a film. I haven’t seen the movie, but I did enjoy every page of this memorable book. The story of the Indian boy Pi Patel is quite unbelievable and interesting.

After leaving India on a large cargo ship with his parents and dozens of animals from their zoo, the ship ends up in a storm and sinks. The boy survives on a lifeboat, together with some less friendly animals. He ends up floating around on the ocean for more than 200 days and he shares his tiny boat with Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger.

I especially enjoyed the interesting story twist in the end. This is a must-read book for travelers!

Setting and destinations: the ocean

Era: 19th century

Child of the Jungle – Sabine Kuegler

Child of the Jungle is a best-selling novel in Europe and for a good reason. The story is remarkable, and it really happened to the writer Sabine Kuegler.

As a 7-year-old girl, Sabine and her family lived with a hunter-and-gatherer tribe in the jungle in Papua New Guinea. For years, the family lived as if they were living in the stone age and that’s how Sabine experienced her youth. You can imagine the shock when she returned to the Western world and civilization. Child of the Jungle tells a story of contradiction and the difficulties a young person encounters when going through immense changes in their lives.

Setting and destinations: Papua New Guinea / Switzerland

Era: Late 20th century

Earths Children – Jean Auel

This 6-book-series by Jean Auel will draw you in and it won’t let you go until you finish all 6 books. At least, it did that with me.

Earth’s Children follows the story of Ayla, a young girl in the Stone Age, whose parents die in an earthquake. But the girl survives and gets picked up by Neanderthals, with whom she lives for a long time until she discovers that they are not her people. And that’s just half of the first book! I promise, you won’t regret picking up this series of amazing novels.

Jean Auel did an immense amount of research to get the facts straight for these books and I really enjoyed the fact that I learned a lot about how life could have been in this era.

Setting and destinations: Not sure

Era: Stone Age

The first Americans – William Sarabande

Actually written by an woman, The First Americans book series is similar, yet completely different from the Earth’s Children series. William Sarabande is the pen name for Joan Lesley Hamilton Cline.

The First Americans is a book series about the early inhabitants of the American continent. Torka, the main character loses his family to a killer mammoth and decides to guide the surviving members of his tribe towards the rising sun. This way, they travel from the Asian continent, over a frozen landscape, to the American continent.

This is exactly the type of books I love and I read the entire series in a short amount of time. However, I heard other people complain about the amount of violence in these books. So, you either love it or you don’t. I think the violence mirrors the way people are and it’s definitely not too extreme.

Setting and destinations: Asia and the Americas

Era: Ice Age

A long way home – Saroo Brierley

A Long Way Home is another captivating story about how a young boy is driven to find his home. At the age of five, the Indian boy Saroo gets lost on a train in India. He wakes up, thousand miles from home, not knowing the name of his hometown or even his last name. The boy gets adopted and is taken to Australia. With the use of Google Earth, Saroo is able to use satellite images and street view impressions to find his origins.

This book was also turned into a movie and the true story became a massive media sensation worldwide!

Setting and destinations: India / Australia

Era: 30 years ago – Modern day

The Beach – Alex Garland

The Beach is a cult classic which was also turned into a popular movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. The story takes a young Westerner in Thailand through a series of adventures. It all starts with meeting a weird man who gives him a map of a paradise beach before he commits suicide. Together with a French girl, he ventures out in search of the hidden beach. But before they leave, he gives the map to a bunch of other travelers.

They eventually find the hidden beach and the community of Westerners living there as a commune. At first, the lifestyle is beautiful and idyllic, but then they start noticing the holes in the façade and the paradise life quickly turns into a nightmare. The end of this book truly is a nightmare!

Setting and destinations: Thailand

Era: 1990’s

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Another best-seller at the end of our list! The Kite Runner tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a rich boy and the son of their servant. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m definitely adding it to my reading list.

The Kite Runner offers insight in Afghani culture and the struggles of everyday people. This book is different than most other books you probably read before. Prepare to be taken into the dark and emotional life of people in Afghanistan.

Setting and destinations: Afghanistan

Era: Modern day

Where the west ends – Michael J. Totten

Where the West Ends is a travel book about the exploration of a part of the world where few travelers venture. The story is written by award winning travel writer Michael J. Totten and it’s a captivating book that you’ll want to read in one sitting.

Setting and destinations: Eastern Europe: Albania – Romania – Georgia – Ukraine – Bosnia – Kosovo – the Middle East

Era: modern era

Conclusion: 50+ best books to read while traveling

That’s it! Those were 50+ of the coolest and best books to read while traveling, which doesn’t mean you can’t read them at home! We might be expanding this list later on, when we stumble upon more enthralling travel books and adventures.

We really hope you enjoyed this list and found a few gems you didn’t know yet.

If you did like the list, we’d love to encourage you to use our links when you decide to purchase one of the books. By using our links, you won’t ever pay more for your purchase, but you will be helping us keeping this website alive, as we receive a small commission for each sale!

Happy reading and above all: happy travels!

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Welcome to Only Once Today! We're Lobke and Inge, the creators of this website and you can call us travel addicts!
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