Books That Inspired Me to Travel

When we can’t jump on a train or catch a flight ourselves, the next best thing is to live vicariously through the pages of our favourite travel books. These are some of my own favourites that inspired me to travel; some made me lust after specific places, others just made me want to head anywhere and everywhere! Maybe they’ll get you reaching for your passport too?

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The Beach by Alex Garland

travel books The Beach

I read this in my early teens and it’s been on my favourites list ever since. I’m a huge fan of Alex Garland’s work, especially his work in film, but my favourite thing he’s done will always be The Beach.

On a backpacking trip to Bangkok, Richard discovers a beautiful and secluded island full of other travellers who have decided to make it their permanent home, but of course, things aren’t nearly always as perfect as they seem. If you’ve already seen the film, don’t pass on the book! It’s a totally different experience, and the ending of the film diverges quite a bit from the original text too.

Isn’t it Pretty to Think So? by Nick Miller

travel books Isn't It Pretty To Think So?

This is Nick Miller’s only novel to date but it’s put him firmly on my watch-list. It follows Jake, a recent graduate who finds himself disillusioned with post-college life. Upon his grandmother’s death, he inherits a large sum of money with which he travels around the Sunshine State, meeting different people and learning to navigate post-grad life in modern-day America.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

travel books A Tale For The Time Being

This is one of my favourite books of all time. If I wasn’t a broke student, this book would have me like Oprah – YOU get a copy! YOU get a copy! EVERYONE GETS A COPY!

The book follows two intertwining stories. The first is Ruth, living in Canada, on an isolated and rural island. On the beach she finds a washed-up diary belonging to a Japanese-American teenage girl named Nao. The book then alternates between Ruth’s secluded existence on the island, and Nao’s life as a girl who feels like an American who has been transplanted by her parents to Japan, as told through her diary entries.

The descriptions of both Tokyo and British Columbia are so rich I almost felt like I was there. It’s a beautifully melancholic story of feeling uprooted and not quite at home. It made me laugh and it made me cry and then it made me want to buy a copy for every single person I know. Still to this day, I make a beeline for it in every bookstore, just for that familiar feeling of holding one of my favourite books…. We all do that, right?

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

travel books On The Road

Ah, the old classic. I know, I know, this is on almost every list of travel books, but it really did make me want to sell everything I own, catch the next flight to the U.S., buy a beat-up old car and just see where I ended up. If you’re not familiar with this Beat Generation classic, the novel follows Sal and his friend Dean as they road trip across the US with very little money but quite a lot of drama. Separated into five parts, each section consists of a different trip, scattered across the US and even Mexico. This one is a classic for a reason and a must-read for any adventurer.

Off the Beaten Track by Dea Birkett

travel books Off The Beaten Track

Off the Beaten Track is a collection of portraits of women travellers of the past three centuries. It tells of their lives, their accomplishments, and the things that they discovered during their travels. It’s incredible to see so many strong and accomplished women travelling all over the world, even as far back as the 18th century, and the impact that they made along the way.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

travel books A Gentleman In Moscow

This is definitely one of my favourite books of 2016, and I’ve recommended it to pretty much everyone I know. Set in the 1920s, Count Alexander Rostov begins his life-long house arrest in the attic rooms of the Hotel Metropol, overlooking Moscow’s Red Square. Here he encounters a foray of eccentric and charismatic characters whilst watching a transforming Russia right outside his window. The writing is absolutely captivating, the characters are enthralling, and I couldn’t put it down. It takes place during one of Russia’s most interesting periods in history, and got me infatuated with the idea of visiting, prompting me to add a ton of other Russian-related literature to my ever-growing reading list.

Travel Listography

travel books Travel Listography

So this one isn’t a novel, but it’s bound to bring on a bout of itchy feet! I’m a huge fan of Listography, both the online website and their books. With tons of travel-related list prompts, it’ll keep you busy with wanderlust for hours!

Ultimate Travelist Colouring Book (Lonely Planet)

travel books Colouring Book

When you’re done reading and ready to start your own adventures, be sure to pick this up. Not only will it keep you occupied on those long journeys, but it may even inspire your next trip!

Which books have inspired your adventures?

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Portia is a British student, studying English Literature and Film at the University of Hertfordshire, but is currently on Erasmus exchange at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden. She loves to travel (a total of 14 countries so far, including 18 US states), read books, and watch films. She hopes to work with international film festivals after graduating. She's on a mission to pet all of the goats in the world and is making great progress.


  1. I would explicitly like to admit, I haven’t read any of the above – but oh mighty lord, when summer time hits; I’m putting my glasses back on for good!

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