Front cover of a book called The Ugly American

Best Travel Books

I think an important part of traveling is reading good travel books. And by travel books, I don’t mean Lonely Planet guides or step-by-step manuals on finding “the 3 best coffee shops in Paris.” Ugh. I mean books that give raw, honest accounts of actual boots-on-the-ground experience by someone who has journeyed to a new place and has an interesting story to tell.

Reading books about travel helps me understand how to prepare for travel, learn more about the mental game of travel, and open my mind to what kinds of experiences await me someday in the future as I explore. Over the years, I have read a LOT of books on traveling: some are fantastic, some are just okay, and some are pretty bad.

Based on my experience, I decided to create a list of some of my favorite travel books. You might look at some of these titles and think: “Huh? That isn’t a travel book, why did he list it here?” — trust me, if it’s on this list, it’s because it’s worthwhile. What I’ve found is that a lot of books that embody all the values and goals of travel aren’t necessarily “travel books” per se.

Sometimes they’re just memoirs from someone who traveled a lot in their lifetime, and I thought that the accounts of their experience were worth putting in this list. Sometimes, they’re fictional novels, but have enough relevant content to the travel-minded individual that I think they’re worth sharing because they’ll inspire you to seek new adventures in real life. And, of course, many times even fictional books are based heavily on real-life experience by the authors, who decided to create stories with some truth and some embellishment.

So, having said all that, here’s a list of books I recommend based on travel and exploration:

List of The Best Travel Books I’ve Read

In addition to this list, I also have a list of the best travel movies I’ve seen.


Disclaimer: this list uses Amazon affiliate links, so if you purchase any of these items, I may get a small commission at no cost to you. For more details, please visit the disclosures page.

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