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Best Travel Books 2020: 11 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel

If you love reading and travelling, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve put together a compilation of the 11 best travel books; epic reads for everyone who needs a bit of travel inspiration.

Whether you’re searching for some wanderlust because at the moment you can’t travel, or some travel inspiration that will actually push you to book that next trip, these are the books for you!

So without further ado, let’s jump straight in! Discover the most inspiring travel books, that will make you wander around the world without leaving the comfort of your couch.

Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach at sunset, Costa Rica

Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach at sunset, Costa Rica

11 best travel books

“On the Road”, Jack Kerouac

On The Road is a largely autobiographical novel based on the travels of the author and his friends across the United States.

It’s an iconic book about the Beat and Counterculture generation, but with timeless themes that we can all relate to.

The main characters thirst for life, their desire to get out there and live life to the fullest will inspire to pack your bags and go. It also shows you how the journey can change you for the better, and how the people you meet help you grow.

Front cover of the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Front cover of the book “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

“Into the Wild”, Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild is based on the true story and life of Christopher McCandless, a young American who rejects modern society in favour of the great outdoors.

After graduating from college Christopher sets off on his travels across North America, all the way to Alaska.

His rejection of physical possessions and a “normal” life, in pursuit of something bigger and different is something we can all relate to.

Into the Wild was also adapted to an epic travel movie. It’s one of the classics that all travellers love.

Front cover of the book "Into the Wild"

Front cover of the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer

“The Art of Travel”, Alain de Botton

The Art of Travel is a funny philosophical book that looks at why people travel.

We all set off in search of big adventures, passionate love stories, new friendships and memories, but we also come across disappointments that are not often talked about in travel literature.

Instead of just inspiring you to travel, Alain de Botton pushes you to ask yourself why you travel and how it will fulfil you (if at all).

He draws on personal experiences as well as great artists and thinkers (Van Gogh to name of them) to help you learn how to be happier on your travels.

Book cover of "The Art of Travel" by Alain de Botton

Book cover of “The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton

“Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel”, Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is seen by many as the handbook and bible of long-term travel. It looks at how taking time off from your normal life, whether it’s a six week unpaid leave or a 2-year gap year, to discover and explore the world can change you.

The book is as inspiring as it is practical and useful. The new revised book has tips on how to finance your travels, choosing a destination, adjusting to life on the road and more.

It’s an inspiring book with useful tips on how you can start and live your own vagabonding journey. It’s a must read book for anyone who loves to travel, and wants to travel even more!

The front cover of "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” by Rolf Potts

The front cover of “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” by Rolf Potts

“The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream”, Paulo Coelho

As the title suggests, The Alchemist is one of those books that will inspire you to follow your dreams, and teach you to listen to your heart along the way.

The novel follows Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, as he sets off on a great adventure to Egypt, to achieve what he believes is his goal in life.

The book is full of moving quotes (that you might have seen all over social media as Instagram captions) and is one of those stories that really teaches you to listen to your heart, to read the omens you come across in life, and ultimately, to follow your passions and dreams.

It’s not only an inspiring travel book, but also a novel that has become popular in recent years thanks to its self-help and self-love themes.

The core idea that if you really want something, the universe will help you achieve it, is one that many people love reading and relating to.

Front cover of the book “The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream” by Paulo Coelho

Front cover of the book “The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream” by Paulo Coelho

“Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road”, Kate Harris

In this book Kate Harris delves deep into the innate human desire for exploration and discovery. Lands of Lost Borders will teach you about the importance of breaking the boundaries we set upon ourselves.

For anyone who doesn’t want to live between the lines, this is a must-read. The quest to live boldly and out of bounds is something many travellers can relate to.

It’s a book that teaches you about yourself, your boundaries and your connections with others.

The front cover of “Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road” by Kate Harris

The front cover of “Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road” by Kate Harris

“Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia”, Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love is, in my opinion, one of the most relatable travel books. It’s the autobiographical story of Elizabeth Gilbert, an American author who documents her travels following her divorce.

Elizabeth had it all; a good job, a house, a husband, they were trying to have a baby, and yet she realises she doesn’t want any of it and she wasn’t happy.

For those of us who stumbled into the 9-5 life because it’s the expected thing to do (I know I was one of them), it’s a book that strikes many chords.

Elizabeth changes her life and goes on to travel to Italy, India and Bali, where she finds herself and happiness. Eat, Pray, Love is a book that will make you want to change your day-to-day life.

The front cover of the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

The front cover of the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

“The Beach”, Alex Garland

Another incredible travel book that then became an awesome travel movie, The Beach by Alex Garland is one of the classics that every traveller should read.

Main character Richard is travelling in search for the “Beach”, a hidden paradise that only few can find.

His desire to do something different, to get off the beaten path and to find himself is something that all backpackers can relate to.

Set in the beautiful Thai islands, this book and movie is what inspired my first Thailand trip.

Book cover of "The Beach" by Alex Garland

Book cover of “The Beach” by Alex Garland

“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life”, William Finnegan

Barbarian Days is one of my personal favourite travel books. It’s not so much about epic journeys as some of the other books on this list, but it’s still an inspiring story about a sport that for many is a way of life.

The book is based on the authors’ own life and travels, as he travelled around the world searching for the best waves.

Finnegan teaches us about finding ourselves, connecting with others and facing challenges, all the while drawing comparisons with surfing and waves.

For anyone that has tried surfing at least once during their travels, be it in Bali, Fuerteventura or anywhere around the world, this is a must read. This book is an inspiring insight into a world that is much more than just riding a wave.

Cover of the book “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan

Cover of the book “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan

“Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country”, Bill Bryson

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, you will want to read this book. Down Under follows the travels of the author through Australia, from the outback to the beaches.

The book is very humorous and jokes on Australian stereotypes, like that all the animals are Australia trying to kill you, while showcasing the beauty of the cities, natural landscapes and people of Australia.

It’s not a traditional guidebook but a must read for anyone planning a trip Down Under.

The book cover of “Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson

The book cover of “Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson

“How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker”, Lauren Juliff

Last but not least, How Not to Travel the World is the perfect read for anyone that would love to travel, but until this day hasn’t found the courage to do so.

Sometimes the big inspiring stories are fun to read, but their main characters can seem far away and not very relatable.

Lauren shares her stories as a solo traveller hitting the road for the first time, with all the thought process and emotional considerations that go into taking that decision, as well as all the misadventures that happen to her on the road.

It’s a fun and light-hearted read for any traveller. It’s a book that will inspire you to conquer your fears and live your dreams. If Lauren survived, surely you can too?

Front book cover of “How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker” by Lauren Juliff

Front book cover of “How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker” by Lauren Juliff

Need help planning your future trips? Check out these useful resources!

Exploring the surroundings of St Anton am Arlberg in Austria

Exploring the surroundings of St Anton am Arlberg in Austria

Final thoughts on the best inspiring books about travel

There you have it, the ultimate compilation of all the most inspiring travel books!

These are just my personal favourites, do you have other cool travel books you think should feature on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope you find this compilation useful in choosing your next read. I love reading travel stories when I’m at home and can’t travel. It gives me an escape from everyday life, and fuels my imagination for when those next trips come around!

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Collage of a girl looking out at a viewpoint in the Azores and two girls holding a surf board at sunset in Costa Rica with text overlay saying "the most inspiring travel books"

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