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15 Books about Travel and Self-discovery

Girl Reading Book in Sunset
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Everyone loves a good travel book. They are great to read. Not only when we are out on the road, traveling and exploring, but also when we are at home, wishing we could be out traveling and adventuring.

Travel books ignite something in our soul we when read them. There is so much we learn about ourselves from traveling or reading travel books. They are filled with a great sense of self-discovery.

I am always looking for great new travel books to add to my list of reads and audiobooks. That’s why I ask my fellow travel bloggers for their best travel and self discovery books. Together we have compiled a list, that I hope will help you find a new and exciting travel book to add to your list.

Quick Answer: Best Travel and Self Discovery Books

15 Best Books about Travel and Self-Discovery

Under the Tuscan Sun | Frances Mayes

If you’ve never thought of traveling to Tuscany, prepare to have your mind changed. After reading Under the Tuscan Sun, you will be looking for the next flights out! This beautifully and poetically written book by Frances Mayes is one of determination, self-discovery, and new beginnings. All set in the gorgeous Italian Tuscan countryside!

Frances immediately transports you there, as she goes on her journey preserving and restoring an old and dilapidated villa! She shares her struggles, the incredible food she encounters, as well as the friends she meets. It’ll make you crave to explore and travel to Italy.

She is honest and realistic about her journey throughout which endears you to her plight even more! She even talks about and discusses all of her travel anxiety and how she overcomes it.

This book will have you making that dream a reality!

Submission by: Charlotte Blackburn

Four Corners | Kira Salak

If you have ever wanted to go on an exciting new frontier journey then you have to read this book. It is about one woman’s solo journey through the heart of Papua New Guinea. It will have you constantly on your edge wanting to know more.

I have done a lot of solo trips and adventures in my time, but what Kira Salak gets up to pushes everything to the edge. Not only does she get left in the jungles in the heart of Papua New Guinea, she also manages to score a free helicopter ride to safety as well as sneaking into a refugee camp. This is a great travel book to help push you into a different kind of travel.

Submission by: Megan, The Peter Pan Traveler

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long & Happy Life | Hecto Gargia & Francesc Miralles

A result of months of research, this non-fiction book investigates reasons why the small islands of Okinawa, Japan are home to the highest concentration of supercentenarians in the world (people who live to reach 110 years or more). As one of only five Blue Zones across the globe, what is their secret?

The answer is residents have all found their reason to jump out of bed each day, despite their old age – their ikigai. Locals believe everyone has an ikigai, they just need to find it deep within.

As Okinawa is quite isolated, residents embrace a strong connection with nature and thrive on a sense of belonging through their close-knit communities. Adopting healthy eating habits and being dedicated to helping one another provides locals with a sense of purpose, contributing to improved overall health.

Whether readers have already found their ikigai or are still searching for it, this is one of the most unique Japan travel books to gain a better understanding about Japanese culture and be inspired by their way of life. A great book for travel and self-discovery.

The intriguing fundamentals discussed in the book are enough to coax readers to jump on a plane to Okinawa’s tropical shores to be immersed amongst welcoming locals – and see the theory in practice!

Submission by: Alyse, The Invisible Tourist

The Spice Necklace: A Food-Lovers Caribbean Adventure | Ann Vanderhoof

Are you a foodie who’s ever daydreamed about escaping the daily grind of everyday life and island-hopping through the Caribbean? If you said “yes” then this is the book for you.

Part memoir, part cookbook, and part travelogue, this delicious sequel to Vanderhoof’s first book ‘An Embarrassment of Mangoes’ is an immersion into the scents, flavors, and culture of Caribbean cuisine.

From the West Indian curries of Trinidad to the goat stews of the Dominican Republic.

This book will introduce you to a range of enticing ingredients, traditions and culinary techniques sure to inspire you to book your own Caribbean escape.

Along with engaging descriptions of the adventures they have and the local people they meet, the book includes 71 recipes featuring vanilla, cocoa, nutmeg, conch, ginger, and other ingredients found in the atmospheric outdoor markets of the Caribbean.

Submission by: Michele Peterson of A Taste For Travel 

Barbarian Days | William Finnegan

This is another one of my favorite books that has to be on this list. It is about a young surfer back in the 70’s that is on a worldwide tour to find the perfect wave. Even if you are not a surfer, you will still enjoy this book.

William and his best mate travel the world with just pennies in their pockets, sleeping on beaches and hitchhiking on yachts to find their way around the world.

I have so much appreciation for those that traveled back in the days when communicating with our families wasn’t as easy as it is today. His stories about sending telegrams and how they moved about it fascinating.

If you are a surfer, you will appreciate some of the world-famous surf breaks he found and discovered before anyone else. From the best surf breaks in Mexico all the way to Bali.

Submission by: Megan, The Peter Pan Traveler

It’s All Greek To Me | John Mole

There are countless inspiring books set in Greece, but John Mole’s hilarious novel It’s All Greek To Me is definitely one of the most wanderlust-inducing among them.

Unlike other Greece-themed novels that are set in world-renowned places such as Mykonos or Athens, It’s All Greek To Me is set in an almost unknown rural area, thus creating the desire for some true exploration across the best-hidden parts of an otherwise famous country.

The story follows the author’s adventures, from the moment he decides to buy a dilapidated house in the countryside. As the story unfolds, readers follow the author and his family in their eventful journey, which is depicted in a light-hearted and funny way.

It’s All Greek To Me gives great insight into what it’s like to be an ex-pat in rural Greece. Although there may be struggles involved, at the end of the day it all comes down to the bliss of living in a sun-kissed country with smiling people who are always there to offer a helping hand or a glass of local wine.

Submission by: Maria of It’s All Trip To Me

Great Railway Bazaar | Paul Theroux

A modern classic that all aspiring travelers should read more than once. Traveling by modern-day trains all the way from England to Asia is a feat in itself, but can you even imagine what it would have been like in 1975?

If Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar doesn’t inspire you to book a ticket right now, then nothing will!

His truly entertaining journey takes him across continents on some of the most famous train rides in the world.

During his 4 month trip from Europe to the Middle East, South East Asia all the way to Japan and back again across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Theroux meets some colorful characters and explores incredible cultures along the way. There is sure to be something to spike all interests in this incredible account of an epic adventure.

Submission by: Yulia Saf

Walking the Nile | Levison Wood

This is another that had to be added to the best books for travel and self-discovery list. Levison Wood’s sets out on a mission to walk the whole distance of the Nile river crossing through 11 different countries in Africa.

It is a great book for self-discovery, spending over 9 months walking the Nile, and meeting some amazing people along the way.

If you are not much of a reader, you are also in luck because this is actually serious on Amazon as well, however, I prefer the book version. Anyone with the slightest sense of adventure will enjoy this thrilling tale.

Submission by: Megan, The Peter Pan Traveler

The Island | Victoria Hislop

If you want to feel inspired to visit Crete and the island of Spinalonga, aka one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, you have to read ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop.

Through a young woman’s wish to know more about her mother’s past, she finally gets to know the history of her Cretan family. As well as her connection to Spinalonga Island. Reading this book you will get a fascinating glimpse into the life of this isolated community in Greece during the first half of the 20th century.

Not only is this one of the best books for travel and self-discovery. In this book, you’ll find a perfect combo of history, love, mouthwatering descriptions of Greece. You will have a sense of understanding what it’s like to live in a leper colony located only a stone’s throw away from Crete, Greece’s largest island.

If you do get to visit Crete in real life, you’ll see how close these two islands really are, and you’ll be thrilled to walk through the remains of the colony, which is described so vividly in the book.

Submission by: By Or from My Path in the World 

The Shooting Star | Shivya Nath

The shooting star is one of the best travel books to read to learn about how traveling can change your perspective in life. The story follows the life of Shivya Nath, an Indian travel blogger, who quit her job in 2013 and sold all her possessions to travel around the world.

From exploring the remote Himalayan hill stations to visiting the Amazon rainforests in Ecuador, she takes you on her travel journey around the world.

Reading about her travel stories across the world inspire me to follow in her footsteps and plan a backpacking trip around the world as well.

Also, knowing that she is an Indian female who could achieve this truly makes me believe that I can accomplish my dream of traveling the world as well. If you are looking for a travel book to inspire you and take you on a trip around the world, then this is the perfect book to read. It will make you dream about places and show you the harsh reality of traveling as well.

Submission by: Rachita Saxena

The Elephant Whisper | Lawrence Anthony

The Elephant Whisper is a touching story of elephants in Africa who are marked to be killed for dangerous behavior.

As a conservationist, Lawrence Anthony shares his encounters with these magnificent animals and his quest to try and save their lives. Not only is this book inspiring, but it also generates a desire in you to help animals as you emphasize with their harrowing journeys.

Lawrence Anthony has a true gift when it comes to exotic wildlife. His close encounters with the elephants demonstrate his ability to connect with them at a whole new level. The book will have you feeling moments of intense happiness, but also anxiety and fear as you’re taken into a threatening and dangerous world.

One thing is for sure, you will feel personally invested in the safety and protection of this elephant herd. You might even be compelled enough to find one of the best places for Safari in Africa to see elephants up close and personal yourself.

Submission by: Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel

The Glassblower of Murano | Marina Fiorato

This is a book set in Venice bound to inspire your next trip to Italy. The story is based on the secretive lives of the Murano island glassblowers, under the wealthy Republic of Venice.

Venitian glass was like gold in the 1600s and the artistry and craftsmanship were under close protection and guard.

The book begins with the greatest artist, Corradino Manin, selling his methods to Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, to protect his secret daughter. As present-day descendent Leonora Manin leaves an unfulfilling life in London to pursue a life as a glassblower in Venice, creating a dual storyline.

Intrigue ensues, telling a picturesque tale of Venice. Venice at the height of the republic as well as the modern-day life of the most romantic city in Italy will have you wanting to plan your next trip to Venice immediately.

When reading this book, you can expect an artfully told tale of two storylines in past and present Venice. This is your book if you are looking for history, romance, art, music, murder, escapism, and travel inspiration.

Submission by:  Haley of HaleyBlackall.com

Elsewhere |  Rosita Boland

Over the last three decades, starting with a trip to Australia as a young graduate, Rosita traveled the world on her own, exploring as much s she could.

This is nine stories from nine countries during that time including Australia, Pakistan, Antarctica, Bali, and more ranging from death-defying bus rides to grand landscapes, and personal loss to profound joy.

This is a great book to read before (or during) any traveling, but it’s particularly great if you enjoy reading solo female travel memoirs.  It’s also great for travelers that like to take it a little bit easier since it isn’t full of adrenaline-pumping activities, but slow and immersive exploring.

It’s an inspiring book, especially for anyone wary of traveling on their own or anyone that just wants to get out and see the world but needs that first push.

The Lost Girls | Jennifer Baggett

This book is a memoir of three New York City women who had high-performing careers that decided to quit their jobs and travel the world together.

In a year, they cover four continents, deep truths about themselves, and unravel the belief that women have to live a conventional lifestyle to be happy.

After years of discussing the idea of traveling together, three best friends time their exit from their jobs in the New York City editorial and magazine world to live their dreams. It’s an inspiring tale for anyone, whether you’re planning to solo travel or go in a group.

While they’re living their dream, everything isn’t always smooth sailing. From two of them getting ill in Peru to a falling out over one’s decision to write about their trip. The friends must face internal and external obstacles to circumnavigating the globe.

You’ll learn that it’s ok when things don’t go as planned and that sometimes the mistakes you make will help you find out more about yourself.

This is the perfect book to help inspire your itinerary, wherever you plan to go in the world and to help shape your appreciation for the realities that travel isn’t always perfect. Buy the book to immerse yourself in this incredible tale of adventure, self-discovery, and personal growth.

Submission by: Nina Out and About


Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure | Sarah Macdonald

The name of the book itself literally invites you to pick it up! An Australian journalist, author &  radio presenter- Sarah Macdonald left her successful career in Australia & lived in New Delhi to join her boyfriend working there.

She hilariously brings out the extreme contrast between the two worlds & her journey to try and find herself in India.

She traveled to all majorly important places in India- tourist, culture & religion-wise. Through her experiences, you learn more about the different cultures and traditional religious practices across this large country as seen by a foreigner from a different culture.

She was stunned by the extravagant temple celebrations of Kerala. Golden Temple awed her with its beauty & the message of serving all. She traveled the length of the country. The book is a narration of a spiritual adventure across all of India & her personal tryst with the various religions practiced in India.

India has a myriad set of festivals & she has enjoyed & described their extravagant celebrations in detail. From the exuberant festivals to the quiet inner reflections, Sarah explored all of India.

She was going through a turbulent time personally & hoped to gain answers about her own place amidst the chaos in her life. These spiritual experiences she had in India finally helped her come to terms & gain inner peace.

I recommend reading this book to appreciate different regions, festivals, food & the religious and spiritual offerings of India.

Submission by: Nilu- TheTravelingCA 

Well, there you have it. A wide variety of choices to choose from. Books about travel and self-discovery. I hope that with all these wonderful choices you will be able to pick something for your next travel-inspired read.

Do you have a favorite travel book, not on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

15 Best Books to Read Travel and Self-discovery15 Best Books to Read Travel and Self-discovery

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