With our busy lives and almost no work-life balance, it can be hard to find time to catch up on your reading, but that changes once you’re on the road. Between airport queues and train journeys, you may find yourself with enough time to grab that book you’ve been wanting to read for ages, or looking for good recommendations online. So here’s a list of best books to read while traveling.
On the Road
The first one is the classic, Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel that should almost be compulsory reading for all nomads and backpackers who want to live off the grid. In ‘On The Road’ discover 1950’s underground America as Kerouac travels across the states in search of Jazz, drugs, sex and the meaning of life. Definitely, everyone’s favorite books to read while traveling!
Where you’ll be inspired to go: All over the US
Seven Years In Tibet
If you happen to be in love with the Himalayas, then Herrer’s autobiography Seven Years in Tibet should be on your must-read list. And if you haven’t been fortunate enough to see the Himalayas with your own eyes, this book will surely make you want to go. A combination of a travelogue, a history book and also an adventure one, it depicts the escape of Herrer from India after being imprisoned by the British in the Second World War. He manages to get all the way to Lhasa, Tibet, where he also settles.
Travel is not all about seeing new places and sites. It’s about getting to know the world, the people around us and their culture and traditions. In Seven Years in Tibet, you get to experience an authentic Tibet. You learn about the Tibetan way of life and how the people in the Himalayas praise the mountains and respect them. And also, you can take a peek in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s early life through his exciting friendship with Herrer.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Tibet and China
Now whether you’re a movie kinda person or just a book addict, this is a great book to take while traveling. But before you decide to watch the film, do yourself a favor and READ the book. Why?
Pacific Crest Trail
What the author Cheryl Strayed shows really well is that travel and long term adventures aren’t full of unicorns, glitter and Insta perfect photos. Cheryl takes the reader through her exceptionally personal journey from a successful marriage, to drugs sex and bad fitting boots. By describing her 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery, the book reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and was the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: California, Oregon, Washington, USA / British Columbia, Canada
Any novel that is narrated by an escaped convict who flees prison in Australia to live in India is at least worth a chance. It is a lengthy read, so reading it on a Kindle would save a lot of room in your luggage. The narrator arrives in Mumbai carrying a false passport in the name of Lindsay Ford. The story goes on to describe Lin’s life and his insights about India.
Shantaram, a 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, is commended by many for its vivid portrayal of tumultuous life in Bombay and the ability to draw you in and leave you curious about the rest of the people of India.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: India
20,000 Leagues under the Sea
This classic and charming work of fantasy is a fast read and although traveling 20,000 leagues under the sea is out of the question, exploring the land of ice and fire – Iceland – isn’t. One of the best books to inspire great travel adventures.
Written by Jules Verne in 1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea tells the story of three accidental visitors to an underwater world hosted by the mysterious Captain Nemo. From their arrival on board the Nautilus, the scholarly Professor Aronnax, loyal Conseil, and adventurous Ned Land are torn between exploring the new wonders of their surroundings and finding a way to escape as Captain Nemo is one of the greatest villains ever created
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Iceland
Under the Tuscan Sun
Frances Mayes lives out the fantasy of many when she buys and restores a villa in the heart of Tuscany. Under the Tuscan Sun will leave even the most active person yearning for a simpler and slower way of life and it’s the perfect travel book to escape the modern pace of life.
The book starts when Frances Mayes learns her husband is cheating on her with a writer whom she gave a bad review and her life is turned upside down. In an attempt to bring her out of a deep depression, her best friend, Patti encourages Frances to take a tour of Italy. During the trip, the new divorcée impulsively decides to purchase a rural Tuscan villa and struggles to start her life anew amid colorful local characters, including the handsome Marcello.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Italy (especially the Tuscan region!)
Travel tip: If this inspired you to go to Tuscany, make sure to visit the La Cité Libreriacafè in Florence!
The Year Of Living Danishly: Uncovering The Secrets Of The World’s Happiest Country
Another great book to read while traveling is A Year of Living Danishly, about an English couple who moves to the countryside in Denmark to a small city where the Lego headquarters are located. It’s a tale from the authors perspective as she investigates just why Danes are so happy and how they manage to be happy in some of the most depressing weather when days are shadowed more by darkness than by sunshine. It’s a funny account of how learning to be Danish can make you happier and how the little things really do make you smile.
For those who love to travel and learn about different cultures, this book by Helen Russell delves into Denmark’s fascinating culture that is similar yet so different from other western countries. it’s a story about happiness and gives outside people a new way to see things and shines on light aspects that more countries should adapt to make happier people.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia
Eat, Pray, Love
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. This book offers short chapters that allow for a light-read as you follow Elizabeth as she sets foot on an adventure to find what she truly wants out of life.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Italy, India, and Indonesia
Travel tip: if you’re a nomad thinking about moving to Bali, make sure to check the Dojo Bali Coworking space.
The Adventures of Tintin
What could be more inspiring to a young traveler (or older nomads who are still young at heart) than the action-packed adventures of a reporter and his little dog wandering the world?
Created by Hergé, this is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, set during a largely realistic 20th century. Its hero is Tintin, a courageous young Belgian reporter and goes in a number of adventures aided by his faithful dog Snowy. The nice twist is how is set in a historical backdrop, in the period in which he was working, most notably the Bolshevik uprising in Russia, the Second World War and the moon landings. It is a great series of books to be entertaining and learn a bit more of world history in a fun way.
Where you’ll be inspired to go: Belgium
How to Travel the World on $10 a Day
And for all of you budget travelers out there, one of the best books that will help you make your dream of traveling the world come true. Packed to bursting with backpacking tips and tricks, How to Travel the World on $10 a Day is the ultimate planning resource for the low-budget traveler. Better still, you’ll learn how to stretch your dollars further by picking up work on the road, so if you don’t want to go back home, you don’t have to. Ditch your desk, take the plunge and hit the road!
Where you’ll be inspired to go: All around the world!