Even the most wanderlust-y people get grounded once in awhile. Whether your wings are momentarily clipped by family, business and the like, or you’re simply wanting some of the things that come with being in one place for a while, the lust for travel never goes away. When I’m at a standstill and dreaming of travel, books are my go-to escape. Some have captured the essence of travel better than I could ever dream to; some have inspired my next destination; and some simply quench my desire to run enough to keep me present in the moment rather than floating through life with my head in the sky. There are tons of great travel reads out there, but these are my favorites.
by Christina Henry de Tessan
This book was given to me by a dear friend not long before I took off for a seven month romp through Nicaragua. Expat was filled with all the encouragement I needed, each page brimming with travel anecdotes, both good and bad, that reminded me that the risk I was about to take would be worth it, no matter what. Each story offers something different in terms of location, travel motivation, and experience had, but perhaps the best part is that there are several stories of women traveling alone, something that people still consider to be epically rare.
by William Finnegan
Barbarian Days isn’t a travel book in the strict sense, but the there’s inherently adventure and travel involved in chasing surf. From the shores of Hawaii to the coastline of California, this book chronicles the ups and downs (sometimes literally) of one man’s journey through surfing. This autobiography even ended up winning a Pulitzer and launched Finnegan into his current status as the father of writing about surfing, so you don’t have to be a surfista to enjoy it.
by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner
These three ladies leave their New York City jobs behind and do what many people dream of, but few actually execute: ditching it all to travel the world for a year. One of the things I like best about The Lost Girls is that the chapters alternate authors, so you see everything from a varied perspective and they don’t skip over the gritty details. Nothing drives me crazier than someone writing or talking about travel and leaving out all the hard stuff—this book does none of that. These ladies are just as open to what makes travel amazing as they are to what makes it challenging. The result is that you feel like you’re right there, traveling along with them the whole way. Wanderlust crushed.
by Clara Bensen
This thoughtful, reflective book ruminates on everything from love to mental health and the trappings of modern daily life, to the beauty and struggle that is travel. This is one of those books that I found myself compulsively underlining, because the little nuggets of wisdom laced throughout the pages were everywhere, showing up at sometimes unexpected moments. If this book isn’t evidence that the most beautiful things can come out of some of the worst things, and the life is one big unexpected ride, I don’t know what is.
by Cheryl Strayed
Part of the reason I think this book got so popular is because it explores something that is just shy of a certainty when traveling: the journey will break you. Wild touches on what we all inevitably find on the road, no matter how far away we go, and that’s ourselves. There’s something that happens when you get out of your normal environment and you have to think, and I mean really think, about everything from finding and ordering coffee to how to charge your phone without it blowing up. You become pricelessly present and forced to reconcile with yourself in ways that you never would have if without leaving the comfortable, often mindless confines of the familiar, and Wild showcases all of that.
by David Sedaris
Again, not a travel book in the strict sense, but this collection of short stories takes place across the globe; from Japan to France, Sedaris’ hilarious recounting of his experiences will have you laughing until you cry. When You Are Engulfed in Flames gives a laugh-filled account of the strange and peculiar things you encounter when you cross borders and enter into life as a foreigner, chock full of experiences that anyone who has traveled internationally before will resonate with.