The Best Travel Books To Inspire Wanderlust

Travel looks a bit different these days and many folks are sticking closer to home, eschewing airplanes and far-off destinations. Even so, curiosity in other cultures, wild landscapes, or passions and hobbies across the globe hasn’t waned. Books have always created a window into an objectionably new worldview. Keep reading to discover top picks for titles that inspire wanderlust.

Women Adventurers and Globe-Trotters

Complicated and engaging, the women in Mia Kankimaki’s The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes are all explorers. Through each chapter, you’ll learn about women who went against the grain and set out on personal adventures to unapologetically live their lives with passion and fervor. You’ll read about a woman who ran a coffee plantation in Kenya; a travel writer who suffered from depression until she took the advice of a doctor to explore the high seas; a Buddhist nun who became the first white woman to enter Lhasa, a forbidden city in the mid 1920’s; an inventor who traveled around the world with just a handbag; and many more.

A Love Letter to Horses Around the World

Sarah Maslin Nir, a staff reporter for the New York Times, adores horses, their keepers, and the stories that are intertwined. Through her book, Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love with an Animal, readers are taken on an insider’s adventure into the horse riding landscape across America (New York, California, Virginia, etc.). What’s more, is the deeper dive into Nir’s upbringing as she writes about the nannies who raised her, the accomplished and mature family she never really felt a part of (including a father who survived the Holocaust), and how horses helped her cope with a childhood full of loneliness.

Learn Survival Skills from an Expert

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to navigate by the night sky, tell time by the sun, start a fire without a match, keep warm in an igloo, fashion a canoe, or feel confident exploring the nature around you or in far-flung destinations, then you’ll love reading Richard Wiese’s book, Born to Explore. The chapters in this book read like a survival guide, giving you tools and tips for safety, navigation, shelter, food, weather, and spending lots of time in the great outdoors. Drawing on science, mental reasoning, adaptability and interpersonal skills, you’ll be equipped with knowledge and outdoor abilities after reading.

From Guatemala to America

The New American, by Micheline Aharonian Marcom, is a novel that takes you inside the experience of an undocumented college student “dreamer” named Emilio who, after getting into a car accident in California, is deported to Guatemala, a country he has never known. Emilio makes it to the U.S.—Mexico border and has to contend with law enforcement and a cast of nefarious characters. The book takes into account real-life interviews with refugees from Central America and the author is the founder and creative director of the New American Story Project, which documents the stories of migration and the lives of new Americans.

A Wildlife Detective Thwarts Falcon Thieves

Rare falcon eggs from a remote area in Wales were discovered at the Birmingham International Airport in Britain, attached to a traveler. The Falcon Thief: a True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird, written by Joshua Hammer, tells the story of a globe-trotting birds-of-prey egg smuggler and the wildlife detective who aimed to stop him. Readers are transported to Patagonia, Zimbabwe, the Arctic Circle, Dubai, and other locales across the planet on a thrill ride for the ages in this book, based on real-life first-person interviews, trial transcripts, and media accounts.

Women in the Workforce

Filled with beautiful photography and indelible stories of women who work as tech giants, farmers, miners, taxidermists, cowgirls, firefighters, pilots, teachers, doctors, architects, butchers, and more, Women’s Work: Stories from Pioneering Women Shaping Our Workforce is captivating and inspiring. The photography, by Chris Crisman, will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book, a hardcover that should be given to every woman in your family, regardless of age, career, or ability.

Get Off the Bus

Where the Tour Buses Don’t Go: Chicago’s Hidden Sites of the Mysterious, Macabre, Ghostly, and Glamorous, written by Gerry Lekas, is a must-have title for anyone visiting or living in or near Chicago. Through the pages of this book, learn about the Windy City’s ghost, gangster, and Hollywood history. You can map out a self-led tour for yourself—the guidebook includes specific addresses and descriptions to light the way.

Eco-Adventures Athwart the Planet

Travel writer, animal lover, and author, Jeremy Hance experiences OCD and chronic anxiety but he doesn’t let it stop him. In his autobiography, Baggage: Confessions of a Globe-Trotting Hypochondriac, he visits different countries with his fiancée and chronicles his challenges with mental illness. Beyond the destinations—South America, Africa, Asia, Caribbean—this is a story about personal resilience, adaptability, courage and the importance of nurturing strong relationships.

Be Loud and Proud

Traveling throughout different countries as a woman, especially solo, can provide unique challenges that men are unfettered by. Rebecca Reid’s Rude: Stop Being Nice and Start Being Bold, is a bit of a manifesto, which encourages women to stand up for themselves, achieve what they want out of life, and move through the world with confidence and assertiveness, keeping personal safety and awareness in mind. The insight in this book proves helpful for women who are navigating relationships, social responsibilities and obligations, careers, and health.

Connect with writer, Wendy Altschuler , on Instagram.

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