The Ultimate List of the 50 Best Books to Read While Traveling (Updated 2020!)

One of my favourite things about travelling is that I suddenly have time to read. When I’m hitching, camping or backpacking around the world I often manage to read two or even three books a week.

Over the last year, I have put together a list of the best travel books to read when backpacking! Check it out and if you think I’ve missed any real gems then please do let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

Many of these travel books are best read when you’re actually in the country they are set in; for example, reading Shantaram in India is a really fantastic experience and you will get a lot more out of the book. And so, in no particular order, here we go with the 50 best books to read while travelling…

#1 – On the Road

Jack Kerouac On the Road book to read while travelling

Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel should be compulsory reading for all nomads, backpackers and folks who want to live off the grid. In ‘On The Road’ discover 1950’s underground America as Kerouac hitches backwards forwards across the states in search of Jazz, drugs, sex and the meaning of life. Definitely, one of my favourite books to read while travelling!

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#2 – The Cloud Garden

The Cloud Garden Best Book

The Darien Gap is a place of Legend. The only break in the Pan-American highway, which runs from Alaska to the tip of South America. The gap is often seen as an almost impregnable strip of swamp, jungle and cloud forest inhabited by FARC gorillas.

This fascinating book tells the story of two unlikely travellers who team up and try to get through the gap from Panama to Colombia, on foot. After a gruelling journey, they are just hours from success when they are captured by FARC fighters and held prisoner in the jungle for nine months.

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#3 – Shantaram

Shantaram Books to Read

The first book I ever read on India, Shantaram inspired me to book a one way flight to Delhi and travel around India for 14 months. The book follows the possibly true, possibly exaggerated, story of an escaped Australian convict who finds his way to India where he falls in love, works for gangsters, fights the Russians in Afghanistan, gets imprisoned in Bombay, becomes a professional forger and an amateur doctor and experiences life in an Indian slum.

One of the best books to read while travelling in India, it is extremely well written and paints an accurate, although somewhat rosy, picture of life in India.

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#4 – Last Man in Tower

Aravind Books to Read

21st Century Mumbai is a city of new money and soaring real estate, and property kingpin Dharmen Shah has grand plans for its future. His offer to buy and tear down a weathered tower block, making way for luxury apartments, will make each of its residents rich – if all agree to sell.

But not everyone wants to leave; many of the residents have lived there for a lifetime, many of them are no longer young. As tensions rise among the once civil neighbours, one by one those who oppose the offer give way to the majority, until only one man stands in Shah’s way: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building.

Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbours – friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators – may stop at nothing to secure their money. This is a really one of the most poignant books to read while travelling in India, it changed how I viewed the country irreversibly.

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#5 – The White Tiger

White Tiger - Books to Read

One of the first books I read whilst backpacking in India, this is a really useful, often amusing, often horrifying, tale which will help you better understand the caste system.

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#6 – Mumbai to Ventiane

Aravind Books to Read

Need more India? I loved my 2 years in this country and Leon G Hewis similarly had an awesome adventure that began on this mysterious subcontinent.

His self-published travelogue-slash-thought-diary gives a refreshing look into South and Southeast Asia. He fully captures the feeling of being on the road and confronting new ideas and creatively working yourself out of situations you’d never encounter on your couch at home.

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#7 – On a Shoestring to Coorg

Shoestring Coorg Books to read

This is the first travel book that tested the idea that a five-year old daughter makes for a decent travelling companion. A really interesting read on the now-defunct Indian state of Coorg, this book gives a fascinating insight into the origins of backpacker travel in India.

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#8 – The Kite Runner

Kite Runner Books to Read

A fascinating, sometimes painful, read about Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The story follows the fate of two young boys, one of whom is able to escape to America whilst the other, of the Hazara minority group, is forced to stay behind.

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#9 – How to Travel the World on $10 a Day

How to travel the World on $10 a day

Nine years of travel tested tips, tricks and know-how! Everything you need to know to ditch your desk, hit the road and earn money as you travel around the world.

Actionable advice and steps on planning, finances, where to go, making friends, staying safe, picking up work and building an online income – this is the bible for long term travel.

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#10 – A Thousand Splendid Suns

Thousand Splendid Suns

One of the most inspirational books to read while travelling, I felt that this gave me a real insight into the little known women of Afghanistan and the events that have shaped the country over the last thirty years.

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#11 – Born to Run

Born to Run

A tale of a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live hidden in canyons and are reputed to be the best long distance runners in the world.

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#12 – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Electric Kool Aid

This is THE book to read if you are interested in how the psychedelic movement began, squats, hippy culture or experimenting with LSD.

Follow Ken Kesey, author of One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, as he leads his band of Merry Pranksters across America fermenting a revolution unlike any other. Definitely, one of the best books to read on the road. Also, check out my article on drugs on the road.

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#13 – The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z

This is THE book you want to read if you are headed into the Amazon. The book tells the tale of an eccentric British explorer, Percy Fawcett, who spent his life leading expeditions into the Amazon in search of the legendary lost City of Z.

The book recounts his life, his encounters with un-contacted tribes and his final expedition, from which he did not return.

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#14 – Indonesia, Etc. Exploring the Improbable Nation

Indonesia etc. exploring the improbable nation

 In Indonesia Etc, Pisani weaves together the stories of Indonesians encountered on her journey with a considered analysis of Indonesia’s recent history, corrupt political system, ethnic and religious identities, stifling bureaucracy and traditional ‘sticky’ cultures.

Fearless and funny, she gives a compelling and sharply perceptive account of a captivating nation.

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#15 – The Motorcycle Diaries

Motorcycle Diaries

A travel classic, these are the diaries of Che Guevara in which he travels around South America by motorbike. A book that is ALWAYS on the list of best books to read while travelling.

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#16 – The Killing Fields

Killing Fields

Hands-down THE best book you can read about Cambodia under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Heartbreaking, beautifully written and historically accurate, this book will change how you perceive Cambodia forever.

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#17 – First they Killed my Father

First they Killed my Father

The personal account of a young girl who was taken from her family and trained as a child soldier by the Khmer Rouge.

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#18 – The Waiting Land

Waiting Land

It’s about an Irish writer volunteering in Nepal in the 1960’s. The innocent Nepal she writes about it is the one which hordes of travellers each year are still trying to find but which is sadly now gone forever.

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#19 – Mud, Sweat and Tears

Mud, Sweat and tears

The inspiring autobiography of Bear Grylls in which he recovers from a broken back and goes on to become one of the youngest climbers to scale Mount Everest. One of the best books to read while travelling anywhere! It truly inspires you to challenge yourself.

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#20 – Nine Lives

Nine Lives

A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet – then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death.

Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple is one of the best writers when it comes to offering an insight into Indian culture and I highly recommend reading everything he has written.

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#21 – Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

At the peak of European Imperialism, steamboat captain Charles Marlow travels deep into the African Congo on his way to relieve the elusive Mr Kurtz, an ivory trader renowned for his fearsome reputation.

On his journey into the unknown Marlow takes a terrifying trip into his own subconscious, overwhelmed by his menacing, perilous and horrifying surroundings.

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#22 – Blood River

Blood River

When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to cover Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the idea of recreating H.M. Stanley’s famous expedition – but travelling alone.

Despite warnings that his plan was ‘suicidal’, Butcher set out for the Congo’s eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots.

Making his way in an assortment of vessels including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a campaigning pygmy, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers.

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#23 – Stranger in the Forest

Stranger in the Forest

The best account of an adventure expedition that I have ever read. Stranger in the forest recounts the humorous story of the author’s travels in Borneo where he made lifelong friends with the Penan, jungle people who can catch fish with their feet, imitate the cry of the elusive barking deer, and survive in a fearsomely inhospitable environment.

With their help Hansen learned to hunt pigs, danced in the tribal rituals, discovered the eye watering nature of Penan sex aids and was given the ceremonial name “Rajah Kumis”: King of the Moustache.

He conveys how he came face to face with himself in the patch of map marked “un-surveyed”, and records the experience of living in a proud and ancient tribal community based on mutual respect. One of the most interesting books to read while travelling.

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#24 – Absurdistan

Absurdistan - Best Travel Books

Award-winning foreign correspondent Eric Campbell has been stoned by fundamentalists, captured by US Special Forces, arrested in Serbia and threatened with expulsion from China.

He’s negotiated dating rituals in Moscow, shared a house with a charismatic mercenary in Kabul and taken up smoking at gunpoint in Kosovo.

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#25 – Speed Bump Himalayas

Speed Bump Himalayas - Best Travel Books

A hilarious and moving true story of trials and tribulations from a time before mobile phones ruined travel. Mark escapes dreary England in search of adventure and washes up in India with his buddy Sean in tow.

Together, they head into the mountains of Nepal on an ambitious trek but Mark is doomed from the start and embarks upon one of the longest survival journeys I have ever heard of… A rollercoaster ride of amusing cultural observations along the hippie trail, pure survival grit and living the nomad dream.

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Need more inspiration? Here’s 25 more of the best travel books…

#26 – Travels on My Elephant

books to read on the road

With the help of a Maratha nobleman, Mark Shand buys an elephant named Tara and rides her over six hundred miles across India to the Sonepur Mela, the world’s oldest elephant market.

From Bhim, a drink-racked mahout, Shand learned to ride and care for her. From his friend Aditya Patankar he learned Indian ways. And with Tara, his new companion, he fell in love.

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#27 – Chasing the Devil

books to read on the road

For many years, war made Sierra Leone and Liberia too dangerous for outsiders to travel through. Facing down demons from his time in Africa as a journalist, Tim Butcher heads deep into this combat zone, encountering the devastation wrought by lawless militia, child soldiers, brutal violence, blood diamonds and masked figures who guard the spiritual secrets of remote jungle communities.

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#28 – A Walk in the Woods

Royal Road to Romance

For those of you not familiar with Bill Bryson, he is point blank one of the most amusing travel writers out there. In this tale of walking and woe, Bryson attempts to traverse the Appalachian Trail, one of the longest continuous footpaths in the world which crosses tangled woods and heady peaks.

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#29 – Royal Road to Romance

Royal road to romance

When Richard Halliburton graduated from college, he chose adventure over a career, travelling the world with almost no money. The Royal Road to Romance chronicles what happened as a result, from a breakthrough Matterhorn ascent to being jailed for taking forbidden pictures on Gibraltar.

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#30 – The Great Railway Bazaar; By Train Through Asia

books to read on the road

Paul Theroux’s account of his epic journey by rail through Asia. Filled with evocative names of legendary train routes – the Direct-Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Delhi Mail from Jaipur, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Hikari Super Express to Kyoto and the Trans-Siberian Express – it describes the many places, cultures, sights and sounds he experienced and the fascinating people he met.

Here he overhears snippets of chat and occasional monologues, and is drawn into conversation with fellow passengers, from Molesworth, a British theatrical agent, and Sadik, a shabby Turkish tycoon, while avoiding the forceful approaches of pimps and drug dealers.

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#31 – Just a Little Run Around the World

books to read on the road

After her husband died of cancer, 57-year-old Rosie set off to run around the world, raising money in memory of the man she loved. Followed by wolves, knocked down by a bus, confronted by bears, chased by a naked man with a gun and stranded with severe frostbite, Rosie’s breathtaking 20,000-mile, 5 year, solo journey is as gripping as it is inspiring.

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#32 – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, A Journey Through Yugoslavia

books to read on the road

Rebecca West’s epic masterpiece is widely regarded as the most illuminating book to have been written in the former state of Yugoslavia. It is a work of enduring value that remains essential for anyone attempting to understand the enigmatic history of the Balkan states and the continuing friction in this fractured area of Europe.

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#33 – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

Mad, bad and dangerous to know

One of the first books I ever read about expedition-ing, I was inspired to start travelling and to get involved in trekking, climbing and rafting. Ranulph Fiennes has travelled to the most dangerous and inaccessible places on earth, almost died countless times, lost nearly half his fingers to frostbite, raised millions of pounds for charity and been awarded a polar medal and an OBE.

He has been an elite soldier, an athlete, a mountaineer, an explorer, a bestselling author and nearly replaced Sean Connery as James Bond. In his autobiography, he describes how he led expeditions all over the world and became the first person to travel to both poles on land.

He tells of how he discovered the lost city of Ubar in Oman and attempted to walk solo and unsupported to the North Pole – the expedition that cost him several fingers, and very nearly his life.

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#34 – The Worlds Most Dangerous Places

books to read on the road

A serious read for the serious explorer, packed full of practical advice on how to travel in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Brace yourselves for one of the darkest books to read while travelling.

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#35 – The Dharma Bums

the dharma bums

Another Kerouac classic, The Dharma Bums is a journey of self-discovery through the lens of Zen Buddhist thought. Essential reading for all aspiring explorers. Another MUST in the list of best books to read while travelling.

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#36 – The Piano Tuner

Piano Tuner

I read this whilst backpacking in Myanmar, it is beautifully written and enabled me to get a lot more out of my time in this stunning country. The story follows a quiet piano tuner, Edgar Drake, who is ordered by the War Office to travel to the jungles of Burma to tune a rare grand piano for an eccentric British officer renowned for his peace making methods in the war-torn Shan states.

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#37 – Walking the Amazon: 860 Days

Walking the amazon

In April 2008, Ed Stafford began his attempt to become the first man ever to walk the entire length of the River Amazon. Nearly two and a half years later, he had crossed the whole of South America to reach the mouth of the colossal river.

With danger a constant companion – outwitting alligators, jaguars, pit vipers and electric eels, not to mention overcoming the hurdles of injuries and relentless tropical storms – Ed’s journey demanded extreme physical and mental strength.

Often warned by natives that he would die, Ed even found himself pursued by machete-wielding tribesmen and detained for murder.

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#38 – The Carpet Wars

Carpet Wars

A personal odyssey through war, friendship and craftsmanship along the old Silk Route. A fascinating travel book that illuminates the contemporary story of southwest Asia and offers a unique insight into the characters of warlords, presidents and sheikhs.

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#39 – The Wild Places

wild places

“The Wild Places” is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild.

From the cliffs of Cape Wrath to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places. One of the best books to read while travelling!

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#40 – Extreme Survivors

Extreme Survivors

60 of the World’s most extreme survival stories. One of the scariest but best books to read while travelling. Plus it has a foreword by Bear Grylls!

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#41 – Kon-Tiki, Across the Pacific by Raft

books to read on the road

“Kon-Tiki” is the record of an astonishing adventure – a journey 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by the mythical hero Kon-Tiki.

He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage. On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a balsa log raft. After three suspenseful months on the open sea, alone among raging storms, whales and countless sharks, they sighted land – the Polynesian island of Puka Puka.

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#42 – Into the Wild

into the wild

Perhaps one of the most popular books to read while travelling, although not one of my personal favourites, Into the Wild follows the true story of Chris McCandles, a young man who walked deep into the Alaskan wilderness in search of enlightenment and ultimately perished.

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#43 – Honeymoon with my Brother

books to read on the road

After being jilted at his wedding, the author heads off on his two-year, fifty-two country, honeymoon…. with a brother he barely knows. What follows is a series of emotional, amusing and unexpected adventures as the author battles to overcome his loss and reconnect with his brother. One of the most heart wrenching books to read while travelling.

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#44 – Travels with Charley

Travels with Charley

When he was almost sixty years old, worried that he might have lost touch with the sights, the sounds and the essence of America’s people, Steinbeck took note of his itchy feet and prepared to travel. He was accompanied by his French poodle, Charley, diplomat and watchdog, across the states of America from Maine to California.

Moving through the woods and deserts, dirt tracks and highways to large cities and glorious wildernesses, Steinbeck observed – with remarkable honesty and insight, with a humorous and sometimes sceptical eye – America, and the Americans who inhabited it. One of the most honest books to read while travelling.

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#45 – The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is more to life than his humble home and his flock. One day he finds the courage to follow his dreams into distant lands, each step galvanised by the knowledge that he is following the right path: his own. The people he meets along the way, the things he sees and the wisdom he learns are life-changing.

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#46 – Siddhartha


A travel classic, Siddhartha is perhaps the most important and compelling moral allegory our troubled century has produced. Integrating Eastern and Western spiritual traditions with psychoanalysis and philosophy, this strangely simple tale, written with a deep and moving empathy for humanity, has touched the lives of millions since its original publication in 1922. Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin’s search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha.

His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, from the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation. Definitely, one of the most interesting books to read while travelling!

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#47 – Full Tilt, Ireland to India with a Bicycle

FulltiltShortly after her tenth birthday, Dervla Murphy decided to cycle to India. Almost 20 years later, she set out to achieve her ambition. Her epic journey began during the coldest winter in memory, taking her through Europe, Persia, Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan, and into India.

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#48 – The Dogs of Nam: Stories from the Road and Lessons Learned Abroad

dogs of nam

A collection of short stories from over a decade of travel. This is no glamorous tale of #wanderlust, but a true and honest accounting of what it means to be a traveller.

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#49 – Dark Star Safari, Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Dark Star Safari

Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country, Theroux visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous.

It is a journey of discovery and of rediscovery — of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.

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#50 – 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus 

1491 book

A great book to read while traveling the Americas because it corrects the incorrect history many were taught growing up.

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So there you go! A great list of the best books to read while travelling. For even more reading inspiration check out this kickass list! Check out my buddy Chris’s new book What the Florida if you want to find the weird in Florida state!

My buddy James at Nomadic Note has put together another mammoth post on the best travel books to fuel your wanderlust, so check that out too.

If there are any I might have missed out, tell me in the comments section!


Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going. 


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Books to Read While Traveling


  • I’m late to this party, but readers might still appreciate the website Visit This Read That; a collaborative, crowd-sourced, effort, to determine what books best to read when visiting a place.

  • Avatar Ellen Cardwell says:

    I would recommend Man Mission by Eytan Uliel, for his info. Got this for my husband who is not the biggest reader, just thought he might like it. He totally does, it’s clever and fun. He took it on a trip this week and said it’s hard not to want to just fly somewhere awesome and see it all!

  • This list is a treasure. Keep up the good work.

  • Avatar Wolfgang Schulz says:

    One of the greatest travellers of the modern era was Peter Penney who travelled mainly on foot with virtually no money. His travels took him from Europe to Australia on foot through Burma, right after WW2. His best books are “Dust on my shoes” and “Anywhere but here”. A not well known author Peter Penney has an innovative style of traveling with few resources, no passport and picking up food and money along the road. His playgrounds range from Africa which he traversed back and forth, Asia,the Pacific Islands, Australia, Papua New Guinea, etc. His books are a must read for anyone in love with travel, dry humour and adventure.

  • Avatar Jan says:

    hey will, really liked your recommendations. however, just noted a small mistake, for the book absurdistan you are using the wrong book cover and the description is a straight copy paste from goodreads. I think for your readers (including me) it would be welcomed to hear about the book in your own words. Keep on doing what you are doing, I truly found your blog inspirational. Jan

    • Thanks Jan, I’ll look into that – some of these book descriptions were not added by me but my one of my other writers so maybe that’s the issue anyway 🙂

  • Avatar Julie Anne Peters says:

    Will, it`s great list! love it.

    about “The Alchemist” book…

    This book was a life changing read for me. I was moved and spiritually uplifted by this remarkable story. I usually only read biographies and non-fiction stories, but this has become my favorite book because of the meaningful lessons that are taught throughout. I can’t say enough about this book other than the fact that my children will hear it over and over again and I believe every person should own this book.


  • Avatar Maureen P says:

    Great recommendations here! I love a book that can help with my never-ending wanderlust. I have a historical fiction novel that should definitely be considered for this list called “The Jinn and The Sword” by authors Sara Cook and Robert Peacock. The book takes place during the 16th century imperial Ottoman court. There are some BEAUTIFUL descriptions of Istanbul and Venice. I really enjoyed the mental pictures the authors provided. Il Lupo, master swordswman, and his small posse crush an assassination attempt on the emperor and solve mysteries surrounding the theft of sacred relics. It is exciting, suspenseful, fun, and beautifully written. Check out the website for more info:
    Hope you will check it out!

  • Avatar Anna Evans says:

    I read “On the road” and was very impressed!

  • So many good books. Thank you for the list.

  • Ahhhh reading the Kite Runner in Pakistan = <3

    Also, anything else by Khaled Hosseini, and The Alchemist are among my favourites!

    I thought Shantaram was great, but frustrating in many ways…

  • ‘Nice one Will!

    I’ve read “Shantaram” a few times ‘cos it was just so inspiring and an exciting read! As well as “Just a Little Run Around the World.” I very much like the sound of “Honeymoon With My Brother: A Memoir.”

    Have you ever read “Kevin and I in India” and “Rupee Millionaire” by Frank Kusy who is hilarious. In fact, I bought all his books! And “It’s on the Meter: One Taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventures around the World” a true story about three young British men who decide to travel the world in a London cabbie. It’s such a great read that not only did they make it, but they ended up breaking two world records along the way too!

  • Good list mate. Shantaram and White Tiger enriched my experience in India for sure while of course Kerouac had a huge influence (Lonesome Traveller, Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody).. How about Jupiters Travels by Ted Simon.. he spends four years going 60,000 miles round the world on a Triumph in the 1970s. It’s epic and inspired me to travel in a big way. I read it twice. Also Ringolevio by Emmett Grogan, about the San Francisco Digger movement he helps put together after wild adventures in Europe. Good to see you spring back from that UK immigration dept pisstake and best of luck ….

  • Like you Will, I love to read books set in the country that I am travelling in. I love the feel of paper books but my kindle is more practical. I am looking forward to reading some of these from your list

  • Avatar Greg Corcoran says:

    Hi Will – A great list of books, many are personal favourites of mine. Would just like to add two follow up books of ones previously mentioned that might be of interset. Firstly, The Mountain Shadow, the follow up book to Shantaram (probably my favourite book). Obviously not as good as Shantaram but definitely worth a read. And secondly, Banco, the follow up book to Papillon, which details his adventures once he has found his freedom.

  • Avatar Brez says:

    Will, if you didn’t know already, the film is out this year around April of Percy Fawcett and the lost city of Z. ,Was a great read and the film trailer looks awesome.

  • Avatar Gemma says:

    Can I add Marching Powder by Rusty Young for anyone going to Bolivia?!

  • I am not fan reading while on travel, but I get interested with these books that you suggested. Gonna try this out.

  • Avatar Halida A. says:

    I love Bill Bryson! Check out Indonesian writer Agustinus Wibowo. His works have been translated into English. “Point Zero” is one of the best piece of travel literature I’ve ever read!

  • Avatar Jennie says:

    What a brilliant list! Some of the best books I’ve read and I imagine the rest are equally great. Thanks 🙂

  • Avatar Melanie says:

    Great list – there’s lots I’m interested in reading. I completely disagree with Walking the Amazon, though. That book was very poorly written, which was so disappointing because it should be a fascinating story.

    I would also suggest The Unconquered by Scott Wallace to learn about the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. An incredible story.

  • Avatar Bill says:

    For a book about South American, you can try to find ‘The Wizard of the Upper Amazon” which I read almost 40 years ago. About ayawasca and other jungle drugs.

  • Avatar Jorge says:

    Hi Will. Great site! Which book do you recommend to get ideas about places to visit? thanks 🙂

    • Hmmm… there’s a few around like ’50 places to visit before you die’ for example but really, it depends on what you want to see… I tend to do a bit of research online first and then simply pack my bag and head out on an adventure! 🙂

  • Hi – one of the books that inspired me when first travelling was Papillion – the tale of a French convict imprisoned on Devils Island off the coast of South America and his multiple escape attempts (sometimes to live with tribes in Venezuela) and solitary confinement for years on end. Also love the Tim Butcher books but my favourite African travel book is “Congo Journey” by Redmond O’Hanlon…he captures the Africa I know and love.

  • Avatar Jessica says:

    I love this, a good book is so important on your travels! Which one is your favourite?

    • I always carry a copy of Illusions by Richard Bach…. Recently though, I read the Electric Cool Aid Acid Test – a great book, truly inspirational. I’m also a big fan of ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ – Rannulph Fiennes is my hero! 🙂

  • I’m loving this list. Some excellent reads for the road on there. I particularly liked the underrated Travels on my elephant By Mark Shand. But dude I have a couple of bones to pick with you … How can you not include Notes from a small island, the Bryson classic!?! Or a single William Dalrymple book?! Time to update the list dude!


    • Hi man! There is Dalrymple in there! He’s one of my favourite writers around, I popped in ‘Nine Lives’ – a great book! Hmmm, it appears I did indeed miss out a Byron classic but you can’t have everything man; 50 is a shatteringly small number when it comes to trying to put every decent book up! 🙂

  • Avatar Lizzie says:

    So many great books! Thanks for sharing – my Amazon wishlist just got a whole lot longer 🙂

  • I have actually read some of these. Many more to add to my to-read list.

  • This list is AMAZING!! Now to just get my hands on some of these titles while I am on the road…. hmmm… 🙂

  • Avatar Andy says:

    51: Jupiter’s Travels
    52: Dreaming of Jupiter

    Thanks for the list; have read about half of them so time to crack on with the rest!

  • Avatar Eve says:

    Shantaram has got to be one of the best books I’ve read so far! Love your blog and sorry about the Nepalese monster 🙂

    • Cheers Eve! I love Shantaram, I read it right before I headed to India and it somehow prepared me! Regarding the Nepalese monster… I still have the scar to tell of my tale down the pub!

  • I recently found the White Tiger on a book swap shelf. It’s such a great book!

    I just discovered your blog today and have been really enjoying reading back though your articles. Thanks!

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