Now is the time to spin the world globe, plot your next adventure, research new destinations, and delve deep into inspirational travel writing. Through reading, you can connect with other communities—near and far—by imagining what it would be like to spend a day in their footwear.
Take a camel trek to Uluru, the sandstone monolith in Australia’s Northern Territory; learn how to live simply and with joy in Denmark; picture yourself nurturing rescued elephants in Africa; journey through time in China; discover how Cuba has changed over the decades; or live vicariously through travelers who have abandoned all of their possessions to sail azure Caribbean waters. The following books will keep your insatiable wanderlust alive.
Northern Africa: Walking the Nile by Levison Wood
Reading an in depth story about a modern-day explorer is sure to engage any adventurer. Levison Wood, a London-based writer, photographer, and veteran, begins his exploration in Rwanda, with the goal of traversing the entire length of the Nile on foot. This major north-flowing river, which is the primary water source for Egypt and Sudan, is the longest river in Africa, stretching 4,130 miles. Wood walks for nine months, through six countries, ending at the Mediterranean coast. You’ll learn about different African cultures, as well as the successes and pain that many experience, by reading this book. Wood ventures deep into diverse lands with local guides, hiking up and over hills, through muddy and flowing waterways, within villages, past herds of elephants, and across deserts.
Denmark: The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden—are consistently classified as the happiest countries in the world. The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries based on income, life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity and, par for the course, Nordic countries have held top spots for many years in a row.
Helen Russell’s book, on creating a home in a foreign land, delves deep into finding out why specifically Denmark is famous for being one of the best places to live. Is it the Danish notion of hygge? The invention of LEGO? It can’t be due to the long, cold, and dark winters, could it? Some of her findings are ones you’ll want to disregard, and some, like being more trusting, moving your body, creating beautiful environments, and incorporating adult play time, you’ll want to take to heart and make space for in your own life.
The Caribbean: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof
The travel writing in this story will speak to anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving their nine—to—five jobs behind to set their sights on a big ole adventure. Ann Vanderhoof, an editor from Toronto, and her husband rented out their house and moved onto a sailboat, which was headed for the Caribbean. Two years were spent visiting sixteen different countries, including the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, and Trinidad.
Readers are also rewarded with umpteen recipes throughout the book. Without ever leaving your kitchen, you can get a taste of the Caribbean and learn about different island cultures as you fill your belly.
Cuba: Cuba on the Verge edited by Leila Guerriero
The best part about this book is that you can read it in chunks as the wind blows. Twelve writers from various countries, including the Republic of Cuba, take readers across the island via stories on political and social milieus, the changing capital of Havana, baseball fanaticism, classic cars, and what it was really like to live in Cuba throughout history.
China: Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
Thought-provoking, engaging, and informative, Oracle Bones, a New York Times Bestseller, will captivate you from page one. Peter Hessler, a Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker as well as a contributor to National Geographic, writes about contemporary People’s Republic of China, while acknowledging the country’s rich history, traditions, and culture. Hessler paints a picture of what life is like for multiple individuals as they are faced with a rapidly shifting world.
Australia: Tracks by Robyn Davidson
It should stand-to-reason that if a book was made into a movie, starring the award-winning actor Adam Driver, then the story must be somewhat alluring. In Tracks, Robyn Davidson writes about her personal experience journeying across the rough Australian outback solo for over 1,700 miles when she was only 26 years-old. After a couple of tough years spent learning how to care for and train camels, Davidson takes four dromedaries and a dog on a risky expedition. She faces great tragedies and describes in detail her frustrations with insensitive tourists, getting lost in the desert, and having to interact with the photographer Rick Smolan in order to get her trip sponsored by National Geographic. Beyond her brushes with dehydration and precarious sun exposure, however, it’s her interactions with the Aboriginal Australians that will stick with you long after you’ve finished the book.
United States: AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller
Perhaps you’ve read the award-winning book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed or A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, both of which are well-liked accounts of long-distance thru-hiking, end-to-end, in America.
In AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, David Miller hikes 2,172 miles, through fourteen states, from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, carrying everything he would need in his backpack and camping each night in a tent. You’ll learn about the planning and logistics required to go on such an adventure as well as one hiker’s personal experience going through the highs and lows of a long-distance quest.
Thousands of people attempt to hike the trail each year, but most won’t finish. Miller, who was 41 years-old at the time, married and bonded to three kids, was happy in life—he wasn’t drawn to the trail to “find himself”, escape reality, or overcome a trauma. He simply didn’t want life to pass him by.
South Africa: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
This book is a deeply personal account of how the author, a conservationist, was tasked with caring for a herd of wild in-danger elephants on his 5,000-acre game reserve in Zululand, South Africa. If you’ve ever gone on an African safari, or have dreamed of doing so, then this behind-the-scenes account will be fodder for your future trip planning.