I have always been a big reader. When I was a kid, I would devour books voraciously and I looked forward to the Scholastic Book Fair for weeks. As an adult, books have served as massive inspiration for my adventures. For example, after reading Tony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour”, I couldn’t wait to experience the vibrant food culture of Southeast Asia. Especially in a time where global travel is still uncertain, the books below allow you to escape the pandemic-riddled world of 2021 and travel to exotic and wonderful locations.
A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite travelers. His dry wit and low tolerance for bullshit is appealing to me, and his adventurous spirit means his journeys are never boring. In this book, Bourdain takes you along on his quest to find the elusive “Perfect Meal.” From the coast of France to Khmer Rouge territory in Cambodia, you get a global perspective on the symbiotic relationship of good food and travel.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
I guess technically this memoir is not a travel book. BUT, as I have stated repeatedly, food and travel are inextricably intertwined in my mind. Reichl’s vibrant storytelling and genius disguises make you feel transported to the best restaurants in New York City.
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
This is a true story of a young woman who is kidnapped in Somalia while on assignment as a television reporter. During her 460 day captivity, Lindhout uses her imagination as an escape from her dire predicament. Although this book is difficult to read at times due to her horrifying treatment, Lindhout’s tenacity and spirit are incredibly inspirational.
All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter
This book made me literally laugh out loud on several. Follow along as Geraldine, who is the least worldly person in existence, travels around the globe after losing her job. This is a great book for people who think they could never be travelers — it shows just how accessible travel really is and how much fun it can be.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
I’m fairly certain everyone reading this blog has heard of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, in which a woman finds herself on the Pacific Crest Trail. A Walk in the Woods is similar in that a relatively indoorsy person hikes a long trail. But that’s where the similarities end. Bill Bryson’s signature humor makes his jaunt through the Appalachian Trail an absolute delight to read. Bryson meets all sorts of colorful characters, has some close calls with wildlife, and learns the importance of packing light for a through hike. I promise you’ll love it!
Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
I had never really contemplated a trip to Memphis prior to reading this book. However, after reading this novel, I am itching to go visit Graceland. Go along with protagonist Cory on her road trip as she tries to determine whether The King is her father, and enjoy her journey to learn more about her mother’s past.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
I’m fairly certain you’ve all heard of Dan Brown, and if not this book, then definitely The Da Vinci Code. As a travel junkie, I love Dan Brown’s books because they feature iconic destinations around the world, so of which I have been fortunate to have visited. I read Angels and Demons, which takes place predominantly in Rome, shortly after actually visiting the Eternal City, so I was stoked to be able to vividly picture the locations where the action was happening. If you haven’t been to Rome, Angels and Demons will transport you directly to Italy and keep you on the edge of your seat.
People We Meet on Vacation
If you’re more of a romantic-comedy type, this is a perfect option. I don’t want to give too much away, but Poppy and her best friend (or former best friend) Alex used to go on an annual summer trip, taking them to destinations like Alaska, Croatia, and the locale at the center of the story, Palm Springs. Heads up for a couple *steamier* scenes.
Literally anything by Rick Steves. His guides are my Holy Grail, go-to handbooks for planning my European trips. In fact, as my travel buddies know, I will often send a text message simply saying, “I got The Rick.” They know this means it is time to get down to BUSINESS. Every “Rick” includes excellent restaurant suggestions to take you away from overpriced tourist traps, self-guided walking tours, helpful phrases in whatever country’s native language, and much more.
Once, when I was studying abroad in England, a friend and I took a weekend trip to Oxford. As we rode around town on the Hop On, Hop Off bus, we went past a Waterstone’s Bookstore. In the window, I saw a sign advertising a book signing later that afternoon, and from my brief peek, I thought it said the signing was with The Man himself, Rick Steves. I excitedly told my friend, and we made a quick change of plans to return to the book store in time for the signing. Upon our return, however, my heart was absolutely broken when we learned it was not, in fact, Rick Steves, but another author with a similar name. One day my dreams will come true, though… one day….
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