I would like to consider myself an avid bookworm. I absolutely adore books. BUT the reality is that as much as I love them I usually never have time to get through one. UNLESS I’m traveling. Put me on a multi-hour bus ride through the Balkans or along Australian coastlines and my nose is glued to a book. The only time I’ll look up is if there is a great view or a snack break. Train rides, station waiting, subway commutes, you’ll see my book in hand. There have been a few books that I’ve read on the road that really stand out to me and I recommend anytime someone tells me they’re going on a trip. Here are the best books to read while traveling.
The Entire Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I will fully admit that I have only recently become a “Potterhead”. Growing up I was more of a historical fiction type of kid and steered clear of anything that had wizards, dragons or magic in it (fool). Fast forward to a few years ago, I was nannying and the little one I took care of would ask me to read him a chapter before bed.
The first book I was like “hmm, this is pretty good”, the second book I was like “okay this isn’t bad”, by the third book I was HOOKED. It was during one of my first multi-month Euro-backpacking trip that I made it through books 4-7. I grumbled at angsty Harry in Croatia, rooted for Sirius in Slovenia, bawled my eyes out for Dobby in France and was proud of Neville in Amsterdam. I finished the series on my returning flight home. It was like I traveled through two magical worlds for three months, the world that JK Rowling created and a world that I had created by my own travel efforts. The series and the journeys of the characters I grew to love intertwined with my own epic journey that I was having. This series is a literary gem, one that any person, any age can sit down and appreciate. I will fully admit that when I’m on the road for an extended amount of time I always find myself going back to the Harry Potter series.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I read this book while I was actually not traveling. I had been home for a couple of months because life had completely thrown me for a whirlwind. All of my future plans fell through and I was in the middle of what could only be called for what it was, a serious depression. I felt like I was in a hole trying to claw my way out but lacking to do so. This book was one of the things that helped me rise out of that hole and seal it up behind me. The main protagonist, a young Shepard roaming around Andulacia, Santiago, goes on an epic journey that spans over continents trying to figure out what his purpose in this world is. The same thing I was going through. Paulo Coelho weaves such a powerful odyssey together that is bound to inspire you to see what wonders the world has to offer. His tale will teach you to admire yourself and the adventure that your life is already on.
Around the World in 72 Days by Nellie Bly
If you don’t know about Nellie Bly then let me fill you in. She is what we as a modern society would call a BAMF, a legend, even an OG. An investigative reporter in the late 19th century she paved the way for women in the writing industry. If you haven’t read about the time she self-admitted herself into a mental institution to uncover the horrid conditions and expose them to the masses I also highly recommend that too. Bly wrote Around the World in 72 Days after being inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Bly wanted to kick it up a notch and prove that women were badasses and not just Victorian beauties and traveled the world in 8 days less than Verne’s fictional tale. This quick read of hers is perfect for any women who are feeling the waves of empowerment as they embark on their own travel.
Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story by Tony & Maureen Wheeler
For a lot of travelers, Lonely Planet is essentially considered to be the travel bible. I never leave for a trip without checking out what Lonely Planet recommends and in my off time I dream about the day that I’ll work for them. A girl can dream you know!! (👐🏽👐🏽) The come up story of Tony and Maureen Wheeler is one that is similar to any person you meet on the road. Travel mishaps, an unquenchable desire for knowledge and a personal quest to see all that the world has to offer is some of the things you’ll read in this book. For myself as a travel blogger, this book serves as an inspiration to keep helping the next generations of travelers.
From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World by Gloria Atanmo
Written my girl Gloria Atanmo over at TheBlogAbroad.com this book will have you checking flights and packing a suitcase before you even get through the first chapter. Glo is relatable, hilarious and beyond anything uplifting. I read this when I was going through a tough time and lost confidence in myself, my skills and unfortunately, my writing. Glo helped turn that all around for me. She re-lit the spark inside of me that I had let burn out and reminded me that the ups and downs of life are what makes your story so exciting. This book is the perfect companion for when you’re on the road and you need a familiar voice to keep cheering you on. That’s Glo for you.
I even bought a copy of this book for my best friend who was bitten by the travel bug recently and it was a huge hit.
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
A delightfully refreshing how to guide, You are a Badass is the empowering nudge you need. Sincero guides you onto the road to self-love and uses her witty and no holds back writing style to get you there. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to abolish all of those nasty ideas of self-doubt and be ready to conquer whatever the world decides to throw at you. I totally felt like a badass by the time I finished reading it.
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
A true story eloquently written in 1853 by a free black man, Solomon Northup, was a renowned musician who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States. Northup wrote a harrowing, descriptive account of his 12 years in captivity on a Southern plantation. My heart ached for his sufferings and I remember longing for him to be returned to the family he so desperately loved. I read this book while traveling through Germany and I have never been so committed to the outcome of a book. I couldn’t put this book down and would find any excuse to read a bit more in the hopes that Solomon would one day return to his life of freedom. His experience reminded me that I could never take my own freedoms for granted and how strong the will to persevere really is. This book is easily in my top 3 favorite books of all time.
Tell me, what are your favorite books to read while traveling? I could always use new recommendations. Let me know in the comments!