Book a flight or crack open a book. Either way, transport yourself to another world.

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Travelers and book lovers have long shared a bond. Both reading and travel can transport you to another world. We’ve got a few bibliophiles on our DFC team, so we’ve compiled our top picks for books to bring on your next adventure or to gift a travel-loving friend.

Reader must haves

Before we get to our recommendations, we have to mention the reading tech that helps us pack dozens of books with us without going over the luggage weight limit. 

The Kindle is so commonplace now that it’s weird to think back to when it first came out and how much of a game-changer it was. Kindle gives you countless books right at your fingertips without adding weight to your carry-on. 

If you’re the type of person who immediately dozes off after reading 1 page of a book, consider getting an Audible account. Listen to your favorite books, often read by your favorite authors. You’ll thank us later when you’re on hour 4 of the road trip and the radio has played the same 10 songs.

Free books for 30 days

You can get unlimited Kindle Books, unlimited audiobooks, magazine subscriptions, and more with a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited.

The classics

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is an American classic. It’s the ultimate road trip book and is synonymous with American adventure and freedom. You’ll surely be looking to hit the road after you read Kerouac’s tales inspired by his adventures with Nick Cassady.

The Alchemist 

 There’s a reason The Alchemist is a staple on so many reading lists. Almost a quarter of our DFC team recommended it for the best books for travelers list. It’s short and impactful and must read for anyone who has ever dreamt of traveling the world.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail 

Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods has become a modern-day classic and favorite of many travelers. The Washington Post called it “terribly misguided and terribly funny.”

Soul-searching

Wild & Eat, Pray, Love

At this point, it seems like a cliche, but we can’t make a travel reading list without including Wild and Eat, Pray, Love. Gift this to your friend heading on a solo adventure or looking to find themselves while getting lost. Sometimes books are a cliche for a good reason.

Crying in H Mart

Tender, cathartic, and at times gut-wrenching. Crying in H Mart was my favorite book of 2022. Though it’s not specifically about travel, there are a few trips in the book, including one to Korea, that explore the author’s relationship with food and her late mother.

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft

All Over the Place hilariously recounts Geraldine Ruiter’s quest around the world after she was laid off from her job. Her terrible sense of direction, fear of pigeons, and motion sickness make her the last person she thought would travel the world, but she does it anyway.

For digital nomads

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Vagabonding touches on the art of balancing work with travel so it makes sense why it’s a popular book in digital nomad circles. This book is a perfect guide for anyone hoping to make the leap to working remotely around the world.

The 4-Hour Workweek

If you are or have met a digital nomad, chances are they’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek. It has inspired countless amounts of people to explore the world while working instead of waiting on their retirement or a rushed long weekend to get away. 

Digital Nomad Handbook

Lonely Planet’s Digital Nomad Handbook is one of the most helpful and comprehensive guides out there for both aspiring and current digital nomads. Inside you’ll find everything from safety tips to city guides for popular remote work destinations.

Epic road trip reads

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This first road trip recommendation comes from Kenny on our team. Though Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is more of a personal odyssey for the author who is processing life’s major questions while on a motorcycle trip with his son.

Travels with Charley in Search of America

It’s no wonder that so many travelers connect with road trip stories. Spending countless hours trapped in a car can lead to self-discovery (or losing your mind). Travels with Charley in Search of America recounts John Steinbeck’s journey across the vast American landscape as he seeks to reconnect with the country while on the open road. He paints an evocative and intimate portrait of the country as he traverses 40 states.

I Thought You Said This Would Work

In the fiction novel I Thought You Said This Would Work, two estranged best friends must put aside their differences to help rescue their sick friend’s dog on a cross-country road trip. It’s both a tale of adventure as well as a heart-warming message about the ever-lasting bond of friendship.

For the legendary adventures

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Both our writer, Steven, and Editor, Zach, read Turn Right at Machu Picchu before their Machu Picchu trek and raved about it. The author’s attempt to retrace the original expedition to the Lost City is ripe with adventure and humor.

Marco Polo Didn’t Go There

From crashing the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie to learning about the rituals of tantric sex in an Indian ashram, the stories in Rolf Pott’s stories in Marco Polo Didn’t Go There will pique your curiosity while giving you a good chuckle.

Don’t Go There: From Chernobyl to North Korea

There are a few places around the globe that travelers are always cautioned about visiting. Sometimes there are great barriers to entry, civil unrest, or warnings of radioactivity. Adam Fletcher is on a quest to visit them all in Don’t Go There.

Honorable mention: Into Thin Air

Climbing Mt. Everest is considered one of the most epic, yet dangerous, journeys a person can take. Into Thin Air is an intimate account of Jon Krakauer’s experience with summiting the mountain while five others lost their lives.

For travel foodies

Anthony Bourdain World Travel Book

Of course, we have to recommend a book by the legendary Anthony Bourdain. His book, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, is the perfect mix of his love of food and travel and brings the world to life on the pages.

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide

Atlas Obscura has long been a go-to resource for travelers and their food guide Gastro Obscura is no exception. This book is chockful of mouth-watering dishes as well as informative information about what people eat all around the world.

Washington Wine and Food Cookbook

Washington has long been a favorite destination for foodies and this cookbook makes it clear why. The Washington Wine and Food Cookbook brings together recipes from the top chefs and restaurants in the area so you can indulge in the meals even without booking a flight.

Around the world in one book

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

Most of us do not think of how street addresses came to be or their implications, but after reading this, you certainly will. The Address Book is another one of my favorite reads. Author Deirdre Mask takes readers around the world in about seven streets to examine “the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany” and more.

The Catch Me If You Can

In 2019, Jessica Nabongo became the first Black woman to visit all 195 UN-recognized countries in the world. It was no small feat and in The Catch Me If You Can she shares some harrowing stories that are sure to incite wanderlust even in the most dedicated homebody. Enjoy this mix of gorgeous photos and can’t-put-down stories. 

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

“Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy?” Those are just a few of the questions Eric Weiner explores in The Geography of Bliss, which is one part humorous travel memoir and another part psychological investigation.

Romance & friendship

People We Meet on Vacation

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.You’re in for a whirlwind romance that takes place all over the world with People We Meet on Vacation.

One Italian Summer 

The Amalfi Coast sets the scene of One Italian Summer, which tells the story of the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

The Unhoneymooners

The best rom-coms have a hate-to-love storyline and The Unhoneymooners lets you delight in that when two enemies must pretend to like each on a Hawaiian vacation.

Field guides

Wildsam Field Guides

The stunning Wildsam Field Guides have been a go-to gift for our team member Emily. The pocket-sized books are both informative and eye-catching, featuring gorgeous illustrations alongside their compact advice.

Rick Steves’ Guidebooks

We’d be remiss not to list a book by the beloved travel expert: Rick Steves. His love of travel from an early age catapulted him to be one of the most respected guides, especially on European travel. Perhaps you can pick up his guidebook for Portugal, one of the top trending destinations for 2023.

Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Lonely Planet has long been a trusted travel resource. Its well-researched (and eye-catching) guides can be as general as Travel Book, which covers every country on the planet, or as granular as a guidebook for the most Epic Bike Ride of the Americas.

Honorable mention: How to Survive Family Holidays

Comedian Jack Whitehall knows that no matter how much you love your family, traveling can bring out the worst in people. How to Survive Family Holidays is equal parts hilarious and helpful in this part memoir, part travel guide. (Tip: Maybe just don’t gift to anyone in your family.)

Bring the adventure home (Coffee table books)

Bring your love of travel home with a travel-themed coffee table book so that even when you’re not on the road, you have some adventure right at home.

For solo travelers

Dame Traveler will inspire you to go the road alone next time you book a flight.

For daydreaming

From Tulum to Jaipur, Assouline’s luxurious travel collection will reignite your wanderlust.

For the hiking enthusiasts

National Geographic’s 100 Hikes of a Lifetime is perfect for those of you who constantly find themselves wishing they were amongst the trees.

For the film + travel lovers

Accidentally Wes Anderson is inspired by the director’s distinct cinematic style. This book captures real-life locations that have the aesthetic of his films and each is accompanied by a story from the people at each location.

 

For when you wish you were on a Roman holiday

Gray Malin’s Italy will have you seeing the boot-shaped country in a brand new way. Each page brings the renowned photographer’s talent and love for the country to the forefront.

For the planner

NYT’s 36-Hour series takes the publication’s popular column and puts it all in one place for you. Each book provides well-researched recommendations for how to spend 36 hours in any city and the Europe edition is a fan-favorite.

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