If you are looking for a great travel read I have compiled a list of the worlds top 200 travel books.
What denotes a best or top travel book is a subjective process (unless you are measuring purely on known sales), so this list has been through an editorial process. I have listed my selection methods below.
Travel Book Definition
For the purpose of this list I have defined travel books as personal narratives and historic travel journals. I was keeping travel fiction on this list but I have since removed them and I will make a new list for best travel fiction.
Also not included on the list are travel guide books or history books about cities and countries that aren’t personal narratives.
Some book lists also include books set in places from the perspective of a writer who lives there. I have not included those books. If you are interested in books about place I recommend looking through A year of reading the world, which lists one book for every nation in the world.
I was listing history books but I have now moved those into the travel guides section. For example City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas can be found in the Venice travel guide, and Vietnam: A History can be found in the Vietnam travel guide.
Travel Book Selection
This list is derived from a combination of books I’ve read, an aggregation of prominent top travel book lists (listed below), books that have been recommended to me, and books that are considered classics of the genre yet that have been overlooked by modern lists.
The list is ordered alphabetically (how do you even rank something so subjective?) and not sorted into sub-categories. This might change out of necessity if the list continues to grow.
In the interest of diversity I have selected only one book per author, otherwise I would have (happily) listed Bill Bryson seven times. If you like what an author writes you can research their back-catalogue for more reading.
While many of these are the books you always see on the top 10 travel books list, there are some obscure titles that I found on random bookshelves that still haven’t made their way to Kindle format. I’m continually adding more to the list as I go. You can leave a comment on the Facebook page if you have any more book suggestions.
My Reading Count
I’ve read over 50 travel books, though not all of them are on this list. Omitted books include authors with multiple book titles (such as the other Bill Bryson books), travel fiction, and books that didn’t make the cut.
My current reading count is 34/200.
List Of The Best Travel Books
Give Me the World by Leila Hadley.
Bored with her New York PR job, Leila Hadley buys two tickets aboard a cargo ship headed for Hong Kong: for herself, and for her 6-year-old son Kippy. This sets her life on an entirely new course. After Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok, their travels take an unexpected turn: she meets 4 young men sailing their boat around the world, and convinces them to let her and Kippy join them.
The White Masai: My Exotic Tale of Love and Adventure by Corinne Hofmann.
Corinne Hofmann tells how she falls in love with an African warrior while on holiday in Kenya. After overcoming severe obstacles, she moves into a tiny hut with him and his mother, and spends four years in his Kenyan village. Slowly but surely, the dream starts to crumble, and she hatches a plan to return home with her daughter, a baby born of the seemingly indestructible love between a European woman and a Masai.
For reading while on the road I personally recommend getting a Kindle Paperwhite. I can order books from anywhere in the world, so I’m no longer at the whim of what books are left on the guesthouse bookshelf. Read my Kindle Paperwhite review.
If you don’t have a Kindle you can still read e-books purchased on Amazon by downloading a free Kindle reading app.
Nomadic Notes is an affiliate of Amazon.com, and purchases via Amazon may earn Nomadic Notes a commission. The book images and book descriptions of the books I haven’t read are via the Amazon.com listing.
What’s your favourite travel book?
Have an opinion on any of the listed books (good or bad?) Is there a favourite that I have left out? Join the discussion on the Facebook Page.
50 essential travel books – abebooks.com.
Best travel books – alittleadrift.com.
The 86 greatest travel books of all time – cntraveler.com.
Best travel books – etramping.com.
Best Travel Books (Part One) – goseewrite.com.
Glancing through my bookcase – imperatortravel.com.
The best books I’ve read during my travels, part 1 and part 2 – legalnomads.com.
Travel reading suggestions: 100+ great books for travelers – lengthytravel.com.
What’s on your bookshelf – maptia.com.
The 50 greatest travel books of all time – matadornetwork.com.
13 travel books that will give you serious wanderlust – nomadicmatt.com.
Remembering Nicolas Bouvier – nullnfull.com.
100 best travel books ever written – onlineuniversities.com.
My favourite travel book, by the world’s greatest travel writers – theguardian.com.
Best travel books – 100 titles for wanderlust – thetraveltart.com.
Ten travel books I’d recommend to anyone – travelfish.org.
The 100 most celebrated travel books of all time – worldhum.com.