5 AMAZING Travel Books • Take a Trip from Your Armchair

When most of the world was confined to travelling from room to room in our homes, I thought it would be a perfect time to share some of my favourite travel and adventure novels which really capture the essence of culture, and manage to transport you to another place or time.

When reading these books, I really felt like I could intensely visualise the local culture, customs, personal struggles and emotions of all the people and places involved.

So here are my recommendations for the best travel books out there. Leave a comment below with any other suggestions you may have for me to read during this time of isolation!

Bags Always Packed is a reader-supported site which means some of the links on this page may be affiliates. I spend a lot of time researching these hotels, tours and products and only recommend those which I would use myself. Booking your trip through my links is a great way for you to support my work for free, as I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. ♡

Quick Summary 

Don’t have time to read all my reviews? Here are the top books by category.

🌍 For Culture:Little Coffee Shop of Kabul⛰️ For Adventure:1000 Ultimate Adventures
📖 For History Buffs:Everest 1954😂 For Comedy:The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

1. The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

I myself have never actually been to Kabul city, although I now feel like I can tell you all about it!

Never before have I read a book that so actively immerses you in a culture so foreign to your own, yet simultaneously gives you a sense of belonging.

This heartwarming story will have you turning pages so quickly, you won’t even notice your quarantine time fly by!

I think one of my favourite things about this book is how the story seems so real and raw, despite aspects of it being totally intangible in the Western world.

2. Everest 1954: The Epic Story of the First Ascent

An incredibly well-researched, informative and entertaining novel about the first ascent of Mt Everest.

I actually read this whilst I was hiking to Everest Base Camp back in 2016, but it has stuck with me as one of the best mountaineering books I have ever read.

The author does an amazing job at remaining impartial to all of the options relating to the attempts on the mountain, presenting facts gathered from official records, personal diaries and photograph collections.

At the same time, he managed to present the material in an extremely captivating narrative, finally bringing the truth about the first ascent to life.

I was given this book as a gift many years ago, before I realised just how accessible some of these incredible adventures can actually be with a little determination.

When I first received it, I think I pretty much read it front to back, growing ambitions and future plans forming with every paragraph.

Divided into categories of different sports, beginner and pro, land and sea, this book is any adventure lovers dream planner.

Mine now mostly resides on my bookshelf back home, however, I love to return to it each year and discover that I have been unknowingly, slowly ticking off the adventures, one trip at a time.

4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Some may call it a classic, the #1 selling book was made even more wildly popular by the blockbuster movie adaptation, Wild.

Who doesn’t love a book with the classic story; girl feels lost, girl decides that she needs to hike an incredibly long, remote, trail in order to “find herself”.

Although the plot is somewhat cliche and predictable, you can’t help but relate to the ridiculous mistakes this first-time hiker makes in her attempt to head out into the unknown.

PS. If you don’t want to be like her, check out my post on the best hiking gear to prepare for your trek!

5. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

This hilariously unrealistic story of a girl from the slums of South Africa, who finds herself making nuclear bombs and eventually saving the king of Sweden, is just as bizarre as it sounds.

Although the plot of this book is incredibly absurd, the attention to detail that the author uses when describing the landscapes and cultures whilst setting the scenes which evolve in different countries is what captured me about the novel.

The entertaining story carries you through the book whilst you actually learn a lot about these very different societies.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Travel Books

What are the top-selling travel books?

A Place in the World, Meet Me in Atlantis and The Road to Little Dribbling are some tip-selling travel books that are worth reading.

What are some good books about travelling the world?

Down Under is a great book about travelling to Australia, Vagabonding is a book about long-term travel, and The Alchemist is a classic about travelling from Spain to Egypt.

Are there good travelogues to read before travelling?

Bill Bryson writes some great travelogues that give some fun insights into the places he visits. Dark Star Safari (Africa) and Turn Right at Macchu Pitchhu (Peru) are some other good travelogues to read before travelling

What are some good travel books about Europe?

Try Neither Here nor There, For the Love of Europe, and Under the Tuscan Sun if you are looking for good travel books about Europe.


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Helpful Resources

Booking.com - My favorite place to find the perfect hotel for any budget and location with lots of filters to easily narrow it down to a select few.
Hotels.com - Another great place to find a hotel with specific requirements for your trip.
Agoda - Best for booking hotels in Asia. Has options worldwide however in Asia it seems to have the most options of all the booking sites.
Hostelworld - Perfect for backpackers, Hostelworld is my go-to to find dorm rooms and cheap, social accommodation options.
Rental Cars - My preferred place to find rental cars at great prices around the world.
Discover Car Hire - Another option to compare rental car companies and providers worldwide.
Sixt - Previously “Thrifty” car rentals.
Europcar - Offers car and van hire around the world.
AutoEurope - Best place to find RV’s to rent for your trip.
Paul Camper - Rent campervans directly from their owners at reduced prices.
Get Your Guide - My preference for finding and comparing city tours, day trips and attractions around the world.
Viator - Preferred by US providers so sometimes has a bigger range of activities in select locations.
Klook - Most popular in Asia, you will find a bigger range of attractions and tours in the region of Asia on Klook.
Civitatis - Specializing in European Cities. Although it provides tours worldwide, always check here for additional options if visiting Europe.
HeadOut - Best place to find discounted attraction tickets.
Tiqets - Offers a lot of combo tickets. Make sure to visit if you are planning on visiting a few iconic attractions within a city.
Tripaneer - Where to go if you want to book retreats of any kind (yoga, cycling, outdoors etc).
Guru Walks - Book your spot on a free walking tour.
G Adventure - Lets you compare multi day tours around the world to pick the right itinerary for you.
Cruise Critic - Check out the different cruise options for long or short trips world wide.
Cruise Direct - Another option for comparing and booking cruises for your trip.
Backcountry - The best place to buy quality specialized gear that will last you for years of adventures.
Helly Hanson - Norwegian based clothing brand which produces durable outdoor clothing, particularly ski gear.
The North Face - High quality clothing for all your outdoor adventure needs.
Decathlon - Has a great range of cheap equipment and clothing for a huge range of sports and outdoor activities.
Sport Chek - Everything you need for general sports and outdoor adventures under one roof (or website).
Skyscanner - My preferred place to compare and find the cheapest flights to different destinations around the world.
Kiwi - Best platform for comparing different routes and dates.
Flixbus - Cheapest bus service mostly serving Europe but available in a few other destinations.
Greyhound - US long distance bus transport service.
Busbud - Compare and find all the bus times and providers for your chosen route.
Trainline - Find train times and tickets for long distance travel around the world.
Save a train - Another place to get train tickets and compare services for your destination.
Welcome Pickups - Pre book your airport transfer to your hotel.
Get Transfer - Another option to find airport transfers within your destination city.
Kiwi Taxi - Find and pre-book a taxi service in your location (including airport transfers).
World Nomads - Great comprehensive worldwide travel insurance for adventure travel.
SafetyWing - Best for digital nomads, offers ongoing monthly travel insurance plans.
Bonzah - Rental car insurance. Cheaper plans than those offered by the rental car companies themselves.

Kate is the outdoor loving, mountain obsessed creator behind Bags-Always-Packed.com. Since the age of 18 she has travelled to 50+ countries in search of the tallest peaks, new cultures, and the most off the track experiences possible. With over 10 years of adventures under her belt, Kate is dedicated to sharing all her experience through this website, helping you to plan your own trips and experience the world, no matter your budget!

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