7 Of The Most Life-Changing Travel Books To Immerse Yourself In This Year

By Jessica Best
22nd Apr 2020

girl sitting inside travel van with book and van back doors open overlooking mountainous landscape

From the Australian Outback to huge sand dunes in the heart of the Orkney Islands—travel books will transport you to places all over the world.

Whether you’re keen to start planning your next adventure or you’re a sucker for immersing yourself in some of the most hidden and magical places on earth, we’ve rounded up some pretty life-changing travel reads worth your time this year.

Here are the best travel books to get around.

Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

By Robyn Davidson

If there’s one novel that’s bound to get you wanderlusting about that road trip life, it’s this international bestseller of one woman’s solo trek across the Australian Outback. Back in the 70s, Robyn Davidson conquered a camel-trek from the heart of Australia, across 17,000 miles of hostile desert, to the sea—with only a dog and four camels for company. Tracks is Robyn’s award-winning account of her epic adventure and her story beats a track across bush, rock, sand and dust, across magnificent landscapes and through ancient sacred land, through frustrations, triumphs, joy and despair.

The Geography Of Bliss

By Eric Weiner

Part foreign affairs, part humour, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The Geography of Bliss is a wholesome mix of 
travel, psychology, science and humour, exploring not what happiness is, but where it is (and we’re big fans). You’ll prod questions like, are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Or, do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Maybe. Maybe not.

Lands Of Lost Borders: Journey On The Silk Road

By Kate Harris

She’s a modern-day classic and nothing short of an inspiring read—Lands Of Lost Borders is one heck of travel book and you absolutely must chuck it on your list this year. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Kate Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedalling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realised that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And she actually did. We guarantee you’ll want to ditch the big smoke and start planning your next adventure with this one.


By Rolf Potts

Beware, Vagabonding is a very triggering book, many have said this bad boy is the one read that prompted them to change the way they live. There’s no storyline to follow in this one, rather a plan of action to help you finance your future travel time, determine your next destination, working and volunteering overseas and even re-assimilating back into ordinary life post-adventure. But this guy isn’t for any short-term travellers, it’s for those of you who are keen as anything to live out the dream of extended overseas travel. You’ve been warned.

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

If you haven’t already read The Alchemist, you might be sick of hearing people tell you to read The Alchemist—but hear us out. There’s a bunch of learnings to be taken out of this read and you’ll follow the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of worldly treasures.

The Art Of Travel

By Alain De Botton

Sharp, funny and refreshing—nothing makes you dream of a life filled with all the exploring like The Art Of Travel does. And sure, there are so many reasons to pack your bags and jet off to a whole new continent packed with new customs and landscapes but how often do we take a moment to ask why we’re going and how might we become more fulfilled after? The perfect antidote to those guides that tell us what to do when we get there, The Art of Travel tries to explain why we really went in the first place.

Hidden Places

By Sarah Baxter

For those of you who want to read but not really, we hear you. Now, draw your eyes to Hidden Places by Sarah Baxter, a worldly collection of words and illustrations. This little gem takes you to some of the world's most secret of destinations (25 of them to be precise)—discover an ancient gateway to the Mayan underworld at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, hidden in the depths of the jungle in Belize, a mysterious underwater monument sunken off the Ryukyu Islands in Japan or a prehistoric village covered for centuries by a huge sand dune at Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands. 

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

Image credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk

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