Ultimate Gift Guide: Wanderlust Books for Travel Lovers 2023

Look no further if you’re looking for the perfect gift for your wanderlust-minded loved one! Whether they’re a seasoned traveler or an armchair explorer, our ultimate guide to books for travel lovers gives you all the inspiration needed to find that special something.

From timeless classics to thrilling escapism, these titles will take them on a journey without ever having to leave home. With a selection of novels and nonfiction reads designed to evoke wanderlust in even the most sedentary reader, this gift guide has something new for every budget and taste.

So, if you want your favorite person’s eyes to light up with excitement when they unwrap their present this season, check out our top picks for those who love journeying through stories – wherever it might take them!

Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost, the author may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

List of books for travel lovers that would be great for a gift

Top 10 Books for Travel Lovers

Kindle Paperweight

It is the perfect gift for the traveler who prefers to travel light. It is waterproof, adjustable light, and has up to 10 weeks of battery life to make traveling easy. The Kindle Paperweight makes it easy to take more books in one place, not having to pack multiple books. Just upload and read!

1. The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain

The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress, is a travel book by American author Mark Twain, published in 1869, which humorously chronicles what Twain called his “Great Pleasure Excursion” on board the chartered vessel Quaker City (formerly USS Quaker City) through Europe and the Holy Land with a group of American travelers in 1867. It was the best-selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime and one of the best-selling travel books of all time.

2. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom, and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies worldwide and transforming countless readers’ lives across generations.

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different and more satisfying than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, recognizing opportunity, reading the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, following our dreams.

3. Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert

A celebrated writer’s irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she wanted out of life.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your contentment and stop trying to imitate society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

4. In The Kingdom of Men, by Kim Barnes

Set against the gorgeously etched landscape of a country on the cusp of enormous change, In the Kingdom of Men abounds with sandstorms and locust swarms, shrimp peddlers, pearl divers, and Bedouin caravans—a luminous portrait of life in the desert. Award-winning author Kim Barnes weaves a mesmerizing, richly imagined tale of Americans out of their depth in Saudi Arabia, a marriage in peril, and one woman’s quest for the truth, no matter what it might cost her.

5. Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels, by Alia Akkam

Today’s traveler is always on the move. Their trips are frequent, they think globally, and they treat hotel lobbies and bars as social spaces, conducting meetings or hunkering down, for hours at a time, with their laptops. Drinking is part of these everyday rituals, and so in this context, the hotel bar’s role acquires an even greater significance.

Behind the Bar shines a light on 50 signature cocktails from the most iconic hotel bars worldwide, appealing to tried-and-true cocktail lovers and design aficionados alike. Recipes from some of these storied properties will inspire enthusiasts to re-create timeless cocktails at home. Anecdotes supplied by barkeeps and hotel and design personalities will enliven the recipes that reveal why so many hotel bars have endured through the years or have impacted the modern world.

6. This Contested Land: The Storied Past and Uncertain Future of America’s National Monuments, by McKenzie Long

One woman’s enlightening trek through the natural histories, cultural stories, and present perils of thirteen national monuments, from Maine to Hawaii
This land is your land. Regarding national monuments, the sentiment could hardly be more fraught. Gold Butte in Nevada, Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks in New Mexico, Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, Cascade–Siskiyou in Oregon are among the thirteen natural sites McKenzie Long visits in This Contested Land. It is an eye-opening exploration of the stories these national monuments tell, the passions they stir, and the controversies surrounding them today.

Starting amid the fragrant sagebrush and red dirt of Bears Ears National Monument on the eve of the Trump Administration’s decision to reduce the site by 85 percent, Long climbs sandstone cliffs, is awed by Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings, and is intrigued by 4,000-year-old petroglyphs.

She hikes through remote pink canyons recently removed from the boundary of Grand Staircase–Escalante, skis to a backcountry hut in Maine to view a truly dark night sky, snorkels in warm Hawaiian waters to plumb the meaning of marine preserves, volunteers near the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, and witnesses firsthand the diverse forms of devotion evoked by the Rio Grande.

In contemplative and resonant essays, This Contested Land confronts an unjust past and imagines a collaborative future that bears witness to these regions’ enduring Indigenous connections.  From hazardous climate change realities to volatile tensions between economic development and environmental conservation, practical and philosophical issues arise as Long seeks the complicated and often overlooked—or suppressed—stories of these incomparable places.

Mindfully undertaken and movingly described, her journey emphasizes in clear and urgent terms the unique significance of, and grave threats to, these contested lands.

7. 1,000 Perfect Weekends: Great Getaways Around the Globe, by National Geographic

Packed with innovative ideas and inspiring photographs, this gift-worthy treasury features 1,000 dream escapes from sunny beach retreats to lush mountain idylls, city sojourns, and wild adventures around the world.

Whether you’re looking for a way to unplug from the busy work week, take the family on a quick getaway, or add to a vacation itinerary, this practical and inspiring book provides the perfect way to plan your next escape.

Spend two days sailing off the coast of the Bahamas. Indulge in a foodie tour of Mexico City’s markets. Camp with wild horses on Assateague Island. Take a drive through Italy’s “Chocolate Valley.” Skate the world’s largest ice rink at Ottawa’s winter festival. Whatever your pleasure, 1,000 Perfect Weekends has a unique itinerary built to excite you and your travel companions, illustrated with dramatic National Geographic photographs.

Divided by theme and interest–including nature parks, city escapes, country weekends, mountain retreats, and more–this fun-packed guide offers an adventure you can experience in 36 to 72 hours. Highlighting the best short escapes from hubs across the globe, these trips cover more than 40 countries worldwide.

You’ll also find 50 snackable top-10 lists–from the best places to go antiquing to the most relaxing spas to the top museums in the world–to add to your bucket list, along with first-person accounts from travelers who have scouted each location.

8. Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life. Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.

In the Mojave Desert, he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless threw away the maps. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

9. Frommer’s 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, by Holly Hughes

500 Places to Take Your Kids allows parents, grandparents, and kids to create a lifetime of shared memories while visiting destinations the whole family can enjoy. Here are cities, zoos, sports shrines, museums, castles, beaches, outdoor activities, and more–500 thoughtfully chosen places that will enchant and beguile the young and the young at heart.

Each entry contains all the information families need to help plan a trip: age ratings, service details, and nearby kid-friendly hotels. A Specialty Index organized by type of trip helps families discover places and activities for all ages and interests. At the same time, a Geographical Index allows families to locate attractions worldwide or simply across town. Photos throughout the book help bring destinations to life.

10. 100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails, by Kate Siber

From the world’s expert in outdoor adventure, here is the ultimate hiker’s bucket list, with 100 breathtaking experiences for beginners to experts around the globe–from the celebrated Appalachian Trail to the off-the-beaten-path (but not to be missed!) Six Waterfalls Hike in Micronesia.

Filled with beautiful National Geographic photography, wisdom from expert hikers like Andrew Skurka, need-to-know travel information, and practical wildlife-spotting tips, this inspirational guide offers the planet’s best experiences for hikers and sightseers.

From short day hikes–California’s Sierra High Route, Lake Agnes Teahouse in Alberta, Norway’s Mt. Skala–to multiday excursions like Mt. Meru in Tanzania and multi-week treks (Egypt’s Sinai Trail, Bhutan’s Snowman Trek, and the Bibbulum Track in Australia), you’ll find a hike that matches your interests and skill level.

Crossing all continents and climates (from the jungles of Costa Rica to the ice fields in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Parks), as well as experiences (a wine route through Switzerland or moose spotting on the Teton Crest Trail in Wyoming,) there is a trail for everyone in these pages. So pack your gear and lace your boots: 100 Hikes of a Lifetime guide will lead you to experience the best hikes of your life!

More Ideas of Books for Travel Lovers

11. The Beach, by Alex Garland

The irresistible novel was adapted into a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Khao San Road, Bangkok — first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard’s first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to “the Beach.”

The Beach, as Richard has learned, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.

Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck — the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man — and his obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, which is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time, it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.

Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach by Alex Garland — both a national bestseller and his debut — is a highly accomplished and suspenseful novel that fixates on a generation in their twenties who are burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it challenging to experience the world first hand.

12. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, A Traveler’s Life List, by Patricia Schultz

Around the World, continent by continent here is the best the world offers: 1,000 places guaranteed to give travelers the shivers. Sacred ruins, grand hotels, wildlife preserves, hilltop villages, snack shacks, castles, festivals, reefs, restaurants, cathedrals, hidden islands, opera houses, museums, and more. Each entry tells exactly why it’s essential to visit. Then come the nuts and bolts: addresses, websites, phone and fax numbers, and the best times to visit. Stop dreaming and get going.

This hefty volume reminds vacationers that hot tourist spots are a small percentage of what’s worth seeing. A quick sampling: Venice’s Cipriani Hotel; California’s Monterey Peninsula; the Lewis and Clark Trail in Oregon; the Great Wall of China; Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Western Samoa; and the Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain.

Veteran travel guide writer Schultz divides the book geographically, presenting a little less than a page on each location. Each entry lists precisely where to find the spot (e.g., Moorea is located “12 miles/19 km northwest of Tahiti; 10 minutes by air, 1 hour by boat”) and when to go (e.g., if you want to check out The Complete Fly Fisher hotel in Montana, “May and Sept.-Oct. offer productive angling in a solitary setting”). This is an excellent resource for the intrepid traveler.

13. The Bang-Bang Club: The Making of the New South Africa, by Greg Marinovich

The Bang-Bang Club was a group of four young photographers, friends and colleagues, Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, and Joao Silva, who covered the last years of apartheid, taking many of the photographs that encapsulate the final years of white South Africa.

Two of them won Pulitzer Prizes for individual photos. Ken, the oldest and a mentor to the others, died, accidentally shot while working; Kevin, the most troubled of the four, died by suicide weeks after winning his Pulitzer for a photograph of a starving baby in the Sudanese famine.

Written by Greg and Joao, “The Bang-Bang Club” tells their stories, the story of four remarkable young men, the stresses, tensions, and moral dilemmas of working in situations of extreme violence, pain, and suffering, the relationships between the four and the story of the end of apartheid. This is an immensely powerful, riveting, and harrowing book.

14. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart, by Dion Leonard

A man, a dog, and the lengths to which love will go to sacrifice for its companion.
Finding Gobi is the miraculous tale of Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner who crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 155-mile race through the Gobi Desert in China.

The lovable pup, who would later earn the name Gobi, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart as she went step for step with Dion over the Tian Shan Mountains, across massive sand dunes, through yurt villages and the black sands of the Gobi Desert, keeping pace with him for nearly 80 miles.

As Dion witnessed this small animal’s incredible determination and heart, he found his own heart undergoing a change as well. Whereas in the past, these races were all about winning and being the best, his goal now was to ensure his and Gobi’s friendship continued well after the finish line. He found himself letting Gobi sleep in his tent at night, giving her food and water out of his limited supply, and carrying her across numerous rivers, even when he knew it would mean putting him behind in the race or, worse, preventing him from finishing.

Although Dion did not cross the finish line first, he felt he had won something even more significant – a new outlook on life and a new friend he planned to bring home as soon as arrangements were made.

However, before he could take her home, Gobi went missing in the sprawling Chinese city where she was being kept. Dion, with the help of strangers and a viral outpouring of assistance on the Internet, set out to track her down and reunite forever with the unique animal that changed his life and proved to him and the world that miracles are possible.

15. 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do, by Joe Yogerst

Filled with helpful travel tips and beautiful National Geographic photography, this expert guide showcases the best experiences in North America’s top national, state, and city parks.

In the sequel to the best-selling 50 States, 5,000 Ideas, National Geographic turns to the United States and Canada’s most pristine–and adventure-filled–national, state, and city parks with 5,000 ideas for the ultimate vacation.

Showcasing the best experiences, obvious and unexpected, each entry in this robust guide provides an overview of the park, detailed travel advice, fascinating facts, insider knowledge about wildlife, and expert tips for hiking, biking, camping, and exploring. From the geysers of Yellowstone National Park to the Everglades’ Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail and the stunning peaks of Banff and Jasper in Alberta, each page will fuel your wanderlust.

Plus, explore the natural beauty tucked away in cities like New York’s Central Park and Boston Commons, and find bonus parks with day-trip suggestions to nearby neighbors. Top 10 lists highlight best-of destinations for river trips, monuments, panoramic views, beaches, and more. This comprehensive book provides all the inspiration and information you need to plan your next park visit and make it memorable.

16. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter, by Matt Kepnes

No money? No problem. You can start packing your bags for that trip you’ve been dreaming about for a lifetime. For more than half a decade, Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt) has been showing readers of his enormously popular travel blog that traveling isn’t expensive and that it’s affordable to all.

He proves that as long as you think out of the box and travel like locals, your trip doesn’t have to break the bank, nor do you need to give up luxury. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day reveals Nomadic Matt’s tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel based on his experience traveling the world without giving up the sushi meals and comfortable beds he enjoys—offering a blend of advice ranging from travel hacking to smart banking.

17. In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson

It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most infertile, and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents, and still, Australia teems with life – a large portion of it quite deadly. Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else.

Ignoring such dangers – yet curiously obsessed with them – Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extroverted, quick-witted, and unfailingly obliging: their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold, and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn’t get much better than this…

18. The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War, by Denise Chong

On June 8, 1972, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by napalm, ran from her blazing village in South Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph – one of the most unforgettable images of the twentieth century – was seen around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War.

This book is the story of how that photograph came to be and what happened to that girl after the camera shutter closed. Award-winning biographer Denise Chong’s portrait of Kim Phuc – who eventually defected to Canada and is now a UNESCO spokesperson – is a rare look at the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point-of-view and one of the only books to describe everyday life in the wake of this war and to probe its lingering effects on all its participants.

19. Clever Fox Bucket List Journal

A unique feature of this bucket book is its 2 detailed “Before” and “After” pages to fill in for each bucket list experience. The “Before” page will help you plan your adventure in detail and think about why, where, when, with whom, and how you want to do it. The “After” page will help you preserve every precious memory for years, providing space to share your favorite moments, powerful emotions you experienced, a short story, and pictures.

20. Kindle or Audible Gift Card

Don’t know what books your traveler has read? Give them an Amazon Gift Card in a Gift Box.

Final thoughts: Ultimate Gift Guide: Books for Travel Lovers

To wrap up our ultimate gift guide for travel lovers, we’ve shared some inspiring and captivating books to gift! From The Alchemist to Finding Gobi, each story shared gives an inside look into the culture and character of various countries and people.

Books can strengthen our fascination, appreciation, and respect for other cultures while allowing us to explore more of the world without leaving home. In addition, they’re a unique way to give meaningful gifts that will last a lifetime!

So if you’re searching for a special present for loved ones who love to travel – or are looking for something exciting to read yourself – this is the perfect gift guide. If you’re looking for even more travel gift ideas, read our blog post on Travel Essentials for further guidance on what every traveler should have in their backpack!

Our Trusted Resources

Booking.com: for booking accommodations

Fare Drop: for finding the best airfare deals.

Viator or Get Your Guide: for all my activities

Discover Cars: for car rentals

Airalo: for eSIM card

Trainline: for booking train tickets

Karen Kane & prAna: great sources for travel clothes

International Drivers Permit: for getting your IDP

Travelex: for Travel Insurance

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