The Best Travel Books of 2017
Welcome to our running list of the best travel books of 2017! We’ll be adding great travel books throughout the year, so check back whenever you’re looking for something new to read!
When former Los Angeles Times writer Karin Esterhammer lost her job in the great recession, she decided to deal with the financial fallout by cutting expenses and moving her family to Vietnam. What follows is joyful and earnestly in love with her new home– a welcome change from the weary expat trope.
This collection of literary pilgrimages sees New York Times travel writers following in the travel footsteps of writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.P. Lovecraft. A book about travel, but also a quirky read about how those locales influenced the writers and figured into their works.
The adventure and romance filled memoir of an war correspondent who spend a decade as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times. Honest, messy, and insightful, as much a coming of age book as a travelogue.
An inside look at the legendary Trappist monk beer breweries of Europe. Written by three American beer writers, the book delves into the rich history of the monasteries and their brewing processes. With plenty of gorgeous photos to inspire your own travels, this is a fascinating book even if you’re not a beer nerd.
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of escaping from an unfulfilling life to dive deep into their passion, here’s your inspiration! Leslie Buck moved to Kyoto to apprentice in the male dominated world of Japanese gardening, generating insights that go far beyond tending to plants. This is a great read, particularly so for those who appreciate the thoughtfulness woven into so much of Japanese culture.
If you’re already read Graham Holiday’s first book, Eating Viet Nam (or Anthony Bourdain’s glowing words about him), you won’t need much urging to pick up this book. For the uninitiated, Holliday writes about food and culture in a vivid, original voice, with self deprecating humor. His exploration of Korean food will have your mouth watering and provide ample inspiration for travel–even if it’s just to the Korean restaurant in your city. Easily one of the best travel books of 2017.
Ostensibly a hiking guide to Washington’s Snoqualmie Territory, the book has a quirkiness and magic found in few hiking guides. You’ll find spots to explore, along with tales and legends from the area. It does require an appreciation for a certain kind of hippie mysticism, which is all right with us.
The story of a couple who decide to retire to Italy, and the misadventures and cast of characters they encounter along the way. An honest and entertaining account that doesn’t sugarcoat, but will likely still inspire you to quit the rat race for the idyllic Italian countryside.
A memoir of love and (our favorite) food in Iran, The Temporary Bride chronicles the intrepid Jennifer Klinec as she travels to Iran in search of culinary tradition. While the tale does involve an unlikely romance, the standouts here are the mouth-watering food descriptions and insight into Iranian culture.
Recollections from years of travels among Scotland’s Hebrides islands, Love of Country explores the stunning landscapes, their history and inhabitants. Smart, quirky, and fascinating, the book sheds light on Britain’s relationship with Scotland.
What could have been gimmicky in lesser hands is instead funny, useful and engaging. Rice’s Wayfarer’s Handbook covers everything from common travel scams, to how to protect yourself from a hippopotamus attack. It’s a useful reference source with plenty of current travel information from currency to flight-overbooking, and chock full of fascinating trivia that makes it a fun read for even armchair travelers.
You might know Lindsey Tramuta from her inspirational blog and Instagram account, Lost in Cheeseland. The New Paris collects her insights from a decade of living in the city, beautifully showcasing the best places to eat, drink, and shop. It’s one of our favorites so far this year, and one of the best travel books of 2017.
A heady, intelligent portrait of the real Cuba, beyond the Instagram ruin porn and Latin stereotypes. An enjoyable read even if you’re not planning a trip anytime soon, but a must-read to gain better understanding of Cuba’s culture and history.
A story of taking off to travel the world with a twist: a yellow envelope with money to give away during their travels. This is more than the usual glossy travelogue, musing on the human condition, self-exploration, and the real growth that can come from travel.
Many people dream of selling everything and traveling the world, but doing so with 3 kids under age 10? Tsh Oxenreider does just that, in a thoughtful account that’s as much about the meaning of home as it is the inspiration of travel.
The tale of a Maine hermit who retreated into the woods, living off the land (and robbing food from local children’s summer camps!) for 27 years. Finkel masterfully and sympathetically pieces together Christopher Knight’s story, crafting a touching and fascinating book that even those who don’t aspire to such solitude will enjoy.
Another book from popular blogger Geraldine DeRuiter, All Over the Place isn’t really that unfocused, though she does touch on love, life and travel. We’ve been laughing out loud to her blog, The Everywhereist, for years, and Geraldine’s new book is no different. Legitimately hilarious, warm, and quirky, this easily makes our list of the best travel books of 2017.
You might have read a news article or two about “Miss Norma”, the 90 year old woman who chose to forgo cancer treatment and instead take a last hurrah trip with her son and daughter in law. This is the story of their RV trip across the US, as Norma fits in as many firsts as possible. Fun, and touching, this inspiring travelogue is one of our favorites this year.
Much is written about moving to Paris (and we admit we can’t get enough), but how about a slower pace of life in Provence? This light-hearted memoir follow a couple quitting their jobs to move to Provence and build a life there, from learning French, to making friends, and creating careers. The engaging style makes it one of the best travel books of 2017.
Find a wealth of fun, unique things to do in every state in the US with National Geographic’s fantastically curated new book. From lifelong writer, photographer and traveler Joe Yogerst, you’ll get the inside scoop and find something for everyone, no matter where you are.
Another contender for best travel book of 2017, Trespassing Across America is part travelogue, and part reflection on climate change, follow the writer as he undertakes a an ambitious hike along the entire path of the Keystone XL pipeline. He shares his journey first hitchhiking to the Alberta tar sands, then hiking the 1,700 miles to the pipeline’s endpoint in Texas.
Talk to anyone who’s been to Iran, and they’ll speak of the warmth of the people–ordinary people who are culturally miles away from, and frequently opposed to their “axis of evil” government. Author Lois Pryce embarks on a motorcycle trip across Iran to find just that: the ordinary and the beautiful in Iran and its people.
Part history of the Alps, part travelogue, author Stephen O’Shea tackles the subject with a humor and skill that fans of Bill Bryson will enjoy. The book delves into Alpine myths, legends, and history, from Napoleon to Nietzsche, William Tell to James Bond. He doesn’t stop at research, battling his fear of heights, and visiting towns throughout the Alps along his journey. Comparisons to Bryson abound when reviewing travel writing, but O’Shea really has crafted one of the best travel books of 2017.
Follow author Tim Moore on a punishing, ill advised 6,000 mile bicycle trip along the route of the old Iron Curtain in one of the best travel books of 2017. Full of humor, keen observations, and historical context, the book is as much about the kindness of strangers as it is adventure travel.
If you’ve ever been inspired by the travel bloggers who sold *almost* everything, and left to travel the world, this book is for you! The author guides you through creating a more minimalist focus in your life, and discusses how to travel frequently, and on the cheap. You don’t have to quit your job and sell everything, just live more frugally, and focus on what’s really important.
A love story combined with beautiful recollection of moving to Jerusalem, and starting a family on Jerusalem’s Nablus Road. The story begins when the author falls for her soon to be husband at a Syrian monastery, at the time a French novice monk, and follows their life with wisdom and insight.
Understanding more about Russia isn’t a bad idea, given how much they’re in the news nowadays, but in the hands of Journalist Lisa Dickey it’s a fascinating journey. She chronicles three trips to Russia over the course of three decades, portraying the lives of a wide range of Russian people and how they’ve evolved over time.
Doug Mack embarks on a exploration of the American territories that we often think of as so foreign. From American Samoa to the US Virgin Islands, he explores the history of how they came to be US territories, how they feel about it, and what they’re like today. Fascinating, and one of the best travel books of 2017.
Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to hike the Appalachian Trail? Thought about going for it but didn’t know where to start? Whether you’re a serious hiker, musing about undertaking the hike, or just interested in the topic, this book is a must read. While it will answer your practical questions, it’s more than just lists, with anecdotes and info for anyone interested in backpacking.
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