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Ultimate Book Guide for Going Everywhere

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Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.  I’m going to make a list of books to help plan a trip.  This will include guidebooks and things like that, as well as books set in different regions of the world to help you get inspired and excited about all kinds of destinations.

Some of these can help plan a trip, and once you’ve decided where to go, the ohers can get you excited about it, and maybe even give you ideas of what to do or see there.

General World Trip Planning

Off Track Planet’s Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke – This is the perfect book to help you decided where to go, what to do, where to stay, and how to volunteer.  This gives the inside scoop on a bunch of volunteer programs around the world, and is great if you’re planning a round teh world trip.

The Big Trip – This is also great for planning a Round the World trip.  It has suggested routes and what to do on all of them, as well as different themed trips, like adventure or history, things like that.

Lonely Planets Ultimate Travel – Lonely Planet’s list of the 500 best things to see around the world.  This could help you figure out what you wanted to see and plan a route or once you know, see what is in the countries you’ll be visiting.

36 Hours World – A series by New York Times, 36 Hours gives you an itinerary for 36 hours in a variety of countries and cities.  You can get a set for the whole world, or specific regions like USA and Canada Midwest and Great Lakes, Los Angeles and Beyond, Asia and Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean, and New York and Beyond, to name a few.

The World – The Wolrd is a Lonely Planet guide giving the top ten things to do in every country and some of the basic facts about them as well.  I love this for getting an idea of what a place has to offer if I’m thinking about going there.

A House Somewhere – Another by Lonely Planet, this could be more to just get you in the mood to travel.  It’s a series of short stories of life abroad.

Better than Fiction – Surprise!  Another Lonely Planet book.  This is a series of short stories by fiction writers recalling some og their travels.  The stories, true stories, take place around the world at different points in time.  This is also good to just get you in the mood to travel.  There is also a second edition of this.

If your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, it isn’t Big Enough – This can be found in the Kindle store, and is the story of a woman’s solo adventure around the world.  It takes her through Africa, Asia, and some of the US.  It’s anothe good one to get you excited about traveling.

Planning for the US

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks – I’ve mentioned this before, but only because I love it.  If you’re planning a US road trip and hoping to visit a bunch of National Parks, this is wonderful.  It includes information about hiking, camping, and what not to miss for all 59 national parks in the US.

Lonely Planet USA’s Best Trips – To get an overview of what the US has to offer and what trips are best, that book is perfect.  If you know you want to see a certain region check out the guide to the US Southwest, the Eastern US, Florida and the South’s Best Trips, and Route 66 Road Trips.  You can find them for Hawaii and New York City as well.

Off Track Planets Travel Guide to ‘Merica! – Just like above, but this time just for ‘Merica!  This would be great for planning a budget trip around the US.  They also have one just for Brooklyn and one for San Fransisco.

Into the Wild – The story of Alex Supertramp, as he called himself, written by John Krakauer.  It’s about his journey away from home, across the US, to Alaska, meeting the people he met on the journey himself.

Wild – This is probably going to get mentioned a lot because I enjoyed this book.  If you love the outdoors and hiking, this is great.  If you want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s even better.  You get to see what Cheryl’s journey is like, giving you a look into PCT life.

Mile, Mile and a Half – OK, so this is a documentary, so it may be cheating on this list, but it’s about a group hiking the 219 mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney.  I think it falls enough under this category, because it made me want to go there.

A Walk in the Woods – A look at the other side of the US, this is an entertaing and informing read on hiking the Appalachain trail from Georgia to Maine, or at least parts of it.  I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to.


Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring – Perfect for those budget travelers, or anyone that just doesn’t want to break the bank on the European adventure.  If you’re not worried about all of Europe, try the Western Europe book.  It may not be as shoestring, but it would still be quite helpful.

125 Weekends in Europe – This is one of the 36 Hour books from NY Times.  If this doesn’t give you any ideas of what to do, where to go, and what to eat in Europe, I’m not sure what will.

Lonely Planet Europe – If you’re doing a trip allover Euope, this is a good option, if you’re just going to one country, check out these books for Italy, Spain, London, Ireland, Germany, or Iceland.

Under the Tuscan Sun – If you’re dreaming of visiting Italy, give this a read.  It’s also perfect if you’re thinking of moving there.  It’ll definitely get you dreaming of Italy, and if you just can’t stop, Bella Tuscany and Everyday in Tuscany will have you packing your bags right away.

Eat Pray Love – This falls under the next three categories, but this part is about Italy.  After going through a rough divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert sets out on a year long Journey, starting with eating her way through Italy and learning the almost useless but beautiful Italian Language, just because.  If you aren’t going to Italy, but happen to love the book anyways, give Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It a try.

Julie and Julia – Enough with Italy, it’s time for France.  Julie takes on the challenge of making eveything in Mastering The Art of French Cooking: Volume One in one year.  It actually takes place in New York City, but it can get you excited about French food.  If oyu want to read more about France, My Life in France by Julia Child would be perfect.

Paris, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down – This is about moving to Paris, a dream city, and life as an expat.  It’s a good look at a less romanticized version of living in France.  It just wasn’t quite what they expected to live in, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t still love it.


Lonely Planet India– India is massive and intimidating and it definitely freaks me out, but I love reading everything about it.  And someday I will go there.  The India Guidebook is perfect for a visit around the whole country, but here are some for specific regions: Goa and Mumbai, Rajasthan, Dehli, and Agra, and South India and Kerala.

Eat, Pray, Love – The second part of Eat, Pray, Love takes place in an Ashram in India, practicing meditation and devotion.  If that interests you at all, perfect!  If not, maybe this will convince you to visit in Ashram on your visit.

Shantaram – This almost 1000 page novel is wonderful, and I’m actually reading it for a second time this year right now.  This is actually what made me want to go to India, even though it still freaks me out.  Gregory David Roberts escaped from prison in Australia, moving to India, and living a succesful life of crime.  It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s everything.  Read this, even if you aren’t planning on going to India.

The Mountain Shadow – This is the second book from the author of Shantaram.  This is about life in a later Bombay and how everything changed from the time of the first book.  I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I look forward to finishing it.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure – Moving to a country she hates for love, it’s time to explore India and it’s plethora of faith.  After returning to a country she hates, she starts to love it a little more.  While her husband works, she travels the country exploring the many religions and faiths of India.  It’s eye opening and quite enjoyable.


Lonely Planet Guides – Asia is a pretty broad region including East, Southeast, and Central.  Central Asia is the top of my list for places to see.  For more specific country guides, check these out: China, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand,  Japan, Myanmar, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Apologies To My Censor – After landing a job writing for a newspaper in Beijing, he intends to leave after the Olympics and ends up staying for six years having all kinds of adventures, learning the language, or at least trying, and trying all kinds of weird jobs.

Eat Pray Love – The final part is finding love in Bali, Indonesia and temporary life in a small town.  I think this was my favorite part of the book, even though Italy was more of a place I want to go, but really, where don’t I want to go?  You can read Committed for a bit of a follow up to Eat, Pray, Love.

A Tale for the Time Being – A sixteen-year old in Tokyo writes a diary and documents her great grandmothers life.  This is found later washed up on an Island in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.  This is both funny and engaging.

Nowhere Like Home – This primarily takes place in Asia, primarily Papau New Guinea, the Philippines, and Palastine.  It’s more than your average travel adventures, going to some pretty off the beaten path places.  I love this and have read it a couple times.

Walking the Gobi – I loved this, but I also have a bit of an obsession with Mongolia and I love books about walking really crazy distances.  This couple walks across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia with the help of two camels to carry supplies and a few supply drop offs.  They accidentally go to China, and it’s just good.

Into Thin Air – This is probably the most read book about the Mt. Everest disaster, getting caught on the return from the summit in a horrible blizzard, I won’t ruin the rest in case you haven’t read it.  It took me a bit to get into it, but once the action started, I think I finished it at once.

It’s only the Himalayas – I really enjoyed this.  Two girls go on a round the world adventure, mostly in Africa and Asia.  They decided to do some trekking in the Himalayas with their dads and are in for a treat, lots of treats, really.  It’s enjoyable and will probably make you laugh and want to go all the places.

Australia and the Pacific

Lonely Planet Guidebooks – Like always, guidebooks first.  The South Pacific can be hard to find good information on, so guidebooks could be really helpful in the research department for a trip here.  Check these out: Rarotonga, Samoa, and Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti and French Polynesia, New Zealand’s South Island, New Zealand’s North IslandNew Zealand, Vanuatu and New Calednoia, and Australia.

Surviving Paradise – Peter is sent to teach on the tiny island of Ujae, part of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.  This is about life on the island, getting to know the locals and living  like them as well.  It’s the perfect read if you need to get in the summer mood.

In A Sunburned Country – Another tale by Bill Bryson, this time he’s in Australia, straying far from the beaten path.  He meets the friendliest people around the country, in the outback, the cities, the tropics, everywhere.  It’s also full of all kinds of fun Australia facts.


Lonely Planet Guidebooks – They have a guidebook for the whole of Africa, or, if you’re going to just one country or specific regions, they have books for those too.  Here they are:  South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somaliland, Botswana and Namibia, Madagascar, which is way up on my list of places to see also, Tanzania, Kenya, and Morocco.

Whatever you do, don’t run – This is a hilarious read of tales from a Botswana Safari Guide.  He went there on his own, loved it, and ended up staying to be a guide.  He meets all kinds of people, seeing all kinds of wildlife, making for some great stories.

Don’t look behind you – More tales by Peter Allison.  This one isn’t just in Botswana, though.  There are also adventures from South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique.   This is perfect to get you excited about going on a Safari or African adventure.

Walking the Nile – Like I said, books about walking ridiculous distances.  I actually saw part of this as a show a few years ago then saw the book this summer.  Wood walks the length of the Nile through six countries, a warzone, and countless landscapes.  He encounters hippos, crocodiles, and secret police.  This is definitely worth a read even if you have no plans of going to Africa.  Walking the Himalayas is another walking adventure of Wood’s.

Latin America

Lonely Planet Guidebooks – To travel on a shoestring through South America.  It can be a little intimidating to plan an entire South America trip, that’s a lot to cover.  If you only want to go to one country check these out: Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.  If you’re interested in Central America, these are perfect: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala, and Panama.

Lost in the Jungle – This is the tale of a four travelers meeting in Bolivia and going on an Amazon trek together.  After a few weeks wandering through the jungle together, they split up.  Yossi and his new hiking partner were going rafting and got split up.  Yossi survives for weeks on his own with no survival supplies, foraging for berries and building his own shelter.  I loved this book.  This is definitely worth a read.

Walking the Amazon – Ed Stafford spent 860 days walking across the 4000+ miles of the Amazon rainforest, finding the river source, crossing three countries, and encountered maachete wielding indigenous people.  This was probably the first thing on my Kindle (which I totally recommend) wishlistfrom the day I got it.  And I still haven’t read it.  Whaaaat?

Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America – This is what got me going to Central America.  After inviting herself on a backpacking trip with a friend from home, Catherine may be in over her head.  They go from Guatemala to Panama and have all kinds of fun adventures, then she’s actually a little sad (but still excited) to leave.  It was exciting seeing the places she wrote about in real life, even though San Pedro looks nothing like I imagined.

Happier than a Billionaire  – I got this on my way to Central America and finally read it this summer, almost two years later and I loved it!  This is a look into expat life in Costa Rica, the trials and tribulations of buying a house, and general life abroad.  It’s pretty hilarious and there just so happens to be a just as wonderful sequel!

Tropical Delusion – Have you ever wanted to build a house in Mexico?  If the answer is yes, this is for you.  This gives a look into what life is really like as an expat in Mexico.  If you like Mexico and have thought about moving abroad, this is a good read.

How to walk a puma – One more by Peter Allison, this time he’s off to South America to fight pumas, eat empanadas, and find piranhas.  As usual, it’s a hilarious encounter of the maybe not so everyday life of South America.

Where’d you go Bernadette? – This is definitely one of my favorite books.  I love it.  It actually takes place in the US, but is bad around a trip to Antarctica (that’s why it’s under Latin America).  After being promised a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette disappears and it’s up to Bee to find her.  This is a really fun read and I should probably read it again.

And that’s that.  The ultimate list of books on going everywhere.  I’ll be happy if even just one of these gets you going somewhere, or even just excited about a new country.  Lord knows that happens to me all too often.

Have you read any of these?  Which ones?  What did you think?  What would you add to this list?  

best-books ultimate list of travel books


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