15 Best Travel Books for Women

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The best travel books, of course, are the ones that resonate with you personally. When a book stirs something within you, well, that’s a real gem. These are the ones that bear re-reading – perhaps on your next trip? Hopefully some of our picks, below, will provide that experience for you, as they have for others. That’s the reason these books show up again and again on favorite travel book lists. We’re guessing you’ve likely read at least one of them.

A good travel book is simply one that you will enjoy reading. But if it’s also set in the area where your next trip is taking you, all the better! And of course, sometimes you just want something light to read, and at other times you yearn for something meatier. Read the reviews to get a feel for whichever need the book might fulfill for you.

As a guide, consider this: Books can make very powerful impressions on the mind. Or they can be simply entertaining or informative. A great book is all three.

One of My Favorites

I remember reading a terrific thriller by John Grisham about an ex-Washington power broker who was also a newly pardoned prisoner. He had tried to sell an ultra-powerful satellite surveillance system. The CIA wanted to know which of several countries had learned the details of this sytstem. Their strategy to do so was to set this fellow up as a target for the various countries potentially involved. The goal was to see which one pounces on him.

To do so they exile our guy to Bologna, Italy where he has to try and fit in like a local. This involves taking intensive Italian lessons and immersing himself in the local customs and manners. Being a language learner myself, I loved the challenge this fellow had to excel in. HIs life literally depended upon it. And his descriptions of life in Bologna made me want to travel there – another hallmark of a great travel book!

But I didn’t add this book on my list since it didn’t come up as a much beloved travel book. If you’d like to read it,however, especially if you plan on traveling to Italy, it’s called: The Broker. And, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a book by John Grisham!

But Back To Our List

It’s tailored for women who seek to immerse themselves in new cultures, places, and experiences. We have some great fiction that transports you to far-off destinations. As well, the list includes non-fiction encounters that describe some incredible experiences. Whichever ones you choose, they are bound to trigger your sense of wanderlust and/or satisfy your thirst for knowledge. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or a globetrotter, these literary gems are a must-read.

Best Travel Books – #1: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Kicking off our list is the iconic “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book was a best seller around the world, striking a chord with readers of multiple nationalities. It’s a detailed memoir of emotions and new experiences. We go along with Gilbert on her transformative journey as she sets out on a year-long quest to Italy, India, and Indonesia.

Exploring themes of self-discovery and spirituality, the book is an ode to the power of travel in healing and self-growth. It is so well written that you might find yourself learning life lessons along with the author. The movie starring Julia Roberts was also an international hit.

Best Travel Books – #2: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

While not strictly a travel book, “The Alchemist” is a timeless tale of adventure and self-discovery. Paulo Coelho’s enchanting story follows Santiago, a shepherd boy, as he sets out on a quest to find his Personal Legend, uncovering wisdom and magic in unexpected places. It’s the kind of book that prompts some self-reflection of our own.

Best Travel Books – #3: “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild” chronicles her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. Fueled by grief over the death of her mother, and the desire to find herself, Strayed embarks on this grueling journey. Her mettle is certainly tested both physically and emotionally, as she treks through the rugged wilderness. It is a gripping account of determination and resilience in the face of obstacles and challenges. It is also a testament to the healing power of nature.

Note: You may also recognize the title from the 2014 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, based on the book.

Best Travel Books – #4: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus” transports readers to a magical realm of enchantment and wonder. Erin Morgenstern’s novel revolves around a mysterious competition between two young illusionists. Matters are complicated as they are both fiercely competitve against each other but also in love. The novel showcases dazzling settings and evocative descriptions that will leave you yearning for far-off places. As a Boston Globe reviewer said: “So sparklingly alive, you’ll swear the pages are breathing in your hands.”

Best Travel Books – #5: “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes

Mayes’ memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, invites readers into her journey of renovating an old villa in Tuscany, Italy. Hurt by her husband’s infidelity, it seems that she is refurbishing her own life along with dusty reno job. With lush prose and vivid imagery, the book captures the beauty of the Italian countryside. It alos delves into the challenges and joys of embracing a new romance and a new way of life.

BTB # 6: “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert makes a return to our list with “The Signature of All Things.” This novel spans continents and centuries, following the life of botanist Alma Whittaker. Her adventures take her from London to Tahiti. The book explores scientific exploration, personal growth, and the ties that bind us to the natural world.

BTB #7 – “Tracks” by Robyn Davidson

In “Tracks,” Robyn Davidson recounts her remarkable journey across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog. This true story is a captivating exploration of solitude, connection, and the vastness of the Outback.

BTB #8 – “Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche

Torre DeRoche’s memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning, is a tale of love and adventure on the high seas. Fueled by the desire to conquer her fear of water, DeRoche joins her adventurous partner on a journey across the Pacific Ocean, navigating both the challenges of sailing and the complexities of human connection.

BTB #9 – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

While not a traditional travel book, Khaled Hosseini’s novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns” transports readers to Afghanistan. The story intertwines the lives of two women against the backdrop of a tumultuous period in the country’s history, offering a window into a world both familiar and foreign.

BTB #10 – “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang

Jung Chang’s powerful family saga, “Wild Swans,” traces the history of China through the lives of three generations of women. This non-fiction masterpiece provides insights into the country’s cultural evolution, political upheavals, and the resilience of its people.

BRB #11 – “The Beach” by Alex Garland

The Beach” whisks readers away to a hidden paradise in Thailand. However, the allure of an untouched oasis comes with a price. Alex Garland’s novel delves into the complexities of human desire, community dynamics, and the consequences of seeking utopia.

BTB #12 – “My Life in France” by Julia Child

Julia Child’s delightful memoir, My Life in France, chronicles the culinary adventures where she discovered her passion for cooking. This enchanting tale of exploration, food, and culture is a testament to embracing new experiences and the joy of learning.

BRB #13 – “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner

Venturing into the realm of non-fiction, “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner explores the connection between place and happiness. Through his global journey, Weiner offers thought-provoking insights into the various factors that contribute to human well-being.

BTB #14. “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” is a blend of self-help and memoir, detailing the author’s year-long experiment to find joy in everyday life. As a woman who loves learning and travel, the book’s insights into happiness and personal growth will resonate deeply.

BTB #15 – “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson’s humorous and informative travelogue, “In a Sunburned Country,” takes readers on a journey through the vast landscapes and unique culture of Australia. With Bryson’s signature wit, this non-fiction gem is a perfect addition to your reading list. That the book manages to be both fact-filled and funny is a testament to Bryson’s impressive literary skill.

Wrapping Things Up

For women with a thirst for both learning and adventure, these 15 best travel books offer an array of literary experiences to enjoy:

  • delving into the pages of a memoir
  • losing yourself in the magic of fiction, or
  • exploring the depths of non-fiction narratives

Each of these books has the power to transport you to new worlds, ignite your curiosity, and satisfy your wanderlust. Also, they just might stoke your enthusiasm for your next trip. As well, of course, you can enjoy any of these reads on your trip. They are a great way to unwind after a busy day of siteseeing, or killiing some time in an airport lounge.

So, why not embark on a literary voyage that lets your imagination soar, while keeping the spirit of exploration alive in your heart? Happy reading!

15 Best Travel Books
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Susan Cooper

I'm a "woman of a certain age" who loves to travel, preferably in style! There's something exciting about exploring new places, meeting fellow travelers, and experiencing local cuisine. But I also really enjoy relaxing at a cafe. And it's always fun to absorb a little culture and history along the way!

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