“I read, I travel, I become.”
My History With the Best Travel Memoirs
One of my favorite things about travel is learning about my destination before traveling. While I love reading about a new destination’s history, economic, and political reality, my favorite type of reading is travel memoirs. Here is a list of my favorite travel memoirs. I love going to my hotel, homestay, etc., and reading these memoirs at night during long-term travel. (Many of the books are older. I haven’t read as much as I did before. Also, high-quality memoirs, like other travel advice-related resources, are rarer than they used to be).
Other participants often remark that I ask the “most interesting and informative questions” on a group tour. These questions often come from reading travel memoirs. (Is the comment about the “most interesting and informative questions” a compliment? Let me know if I should take it as a clue to shut up instead).
Latin America Travel Memoirs
- General– 1491 (Second Edition): New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann.
- Mexico–The Guaymas Chronicles: La Mandadera by David Stuart; First Step in the New World by David Lida; Mexican Days: Journeys into the Heart of Mexico by Tony Cohen; Gringos in Paradise: An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream in a Seaside Village in Mexico by Barry Golson. On the Plains of Snakes by Paul Theroux.
- Chile— Desert Memoir (Chile) by Ariel Dorfman; Chile: Travels In A Thin Country by Sara Wheeler.
- Cuba— Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of a Revolution by Alma Gullermoprieto. Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island by Lea Aschkenas.
- Peru— Turn Right at Macchu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams.
- Brazil–– A Death In Brazil by Peter Robb.
European Travel Memoirs
- General-–Neither Here Nor There: Notes on Europe by Bill Bryson.
- France– Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French by Paula Druckerman; My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme; Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong by Jean Benoit Nadeau and Julie Parlow.
- Italy— Rome and a Villa by Eleanor Clark; The City of the Fallen Angel (Venice) John Berendt; As Romans Do by Alan Epstein; La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini.
- Ireland– Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.
- Iceland—The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland by Bill Holm.
- Germany— Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson.
- Denmark– The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (The Happiness Institute Series) by Meik Wiking
- Russia— Casino Moscow: A Tale of Greed and Adventure on Capitalism’s Wildest Frontier by Matthew Brzezinski;
Asian Travel Memoirs
- General— Video Nights in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So Far East – Pico Iyer; The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan. Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux.
- Thailand– Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind by Carole Hollinger.
- China— River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler; Riding the Iron Rooster: A Train Through China by Paul Theroux. River at the Center The River at the Center of the World by Simon Winchester.
- Bhutan— Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey in Bhutan by Jaime Zeppa.
- Iraq– Baghdad without a Map by Tony Horowitz.
- Iran– Honeymoon in a Purdah: An Iranian Journey by Alison Wearing.
- Japan– The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto by Pico Iyer.
- Korea— A Walk Through the Land of Miracles by Simon Winchester.
- Hong Kong—by Jan Morris.
- India— Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald.
- Australia– In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson.
- Zimbabwe— Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood– Alexandra Fuller.
USA Travel Memoirs
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.
- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.
- Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders with America’s Mexican Migrants by Ted Conover.
- Democracy in America by Alexis deTocqueville
- Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas.
- The Majic Bus by Douglas Brinkley
Memoirs About Traveling in General
- Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves.
- Lonely Planet: Once While Traveling by Tony and Maureen Wheeler.
- The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.
- The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. by Jennifer Baggett and Holly C. Corbett.
- Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts