¨I read, I travel, I become.¨
Introduction: My History with Travel Memoirs
One of my favorite things about travel is learning about my destination before I travel. 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).
On a group tour, other participants often remark that I ask the ¨most interesting and informative questions¨. This is probably based on my obsession with travel memoirs. (Is this a compliment? Let me know if I should take it as a clue to shut up).
- 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.
- 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;
- 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.
- 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
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
Want to Discover Top Travel Memoir Recommendations From Other Long-Term Travelers?
Some Additional Travel Information Resources
- Travel Information: Is it Better or Worse Than in the Past?When I developed my Big Blue Marble travel seminars in the 2000s, I was astonished by the quality of travel information available. Nowadays, sadly these resources are not available. I have developed this website in part to fill this void. Thankfully, podcasts, high quality blogs, and Youtube keep getting better and better. It is just harder to find them than it used to be.
- 24 Top Food Tips for TravelersDiscover tons of tips for finding authentic food while traveling. Learn about some of my favorite dishes and drinks.
- Rick Steves Is AwesomeRick Steves has perhaps helped make European travel a reality for more Americans than probably anyone else. I admire and refer to him frequently. However, his audience is very specific. Many Fifty-Plus Nomads do not share the same attributes as Rick Steves’ audience.
- Top Twelve Travel Advice Websites, Podcasts, and GuidebooksHere is a list of Paul Heller’s top twelve travel-related websites, podcasts, and guidebooks.
- My Favorite 50+ Top Travel MemoirsThis is a list of Paul Heller’s, the Founder of Fifty-Plus Nomad, top 50 travel memoirs.