While I do a lot of research online, I still love good travel books when I’m planning a trip. Sometimes I want to read a book that tells me where to get the best carbonara in Rome or how to take the train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Or I look for books with tips, like one below that teaches you how to photograph natural landmarks. Other times I want to read a historical novel or a non-fiction book set in the place I’m going to visit.
For example, for our trip to Russia, I read “A Mountain of Crumbs,” a non-fiction book about a woman who spent her childhood in the Soviet Union. I also read “Nicholas and Alexandra,” because I wanted to refresh my memory on the history of the Romanovs.
I also love true travel stories, whether they’re about mishaps, misadventures or the best trip of a lifetime. Here are several good travel books we suggest you check out.
Good Travel Books on Destinations
From the Mountains to the Sea: New Guidebooks on North Carolina
Travel writer Jason Frye knows North Carolina, a state he fell in love with during vacations when he was growing up in West Virginia. He’s written several guidebooks about the Tar Heel state and his latest are Moon North Carolina: With Great Smoky Mountains and Moon North Carolina Coast: With the Outer Banks.
Both books include strategic itineraries, expert tips, places to stay and outdoor activities. You’ll also find stunning photos, detailed maps and information on North Carolina’s culture, wildlife, climate and history. Whether you’re heading to the beaches or the mountains, you’ll want to take these guidebooks along.
This is My South: The Essential Guide to the Southern States
This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States, published by Globe Pequot Press, has over 300 full-color glossy pages. It covers 10 states and their offbeat attractions, unique accommodations, fascinating tours, and old school eateries, made up of places beyond what you’ll find in most other guidebooks.
Each state is broken up into three regional sections and each has an information box on a different part of Southern culture and history. Readers will also find recommended road trips, festivals, national parks, and day trips with recommended books, movies, and songs to round out their research.
Secret San Francisco: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure
Where does a brass marching band lead funeral processions, who is San Francisco royalty, and how do you get an underground tour of the sewers?
Find out all this and more in the new book from Reedy Press, “Secret San Francisco: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.”
Author Ruth Carlson takes you on a wild journey to a Peephole Cinema, secret stairways and a gigantic sundial. Along the way you’ll meet 600-pound dogs, circus performers in an adult fun-house, and see the city’s first skyscraper.
Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Costco and your independent bookstore.
100 Things To Do In San Francisco Before You Die
Sure, there are the unmissable landmarks such as cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio, the Ferry Building and Coit Tower. But turn the pages and find out which hotels have the hippest bar scenes, what a Mission-style burrito is, and where to shop for tie-dye and local art.
Fancy a cozy live music venue? Want to follow in the footsteps of the Beat Generation? Or take a coastal hike? Discover it all, and more, including the best tequila bar, inside the book “100 Things To Do In San Francisco Before You Die.”
100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go
When it was published in 2015, “100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go” debuted as a New York Times travel bestseller. Marcia DeSanctis has written a unique hybrid: part memoir, part journalism, part travel advice.
Above all, it’s a collection of deeply felt stories. Many of the 100 places – Josephine’s château at Malmaison, George Sand’s home in Nohant, Brigitte Bardot’s playground of St. Tropez – are rich in history and detail about some of France’s famous women. Others – the beach path in Èze-sur-Mer, the coastal resort Dinard in Brittany, Château Vaux le Vicomte—are simply beautiful.
Day Trips From Atlanta
Have a free day and want to get out of Atlanta but don’t know where to go? The new book “Day Trips From Atlanta” by author Janice McDonald is just the thing to get you going.
The second edition of this travel guide takes a north, south, east, west, near and far approach of the towns, parks and sites to visit.
Janice visits both the known and the not-so-well-known locations around Georgia, also offering up ideas if you want to make your outing more than a day. “Day Trips” retails for $17.95 and is available online.
Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip
The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway is a two-lane path that traces the root of the American experience. Drive or cycle it and you’ll follow in the footsteps of Native Americans, Confederate soldiers and others who helped to mold the Southeast and the country into its current form.
Experience the legacies of the Trail of Tears, the swampers of Muscle Shoals and the birthplace of the blues. In the Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip guidebook you’ll learn where to stop, how to find the best waterfalls, barbecue and juke joints, and where Elvis got his first guitar.
Travel Stories and Other Non-Fiction Books
Get Inspired by These Travel Tales From Around the World
Travel journalist Janna Graber not only writes travel stories, she collects them as well as editor of the World Traveler Tales anthology series. You’ll want to book your next adventure after reading about hitchhiking in Samoa, climbing in Tibet, traveling by camel with the “Blue Men” of Mali or getting lost in the rain forests of Hawaii.
The books in the series include “A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Women’s Travel,” “Chance Encounters: Travel Tales Around the World” and “Adventures of a Lifetime.”
Whatever your definition of adventure is, you’ll be entertained by these stories of meeting and overcoming challenges.
All Strangers Are Kin
When you travel, speaking even a little of the local language can totally change your experience. For inspiration to tackle the flashcards before your next trip, read “All Strangers Are Kin,” Zora O’Neill’s memoir of studying Arabic in Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE and Morocco.
While traveling, Zora finds that speaking even mangled Arabic breaks the ice in surprising and often sweet ways, resulting in home-cooked meals, tender confessions and even a surprise sleepover. As she writes in the new foreword to the paperback, released in March, “What is language, after all, other than a way to learn people’s stories?”
Waiting for Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul
Shortly after the death of her mother, Australian-born Lisa Morrow left Sydney in 2010 with her partner Kim to settle in Istanbul. Although she had traveled extensively in Turkey, Lisa had to learn to deal with Turkish bureaucracy and cultural differences. Then she had to rush Kim to the hospital and received bad news from home.
“Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul” is an engaging memoir of what it’s really like to live in Istanbul. Lisa takes the reader right into the heart of Turkish culture as she deals with the gritty reality of living abroad.
Good Travel Books With Tips
How to Photograph Natural Landmarks
Photographer Greg Vaughn shares his tips on photographing the spectacular natural landmarks of Oregon and Washington in his two books, appropriately named “Photographing Washington” and “Photographing Oregon.”
Learn where to go, when to go and how to capture the best photographs of national parks, monuments and state parks. In addition to tips on composition and exposure, you’ll also learn about hard-to-find sites worth traveling for, with directions on how to find them. The books also contain ratings for each location and more than 200 color photographs in each state.
A long-time photographer, Greg lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Ten Years a Nomad
What makes traveling addictive? Is it the places, people or experiences you encounter? For Matt Kepnes (more famously known as Nomadic Matt), it was all of the above and more.
In his book, “Ten Years A Nomad,” he walks you through his first remote trip to Costa Rica and how his experiences sparked a fire inside him to continue traveling around the globe. With every new city came a new culture for him to experience (and lesson learned along the way), and now he’s put his wisdom inside 226 pages that will have you packing your bags in no time.
Escape to Self
Rosie Bell wants to know what you desire. Actually, she would like you to ask yourself what your essentials are to truly thrive. The travel writer’s book “Escape to Self” is an invitation to realize, accept and pursue your desires so you may escape to a life that’s truly yours, free of social expectation.
It’s a prime read for anyone who longs to define their own life, doing away with traditional roles and what we’re “supposed to” be striving for. It’s a love letter written by the heart to the mind with healthy helpings of humor, travel and beautiful inspiration.
Good Travel Books in the Fiction Category
The fourth book from Hollywood entertainment lawyer David Wiener and Grand Prize Winner of the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival, “Amsterdam Exposed” tells the story of an exchange student who moves to Amsterdam hoping to write a book about the red light district and everything that follows.
An American abroad story, and also a love story, it’s an uplifting tragedy, full of humor; an Amsterdam survival guide; a sympathetic look at a societal problem; a sweet farewell to a world just about gone; and ultimately as close as you can come to a free trip to Amsterdam without leaving your couch.
– Jan Schroder, Editor in chief