Best travel memoirs to read for an adventure without needing to leave your sofa
Most people love to travel and explore new destinations, but the current coronavirus pandemic doesn't make this a viable option right now.
However, that doesn't mean you can't get inspired for when restrictions lift and you can go exploring again.
The best part is that there are some brilliant travel memoirs written by intrepid explorers, and they offer up a major dose of wanderlust alongside a really gripping read.
We take a look at the top 12 travel memoirs that need to be on your radar.
So, grab a cup of tea, curl up on your sofa and let yourself be transported to far away lands…
(Oh, and bookworms may also want to check out our round-up of the world's most beautiful libraries for an extra dose of travel inspiration).
1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl made an impulsive decision to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail across the USA as she dealt with the death of her mother, and the end of her marriage. Only, she would hike it all on her own.
Her memoir brings to life the epic landscapes and dense forests she explored, the challenge of taking on the difficult journey, and some of the quirky encounters along the way.
(Film fans can also check out the movie adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon).
Published by Atlantic Books. Paperback £8.99. Find out more here.
2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert was dealing with the fallout of a bitter divorce and turbulent love affair, when she realised she was missing three things in her life; pleasure, devotion and balance.
Thus, she headed to Italy where she discovered the pleasure in delicious food, learned about devotion in an ashram in India, and searched for enlightenment in Bali. Documenting her travels along the way, her memoir is an inspiring and heartwarming read.
(Film fans can also check out the movie adaptation starring Julia Roberts).
Published by Bloomsbury. Paperback from £6.19. Find out more here.
3. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Raynor and her husband Moth faced a seriously brutal period in their life; not only did they lose their home, but Moth was diagnosed with a terminal illness. As they dealt with the fallout, they decided to impulsively walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path.
Raynor's writing is beautiful, from her descriptions of the sweeping coastal landscapes, to recollections of pivotal moments in their lives that brought them to this moment.
It's a heart-wrenching read at times, but you won't be able to put it down.
Published by Penguin. Paperback from £9.99. Find out more here.
4. The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail by Tim Moore
Whether you're a cyclist or a bookworm (or both!) this book has it all. Tim's brilliant writing has you feeling like you're right beside him along the 9,000km route of the old Iron Curtain on a tiny-wheeled, two-geared East German shopping bike.
There are plenty of moments that will have you laughing out loud, as well as some heartwarming parts. A real feel-good book.
Published by Vintage Publishing. Paperback from £8.99. Find out more here.
5. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
In 1995, before leaving North Yorkshire to move back to the USA, Bill Bryson decided to take one last trip around Britain. His memoirs span everything from learning about iconic products (Marmite being one of them), meeting quirky characters along his travels, and discovering some of the brilliant (and sometimes hilarious) town names to be found.
A heartwarming read that's packed with plenty of humour – and sure to get you inspired for your next staycation. No wonder it's sold over two million copies.
Published by Transworld Publishers. Paperback from £7.49. Find out more here.
6. A Fly Girl by Amanda Epe
Formerly a flight attendant for British Airways, Amanda's memoirs offer an insight into what it's really like as a profession. She shares everything from her own experiences at navigating work politics, to a few memorable passenger encounters, and some of the exotic destinations she got to explore throughout her career.
A brilliant book if you want to while away a few hours – and get all of the behind-the-scenes gossip too.
Published by CompletelyNovel. Paperback from £9.69. Find out more here.
There are plenty of travel books in the world that tell you just what it takes to plan the perfect trip. Lauren's book… does not.
What it does instead is offer a fascinating and hilarious lesson on exactly what not to do if you're planning to go backpacking – and it's seriously useful.
The book's packed with charm and funny anecdotes, alongside some more serious and touching moments that make this such a gripping memoir.
Published by Summersdale Publishers. Paperback from £9.99. Find out more here.
8. My Life in France by Julia Child
Most foodies will have heard of Julia Child – or you may have learned about her because of 'Julie and Julia', a foodie memoir by Julie Powells.
In 'My Life in France', the chef herself shares tales of her life, relationships, and offers just a taste (no pun intended) of her passion for French cuisine and how it transformed her life.
Her autobiography is a mix of humour, memoir and heaps of foodie inspiration. Just make sure to have some snacks on hand while you read!
Published by Duckworth. Paperback from £8.11. Find out more here.
9. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
The late Bruce Chatwin wrote some incredible travel memoirs, but one that's proven particularly popular is The Songlines.
The songlines are invisible tracks connecting communities in Australia. Bruce sets out to unravel the mysteries around these pathways as he recalls his adventures across the length and breadth of Australia.
Published by Vintage Classics. Paperback from £10.99. Find out more here.
10. The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux decided to travel between two Pillars of Hercules in Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. However, he decided to take the long way around.
Exploring Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul, he travels through an impressive variety of ways from a dilapidated taxi to a cruise and bicycle.
His writing leaves you feeling like you've been transported into the heart of each destination whether it's the bustling bazaars or scenic routes.
Published by Penguin. Paperback from £12.99. Find out more here.
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