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15 Books That Will Inspire Travel Adventures at Home

Discover books about adventurers that will inspire travel. Learn about books that inspire travel adventures at home. Read about adventure as a way to take a virtual vacation.
Books that inspire travel adventures: bookstore in Luxembourg
I love to read and I love to travel. For me, the best kind of books are those that inspire travel without ever leaving home. We are all spending a lot more time at home these days and real-world adventures are temporarily out of reach. That doesn't mean we can't use a good book and a vivid imagination to inspire our travel adventures while we're at home. Read on for 15 recommendations that I've personally read over the years that are guaranteed to inspire travel and pique your inner armchair adventurer.

Adventurers Who Inspire Travel

There are lots of books written about intrepid travelers and adventurers throughout history. Biographies and tales of adventure that are non-fiction but read like a novel are some of my absolute favorites. What are the best books about historic adventurers that have inspired travel for me?

Books that inspire travel: Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer by Bill Gifford
1. Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer by Bill Gifford

Transport yourself back to the 18th century in a time before the American Revolutionary War. John Ledyard, native of Connecticut and black sheep of the family left his home by sailing down the river in a homemade hollowed out canoe. What follows is an adventure that will simply blow your mind. From coast to coast in the nascent United States, across Europe, Siberia, and all the way to the Pacific Ocean and beyond, this is truly a story for an armchair traveler. No Guts No Glory!

Books that inspire travel: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
2. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Fast forward to the early 20th century when British national Percy Fawcett embarked on a journey to the Amazon. Unbearable hardships ensued but Percy's obsession carried on after he believes he catches a glimpse of an ancient civilization and culture in a ruined city dating back millennia. Again and again he returns to the jungle, his lone goal to discover the lost city of Z. Everything else is secondary, even his own family.

Books that inspire travel: Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard
3. Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard

"Dr Livingstone, I presume?" Those words are famous throughout history. Into Africa covers the epic voyage of Henry Stanley across the wilds of undiscovered Africa in search of famous explorer Dr David Livingstone.  Stanley was a Welsh reporter after the story of a lifetime and was willing to go to any lengths to get it including risking his life on a journey that on the surface appeared out of his league.

Books that inspire travel: A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts
4. A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts

Imagine embarking on some of the riskiest and most dangerous adventures in the world like those described in the previous entries on this list. Now imagine doing that while blindA Sense of the World describes the journeys of James Holman. He lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and despite being completely blind, he experienced some of the most remarkable adventures I've ever read. What makes the story even more remarkable is that it's entirely true. This one is biographical and a really inspiring read about following your dream against all odds.

Books that inspire travel: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
5. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

River of Doubt has many similar characteristics to the books already covered on this list with one big exception. The hero of this story is former president of the United States Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt and his son embark on a journey of discovery in the heart of South America encountering danger at every turn including disease, hostile aboriginal people, and more.

Books that inspire travel: Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen
6. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen

 I have always been fascinated by the Age of Exploration and no explorer captured my imagination more then Magellan Read about what it was like to circumnavigate the globe at a time when you sailed west and didn't know if you fall off the edge of the Earth. Over the Edge of the World describes the bravery and hardship of a voyage to prove that the world was round without sugar-coating the harsh and ruthless personality required to achieve this goal.

Books that inspire travel: I Should be Extremely Happy in Your Company: A Novel of Lewis and Clark by Brian Hall
7. I Should be Extremely Happy in Your Company: A Novel of Lewis and Clark by Brian Hall

Lewis and Clark are two American explorers that also capture the imagination. What's special about this book is that the true story of Lewis and Clark and their journey across the United States from East to West is fictionalized and told as a novel. Embark on an adventure with the household names who helped chart the American West.

Books that inspire travel: The Lost Cyclist: The Untold Story of Frank Lenz's Ill-fated Around-the-world Journey by David V. Herlihy
8. The Lost Cyclist: The Untold Story of Frank Lenz's Ill-fated Around-the-world Journey by David V. Herlihy

 Imagine setting out to ride a bicycle around the world. Now imagine setting out to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle just after pneumatic (air-filled tires) were invented. Throughout this book, I could imagine the bone rattling ride combined with the uncertainty and adventure you encountered on the way. This is the story of Frank Lenz. Not all stories have a happy ending but this adventure is still a captivating read about a determined man who attempted to do what no man has done before.

Books that inspire travel:  Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel
9. Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel

Between Man and Beast is the story of a Victorian-era explorer who ventured into the heart of Africa and took the world by storm when he brought back 20 preserved African gorilla skins. All this takes place against the backdrop of Darwinism and the rise of the theory of evolution. Could this be the missing link?
Books that inspire travel: The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker
10. The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker

The Mapmaker's Wife combines science and a love story in the 18th century. Scientists in a race to measure the circumference of the earth had to travel to the most remote corners of South America to take precise measurements. What impressed me most about this story was how slowly people and information moved compared to today. Imagine being separated from the one you love for months if not years and not knowing whether they were dead or alive.

Books That Inspire Travel Adventures

I love reading true stories about real world explorers throughout history and their legendary journeys. But there is also a place on my reading list for fiction. There's nothing better than a story of adventure originating in the author's imagination What follows are four examples of fiction books that I've read that inspire travel and adventure.

Books that inspire travel:  Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney
11. Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney

Under a Pole Star tells the story of Flora Mackie, daughter of a whaler, who spent most of her young life in the company sailors and the Inuit people. Part adventure, part love story, and all ice cold, Under a Pole Star is a fine page-turner that will inspire you to travel to Greenland. Make sure you have a blanket nearby. This book will give you the chills.

Books that inspire travel:  The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
12. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a tale of Alma Whittaker, a 19th century botanist. Alma grew up in the shadow of her father who went from being a penniless hooligan in England to a botanist with one of the foremost and extensive collections in Philadelphia. In fact, one of the most fascinating parts of this book is the tale of her father's ingenuity in the face of adversity. Simultaneously extremely well educated and extremely sheltered, Alma is at the center of this endearing and sometimes heartbreaking story. The Signature of All Things is a deep character story that turns into an epic travel adventures over a period of decades. I couldn’t put this book down!
Books that inspire travel: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
13. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Another page-turner, Washington Black is the story of a slave born in Barbados who ultimately comes to the attention of his master's brother and they develop an unlikely friendship that leads them north to freedom...so far North, in fact, that you can just feel the chill. This novel invokes real human emotion and a strong sense of adventure and place with a backdrop of a very dark period of history. 
Books that inspire travel: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
14. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days is a true classic and the story holds up well even today. Embark on an adventure with Jules Verne in a hot air balloon in a grand tour around the world. As an added bonus, Around the World in 80 Days is out of copyright so you can get an electronic copy for free. This is Jules Verne’s finest work. I also tried to read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (expecting great things) but that one was truly disappointing - too many random lists of sea creatures and a more limited plot to fill the pages. When it comes to Jules Verne, stick to the skies!

Inspiring Modern Travel

There are other books that aren’t fiction and aren’t biographies but are very much fascinating to people who love to travel. The last selection on this books that inspire travel list covers a company of our times that changed the face of travel in Europe forever.

Books that inspire travel: Ryanair: How a Small Irish Airline Conquered Europe by Siobhan Creaton
15. Ryanair: How a Small Irish Airline Conquered Europe by Siobhan Creaton

We love to travel and fly (under normal circumstances) a lot. Many people malign Ryanair for their strict rules, processes, and frequent gotchas for the uninitiated. This book is a fascinating read about the company that democratized travel in Europe and paved the way for millions to take city breaks around Europe. In fact, Ryanair city breaks are now a way of life for those living in Europe. We’ve taken many a trip to Ryanair destinations over the last ten years. Meet Michael O'Leary, the man behind Ryanair, and get a glimpse both inside his mind and inside the company.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for a more great books to read? Check out this list of history-focused travel books that I've personally read and recommend.

There you have it; my personal recommendation of 15 books that will inspire travel adventures while you are safe at home. Did you enjoy this post? Sharing is caring...

 Travel books for an armchair adventure at home  15 Books to Inspire Travel

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 15 Books That Will Inspire Travel Adventures at Home
15 Books That Will Inspire Travel Adventures at Home
Discover books about adventurers that will inspire travel. Learn about books that inspire travel adventures at home. Read about adventure as a way to take a virtual vacation.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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