Welcome to my list of the best travel books.
Or to be more precise, my list of the best hidden travel books. The distinction is that the following annotated list of books contains many that aren’t specifically travel related. This includes business, art, psychology, creativity and other books from disciplines rarely associated with travel. But that’s the point of hidden travel: to connect your worlds.
What follows is a very eclectic set of the best travel books and others that have, to varying degrees, influenced my thinking on hidden travel and that I used in writing Hidden Travel: The Way to More. What you won’t see are fiction (which has added to my trips but tends to be more personal in choice) or a vast number of biographies, histories or traveler’s tales. And you will have to search hard to find a true guidebook. There are just too many of each of these kinds of books to cover here. Plus, they’re more obvious and are easy to find by searching online or at your library.
Including so many creativity- and psychology-related books here, in addition to some of the best travel books, relates to my belief that hidden travel is a creative process. The more attuned you are to your creative side, the better you’ll be as a traveler. And vice versa: if you travel in an open manner, you’ll improve your creativity.
This may seem like a long list of often unlikely best travel books. In reality, it could easily have been two to three times this length. I tried to show some unusual choices, as well as some familiar ones.
For a few additional books, check out the list of resources on hidden places in my article on How to Find Hidden Places on Your Own.
Lists from others of the best travel books
Or check out these lists on what others consider to be the best travel books:
- Conde Nast Traveler’s list of 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time
- The Expert Vagabond’s 30 Best Travel Books to Fuel Your Wanderlust
- Oprah’s list of the 26 Best Travel Books That Will Take You All Around the World
- Forbes’ list of 15 Travel Books That Will Change the Way You See the World
- Road Affair’s list of 50 Best Travel Books of All Time
One final list I found extremely helpful was A Little Adrift’s Travel Book Reviews. She also has a list of Travel Books by Country which is very helpful when you want to read books related to your destination.
Overall, use the following list of best travel books (and others) as a starting point for your own discoveries. You never know where you’ll find your more. Here we go…
The Hidden Travel Annotated Bibliography
Adams, James L., The Care & Feeding of Ideas: A Guide to Encouraging Creativity, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, MA, 1986. An older book (and thus not as easy to get) but still one of the best ones on the creative process.
Adams, Mark, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time, Dutton, 2012. A personal take on the author’s often humorous experience hiking to Machu Picchu, it provides a very different, but equally helpful insight into the land of the Incas as does MacQuarrie’s book (see below).
Andre, Christophe, Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Ways to Live in the Moment Through Art, Blue Rider Press, 2011. Using paintings as guides to make key points on mindfulness, Andre explores important aspects of this often misunderstood concept.
Armbrecht, Ann, Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home, Columbia University Press, 2008. This memoir about the author’s experience living in a remote village in Nepal and the impact of that on her marriage and life is an eloquent testimonial as to why it is almost impossible to become a true insider in a culture so different than your own.
Ashton, Kevin, How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery, Anchor, 2015. On the surface, this is about the history of technology and the “ordinary” way inventions come into being. But it also shows the value of gathering diverse perspectives (which travel enhances) on the road to discovery and innovation.
Barker, Eric, Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, Harper One, 2017. I love Barker’s blog by the same name and this book captures the spirit of that by showing you helpful principles about success (which apply to trips as well) that aren’t necessarily intuitive.
Baxter, Sarah and Grimes, Amy, Hidden Places, Aurum Press, 2020. This book focuses on 25 hidden places around the world. The choice of locations seems eclectic, and, to me, some are more intriguing than others. But that just reinforces my belief that to be appealing, places need to be more than just hidden. What appeals to me most in this book are the beautiful illustrations by Amy Grimes.
Bayles, David, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, Image Continuum Press, 1993. An excellent book on how fear gets in the way of our creativity. You could apply the same ideas to travel.
Berger, Warren, CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People: Inside the World of Design Thinking and How It Can Spark Creativity and Innovation, Penguin Books, 2010. This book explains the concept of design thinking with many helpful stories and shows why people who know a little about a lot and a lot about a little tend to succeed at work (and also, I think, in travel).
Berry, Jill K. and McNeilly, Linden, Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination, and Travel, Quarry Books, 2014. This is a very helpful book on making all kinds of maps, including the emotional map of your trip noted in Chapter 14 of Hidden Travel: The Way to More.
Boorstin, Daniel J., The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself, Vintage Books, 1985. As with his book, The Creators, Boorstin packs in centuries’ worth of information on the history of discovery, not just geographic, but temporal, philosophical and other.
Bower, Stephanie, Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Prospective Drawing on Location, Quarry Books, 2016, Another excellent book in this series and very helpful in learning how to use perspective, particularly in sketching architecture as is Gabriel Campanario’s book in the same series.
Brooks, David, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, Random House, 2011. The key takeaway for travelers, to me, is Brooks’ section on the erosion of the social fabric in our country. Travel helps to remind us of the value of community and of overcoming our differences to ensure that community.
Brown, Stuart L., Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Avery, 2009. Great trips usually (or should) involve great play. Brown shows why play is vital to our work and our lives.
Burkus, David, The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, Jossey-Bass, 2013. A very helpful overview of exactly what leads to creativity and innovation and the myths behind what we think those factors are.
Cameron, Julia, The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition, TarcherPerigee, 2016. At home or on a trip, Cameron’s principles of Morning Pages and creative field trips or artist dates will help you be a better creative and traveler.
Campanario, Gabriel, The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing on Location Around the World, Quarry Books, 2012. This book will both instruct and inspire you to get out there and sketch on your trips.
Carey, Benedict, How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2015. To me, all great trips involve learning and this book explores the different ways we learn, including some interesting sections on how place affects learning.
Corbett, Steve and Fikkert, Brian, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, Moody Publishers, New edition, 2014. Though written from a Christian perspective, it’s one of the best books on how to travel (or give) responsibly so you don’t do more harm than good with your generosity.
Cousineau, Phil, The Art of Pilgrimage: A Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred, Conari Press, 1998. What’s interesting with the title is that Cousineau explores several types of pilgrimages, such as to the Baseball Hall of Fame, that might not normally be considered sacred. However, he shows how any trip of personal meaning can be sacred.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, HarperCollins e-books, 2007. One of the foremost treatises on creativity and especially the concept of Flow, something all travelers experience when you’re caught up in a scene or act of discovery on a trip and you lose all sense of time and place.
De Botton, Alain, The Art of Travel, Pantheon, 2002. De Botton is a masterful writer with keen insights into the why of travel. His pairing of locations with historical figures as guides is both brilliant and enlightening.
Dillard, Annie, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Harper & Row, 1982. I love virtually anything Dillard writes, but this short collection of essays connects with me due to the fact that many are centered on experiences with place.
Diller, Steve, Shedroff, Nathan and Rhea, Darrel, Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences, New Riders Press, 2005. Though a business book and somewhat dated, the principles they’ve uncovered through extensive research can be applied to any experience where you want to create more meaning.
Dodson, Bert, Keys to Drawing, North Light, 1985. One of the best books I’ve found on learning how to draw and understanding the thinking behind it. Many people love Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, but after you’ve read that one, turn to this one.
Egan, Timothy, A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith, Viking, 2019. This travel memoir by the Pulitzer-prize-winning author covers both his physical journey from England to Italy on foot, but also the spiritual journey that happens at the same time. It’s a great example of how our internal and external worlds often blur.
Esterly, David, The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making, Penguin Books, 2013. An exploration into the process of making, it’s also an intriguing mystery and memoir by one of the world’s top wood carvers.
Falck, Magda Lipka, Anywhere Travel Guide: 75 Prompts for Discovering the Unexpected, Wherever Your Journey Leads, Chronicle Books, 2014. This is really just a set of exercises—some expected, others amazing—to help you discover wonder anywhere.
Fermor, Patrick Leigh, A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (Journey Across Europe Book 1), NYRB Classics, 2005. This classic of travel literature shows what Europe was like before WWII and how much has changed and yet, how the act of traveling, especially on foot, is remarkably similar today.
Fisher, M.F.K., Two Towns in Provence: Map of Another Town and a Considerable Town, Vintage Books, 1983. Fisher was a foodie before there were foodies. I love food and Aix-en-Provence, and this book explores both before either were widely popular. Check out her other books as well if you like food and travel.
Foer, Joshua, Morton, Ella and Thuras, Dylan, Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition, 2nd Edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, Workman Publishing Company; Second Edition, Revised edition, 2019. The book for all of you who want someone to tell you specific hidden places to visit. Be sure to check to check out their website as well at www.atlasobscura.com.
Foster, Charles, The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series), Thomas Nelson, 2010. This book focuses on the spiritual nature of journeys, and the deep ways that moving from place to place affects us on deeper levels than we realize.
Friedman, Thomas L., Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Picador, 2017. This book reminds us of two important issues as travelers. First, that change is happening faster than we may realize. Even with travel. Second, how important community is. It’s the one thing long-term travelers miss most.
George, Don, The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, Traveler’s Tales, 2015. I enjoyed this collection of travel stories, as well as those of 35 other writers in An Innocent Abroad that George edited.
Gilbert, Daniel, Stumbling on Happiness, Vintage Books, 2005. This book explores how misguided many of our pursuits of happiness can be. Spoiler alert: I found his advice for determining if you’ll like a place surprising: Don’t ask others who share your likes, but instead ask someone who has just been there. It reflects just how much our memories can distort things.
Gladwell, Malcolm, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Little, Brown and Company, 2013. As with Gladwell’s other books such as The Tipping Point, he takes prevailing perspectives and turns them on their heads. Sort of what great travel does for you as well.
Goins, Jeff, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, HarperCollins Leadership, 2018. Goins makes a compelling case that being a creative person doesn’t have to mean giving up economic security. The principles here will be particularly helpful for artists and even digital nomads who seek new forms of income while traveling.
Goldsmith, Marshall and Reiter, Mark, Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be, Currency, 2015. I found so many useful takeaways from this book, many of which apply to travel such as the points on how much environment shapes us and the need for daily examinations of our thoughts and actions.
Gregory, Danny, An Illustrated Journey, Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers, HOW Books, 2013. I can thank my older son and Danny Gregory for being the two greatest forces to convince me I could learn to sketch. Gregory’s books show you don’t have to be perfect. You just need to try. And this one will inspire you with diverse examples of other travel journals.
Grout, Pam, The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life, National Geographic, 2008. The value, to me, of this book was in the variety of types of vacations it proposes from arts and crafts to learning retreats and wellness escapes.
Grudin, Robert, The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation, Ticknor & Fields, 1990. I first read this book years ago and it influenced how I thought about creativity. One of its key points is the emphasis on how much memory plays a role in creativity. And in getting the most from your trips.
Guillebeau, Chris, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, Harmony, 2016. I love the premise (and title) of this book, that we all need quests in our lives. Even better, to me, are Guillebeau’s website and other books, especially his information on travel hacking that helped him visit every country in the world.
Halvorson, Heidi Grant, Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You, Harvard Business Review Press, 2018. This book provides the research and methodology on why asking people to help is a good thing, not just for you, but for them. Being asked to help actually makes one happier.
Heat Moon, William Least, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, Back Bay Books, 1999. A good reminder of all that you can discover in the United States, not just on the surface, but through the conversations with people along the way.
Hemingway, Ernst, A Moveable Feast, The Restored Edition, Scribner, 2009. Hemingway’s time in Paris is revealing because it illustrates both the excitement, but also the downsides of being an expat for long periods.
Henry, Todd, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, Portfolio, 2017. Another of my favorite creativity books just because of the variety of practical tools Henry offers. I remember reading his section on expectations versus expectancy long after I’d written my initial chapter on traveling expectantly. It made me realize there is nothing new under the sun and how many key principles in Hidden Travel are out there. We just need to connect and practice them.
Hillaby, John, Journey through Europe, Paladin, 1972. Another book, like Fermor’s, about traveling through Europe during an earlier period.
Hiss, Tony, In Motion: The Experience of Travel, American Planning Association, 2012. Some of this book goes into areas of planning and development that weren’t as relevant to me, but I loved his concept of “deep travel” as it is something all great travelers experience.
Huberts, Shaun, How To Pack Like A Rock Star, Shaun Huberts Publishing, 2012. I appreciate the variety of perspectives and details on packing gleaned from rock stars who spend most of their time on the road.
Humphreys, Alastair, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes, William Collins Books, 2014. If you’re not inspired to drop everything and just go out and follow one of his recommended adventures near your home (most taking a day or less), then see your doctor to make sure you have a pulse. Humphreys does a great job of demonstrating the hidden travel principle that “you don’t have to travel far to travel well.” Check out his other books as well.
Iyer, Pico, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, TED Books, 2014. So many of Iyer’s books get at the heart of travel, even in this case, when it is not really about traveling. His essay on “Why We Travel” in Salon back in 2000 is still one of the single best summations I know on the subject. If you’re new to Iyer, start with his oldest work, Video Night in Katmandu and work forward. You’ll be well rewarded.
Jarvis, Chase, Creative Calling: Establish A Daily Practice, Infuse your World With Meaning, and Succeed in Work + Life, HarperBusiness, 2019. Similar to Creative Confidence in the intent to help people live more creative lives, Jarvis provides a helpful framework for the steps you need to take to do that. It helps that he travels all over the world as a photographer, so he understands the role that travel plays on creativity.
Johnson, Steven, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Riverhead Books, 2014. Many great learnings here, but one small takeaway sticks with me: The notion of how much innovation in England and Europe was tied to coffee and the creation of coffee shops as places for fueling this. It makes you realize how much place (okay, and caffeine) can affect how we think.
Kelley, Tom, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Crown Business, 2013. This book helps you understand how everyone can be creative and ways to put that into practice.
Kepnes, Matt, Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home, St. Martin’s Press, 2019. This is a memoir about Nomadic Matt’s years living abroad, a book that provides insights into long-term travel and building a lifestyle around travel. For more practical tips, check out his bestselling, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.
Kerper, Barrie, Paris: The Collected Traveler–An Inspired Companion Guide (Vintage Departures), Vintage, 2011. I wish there were a book like this for every place I visit. Kerper curates the writings of famous authors that relate to Paris, so you gain insights into the place and a much richer sense of its background.
Kieran, Dan, The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel, AA Publishing, 2014. This book wanders at times for me, but provides a nice overview of slow travel and its value.
Kleon, Austin, Steal Like an Artist, Workman, 2012. One of my favorite books on how to be more creative, most of the principles here can also be applied to traveling well, as can those in one of his other books, Keep Going.
Kohls, L. Robert, Survival Kit for overseas Living: For Americans Planning to Live and Work Abroad, Fourth Edition, Nicholas Brealey Publishing in association with Intercultural Press, 2001. This book was super helpful to me before my first stint living overseas for more than a few months. It may be older now, but much of the advice is still relevant if you’re moving overseas or traveling for extended periods.
Krist, Bob, 101 Tips for Travel Photographers, PhotoSecrets/Photo Tour Books, 2008. I can’t count the number of travel photography books I’ve read, most excellent. I selected this older one as a sample because of the practical nature of Krist’s tips from which photographers of any level can learn, even as the technology around photography changes.
Kugel, Seth, Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious, Liveright, 2018. While Kugel gets more into the details of evaluating travel websites and finding the best deals, his underlying premise of rethinking how we travel and finding your best experiences by engaging with others aligns so well with all the principles of hidden travel.
Leed, Eric J., The Mind of the Traveler: From Gilgamesh to Global Tourism, Basic Books, 1991. Overall a good book, but my favorite part is his section on what goes through the mind of the traveler, from departure to arrival to return. The rest is more about different types of travel, from scientific expeditions to the role of travel in history and societal development.
Lewis-Jones, Huw (editor), Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure, Chronicle Books, 2017. If you have any interest in travel journals and sketching, read this book. It’s amazing how explorers over time captured so much in their sketchbooks. Also of interest to both travelers and writers/readers is his book, The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2018. These two books are some of my favorite examples of connecting your inner and outer worlds. In this latter one, the destinations are all made up. But I dare you to read this and not come away wanting to venture forth into some place real as well.
Macfarlane, Robert, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, W. W. Norton & Company, 2019. This is more than just about travel, as are all of Macfarlane’s wonderful books. But that’s the point: He explores what lies beneath us with the same curiosity and broadness of vision that others have applied to the world above ground. The depth (pun intended) and connections he makes are often stunning.
MacQuarrie, Kim, The Last Days of the Incas, Simon & Schuster, 2008. This is an example of one of those books on history that changes how you understand the place you’re visiting. Read this before you visit Peru.
Mahan, Brian J., Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition, Jossey-Bass, 2002. This book helps you better appreciate the paradox inherent in hidden travel that you’ll actually have a better experience yourself — on a trip or at home — when you cease making that trip or experience just about you.
Markham, Beryl, West with the Night, Point North Press, 2013. I read that Hemingway raved over Markham’s writing, but it’s her dramatic story as a rare female pilot in Africa that captivates and informs here.
McCurry, Steve, Steve McCurry: On Reading, Phaidon Press Limited, 2016. I think of McCurry as a travel photographer, but he really is one of the greatest photographers and even photojournalists of our time. Every time I look at this book, my primary response is, “How on earth did he get that shot?” Also check out his book, Steve McCurry Untold which explains the background behind many of his images including the most popular cover photo in National Geographic’s history.
McFee, John, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018. If you’re a writer, you need to read this book. If you’re not, reading it will either make you want to become a writer or will make you flee from the idea because you will realize just how hard it is and how, for the traveler, so much great writing comes from great research and paying attention to details on the spot.
McNiff, Shaun, Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, Shambhala, 1998. McNiff’s main point is that there is an established, time-tested process to creating art. One could argue that travel is similar. And to get the best out of both, you need to trust the process rather than constantly questioning it and making no progress.
McPherson, John and Geri, Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, Ulysses Press, 2008. You hopefully won’t ever be lost in the wilderness, but it is helpful to know these skills on how to survive if you are.
Medina, John, Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, Pear Press, 2014. These 12 principles for leveraging what we know about how the brain works have several implications for how we travel.
Michalko, Michael, Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, Ten Speed Press, 2006. This book doesn’t explain the creative process so much as give you several exercises to practice to help you become more creative. I’ve read many books on creativity and this one is one of the, well, more creative of them.
Moor, Robert, On Trails: An Exploration, Simon & Schuster, 2017. A great reminder that trails are the evidence of others that have gone before us. Most discoveries will be personal and yours, but they are usually made possible by others. You’ll never think about a trail the same way after reading this book.
Newbery, Georgina and Guy, Rhiannon, editors, The Traveller’s Companion, Robson Books, 2004. This is like an earlier version of Rice’s Wayfarer’s Handbook filled with travel factoids and tips. Some you’ll know, some will come as new insights.
Newport, Cal, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Grand Central Publishing, 2016. While primarily about the value of concentration for work, the same principle of attention and avoiding distraction from our lives also applies to getting the most out of a trip.
Palmer, Amanda, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, Grand Central Publishing, 2015. My favorite part of this book, besides the basic premise on the value of asking people for help, is her definition of the creative process as being about collecting, connecting and sharing. While you can do the latter two on a trip, travel is, for many of us, mostly an excellent opportunity to collect the raw material from which we’ll later create our work and then share it.
Penn, Robert, It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels, Bloomsbury USA, 2012. I learned so much about the history of bicycles here, but mostly I appreciated how Penn travels all over the world to assemble his perfect bike, a great example of a quest.
Perman, Matt, What’s Best Next, Zondervan, 2014. Most of this book, written from a faith perspective, will help you with planning your work life. But his section on the ringing effect and our tendency to pack too much into a day (or trip) has important travel implications.
Peterson, Wilferd A., Adventures in the Art of Living, Simon and Schuster, 1968. Somewhat dated, but his quotes and some insights still have merit and can relate to how to pursue your more.
Pink, Daniel H., When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Riverhead Books, 2018. Though I quote this book of Pink’s more than his others because of the implications of timing on travel, my favorite book of his remains A Whole New Mind which was so prescient about how important design is in today’s (and tomorrow’s) world.
Pisani, Elizabeth, Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation, W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. I’ve not yet been to Indonesia, but this book makes me want to go. More importantly, it’s an exemplary reminder of a way to travel that is about always remaining curious, even if the travel part itself becomes hard.
Piven, Joshua, The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel, Chronicle Books, 2001. You will hopefully never have to use any of the information in this book. But being aware of some of it prepares you just in case and builds that sense of confidence that you can handle almost any situation on a trip.
Potts, Rolf, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, Villard Books, 2003. Full confession: When I first came across this book years ago, I skimmed it, thinking it was only for long-term travelers. Don’t make my mistake. I’ve since re-read it and I find it to be one of the most insightful books on travel of all kinds. The quotes and tips alone are worth getting it. Most of it is still relevant almost 20 years after it came out.
Pressfield, Steven, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2012. Pressfield shows how resistance prevents us from creating or frankly, doing so many things, like hidden travel, that we want to do but put off. Indispensable for artists, yet also useful for anyone doing creative work, including travel.
Rader, Andrew, Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars, Scribner, 2019. This is like the light and more readable (often, quite the page turner) version of Boorstin’s The Discoverer’s. It concentrates on this history of exploration in the past and the future of it in space. Serious subjects with often hilarious footnotes.
Rice, Evan S., The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for The Independent Traveler, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2017. Rice crams this book with travel related facts, some essential and others more esoteric, but all interesting.
Roberts, Jason, A Sense of the World, Harper Perennial, 2007. This book tells the tale of Lt. Holman, “The Blind Traveler” and provides keen takeaways for today’s traveler on how to perceive the world beyond sight alone.
Rosenbloom, Stephanie, Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude, Penguin Books, 2019. This book has some good points and references on solo travel. The appendix was actually my favorite part, with all its recommendations for follow-up resources.
Ruskin, John, The Elements of Drawing, Dover Publications, 1971. Originally published in 1857, Ruskin wrote this so that factory workers and others trapped in menial industrial jobs could embrace the joy of drawing. I like how it covers the why as much as the how of drawing and can be helpful if you want to learn to sketch while traveling or at home.
Sawyer, Keith, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, Jossey-Bass, 2013. Yet another book on ways to think more creatively, like Michalko’s Thinkertoys, it provides exercises and ideas that make it a step above most other creativity books.
Schaefer, John P., Basic Techniques of Photography, An Ansel Adams Guide, Little, Brown and Company, 1992. Even in the age of digital photography, the basic principles here still hold true. Plus, it’s a keen insight into Adams, his background and his thinking.
Schultz, Patricia, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: The World as You’ve Never Seen It Before, Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Group, Inc., 2019. This is the most recent edition of the book that, to my knowledge, started the whole trend of “_____ to ______ before you die.” Most of these types of books are primarily inspirational. This one, however, highlights locations and experiences that go beyond the usual popular destinations.
Schwartz, Barry, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Harper Perennial, 2004. A groundbreaking book to me, because I always thought having more choice was better. After reading this, you’ll understand what a crippling thing too much choice can be and how by having fewer choices, you can, paradoxically, find greater freedom.
Schwehn, Mark R. and Bass, Dorothy C., Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be, Eerdmans, 2006. Since so much of hidden travel relates to purpose, this book provides examples of how others have thought about meaning and purpose and how they lived as a result.
Seligman, Martin, E. P., Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Atria Books, 2012. I discuss PERMA in Hidden Travel and you can find out much more about it here in this book, one of the cornerstone works on positive psychology.
Shapiro, Michael, A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration, Travelers’ Tales, 2004. Though a bit dated now, the interviews that Shapiro conducts with some of the top travel writers at the time serves as a great introduction to authors you should read if you’re drawn to great travel writing.
Smith, James K. A., You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Brazos Press, 2016. While much of the book has little relevance to travel, Smith’s primary thesis, that many of us don’t know what we want, has deep resonance for any hidden traveler attempting to pursue his or her sense of more.
Smith, Keri, How to Be an Explore of the World: Portable
Art Life Museum, Perigee, 2008. What a fun book. It is a collection of short sections and illustrations to help you learn to explore, see, and collect artifacts from the surrounding wonders in daily life.
Solnit, Rebecca, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Penguin Books, 2006. This is just one of Solnit’s compelling books I could have selected. Wanderlust: A History of Walking is another. She writes beautifully and thinks about all the implications of getting lost in a variety of ways, not just from a travel perspective.
Spalding, Lavinia, Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, Travelers’ Tales, 2009. One of the best resources I’ve read on writing a travel journal. It covers both the why and the how of travel journal writing.
Stavans, Ilan and Ellison, Joshua, Reclaiming Travel, Duke University Press, 2015. A well-written book exploring issues behind today’s travel. I thought some sections were insightful, but much of the book felt like a critique offering no clear solutions. Still, a good read if you want a deeper perspective on how travel is affecting our world today.
Steves, Rick, Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook, Avalon Travel, an imprint of Perseus Books, 2019. Steves’ “back door” philosophy has shaped my approach to travel for years and his book, Travel as a Political Act, addresses many issues raised in Hidden Travel: The Way to More.
Stravos, Jacqueline M. and Torres, Cheri, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018. The authors focus on how to have great conversations in the workplace, but if you apply their principles of asking generative questions and maintaining a positive approach, you’ll get far more out of your encounters with others on a trip.
Swick, Thomas, The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them, Skyhorse, 2016. I enjoy Swick’s voice as much as his stories of different places he’s visited as a travel editor for a newspaper.
Swift, Vivian, When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put, Bloomsbury, 2008. I loved both the quirky narrative in various sections combined with the author’s drawings. It proves the point that you can find wonder close to home, but also shows how she has applied the lessons and memories from a lifetime of traveling abroad to home.
Theroux, Paul, The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road, Mariner Books, 2012. This collection of great quotes and passages from many of Theroux’s own works and that of other travel writers provides a quick take on key travel insights.
Thomas, Emily, The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad, Oxford University Press, 2020. Thomas, a professor of philosophy, looks to philosophers of the past to answer why we travel. She does an excellent job of making a potentially academic subject fascinating.
Turchi, Peter, A Muse and A Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery and Magic, Trinity University Press, 2014. This and Turchi’s other book, Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, both inform and inspire because they use common travel metaphors to help you understand the creative process, particularly writing, in fresh ways. And, as a result, they’ve helped me think of travel differently as well.
Twain, Mark, The Innocents Abroad: The New Pilgrims’ Progress, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017. One of the best-selling travel books of all time, this collection of Twain’s journeys through Europe and the Holy Land in 1867 is worth reading to see how much — and how little — has changed about how people travel.
Walker, Rob, The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday, Knopf, 2019. This isn’t a travel book per se, but it will make you a much better traveler if you practice these exercises both at home and on a trip. It provides some fun and even surprising exercises you can try just about anywhere.
Weiner, Eric, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Center Point Publishing, 2009. This fun book not only explores various countries from the perspective of how happy the people there are, but it eventually shows why (in my terms, not Weiner’s) that your sense of more comprises more than happiness alone.
Withey, Lynne, Grand Tours and Cook’s Tours: A History of Leisure Travel, 1750 to 1915, Aurum Press, 1977. One of the best books I’ve read on the history of modern tourism and the fairly radical shifts it has taken over the almost two centuries covered in the book.
Zajong, Arthur, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind, Bantam Books, 1993. Among other things, this book provides a wonderful explanation of how seeing is as much a function of the brain as of the eye.