5 Books to Read If You Have the Traveling Bug

I get it. You’re a driven and energetic  twenty-something and all you want to do is see the world. Whether it’s dreams of venturing to tiny towns along the Adriatic Sea or tasting fresh fish on the outskirts of Japan, we can’t help but crave new and different experiences. I call it the traveling bug, and many of us will catch it now and again. Ah, what most of us wouldn’t give to be able to chuck our laptops across the room and book a one-way ticket to Iceland (or in my case, Europe).

Just recently, I returned from a one-week trip to Italy and, my goodness, did it leave me impressed. From soaking up Raphael’s art work and architecture in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican City, making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, basking in the sun on the Spanish Steps, hiking Mount Vesuvius and the ancient ruins of Pompeii and indulging in unreasonable amounts of pasta, pizza and wine, I knew that the traveling bug had hit me hard. (I’m already planning my next trip!). But I couldn’t help but notice that I longed for a book to help me along my journey or just to pass the time on the airplane. So, after much consideration, here are my top five recommended books to help feed your traveling addiction and give you that burst of much-needed inspiration.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


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I believe traveling is much more than just sightseeing. It’s a time to self-reflect, heal, experience other cultures and delve into the parts of yourself that make you, well, you. The Alchemist will leave you quite stunned and feeling every type of emotion that’s humanly possible. This story, originally written in Portuguese, follows the journey of a young Andalusian shepherd on his quest to fulfill his personal legend at the Egyptian Pyramids. The Alchemist has this extraordinary way of making you feel at peace. Keep this gem nearby or in your travel bag. You never know when you might need a little nudge in discovering your destiny.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


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I always go back to this classic because Elizabeth Gilbert just has a magical way with words. Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir about Gilbert’s journey to Italy, India and Indonesia following her divorce, is the most relatable story I’ve ever read. Many of us, at one point or another, have felt unsure or anxious about the path our lives will go down. Sometimes a new perspective is all takes. Better yet, the novel was on the New York Times bestseller list for 187 weeks.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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Into the Wild, a non-fiction book based off of a 9,000-word article titled “Death of an Innocent,” which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside, will leave you feeling adventurous. I believe the main protagonist, Christopher McCandless, represents a sort of enlightenment and liberation from personal possessions (a comforting minimalism, if you will). After graduating from college, McCandless gives up everything and journeys across the Western United States and eventually into Alaska, where he is found dead in an abandoned camping bus. Although parts of the novel are grim, it leaves the reader with a profound sense of freedom.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes


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This novel is my favorite by far. Frances Mayes’ use of descriptive language and attention to detail has a way of making me feel like I’m actually roaming the Tuscan countryside. If you ever need a quiet moment for yourself, or just want to try out an authentic Italian recipe, invest in this poetic and useful story. I can taste the Chianti now.

The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron


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The Road to Oxiana is a travelogue that was first published in 1937 and considered by many to be the first and greatest examples of travel writing. The novel follows Robert Byron’s ten-month journey in the Middle East and through the “Oxiana,” the northern region of Afghanistan. This novel left me wanting more. The descriptions of the architectural work brought me back to my time in Italy. It’s places such as these that make you feel incredibly small, yet appreciative of historical sites. I recommend keeping this novel in your bag if you should ever find yourself in the Middle East.

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