The 11 Best Travel Books To Read During Self-Isolation

23rd March 2020 // By Alex Martin

best travel books

Our list of the best travel books will have you dreaming of adventure

Billions of us around the world are being urged to stay home as the coronavirus Covid-19 continues to spread. As we hunker down indoors for the greater good, nothing will pass the time better than a good book. With your vacation most likely canceled or postponed, keep your wanderlust alive by picking up one of the best travel books to read if you are self-isolating.

Here, Elite Traveler goes through 11 must-read books that will have you adventure-ready once the world return to normal.


Cheryl Strayed (2012)

Cheryl Strayed struck a chord with people all over the world with the publication of her memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Struggling to process her mother’s death and a recent divorce, Strayed undertook an arduous 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is both a beautifully written memoir about her experience on the trail, but also her slow rediscovery of a zest for life. Wild has been a best seller in a number of countries and translated into 30 different languages. It was also adapted into a Hollywood movie, starring Reese Witherspoon, but, as is often the case, the book offers a far more intimate account of Strayed’s journey back to life.

Best travel books

In Patagonia

Bruce Chatwin (1977)

Patagonia is on the more bucket lists for adventure travelers than anywhere else, and Bruce Chatwin’s masterpiece has inspired countless adventures to this most majestic of lands. Chatwin spent six months exploring the southern tip of South America, originally on a quest for “a piece of brontosaurus” but he instead discovered fascinating stories from a group of European refugees who had made a new life for themselves so far from home. The book not only details the extraordinary landscapes of Patagonia but the amazing accounts of people living in remote towns and cities across the region.

A Year in Provence

Peter Mayle (1989)

Nothing quite captures the romance of France than the region of Provence. There have been countless books written about it, and Peter Mayle’s charming memoir is one of the best. The book chronicles Mayle’s first year living in Provence and the strange quirks of the area. He battles with the fierce Le Mistral trade winds, black market truffle dealers and the laid-back attitude to working hours. Slowly, Mayle falls for the local customs of the area, and we can guarantee you will too.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac (1957)

One of the great American novels, Jack Kerouac based the book on his own travels across the United States. It is one of the earliest pieces of work that drew attention to the counterculture that took hold through the 1960s and is now considered one of the most influential novels in American literature. The story follows Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, who undertake road trips between 1947 and 1950 when the USA was still recovering economically from World War II. The book is autobiographical with Paradise an alter ego of the author and Moriarty a fictional version of Neal Cassady, an early influencer of the Beat Generation.

Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer (1996)

Christopher Johnson McCandless looked destined for a successful career. He had a rich family and high grades from Emory University. Then, one day he disappeared off the face of the earth. He donated his entire college fund to Oxfam and made his way around the United States, living as a penniless vagabond. Into the Wild tells the story of writer Jon Krakauer’s attempts to retrace McCandless’s journey across North America. Krakauer not only succeeds in tracing much of McCandless’s journey but also adopting the state of mind that inspired him to take such drastic action. Krakauer eloquently describes how he struggled to fit into society and how the lust for genuine adventure – something we all feel from time to time – eventually overwhelmed him, culminating in his death in the remote regions of Alaska.

A Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson (1998)

Bill Bryson is widely regarded as one of the best travel writers of his generation, and A Walk in the Woods is one of his finest works. The autobiographical book details his attempts to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend, Stephen Katz. Living near the trail, Bryson finds himself fascinated with the idea of through-hiking the 2,181-mile trail from Spring Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The book is a humorous account of just how ill-equipped Bryson and his bumbling friend are. Bryson describes not only the difficulty of carrying the gear but also coping with the constant presence of his friend. They ultimately walk just 800 miles of the trail but experienced enough adventure to make a truly classic book.