As a full time attorney, I spend my days reading contracts and legal documents, so my idea of a relaxing evening does not consist of reading. However, the one time I do get through my reading lists is when I travel. Long flights are the best time for me to get through a good book, especially when there is no in seat entertainment on a 10 hour flight (yes, this is actually a thing – shout out to American Airlines). If you’re like me and are constantly on the hunt for good books for long flights, this list of Amazon’s top 10 bestselling travel books is exactly what you need. Whether you buy these books for yourself or gift them to a jetsetting friend for the holidays, this is your ultimate travel books list for December 2016. Happy Friday, and get your reading (shopping) on!
Atlas Obscura contains over 700 of the world’s most obscure places, including the dazzling caves in New Zealand and the baobob tree in South Africa so large that it houses a pub that comfortably seats 15 people. This book also includes bizarre events, such as the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain. Talk about getting off the beaten path and opening your eyes to the bizarre!
I would love to know how Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton came to discover these bizarre places and activities from around the world. As the #1 bestselling travel book on Amazon right now, it’s an easy sell for me to purchase this and give it a good read on my flight to St. Thomas in a few weeks.
Did you know that the United States has 59 national parks? Lonely Planet’s compilation of all the national parks in the U.S. is packed with beautiful photos, interesting statistics, and useful travel tips.
I’ve become somewhat of a hiking fanatic after Hope and I hiked Trolltunga in Norway this summer, and I would love to hike my way around these national parks in 2017. This book sounds like the perfect gift for any travelers in your life who love to hike and spend time outdoors.
I actually purchased the book for Hope for Christmas a couple of years ago, and she loved it. Hope and I have both been following Humans of New York on Instagram for years and love reading their stories. This book is the perfect gift for someone who is curious about the way other people live, the different backgrounds that people come from, and the real struggles people living in their own neighborhood face daily. It is a truly inspirational book.
Another reason I really like this book is that it’s relatable. Regardless of where you come from or what stage of life you’re in, there will be stories you can relate to, either from your own life or from the lives of those around you.
A sextant is a tool used to measure the angular distances between objects and especially for taking altitudes in navigation. I must admit I’ve never heard of this instrument before, but sailing expert David Barrie chronicles the history of the sextant and how it has saved the lives of many travelers over the years. The sextant also played a pivotal role in navigators’ ability to map the globe.
I think any traveler would find relevance and interest in this book, but it may be of special interest to those who regularly travel via sea, live by the sea, or enjoy water activities. I am quite fascinated by this tool after reading a brief description and would love to learn about its more detailed history and impact on travel.
The storyline revolves around a brave little girl named Anja who wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. She sets out to find Santa and meets a hodgepodge of animals along the way who all help her in one way or another to reach Santa. While this book may leave you bored quite quickly on a 10 hour flight, it is the perfect book to read by the fireplace during the holidays or to gift to a child who likes to travel.
This compilation by National Geographic contains hundreds of the most breathtaking photos from around the world. The sights come from a variety of categories, including ancient monoliths, scenic islands, stunning artwork, electric cityscapes, white-sand seashores, rain forests, ancient cobbled streets, and both classic and innovative architecture. Each destinations comes with a full description including when to visit, what to eat, where to stay, what to do, etc.
Hope and I are longtime fans of National Geographic photography, as these world class photographers always manage to capture the most awe-inspiring shots. My backup dream job (second to becoming a musician in a band) is to become a photographer for National Geographic.
I’ve yet to read this book, but I have seen the movie, and it is incredibly inspiring. This autobiography chronicles Cheryl Strayed’s solo journey through over 1,000 miles of trails along the western coast of the U.S. After losing her mother to illness and ruining her marriage, Cheryl figured she had nothing to lose. So with no experience at all, she decided she would set out on this journey to clear her head and find herself.
Anyone who has traveled extensively at a younger age has experienced the feeling of trying to find yourself on your travels. Whether it’s running away from your problems at home or trying to reinvent yourself in a community where no one knows you, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all have in one way or another “found ourselves” through our travels. Cheryl takes it to the next level by hiking 1,000 miles alone to find herself. Her story is both thrilling and emotional, and it is no surprise that this book is an Amazon bestseller.
As someone who has called Chicago home for the last 5+ years, this book is near and dear to my heart. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the reason behind the biggest celebration in Chicago this year, the Chicago Cubs (baseball) won the World Series for the first time this year since 1908. Cubs fans have been waiting for this moment for a lifetime, and no Cubs fan alive today has witnessed a prior World Series win in their lifetime.
Whether you’re a Cubs fan, baseball enthusiast, or someone living abroad who’s never heard of the sport before, this is bound to be an interesting and exciting read for you.
In 1995, Bill Bryson took a trip to the UK, and 20 years later, he is a British citizen. Bill takes his readers on a journey to discover the UK and learn about how this small town Midwestern boy from the U.S. fell in love with his adopted country.
Many of us who’ve traveled have at least attempted to envision a life as an expat somewhere else. I know I certainly have. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be an expat in Scandinavia or practice law in Germany or spend a year hiking around Iceland. For Bill, his paradise was the UK, and in this book, he highlights all his favorite little places around the UK, including every hidden pub and village along the way.
10. Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting
If you’ve read some of our other blog posts, you know how we feel about large crowds in touristy places – we dread going anywhere near them! That’s why we try to incorporate at least one remote and unknown destination in our travels each year. This year it was the Faroe Islands.
This book is full of remote, off the beaten path destinations that are full of natural beauty and not boring at all! If you’re anything like us, this book will inspire major wanderlust in you and give you plenty of “secret” destinations to add to your travel itinerary in 2017.
What are you waiting for? Get your holiday shopping on this weekend and order a few of these Amazon bestsellers for the traveler in your life (could be yourself)! For those who aren’t big readers, the photos in some of these books are enough to make your purchase worthwhile. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve read any of these!
Author: Diana Chen
Recently left my job as an attorney to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life. I blog about traveling the world with a full time job, confronting your travel addiction, and pursuing your passions without going broke. Just got back from a 12-countries-in-3-months stint and currently prepping for a month along the Adriatic Coast.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. That means we receive a commission when you click and buy through our links. You don't have to use our links, but we're very grateful when you do.
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter!
Subscribe to get FREE travel tips & deals delivered to your inbox monthly.