Tag Archives: inspiration

10 Best Travel Books You’ve Never Read

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that most of my favorite books just so happen to be some of the best travel books in the world.

I was in love with travel before I traveled. I was a nomad in the womb, inspired to roam before I could walk.

In creating this list and thinking of the best travel books I’ve ever read, I found that these stories are less about the destinations visited by the characters and writers, and more about the inner journeys undertaken by those doing the globe trotting.

With that in mind, here are the 10 best travel books to get you inspired, keep you moving (and moved!), and show you how travel really can change your life.

10. THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist is the story of Santiago, a poor shepherd boy on a quest to find his Personal Legend. In the book he journeys throughout Spain, to Morocco, and to Egypt, but it is in reaching his final destination that he finally finds himself (plus there’s a super romantic love story woven into this little parable – I’ve probably read this book a dozen times and never tire of it!)

9. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert

I am a huge, huge, HUGE fan of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) – to the point where I pre-ordered this novel months before it came out because I was so excited to devour it.

Needless to say, my favorite writer did not disappoint! The novel tells the life story of Alma, a brilliant 19th-century scientist who lives on a Pennsylvania estate and spends her life studying mosses.

Sounds kind of boring, right? That’s where Gilbert’s brilliance comes in – she sends Alma on a round-the-world journey to Tahiti, where she meets a man who may very well be the sexiest person in literature (his name is Tomorrow Morning. And he’s a 6-foot tall Tahitian Adonis. And sometimes I re-read the book just so I can be close to him.)

8. WHAT I WAS DOING WHILE YOU WERE BREEDING by Kristin Newman

I was first drawn to this travel memoir by the hilarious title, but what made me decide to buy it was the fact that Kristin Newman is a TV writer.

Having spent 5+ years working in entertainment in Los Angeles, I’ve seen firsthand how cutthroat and challenging TV writing can be, especially sitcom writing. You have to think on the fly and be brilliant while surrounded by 12+ executives and fellow writers, who are all throwing out ideas a mile a minute.

Given the time and solitude to craft her own travel tales, Newman crushes it. Her own book summary is better than any I could write, so here it is:

“Kristin introduces readers to the Israeli bartenders, Finnish poker players, sexy Bedouins, and Argentinean priests who helped her transform into “Kristin-Adjacent” on the road–a slower, softer, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home. Equal parts laugh-out-loud storytelling, candid reflection, and wanderlust-inspiring travel tales, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding is a compelling debut that will have readers rushing to renew their passports.”

7.  ALEPH by Paulo Coehlo

We’re sticking with the Hollywood theme but heading to Cannes, France, for the annual international film festival.

Coehlo stays in one place in Aleph, but leads you deep into the belly of the beast in Cannes, where murder, greed and deception can’t be escaped, no matter where you turn.

This book is dark, juicy, and disturbing, with Coehlo’s usual spiritual reverence nowhere to be found.

6. THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES by Ernesto Che Guevara

Confession: I definitely watched the movie (starring Gabriel Garcia Bernal….siiiiiigh) before I read the book.

But the film inspired me to go to the source, and I’m so glad I did!

While reading Che’s memoirs of his journeys throughout South America, you can actually see the evolution of spirit on each page. His excitement and youth deepen the more he travels, the more people he meets, the more injustices he sees.

This book is the perfect example of how travel forces you outside yourself, how it strips you of selfishness and helps you see the interconnectivity of all things.

5. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

On the Road is a beatnik classic that’s raw and real, surprisingly funny, and totally freeing. Kerouac’s prose makes me want to be a complete vagrant and train-hop my way around the world.

He had no money, absolutely nothing, and still managed to not only travel all over the U.S., to Denver and California and New York, but managed to write a book while he was doing it.

On the Road shows the creative power of travel to inspire, even when you’re on a budget so low it’s inside out.

4. THE CELESTINE PROPHECY by James Redfield

Reading this book was my very first spiritual awakening (of course it’s about a journey into the rain forests of Peru!)

Traveling to Peru through this book opened my mind to incredible spiritual ideas I had never before considered – ideas about energy, about things unseen, and about my growth as a human being and a spirit on a quest for enlightenment.

This book is pure magic for the soul-seeking traveler.

3. 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY by Rebekah Voss

I’m including my own book here as a gentle reminder to READ it after you download it from this site! (And make sure you’ve opted in to our email list so you can get your free copy!)

It’s packed with ways to see the world for cheap, to make money traveling, and to stay abroad for free.

Here’s what Daisy from Amazon had to say about it (and Daisy should know – she’s one of the Top 10 reviewers on Amazon!):

“This book is the BEST and MOST PLANNED OUT book that I have ever read regarding HOW TO TRAVEL WITH NO EXCUSES!

Rebekah has a passion for traveling and she found ways to make that happen for herself. In this book, she shares with the reader how she did this herself and in laid out list of preparations BEFORE attempting to travel.

Things like: Sell the house, sub leasing the apartment, selling car, selling furniture and SO MUCH MORE! She even explains that you can sell a tablet, phone or a laptop and the money you will receive will pay for food in India for ONE MONTH! Then she even goes on to suggest more tips on how to save money to prepare for this trip.”

Enter your email address below to get your free PDF copy, or go to Amazon if you prefer to read on your Kindle or get a hard copy version.

2. LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE by Laura Esquivel

Travel to 17th century Mexico and bring your appetite – this book is a dramatic, erotic love story told through actual recipes passed down from the author’s great grandmother.

War, love triangles, forbidden sex and familial chaos is set against the backdrop of rural Mexico in the late 1700s. This is another book I’ve read about 20 times because the love triangle between Tita, Rosaura and Pedro is so delicious!!!

1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I avoided reading this book for years because the marketing made me think it was super fluffy chick lit.

Imagine my surprise when one of my smartest, sophisticated, well-read friends insisted I pick it up.

I have yet to put it down, and it’s currently serving as a source of inspiration for my forthcoming travel memoir and for my life in general.

After a miserable, soul-crushing divorce, Gilbert plans a year-long RTW journey to Italy, India and Indonesia. Her hilarious writing makes her poignant spiritual realizations all the more profound when they pop up unexpectedly throughout the book.

If you only read one book from this list, make it Eat, Pray, Love.

What are the best travel books on your bookshelf (or in your Kindle?)

What travel book has completely changed your life? 

Ye Olde Disclaimer: If you buy one of these books on Amazon after clicking a link from this site, I’ll get a small commission. (Please and thank you, I need to pay for my pho!)

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Digital Nomad Dream: A Room with a View

I arrive at the Harvest Moon Pokhara Guest House in Pokhara, Nepal, after spending a very bumpy 7 hours on a tourist bus from Kathmandu.

It is Wednesday, about 3pm, and the taxi drops me off at a flower-drenched bungalow of a home, a two-story L-shaped affair that you’d never know was a hotel except for a single hand-painted sign sighing in the mountain breeze.

After the dirt and noise and pollution of Kathmandu, Pokhara has already proven itself to be the peaceful, clean(er), spiritual ski lodge oasis I’d been promised by some random Australian guy in an Internet cafe.

If the quiet streets surrounding Pokhara’s main tourist area are a refuge from the big city, then the Harvest Moon is a veritable bunker of well-being: rich pink flowers and shiny green leaves rustle in the breeze, their lush offerings turning the second story abode into a protected jungle-garden.

No other hotel on the street looks anything like it, and I get the impression that it’s the flowers themselves that serve as a protective force-field against the noise of the world.

I’m welcomed by the owner’s son Kshitiz, a painfully shy student of 19, and am promptly offered a tour of the place with much smiling and nodding and “Namaste”-ing.

The first floor lobby is the family’s living room, which lies open to the street so the cool mountain air can mingle with the scent of ever-burning incense.

A rooftop patio offers views of the surrounding mountains – to the Southwest I can see the World Peace Pagoda, affectionately nicknamed “the stupa” by locals. It’s possible to see the rounded dome of the enormous structure atop a 1,000 meter hill, and I marvel at how it watches over the city like an amiable guard dog.

View from the Harvest Moon Rooftop - Clouds roll in over Pokhara

View from the Harvest Moon Rooftop – Clouds roll in over Pokhara

After the tour, which takes all of 2 minutes, Kshitiz carries my bag to a second story room that is pressed so far back from the street, it must be playing hide and seek with the rest of the town. The outdoor hallway leading to my door is so saturated with flora, it feels like a terrace one might walk down in order to meet a waiting groom.

Somewhere deep in the bowels of history, a 17th century librarian is missing the key to her traveling trunk. It is with this archaic, cartoonish-looking key that Kshitiz opens the door to my waiting room. And it is because of this very key and its portal-opening capabilities that I am suddenly breathless.

I don’t worry about tipping Kshitiz right now – I’ll have plenty of time for that during the next three weeks of my stay. I thank him and shut the door gently before I attempt to regain my breath.

Terrified that it’s all a mirage, I squeeze my eyes shut and slowly turn from the door to face the room once more.

Welcome to the Harvest Moon

Welcome to the Harvest Moon

I open my eyes and the room is still there, every molecule in place. As I realize that it’s not just a mirage, a squeal of delight escapes me, bouncing off the freshly painted walls like a flying squirrel. Kshitiz probably just heard the shriek but I don’t care – such a beautiful room deserves nothing less than a vocal celebration.

When you’re a digital nomad, the only thing more important than a strong WiFi signal is your room. The room is everything – it’s your office, your creative haven, the place where the magic happens.

If the room sucks, your work will suck. If your works sucks, you don’t eat.

I have to have somewhere quiet, somewhere I won’t be interrupted, and somewhere with a window. It need not be big, and it need not even have a bathroom, but it must be all mine and it must facilitate motivated concentration. If it can inspire with a brilliant view or sparkle with feel-good energy, all the better.

But this room…..this room is other-worldly.

Garden view from Harvest Moon, Pokhara

Garden view from Harvest Moon, Pokhara

There is an enormous double bed with a comforter neatly folded to one side, as is the custom in Nepal. A beautiful, dark wood bed frame hugs the mattress. It has built-in cubby holes, each with a lock and key to store valuables.

I notice sturdy locks on each of the windows, and another enormous bureau with additional lock and key – have they had many problems with theft? I find it difficult to imagine that a place as perfect as Pokhara could ever fall victim to any sort of crime, but I vow to stash my valuables whenever I leave the room, just in case.

I have my own en suite bathroom in Pepto-Bismol pink, and there is even a “work area” where I can write – two leather chairs are gathered around a small bureau, creating an ideal office space that lies smack dab between two – TWO! – sparkling windows.

The room.

The room.

What have I done to deserve this room?!

My “office window” faces south and looks out over the garden pathway and into the yard below. From here I can see the owner’s wife, Shova, bless the yard each morning with prayers and incense as she happily hums her “Hindi song.”

And then there is the window that faces northwest.

From where I sit at my makeshift desk, the northwest window serves as a picture-perfect frame of Fishtail Mountain – that same glorious vision that defines the landscape and feeling of Pokhara for all who journey here.

I can sit in the same spot all day, writing and working, and watch as each minute is measured by the various moods of this mountain beauty. I can tell which jacket I should wear based on how the clouds hang around her neck. I make plans for the day based on whether or not I can see the top of her head in the morning.

View of Fishtail Mountain from the Harvest Moon Guesthouse

View of Fishtail Mountain from the Harvest Moon Guesthouse

At each break, every interval, every moment of frustration or joy, I am always accompanied by her, always watched over.

My room is known by the family as the “writer’s room” as I’m eventually told by Hari, the owner of the guest house.

I could stay here all day. I could stay here forever.

This post is an excerpt from My Week With Deepak: A memoir of Nepal, available February 2015 from THP Publishing. To pre-order your copy, click here!

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

1. The Harvest Moon Pokhara Guest House is an oasis of awesome in Pokhara, Nepal.

2. As a digital nomad I always look for 3 things in a hotel room: strong WiFi in the room, privacy/quiet, and a window.

3. The better the room, the better your work will be. Having a stunning view, lots of light, multiple windows and gorgeous natural surroundings will help you thrive creatively, and help you work quickly so you can go out and see stuff when you're finished!

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!