Top 34 Best Road Trip Books:
Highest Rated Travel-Related Books
Your next road trip is sure to be filled with spectacular sights and unforgettable adventures. But as we all know, even the greatest road trips have their fair share of downtime. Luckily, you can make the dull moments fly by faster than the road signs when you have a real page-turner in your lap. As fun as a road trip is, by the third or fourth rendition of 99 Bottle of Beer on the Wall, you’ll be dying to escape into a good book.
But how do you go about finding the perfect literary companion for the Great Open Road? In our opinion, the best road trip book is one that combines the pioneer spirit of road tripping with an engaging and memorable story, or maybe something that takes place in the city you plan to visit. Do you have anything like that in your “To Read” list? Don’t worry if you don’t – with the help of some friends all across the internet we’ve compiled a list of the best travel-related books for your next road trip!
by Paolo Coelho
Paolo Coelho’s powerful story about the journey self-discovery focuses on Andalusian shepherd, Santiago, who desires to travel in search of the greatest treasure. He leaves his home in Spain and heads to the pyramids of Egypt, but rather than finding worldly treasure, he discovers the treasure within.
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Why Not Lets Go
Around the World in 80 Days
by Jules Verne
Jules Verne’s 1873 novel is every bit as enchanting and entertaining today as it was when it was first published. Eccentric inventor, Phileas Figg, and his newly hired valet, Passepartout, embark on a journey around the world in eighty days due to a bet Figg made with members of his Reform Club. The two encounter and overcome obstacles and misadventures, all while being tailed by an officer of the Scotland Yard who mistakenly suspects Figg as a bankrobber.
Five Weeks in a Balloon
by Jules Verne
Another title in Jules Verne’s “Voyages Extraordinaires” series, this story starts with an explorer and a professor planning a balloon voyage to the still widely unexplored continent of Africa. Throughout the constant adventure-themed conflicts, the two persevere, and entertain the reader.
Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
by David Grann
Technically this is nonfiction, but it’s a narrative nonfiction tale about the disappearance of legendary British explorer, Percy Fawcett, in 1925. Author and journalist, David Grann, focuses on Fawcett and his journey into the Amazon jungle to discover the Lost City of Z. This is a classic adventure story and a captivating case study.
On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Rumored to be written in one sitting on a single scroll of paper, On the Road is the hailed masterpiece of Beat author Jack Kerouac. Follow two friends on their jazz, sex, drug and alcohol fueled trip across the United States celebrating the open road and vision of freedom and hope. This is probably the most iconic piece of writing from the Beat Generation and it inspires readers today just as it did in the 50s.
I think you need to include the book, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. It's one of those books that people usually love or hate.
by Henri Charrière
Papillon, by Henri Charrière, is an autobiographical account about Charrière’s wrongful murder conviction and life-sentence to hard labor in a penal colony in French Guiana. Spanning a fourteen-year period, the book follows Charrière through several jail escapes and imprisonments all over South America. While the authenticity of the story was brought into question after its publication and success, it remains to be a captivating story full of hope, despair and adventure.
by Gregory David Roberts
"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured." And so starts Shantaram, the book based on the experiences of Australian author Gregory David Roberts who winds up in the underworld of India.
by Kirsten Hubbard
Wanderlove is like a romantic adventure novel written by Kirsten Hubbard. The eighteen-year-old protagonist decides to leave behind the life she thought she was supposed to have to become a global vagabond. On her guided tour through Central America--a tour full of middle-aged people--she ditches her group and joins bad-boy-turning-good, Rowan, a diving instructor, on a journey through Mayan villages and Belizean Islands. The romantic tension between the two characters who are both trying to recreate themselves is palpable.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
I always recommend Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List for a whopping 200+ weeks when it first debuted, and it sparked in me an ongoing love for the city of Savannah for 20 years (and counting).
Savannah First-Timer's Guide
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes
by Robert Louis Stevenson
I know a recommendation involving a travel memoir with a donkey seems strange but this book sets the mood for travel in rural France. The story is set in Cévennes, a range of mountains in south-central France. Follow Stevenson’s journey in the town of Monastier where he buys a donkey and hikes through the high pastures of the Cévennes. His journey entails sleeping under the stars, conversing with the locals at the village inn, hiking at Modestine’s pace.
Girls Who Travel
by Nicole Trilivas
Girls are often told not to travel alone, but for foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails Kika Shores that’s never been an issue. But when Kika finds herself stuck in the rat race she longs for a life of adventure that she left behind in her younger days. When she gets offered a job as a nanny across the ocean in London, she sees the opportunity for the adventure to continue.
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A Touch of Gold
by Annie Sullivan
A Touch of Gold is perfect for road trips because the main character sets off on an adventure herself. The book is loosely based on ancient Greece, but it includes lots of amazing stops along the course of the journey.
Touch of Gold was published in August by HarperCollins/Blink, and it follows the seventeen-year-old cursed daughter of King Midas as she faces pirates, betrayers, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father’s stolen gold. Not only is it a high seas adventure book that both girls and boys love, but it also deals with deeper issues like anxiety, broken family relationships, and bullying. It shows young readers to love themselves for who they are and to find strength in the things they perceive as flaws about themselves.
Author, Touch of Gold
Travels With Charley
by John Steinbeck
I'm a travel writer with a special niche--I specialize in writing only about Upstate New York. The state is large, but small enough where I only drive, so I'm always in the car. One of my favorite books for a road trip has always been John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley".. He jumps into a truck and brings his dog (Charley) on a quest to explore America by road. The trip brings them to the small towns of the United States and allows him to connect with the spirit of our country, and the people who make it so. Since reading it as a teen, it has remained one of my top books for road trip inspiration.
Chief Exploring Officer
Ali and Nino: A Love Story
by Kurban Said
I have two wonderful travel related book recommendations for a long road trip. The first is “Ali and Nino” a love story about two young people from different religions that fall in love in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. This book inspired my love of travel when I was a teenager. Years later I read a bio of Paul Theroux, the prolific and talented travel writer who said he was inspired to travel after reading the book, “Ali and Nino.”
Travels with Talek
To Shake the Sleeping Self
by Jedidiah Jenkins
On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Jedidiah Jenkins dropped everything and embarked on a 16-month, 14,000 mile bike ride from Oregon to Patagonia. His wildly popular Instagram attracted the attention of National Geographic and The Paris Review, but it’s his unflinchingly honest memoir, To Shake the Sleeping Self, that can really put you in his frame of mind. This book is as much about self-exploration as it is about exploring the world.
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Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
by Laurence Bergreen
My other recommendation is “Over the Edge of the World,” the thrilling story of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world. Both of these books will captivate you for hours and get you into the traveling spirit.
Out of Africa
by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
The author moved to British East Africa in late 1913 and the book follows her adventures and her struggles to run a coffee plantation. It paints a vivid snapshot of African colonial life in the last decades of the British Empire.
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How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva
by Kelly Hayes-Raitt
I've been traveling full-time for the past 9 years as a housesitter where I live in someone's home at no cost while caring for their pets. I recommend How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, which is chock full of insider tips to finding terrific accommodations -- for free! -- as well as fun real-life anecdotes by actual housesitters.
Author, How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip
by Amy Burkert
I wanted to let you know about my new book, The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip. We all know that road trips are better when you take your furry family members along, and after completing our own 15,000-mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states, I knew I had to write book. With more than 200 full-color photos and practical tips and advice, it's like having a personal tour guide for a trip around the county!
Go Pet Friendly
The Top 100 Military Sites in America
by Doug Keeney
This is the newly-published best road trip bible of military sites in America, including formerly secret military sites, known and not so well known museums, many of which have free admission. Some samples from this book include: walk to the spot where the Hindenberg came crashing to the ground. Remember The Miracle on The Hudson? The jetliner is in one of the museums in North Carolina. How about the 100th anniversary of WWI Armistice? There are also five great spots listed for this upcoming Veterans day.
Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a Bad Day into a Good Day No Matter What Life Throws at You
by Milana Perepyolkina
Here is what readers say: "One of the best books of any genre that I've read in a LONG time." This international best-selling book is a perfect gift for people who love to travel. It teaches easy techniques to access inner strength and turn stress into relaxation and sadness into happiness. It teaches people how traveling can open a different type of reality for them and is a perfect companion during traveling.
“The one who walks a lot, knows a lot.”-Gypsy Proverb.
Gypsies say, “We are wanderers on this Earth.” But it doesn’t recommend just random traveling. It suggests traveling to sacred places, the ones where time stands still, where physical laws of this Universe no longer apply, where magic happens.
International Bestselling Author
Gypsy Energy Secrets
Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel
by Marcel Strigberger
I am a former Toronto lawyer who now writes humour (aka humor south of our border). I recently launched my new book entitled, Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel. In addition to being a tour guide with Grayline Sightseeing during my student summer vacations, I have travelled extensively. The opus is a culmination of observations seen through humourous lenses, covering numerous aspects of travel from restaurants to tipping to toilets, and more. It makes an ideal companion for travellers as all readers can identify with the subject matter and experience a pleasant catharsis. In addition to laughter readers will get solace from the book when they have to line up for an attraction, try to understand a travel insurance policy or go through the frustrations of trying to camp safely without having to worry about what to do if they encounter a bear.
Author, Poutine on the Orient Express
Travels with Herodotus
by Ryszard Kapuscinski
The book is about Kapuscinski’s travels around the world and his pursuit of Herodotus, the Greek historiographer who reported from foreign lands in the fifth century BC, same as he did as a journalist. It is a wonderful mix between an autobiography and personal meditation that starts when his editor handed him the Herodotus’s Histories.
It is the best travel-related book I ever read because it connects your emotions and “little” moments you are having as a traveller. The book is a unique sort of tool that allows a self-exploration into beautiful moments of your life you probably didn't notice.
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Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star
by Aimé Tschiffely
The book that changed my life: Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star. Starting in South America and traveling by horse through deserts, jungles, and rainforests, A.F. Tschiffely ended his ten thousand mile journey in New York City. The obstacles Tschiffely encountered along the way, both natural and man-made, and how he overcame them makes for an unforgettable true story you have to read to believe.
Atlas of Adventures
by Rachel Williams and Lucy Letherland
This book is made for adventurers! While there are many different titles in the series, “A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe” is an illustrated trip around the world and probably the best bet to get your kids eager to travel. This book is a great introduction to using an atlas; divided into seven sections, each looking at a different continent, it is meant for browsing rather than reading cover to cover.
A Bear Called Paddington
by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum
Everybody loves the iconic bear in blue who is discovered in the London Paddington Station by the Brown family. Paddington, a polite, quirky and mischief-making bear, traveled from deep, dark Peru, and learns how to adjust to human life in the Nottinghill neighborhood of London. The whole series of chapter books focuses on his adventures and the mishaps and chaos he unknowingly causes along the way.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
by Jeff Kinney
In the ninth book of the Wimpy Kid series, Greg’s family embarks on a road trip for a little family time. As always with the Heffleys, things get a little crazy and the trip isn’t exactly what Mrs. Heffley had in mind. While it may not be an enviable trip, the car troubles, dive motels and other mayhem will have children and adults laughing equally as loud.
Flat Stanley series
by Jeff Brown
In the original Flat Stanley, Stanley Lambchop is flattened by a bulletin board, but sees the advantages of his new physique and travels through the mail to visit friends in California, flies like a kite and even catches art thieves. This adventure spawned many other adventures for Stanley and his family, and books from this series take readers to Canada, Japan, Mexico and many other exciting destinations.
The Journey Trilogy: Journey, Quest and Return
by Aaron Becker
This trilogy, undoubtedly inspired by Harold and the Purple Crayon, is a beautifully illustrated collection focusing on a girl who draws a door in her bedroom, steps through a magic portal and embarks on an adventure that cures her of her boredom. This wordless story has all the elements of a great adventure, is full of compassion and bravery and highlight all sorts of modes of transportation like bikes, boats, space shuttles, planes and trains.
by Peter Sís
Sometimes you don’t need to leave your neighborhood in order to “visit” different parts of the world. Madlenka shows us as she travels around her New York City block visiting her neighbors from all over the world--France, Italy, India--who give her a glimpse as to what life is like in their home country.
Magic Treehouse series
by Mary Pope Osborne
These books are the complete package! Follow Jack and Annie as they travel to far off places and even far off time periods by way of treehouse. As Master Librarians, they go on missions to do things like inspire a young Louis Armstrong to pursue his music passion, help victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and receive an emerald rose from the maharajah in India. With over fifty books in the series and accompanying Fact Finders, these books will entertain and educate you and your children. (Confession: I totally listen to them for the history lesson, I mean refresher.)
Not for Parents series
by Lonely Planet
Anything that is strictly “not for parents” is immediately fascinating for kids. These are not travel guides, but real stories about really exciting cities and countries all over the world. They’re the non-textbook textbooks that provide great information through pictures and fun writing and goofy tidbits of information. My personal favorite title is Not for Parents How to Be a World Explorer that teaches kids Bear Grylls-type skills about surviving in the world.
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
by Dr. Seuss
This Dr. Seuss title is a popular graduation gift for its inspiring, yet honest insight to all life has to offer when entering a new phase. While it is exciting to discover the unknown, challenges also abound, but they can be overcome with courage, fortitude, kindness and wisdom. Like all of Seuss’ books, the destinations in Oh, the Places You Will Go are silly and made up, but the sentiment, advice and motivation inspire and encourage venturing out into the world.
This Is Series
by Miroslav Sasek
The This Is series by Miroslav Sasek is an excellent way to introduce children to a city you plan to visit. The eighteen books were almost all written in the 60s (as reflected in the illustrations), but updated in the early 2000s. When living outside Rome, we used This Is Rome as a guide book for our children who were always so excited to see one of the pages in real life and they were able to tell us many facts about what we were seeing. They’re a great way to get kids excited about the historical sights and monuments you will be seeing on your trip.
We hope this list has given you some good ideas on what to bring on your next road trip. With a good book in tow, you can bring thrills and chills to the otherwise boring moments of an extended road trip. After all, you take a road trip to escape the monotony of the daily routine, why not take a book along to escape the monotony of those long stretches of highway?