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52 travel books for inspiration for adventure, travel reading for the vacation & illustrated books

The best book recommendations 2020: travel novel bestsellers and great books about travel

I'll tell you my goal this year: to read one book a week. Thanks to Corona, it has worked (almost) quite well so far. I'm “only” eight books behind. Of course, this is not meant to be a request for you to do the same.

Anyway, I figured I'd make a list of mine for your inspiration Book tips for every calendar week in 2021!

Here are 52 book tips for traveling to enjoy, switch off and plan travel.

And I promise you: There are suitable books for everyone: travel novels, travel reports, adventure books, travel books for inspiration and planning, the best travel books of all time, cookbooks and books with practical tips and lists (the most beautiful hikes, road trips, ...) .

Have fun with my book list with 52 tips for really great travel books (plus bestsellers and classics that you simply have to read).

Which travel book or novel can you recommend me that still has to be on the list?

Exciting books & inspiration (travelogues)

Beautiful, fun travel novels and adventure books. Do you like reading novels or travel stories? Then check out these books! From funny to tragic to insights into cultures that are foreign to us. True Story Books:

1. Backpacking in Pakistan (travel history)

As a couple, Anne and Clemens travel to one of the most dangerous countries in the world. I've been friends with both of them for a long time.

As far as possible, I followed the journey on social media back then. If you want to suffer with Clemens in the Himalayas and cheer for how they both enjoy the great hospitality on the one hand, but have to travel with police escorts on the other, this is the right place for you.

This adventure travel report is entertaining and in some places really exciting! A great book with a few photos about the trip.

View book on Amazon

2. Breakfast with elephants (bestseller)

As a ranger in Africa

Gesa was no longer happy in Berlin, even though she had a great job. So she moved to the bush for almost a year to train as a safari ranger in Africa.

It tells of breathtaking encounters with elephants and lions, of walking barefoot through the savannah and of long nights under the starry sky. Gesa now runs a travel agency for trips to southern Africa together with “Safari Frank”.

After reading this book at the latest, you are guaranteed to get wanderlust to Africa! My tip: do it like Gesa and one Trial course at EcoTraining as a ranger.

Buy the book on Amazon

3. The elephant whisperer

My life with the gentle giants and what they taught me

A really wonderful book about a true story. Lawrence Anthony describes how he took over the Thula Thula reservation in South Africa and dealt with the animals there. In addition to the elephants, poachers also give him trouble again and again.

If you are not yet a lover of the African continent: At the latest when reading this sometimes sad, but also funny book, you will be guaranteed it.

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Continuation of his wife:

4. An elephant in my kitchen: What the herd taught me about love, sadness and courage to live

The book promises just as much South Africa and love for animals. Unfortunately I already have the book at home, but I haven't had time to read it yet.

However, it is recommended to me from all sides as a “wonderful” sequel from the Elephant Whisperer. Different, but just as exciting and gripping. I look forward to reading it!

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5. The Salt Trail (bestseller)

I was made aware of this Spiegel bestseller by readers of the blog. For me one of the best books of the year.

Moth and Raynor are broke, have lost their property and home. You only have one backpack, one tent and hiking equipment each. And that's exactly how they set out to walk England's famous South West Coast Path.

A great book about fears, happiness, encounters and an opening door for a new future.

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6. China, who are you?

My uncle lived in China for three full years. I was never interested in the country. However, curiosity is slowly rising. “China, Who Are You?” Contains a collection of meetings between the author and local people. From gardeners to millionaires, we get insights into a society that ticks so differently from ours.

Reading tip for everyone who is just as interested in China as I am.

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7. Couchsurfing in Saudi Arabia (bestseller)

Stephan Orth travels through Saudi Arabia as a couch surfer. As with his other books, I could hardly stop reading. Stephan brought me very close to a country unknown to me until then, which I only knew from stories. A look behind the scenes of the country in which women seem to have so much fewer rights.

A great book about a culture that is very strange to me.

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More great books that I've read just as curiously:

8. A coffee to go in Togo

One bike, 26 countries and lots of coffee

The author takes a year off from his job to have a coffee to go in Togo. He doesn't just fly to West Africa, he sets off on his bike. But in order to "warm up" he first drives to Southeast Europe and then to Morocco on the African continent via Greece, Italy and Spain.

The lively and sometimes funny, but also exciting type of narration gives you the feeling of traveling with you. A book that I found hard to put down.

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9. Gobi: The desert in me

Reinhold Messner's travel adventure on foot through the Gobi desert.

In the book, Messner describes the Gobi desert crossing. In doing so, he reflects on his reflections on life, childhood, parents, mountains and his current family.

He has crossed the desert lengthways. 2000 kilometers through a barren and almost deserted region. He had to lug his 50 kg backpack. The main content of which consisted of water.

An exciting story of one of the greatest adventurers.

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10. Free: The Cerro Torre, the impossible and me

"It is said that it is impossible to freely access Cerro Torre via the southeastern edge and the compressor route, and somehow the project is already defined for me."

Great book about a gifted competitive climber who was on his way to becoming one of the greatest alpinists.

When I was standing at Cerro Torre in Argentina myself, the book came back to my mind. An incredible story about how to climb the most distinctive peak in Argentine Patagonia.

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11. The Travel Episodes book series

For me, these wonderful travel stories are among the best book series.

Travel stories and encounters based on real events arouse the desire to travel!

Wanderlust has never been as nice as reading these three adventure novels and their individual stories.

View all 3 books of the Travel Episodes here

12. In the Pamirs

Priska Seisenbacher travels where hardly any other tourists go: the Pamir. The barren high mountains are really worth a trip. I have also been to the Pamirs (Kyrgyzstan - Tajikistan) and lost my heart there. After that I quit my job because I couldn't do anything with my customers' problems.

Priska stays in yurts in quite remote regions and reports on the great hospitality of the people. A great book with lots of maps, photos and a lot of wanderlust!

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13. Road trip - a love story

Jennifer and Peter travel with the Unimog through Munich to Vladivostok and back (with several detours). A wonderful story through 34 countries, over 30 months and 55,000 km.

I think there should be a lot more books like this one. Okay, I love road trips and traveling in my own camper van, but still!

(If you think the book is expensive at 35 euros: It comes in A4 format and has 272 pages. Plus lots of nice maps, tips for campsites and, overall, is just super nicely done.)

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14. The sound of the sea: the happiness of being on the water

Are you looking for a break by the sea? This book shows that you don't have to travel far to do this. The chapters Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean perfectly express the fascination of the sea.

Beautifully opened and after reading through I feel like exploring Europe's beaches and seas.

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Travel books bestsellers

Which travel books I recommend do others find great? Here are the top sellers for travel books. Some are current travel bestsellers that appeared in 2020, others are long-running hits in the top 20 lists.

15. Miss Out: How I found the big in the small things along the way

I was very excited about the book by my blogger colleague Kathrin (with h), which I really appreciate.

In her first book - which immediately became a bestseller - she tells, among other things, of her wanderings through Great Britain, South Africa and Germany. She takes you on her journey and the transformation away from career to nature person.

She reports on her experiences, her inner growth and what she has learned while traveling. I like the book and read it very quickly.

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16. Arctic expedition

In September 2019, the Polarstern cast off for the Arctic - on board the international MOSAiC research team, which is investigating the effects of climate change on the eternal ice. My researcher friend Micha Ginzburg was also on board for 6 months as polar bear watchman.

It's pretty crazy that we were able to keep in touch via WhatsApp during that time. His stories alone are so interesting. That's why I had to buy the book Expedition Arctic. Anyone who has ever been there is infected by the virus. I can "unfortunately" have a say. (Read the travel report of my Arctic trip).

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17. Lonely Planet When best where - Europe

Are you looking for the best travel destinations for a specific month? Here you will find a lot of inspiration and tips. Whether adventure, road trip or backpacking.

One of my most frequently opened travel books during the year.

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The book series is also available for Germany and worldwide. I own all of them and find them great for inspiration. You can find my personal monthly travel planner here.

18.Legendary Road Trips (Lonely Planet)

I love road trips. That's why I like to read through the book for legendary road trips. The 50 most spectacular streets in the world are listed in a beautifully designed illustrated book. From the Black Forest High Road to the Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaii), there is definitely a tour for everyone.

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19. Stay here! - 55 fantastic travel destinations in Germany

When leafing through this book I sometimes asked myself: Is this place really in Germany? The most beautiful travel destinations in Germany: From the popular Eibsee to the colorful beach houses on Helgoland.

A nice inspiration for traveling on your own doorstep in Germany.

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20. Europe without a plane

80 inspiring travel destinations that you can reach sustainably without a plane. Would you like to travel more environmentally conscious? Then the book is ideal for browsing, planning, dreaming and getting excited about new travel destinations.

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The best travel books (classics)

Every globetrotter should have read these famous books. For some there are also films that are quite good.

21. Shantaram

I admit it: It took me three attempts to really get into the book. But why I don't know anymore and in the end I devoured it! A great book that really captivates you (once you're inside).

The plot:
The Australian Lindsay is looking for himself after two prison stays. He ends up in India and goes through pretty much all levels of society there. This makes him the "Shantaram" (man of peace).

"Luck is what happens to you, when fate gets tired of waiting."

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22. Into the wild

The classic for all “dropouts”. If you don't feel like reading the book: There is also a film adaptation (“Into the Wild”) that is not that bad at all.

The book is about the dropout Chris McCandless, who was looking for the nature and solitude of Alaska. His body was discovered in 1992. Chris ‘diary served Jon Krakauer as a template for the book.

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23. Seven years in Tibet

The book is the story of a true story. The book seems almost like an adventure novel to me, because the author Harrer was interned in the Dehra Dun prison camp in British India during World War II.

He manages to escape and takes the route via Tibet. This escape is described grippingly. The description at the court of the Dalai Lama is even more exciting. The book is really exciting. The film with Brad Pitt is probably better known.

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24. Cry of the Kalahari

I read this book in English. There is no longer a German version.

I love this book and I really devoured it. English is easy to understand.

Synopsis: The two young researchers begin their studies of the Kalahari lions and brown hyenas in the Kalahari. Reports of life in the bush, political arbitrariness and the problems the two face. You are very close to it. If you go to the Kalahari Desert: You can still see the former location of the camp today (I took a picture of it somewhere).

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25. Flying without wings

Spiegel's Italian Asia correspondent is told by a Chinese fortune teller that he should definitely not board a plane in the next year.

Terziani sticks to it, but still travels all over Asia and eventually even by train to Europe. The book describes in a fascinating way the encounters with the people of Asia, with customs and traditions.

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26. The Long Road to Freedom - Nelson Mandela

The autobiography of Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid and later was the president of South Africa.

Mandela's biography is a rather thick book. No wonder, given his moving life. The book takes you emotionally right from the start and is never boring.

Mandela gives a deep insight into his thoughts, feelings and beliefs about rule, family and apartheid. Sometimes you really think that this story must have been a lot longer ago. Unfortunately not, I was in Johannesburg at the Apartheid Museum and visited the prison where he was sitting. Was in Soweto in the most important places of his life and also in Cape Town Robben Island visited. Everything is very moving and not that long ago.

A very impressive person with an eventful history. So an absolute buy recommendation for everyone.

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27. The old man and the sea

Hemingway's story about the fisherman Santiago, who has not caught a fish for 84 days until a big fish bites and pulls him into the open sea ... A classic that I discovered in many other hands during my trip to Cuba. I have read the book several times (English Abi sends greetings) and I still think it's great!

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28. If there is war, we go to the desert

The two Germans flee the war by car and dog in the desert of Namibia and learn there how to survive in the desert. Lack of water, hunting animals or preserving meat? Things that the two of them have no clue about at first!

Always with you: a radio so you don't miss the latest information from the war. Great reading, not just before a trip to Namibia.

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29. Gorillas in the fog

Diane Fossey

There is hardly anyone who does not know the film about the life of Fossey with her mountain gorillas and their struggle to preserve the animals that are threatened with extinction. Anyone who has ever faced a silverback knows how fascinating these wonderful animals are!

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30. Death in the Rice Field: Thirty Years War in Indochina

Peter Scholl-Latour

A book that I recommend to every traveler to Asia. Peter Scholl-Latour was one of the most famous non-fiction authors in Germany, among other things he was an ARD correspondent in Africa and Indochina. The death in the rice field was far more than the Vietnam War.

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Travel illustrated books

I love travel books with travel reports or lists of the most beautiful experiences and adventures very much. I love to browse through these illustrated books to get inspiration for future trips.

31. Atlas of wanderlust - dream roads around the world

Fantastic routes in a great illustrated book. There are also practical tips and recommendations. Browse for the Great Ocean Road in Australia, the famous Route 66 in the USA or the ring road on Iceland.

I love the book because it's beautifully colorful!

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32. Africa - On the Road 3 & 4 (illustrated books)

These two wonderful illustrated books with diary-like additions remind me again and again how beautiful and fascinating Africa is!

The recordings are great, the stories are very entertaining. Read about the faux pas he made or the challenges Farin Urlaub faced on his journey through Africa. Interesting, and you might be like me and recognize one or the other place.

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33. The travel book Scandinavia

The highlights, dream roads and national parks in Scandinavia at a glance and in one book. I tell you, after that I was really overwhelmed with creating a route!

I want to see everything! Beautiful book with great photos!

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34. A geek in Japan

Explore the land of manga, anime, tea ceremony, geishas and more adventures. I bought the book during my trip to Japan. I always enjoy reading it.

For first-time visitors to Japan, there is quite a bit of interesting information and insights!

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35. Culture Trails

Travel to cultural highlights: You can get cultural inspiration on 52 tours around the globe. There are lots of ideas and tips in the book for your next trip.

Well presented, with great graphics.

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36. Huts2 - New places of longing in the Alps

Huts in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland in breathtaking places, over abysses, near peaks or in panoramic places in the Alps.

33 detailed hut portraits with personal hiking and tour tips. Atmospheric photographs, entertaining interviews with some veterans among the hut landlords and exciting glimpses behind the scenes.

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37. Eyes over Africa

I always enjoy looking at the photo book with great aerial photos from Africa!

A piece of jewelry and an absolute declaration of love to Michael Poliza's favorite continent.

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38. The underrated cities in Europe

This book is not a classic travel guide, but rather an inspiration for city trips. Cities that are often only the 2nd or 3rd place for a city trip. Tips for tours and recommendations on site.

A book tip for you if you want to travel away from hotspots. Also ideal as a gift.

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Alternatively: the relaxed cities of Europe

Tips for 15 cities that are "relaxed" according to the author. From Stockholm to Copenhagen to Valencia. View book on Amazon.

39. Escapes - dream routes in the Alps

Are you a fan of the Alps? This book gives you an insight into this fascinating and beautiful world, shows hidden corners and well-known corners from extraordinary perspectives. Stefan Bogner's “first work” before he brought out the Curves series (which of course I own all of them. Indispensable as a road trip fan).

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40. Expanse, wilderness, mobile home

This is how you discover Germany's green soul on the national park route. Pure nature.

The inspiring motorhome guide for all road trip and camping fans. With tips for routes, parking spaces and lots of useful information for inspiration.

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41. Lonely Planets Adventure Atlas

In this book you will find adventure in your next travel destination. Whether mountain biking, kayaking, snowboarding or climbing. This outdoor guide is packed with inspiration and ideas for over 150 countries.

My new favorite book as soon as the travel destination is determined.

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42. Best escapes

The book inspires with travel trends and tips for modern adventures. From hotels with a past, pilgrimages, the world's best travel destinations for foodies or offline travel.

A great gift tip for globetrotters looking for a special book.

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Travel books Germany

Since Germany is now "fully in vogue" (not entirely voluntary for some), I have listed my favorite tips for Germany here:

43. Germany in winter

The travel guide for Germany in winter with more than 250 insider tips from 40 travel bloggers and authors! Are you looking for ideas for a trip to Germany in autumn or winter? You are guaranteed to find what you are looking for here.

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44. When best where - Germany

Month after month, the book provides you with the best travel and excursion destinations in Germany.

Also ideal as a gift for those exploring Germany and for micro-adventures.

Buy from Amazon

45. The underrated cities in Germany

Hamburg, Berlin, Munich are known. But what about the cities of Lübeck, Regensburg or Karlsruhe? 15 tips for short trips to cities that you only think about in the second moment.

Unfortunately, the best insider tip is missing: my home in Heilbronn. You can't go underestimated.

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46. ​​Secret Cities Germany

Tips for the most beautiful cities in Germany: Lüneburg, Fulda, Immenstadt and Marbach am Neckar.

In 60 city trips, this illustrated book brings you closer to real German insider tips for cities that not everyone has on their screen. Or do you know Mosbach (located near Heilbronn)?

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47. German Roamers - Germany's new adventurers

The German Roamers are on the hunt for that special moment in Germany. The adventurers get a lot of attention with their motifs, especially on Instagram. Unfortunately, many people only travel to recreate their pictures instead of exploring places themselves.

In this illustrated book you can find out more about the boys and also discover Germany from its beautiful side. Great travel inspiration for the next excursion guaranteed!

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Travel and cooking

48th Tour du Nord

With the mountain bike through the far north is the title of Tobias Woggon. Tobi loves his mountain bike, traveling and of course good food. He's traveling through Kamchatka (here I was there live), the Faroe Islands, Greenland in winter (Philip wrote about it), Scotland and the German Ore Mountains.

Great pictures were taken. The favorite recipes are printed in the book for you to cook at home.

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49. Momofuku