8 Travel Books for a Great Escape

It’s often said that books let us escape to far off places, and that sentiment couldn’t be more true of a good travel book. You don’t need a big budget or weeks of vacation time — just a love of learning and a healthy imagination.

Of course, if you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip we can help with that too! Here are some titles to inspire you:

535 Best Beaches from Fodor’s

If you’re thinking winter getaway or daydreaming about a beach escape, this themed guide offers the top spots across the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. While everyone’s idea of the perfect beach may be a little different, there’s enough variety to please everyone — from the dramatic cliffs of Acapulco to the best sunny spots in Florida. If you happen to get tired of swimming and soaking up the sun, the guide also offers tips on what else to see and do in the area — plus planning tips and beach safety advice.

1000 Ultimate Sights from Lonely Planet

Looking for the “Weirdest Beaches” or “Most Astounding Ego Trips”? If you love the lists in Lonely Planet’s annual Best in Travel series, this book will keep you coming back. Remember, it’s “sights”, not “sites”: the selection is more than just natural and man-made wonders. You’ll also find quirky things to experience too — like “Most Oversized Animals” and “Most Amazing Natural Phenomena”.  Get to know some new places, and see some old favourites cast in a new light.

The book’s predecessor, 1000 Ultimate Experiences, has even more lists of unusual things to see and do.

Greatest Journeys from Lonely Planet

While not a travel guide per se, the images and stories give you a feel for over 70 of the greatest journeys you could embark upon. You’ll find a mix of the historic and modern — from ancient trade routes to the Grand Tour to the classic Route 66. If you’re inclined to go, each section has helpful suggestions to help you plan including essential experiences, shortcuts and detours. Staying put? The “Armchair” section offers movie suggestions to experience the sites. The book won’t fit in a stocking or backpack — plenty of room is needed for all those pictures — but will make a welcome addition to any library.

Visions of Earth from National Geographic

Admit it: we’ve all “ooohed” and “ahhhed” over National Geographic’s stunning photography online and in its magazines. This book collects the best images from the company’s extensive archives and widely popular “Visions of Earth” feature. However, before you say you’ve seen it all before, there are plenty of previously unpublished works too. The variety includes not just the amazing scenery you associate with the magazine, but also memorable people and moments captured in time.

Can’t get enough? National Geographic’s previous title, Visions of Paradise, may have you packing your bags.

500 Places to See Before They Disappear from Frommer’s
We often fret over the things we want to see before we die, but some places must be seen and protected before they die — or are forever altered by natural and human forces. From “One-of-a-Kind Landscapes” to “Crumbling Landmarks”, discover the stories behind the places that are slowly disappearing. Of course, the experience can go beyond the pages: the book offers ways to see these fragile sites — through sustainable travel, of course.

Off the Tourist Trail from DK Publishing

Want to skip the Louvre and see Paris’s hidden artistic gems? The best places to dive beyond the Great Barrier Reef, or natural wonders to rival the Grand Canyon? Here’s where you’ll find the less expensive and less crowded — though no less spectacular — alternatives to tourist hotspots. There’s a little of everything in here, from historic sites and architectural marvels to natural wonders and sports. Recently released in paperback, this guide to “1000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives” may have you rethinking your travel to-do list.

Secret Journeys of a Lifetime from National Geographic

Looking for more off-the-beaten-path destinations? The sequel to the best-selling Journeys of a Lifetime, this latest guide focuses on unique destinations and lesser known locales for travellers who have “been there, done that.” This collection of “500 of the world’s hidden travel gems” spans a variety of themes like “Island Getaways”, “City Secrets” and “Undiscovered Villages”. Each chapter includes destination features, personal stories from writers and top 10 lists (and beautiful photos, of course!)

Looking for more ideas? Other books in the serious include Food Journeys of a Lifetime, Sacred Places of a Lifetime and Drives of a Lifetime.

Not for Parents: The Travel Book from Lonely Planet

Who says adults get to have all the fun? If you’re familiar with the original The Travel Book, you know it lives up to its slogan “a journey through every country in the world.” Now imagine a version with kid-friendly facts like “epic events”, “hideous histories” and “funky foods”. Each country gets its own page, and the books larger size makes it perfect for reading together — and returning to time and time again.

The new Not-for-Parents series also include city-specific books which highlights all the “cool stuff”  in major cities like New York, London, Paris and Rome.


Shop around. We’ve linked to you to the publishers’ websites for more information, but you can find great deals on these titles by shopping your favourite retailers too.

What about e-books? Some of these books aren’t available in electronic form, and some you may want to see in person.

Check out the previews. While they won’t do justice to the look and feel of the book, they can give you a sense of content. Publishers’ websites and sellers like Amazon often offer excerpts which includes a table of contents and sample chapter.

Read the specs. Some of these books are hefty tomes, which could make them tricky to transport. If you’ve got gifts in mind, consider buying through a retailer that offers free shipping on orders over a certain amount and have the items sent directly to your recipient.

Check out the reviews too. Many websites also have reader reviews, but beware that everyone has different tastes and experiences.

For more great book ideas, see Top reads for armchair travellers and 12 tantalizing travel reads.