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16 best travel books to inspire wanderlust and adventure in 2023

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During my twenties, I travelled a lot. I met my husband in Norway while travelling solo around Scandinavia, moved to Switzerland to live by the mountains, and followed the call to the world’s wild places, from Greenland to Mongolia.

Now that we’re settled in Denmark, we still love to travel – especially by train around Europe. But more than ever, I also love sinking into a comfortable armchair and exploring the world through the pages of a good book.

To inspire your wanderlust – or just enjoy a great adventure through a book – here are some of the best new travel books for 2023.

Read on for my favourite new travel memoirs, beautiful coffee table books about travel, inspiring hiking memoirs, and stories of adventure to enjoy this year. I’ve also included some of the best new fiction books about travel. Enjoy the journey.

The best travel books for 2023 to inspire adventure

Leaving the Comfort Zone: The Adventure of a Lifetime by Olivier Van Herck and Zoë Agasi

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Read Leaving the Comfort Zone for… a stunning hardcover (that would make a perfect coffee table book) about one couple’s adventure of a lifetime.

Gestalten publishes some of the most beautiful travel books you can find, and this new release is no exception.

Detailing a 40,000-kilometre journey spanning four years and accompanied by awe-inspiring photographs, it’s the story of a shared dream and a desire to break free from expectations.

inside photo of leaving the comfort zone book by gestalten

Solo: What Running Across Mountains Taught Me About Life by Jenny Tough

Read Solo for… a fantastic story of self-discovery while running solo across mountains on six continents.

I’ve followed Jenny Tough and her incredible adventures for a few years now, and her time in the High Atlas mountains inspired my own trip to Morocco to hike Mount Toubkal.

After reading this book about adventure, independence, and the courage to meet audacious goals, you’ll find your wanderlust fuelled too.

The Half-Known Life: Finding Paradise in a Divided World by Pico Iyer

Read The Half-Known Life for…. a mesmerizing investigation of the different ideas of paradise and what they can teach about living well.

In this book of journeys – many of them inwards – Pico Iyer upends conventional ideas of what a travel book should be.

Read this unique travel book to explore the paradoxes of paradise and reflect on what peaceful living means to you.

Unforgettable Journeys Europe: Discover the Joys of Slow Travel by DK Eyewitness

Browse Unforgettable Journeys Europe for… a beautiful travel book covering 150 of Europe’s most incredible journeys that are best enjoyed slowly.

If I could, I’d always travel slowly, especially by train. A couple of years ago, Iain and I took the train journey of a lifetime: the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Mongolia, and China. But where to go next?

I love this wanderlust-inspiring collection of journeys on foot, by bike, road, rail, and water in Europe, from the snowy peaks of the Alps to the vivid fields of tulips in bloom in the Netherlands.

The Farthest Shore: Seeking Solitude and Nature on the Cape Wrath Trail in Winter by Alex Roddie

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Read The Farthest Shore for… Alex Roddie’s story of searching for solitude, quiet, and wild nature in the Scottish Highlands during winter.

The Cape Wrath Trail is one of Scotla­nd’s most beautiful hiking paths… in summer. In winter? It’s an entirely different beast.

Escape into this unique travel memoir for a quietly captivating story of Alex’s 300-mile solo trek through the unforgiving Scottish landscape.

The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-Mile Horseback Journey Into the Old West by Will Grant

Read The Last Ride of the Pony Express for… the spellbinding story of a 2,000-mile journey on horseback across the American West.

If you’re looking for something different than the usual hiking mem­oir, this book is a fantastic choice – and an incredible display of horsemanship, history, culture, and adventure.

Immerse yourself in cowboy and journalist Will Grant’s adventure of a lifetime: following the path of the Pony Express, the frontier mail service that spanned the high, dry, and lonesome American West in the 1860s.

How to Be Alone: An 800-mile Hike on the Arizona Trail by Nicole Antoinette

Read How to Be Alone for… Nicole Antoinette’s story of a goal she couldn’t for one second imagine completing: solo hiking all 800 miles of the Arizona Trail.

If you love books like Wild by Cheryl Strayed, How to Be Alone is one of the best hiking memoirs to read next.

This new travel book for 2023 is an immersive, raw, and honest story of one woman’s journey to push herself further than she ever had before – and finally break her habits of codependency and people-pleasing for good.

Windswept: Life, Nature and Deep Time in the Scottish Highlands by Annie Worsley

Read Windswept for… an awe-inspiring story of life today and millennia ago on Scotland’s west coast.

In this wonderful memoir for anyone who loves Scotland’s wild nature, Annie Worsley trades a busy life in academia for managing a croft in the Highlands.

Her book, structured by the solar year, charts the remarkable epic story of how Scotland’s valleys were formed by glaciers, how the earliest inhabitants found a way of life, and what it means to live in such a rugged yet beautiful place today.

Africa is Not a Country by Dipo Faloyin 

Read Africa is Not a Country for… a bright, insightful, and intimate portrait of modern Africa.

How much do you know about Africa’s history? (My English school’s curriculum seemed reluctant to go into details, for some reason.)

This travel book from 2022 offers a much-needed corrective to the ignorance (and harmful stereotypes) of a remarkable continent to tell a much more comprehensive story.

Brave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon by Melissa L. Sevigny

Read Brave the Wild River for… a vibrant untold story of botany, adventure, and ambition in the Grand Canyon.

With precipitous cliffs, menacing rapids, and boat-shattering boulders, the Colorado River was famed as the world’s most dangerous river in 1938.

However, two botanists, Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter, were tantalized by the prospect of being the first to survey the plants of the Grand Canyon.

This wonderful book traces their forty-three-day journey in a previously untold, breathtaking story.

In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Read In the Shadow of the Mountain for… a captivating story of adventure, resilience, and overcoming adversity on Everest.

Despite making her way in the elite macho tech world of Silicon Valley, in private Silvia was lost: hiding her sexuality from her family, repressing the abuse of her childhood, and struggling with alcoholism.

Her answer was to heed the call of mountains, where the risk, scale, and brute force woke her up – and she took her pain to the biggest ascent possible: Everest.

Accompanied by a group of young female survivors, this is Silvia’s remarkable story of endurance, strength, and healing.

Kinfolk Wilderness by John Burns

Browse Kinfolk Wilderness for… one of the most beautiful travel coffee table books to fuel your wanderlust.

Known for their wonderfully well-made books and magazines, Kinfolk’s new release for 2023 is the ideal treat for intrepid wanderers.

inside kinfolk wilderness book

Mother, Nature by Jedidiah Jenkins

Read Mother, Nature for… the upcoming book from bestselling travel writer Jedidiah Jenkins, author of To Shake the Sleeping Self. (Preorder for November 7, 2023)

Jedidiah and his mother, Barbara, had found themselves divided by her version of a faith that views his sexuality as a sin.

But when she turned seventy, Jedidiah realised that his mother wouldn’t always be there.

This was the time for the trip they’d always talked about, and they knew exactly what they’d do: retrace the thousands of miles Barbara trekked with Jedidiah’s father in the 70s.

While the original journey became the basis for the bestselling “Walk Across America” trilogy, the goal of this adventure was different: to reunite mother and son.

The best fiction books about travel for 2023

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Read Happiness for Beginners for… a heart-warming and nourishing read about the solace of wild places, the power of getting lost, and how to get back up after things fall apart.

Newly divorced at thirty-two, Helen Carpenter is desperate for a fresh start. She hopes that her brother’s suggestion of a wilderness survival course in the backwoods of Wyoming is just that, but instead, it’s a disaster.

However, it turns out that sometimes disaster can be exactly what you need to find your strength, courage, and way forwards.

If you love the book, you can enjoy the wonderfully escapist Netflix movie adaptation of Happiness for Beginners soon (it’s due for release on July 27).

The Bird Hotel by Joyce Maynard

Read The Bird Hotel for… a sweeping story that spans four decades, penned with beautiful touches of magical realism.

After a heartbreaking childhood, Irene, a talented artist, finds herself in a small Central American village checking into a beautiful but decaying lakefront hotel at the base of a volcano.

With years of restoration ahead, the hotel, called La Llorona, will become Irene’s home and livelihood, as well as the setting for so much joy and companionship.

Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly

Read Lizzie & Dante for… a luscious, romantic story about travelling to get your life back on track – and finding love (and good Italian wine) along the way.

This summer read from 2021 is the story of Lizzie Belford, a Shakespeare scholar on the heels of a difficult breakup and diagnosis, whose life turns upside down after meeting an enigmatic chef on vacation in Italy.

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