When you’re traveling the globe, sometimes you need a really great read to come along with you.
Sure, you could read Wild for the millionth time (guilty), but maybe it’s time to find your new favorite travel book.
We’re talking uncharted islands, epic nature, and some major grappling with identity — all the basic elements of being a female explorer in the modern era.
Our list of favorite incredible travel books is lengthy, but we somehow managed to narrow it down to a few must-reads for your next layover or beach read.
From illustrated atlases to emotional travelogues, here are our top inspirational books for women who love to travel sustainably.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
You might know this author from her viral TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” where she takes us behind the scenes of finding her own voice. Soon after, she released this novel which remains a best-seller internationally.
For a captivating read on the beach or your next flight, you’ll follow a strong young woman on her journey from Nigeria to New York — with her quest for identity and love along the way.
Once you power through this one, we’d recommend picking up the rest of her books as well. Her repertoire includes essays, novels, and touching memoirs.
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
You really can’t go wrong with Maya Angelou. This prolific writer, speaker, poet, and musician gives us all the feels in this inspirational book for women.
This one builds on her personal stories from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name, so it’s not a bad idea to grab those while you’re at it.
This rendition of exploration as an immigrant is one of the best adventure books of our generation, and you’ll find yourself rotating between crying and yearning to start a revolution.
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris
Winner of the 2018 Banff Adventure Travel Award and the Nautilus Award, this list wouldn’t be complete without Harris’s debut Lands of Lost Borders.
When we think about famous explorers, we think of Harris bicycling down the Silk Road and getting lost in the wilderness but closer to her own self. This travel memoir takes us out of our comfort zones and deep into nature — where there are no rules.
Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will by Judith Schalansky
If you’re looking for a fun spin on ecotourism and sustainable development, look no further than Schalansky’s personal account of fantastical islands that lead us into some dangerous wanderlust territory.
You might never have heard of these islands before, which makes it that much more tempting to head out for your next ecotourism adventure.
To compliment the beautiful storytelling, the book also provides gorgeous illustrations of 50 remote islands for female explorers to drool over.
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
This visionary book by Lawlor is the sci-fi gender-queer novel we all needed. When Paul discovers he can transform from a boy to a girl instantaneously, he travels all around America to test out this binary superpower.
Written by non-binary author Andrea Lawlor, this novel is a quick and fun read for layovers or taking a long morning off to read in your AirB&B.
What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
Plenty of travel includes search for answers, and sometimes that means getting in touch with your spirituality.
If you’re traveling to region that practices Buddhism (or you’re Buddhist yourself), it’s about time you pick up this no-holds-barred take on Buddhist culture and teachings.
This is a great book for those looking to explore Buddhism and dig deeper spiritually on an ecotourism trip.
The Haves and the Have Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality by Branko Milanovic
We all know that wealth isn’t distributed equally around the world — but what can you do about it?
Enter Milanovic’s deep dive into the history and literature of social division, from Anna Karenina to Elizabeth’s beloved Mr. Darcy.
This isn’t a dry read either. Milanovic engages us with present day stories, and digs deep into why inequality and geography matters for all of us.
A Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell
Wildflowers, chocolates, lush scenery — does it really surprise anyone to know that the happiest people in the world live in Denmark?
Russell moved to Denmark to learn more about this phenomenon, and takes us behind the curtain of what makes the Danes the happiest people in the world.
The latest print has a new chapter, which might have you booking a one-way flight to Denmark (which we support whole-heartedly).
Take Your Travel to the Next Level
At Sherpani, we love travel just like you. But we also understand that travel has an impact on our ecosystems and the planet.
Taking that hike to Machu Pichu would make a great photo for Instagram, but it also can have damaging effects on the local environment and communities.
And that’s where ecotourism comes in. There are plenty of ways to get your travel fix and enjoy nature without leaving a large footprint behind you.
Read our guide to ecotourism and sustainable travel >