Best travel books, travel series and travel movies - Journal of Nomads

Travel from Home – The 11 Best Travel Books, Travel Series and Travel Movies

 

A list of the best and most inspiring travel books, awesome travel series, feel-good travel movies and travel documentaries that will take you around the world from your home!

 

The 11 Best Travel Books, Travel Series and Travel Movies to travel from Home - Journal of Nomads

 

We’re experiencing weird and surreal times right now.  In a matter of weeks, our world suddenly turned upside down. All of the plans we made went up in the air and we have to stay in isolation at home while trying to stay sane.

 

It might especially be hard and frustrating to be stuck at home when you have severe wanderlust and the travels you were looking forward to so much are now canceled. 

 

We can’t do much about it though. You can sulk and weep and give your housemates a hard time or you can just accept the situation and try to make the best out of it.

 

You might want to start a new project, a new hobby or explore your creativity to keep yourself busy. But maybe you also want to escape reality every now and then and wander off into an imaginary world.

 

Inspiring Travel Books - Journal of Nomads

 

That’s why I decided to make this list of inspiring and feel-good travel movies, travel series, and travel books that will make you forget our reality for a while and take you around the world from the safety and comfort of your home (or bed). 

 

And hey, maybe some of them will give you brand new ideas for future travel plans and the inspiration and motivation you needed to go on that dream trip of yours (when the travel restrictions have been lifted). 

 

Once this quarantine is over, you might not want to postpone that trip of your dreams anymore and see the world while you can. We’ve now all experienced how quickly and suddenly our freedom of movement can be taken away from us!

 

It honestly took me quite a while to create this list. Some titles are from movies, books and series I’ve already seen and read, others have been recommended to me (and I can’t wait to read or watch them).

 

I kept getting sidetracked with watching trailers, (re)watching movies and series and getting lost in the chapters of the books. I’m definitely feeling inspired by them and they will keep me busy for a while. I hope that this list will do the same for you!

 

Best Travel Movies to watch - Journal of Nomads

 

 

Top 11 Inspiring Travel Books

 

There are many great books about travel that will make you dream and inspire to go on an epic adventure.

 

I’m thinking about the classics like On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Beach by Alex Garland and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – just to name a few.

 

My selection is based on the best travel books I’ve read over the past years and books that have been recommended to me by others (and that I’m about to read as they look fantastic)! I’m sure that most of the following titles will be new to you.

 

You’ll find at least 3 books that you’ll enjoy reading, that will take you on an imaginary adventure and will make you forget for a while what’s happening in the outside world.

 

1. The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless across America by Mike McIntyre

 

Location: United States

 

This is a book I could highly relate to as Niko and I hitchhiked from Ireland to Kyrgyzstan on a very tight budget. Mike McIntyre takes it even a bit further. He hitchhiked from one end of America to the other without a single penny in his pocket.

 

Throughout his journey, McIntyre experienced what the kindness of strangers really meant and that those who give the most are often the ones with the least to spare.

 

In The Kindness of Strangers, he shares about the people he meets and what he learned about the values and life on the road in America.

 

Check out “The Kindness of Strangers” on Amazon!

 

2. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

by Dervla Murphy

 

Locations: Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India

 

Dervla Murphy (born in 1931) is a woman with balls, especially for her time! She’s an Irish touring cyclist and wrote adventure travel books for over 40 years. She wrote about her solo trips through Romania, Africa, Laos, etc.

 

Full Tilt is the journal about Murphy’s overland cycling trip from Ireland to India in 1963.

 

She writes about cycling through Europe during one of the worst winters in years, how she used her fun to frighten off a group of thieves in Iran, about the people she met in Afghanistan, how she visited Swat and the mountain area of Gilgit in Pakistan and so on.

 

Once you’ve finished Full Tilt, you should also check out her other books like Eight feet in the Andes, Cameroon with Egbert and In Ethiopia with a Mule.

 

Check out “Full Tilt” on Amazon!

 

3. Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination

by Brian Keenan and John McCarthy

 

 

Locations: Chile, Patagonia

 

I found this book in a hostel in Kyrgyzstan and was immediately fascinated by the story. Between Extremes is actually quite a suitable read for the current situation…

 

In 1986 Brian Keenan and John McCarthy were imprisoned in a Lebanese dungeon.

 

For 4 years, they only had each other and a few volumes of an ancient American encyclopedia to keep themselves busy (talking about extreme quarantine…).

 

During this time they used their imagination and envisaged walking in the High Andes and across Patagonia.

 

Five years after they’ve been released Brian and John decide to travel together to Chile and see if the reality matches their imagination.

 

Check out “Between Extremes” on Amazon!

 

4. Dare to Do: Taking on the Planet by Bike and Boat

by Sarah Outen

 

Locations: Europe, Asia, North America

 

In 2011, Sarah Outen sets off in her kayak with one aim: to cross Europe, Asia, the Pacific, North America and the Atlantic by cycling, rowing, and kayaking.

 

Unfortunately, one year later, Sarah gets into a tropical storm on the Pacific Ocean that breaks her boat and her spirit.

 

Despite her misfortune and depression, Sarah doesn’t want to give up and sets off to finish her journey.

 

She becomes the first woman to row solo from Japan to Alaska and to row the mid-Pacific from West to East. She kayaks the Aleutian chain, cycles across North America and rows across the Atlantic.

 

Dare to Do isn’t only an adventure story, it’s also a story about the raw power of nature, discovering your inner strength and not giving up after failing, even when all seems lost.

 

Check out “Dare to Do” on Amazon!

 

5. Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle around the World by Elspeth Beard

 

Locations: Europe, USA, Asia

 

Lone Rider is the travel memoir of Elspeth Beard, the first British woman who traveled around the world by motorcycle.

 

Elspeth left her family and friends in 1982, just when she was 23 years old, to set off on a 35.000-mile solo adventure around the world on her motorbike.

 

In a time before email, internet, and mobile phones, she rides through rugged landscapes and countries ravaged by war, fends off sexual attacks, biker gangs and corrupt police and survives life-threatening illnesses, personal loss, and brutal accidents.

 

Sometimes harrowing, sometimes amusing and sometimes inspiring, Lone Rider isn’t just an enthralling travelogue but also an honest account of both the joys and extreme hardships of travel and the intimate relationships Elspeth built with herself and others along the way.

 

Check out “Lone Rider” on Amazon!

 

6. Man in the Saddle by Paul van Hooff

 

Locations: North America, South America

 

Paul van Hooff, a Dutch journalist wants to be free of rules, stress and relationship problems and decides to leave everything behind for his big dream: a motorcycle trip from Deadhorse, the most northern place in Alaska to Ushuaia, the most southern point of Argentina.

 

In Man in the Saddle, Paul van Hooff shares the stories about the people he encounters, the history he finds along the way and his personal realizations.

 

Can you really escape from your past? And what does freedom mean in this day and age? This book isn’t the typical travelogue of a (motorcycle) trip across the Americas but one that is as uncommon as the rider.

 

Check out “Man in the Saddle” on Amazon!

 

7. Love with a Chance of Drowning

by Torre DeRoche

 

Locations: The Pacific

 

Torre DeRoche is a real city girl with a big fear of deep waters.

 

She isn’t exactly the type of girl you’d find sailing across the ocean. Until she falls in love with Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man who has a sailboat and dreams of sailing around the world…

 

Torre has to make a decision: either say goodbye to the man she’s in love with or join him on a year-long voyage across the Pacific, despite her morbid fear.

 

She chooses the latter which results in Love with a Chance of Drowning, a hilarious and often moving memoir that is set in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations and that shows that some risks are worth taking.

 

Check out “Love with a Chance of Drowning” on Amazon!

 

8. My Midsummer Morning

by Alastair Humphreys

 

Locations: Spain

 

I’ve been following Alastair Humphrey for a while and really enjoy his writing. He’s written a lot of great adventure and travel books. One of my favorite books written by him is My Midsummer Morning.

 

In this book, Humphreys takes the reader along on his walk across Spain where he busks his way with a violin he can barely play.

 

This adventure was inspired by the book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee.

 

It made Humphreys fall in love with Spain and with Laurie’s style of travel and for a long time, he wanted to have a similar adventure.

 

Humphreys shares his journey in a beautiful and vulnerable way. It’s a thought-provoking read in which he dedicates a lot of time discussing the challenges of balancing a “free” life of adventuring with being a married father and working a job.

 

This book will definitely strike a few chords with many readers!

 

Check out “My Midsummer Morning” on Amazon!

 

9. The Sun is a Compass

by Caroline Van Hemert

 

Locations: North America

 

The Sun is a Compass chronicles the 4000-mile expedition of Caroline and her husband Pat from the Pacific rainforest to the Arctic coast.

 

They travel by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe and crossed some of the most and rugged places on earth.

 

This book is a beautiful blend of science, adventure, and personal narrative. Caroline shares the harrowing dangers they experience as well as the incredible moments of joy and the bond that comes from sharing such a unique journey.

 

The Sun is a Compass is a remarkable book about life and discovery and human versus nature.

 

Check out “The Sun is a Compass” on Amazon!

 

10. The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

by Tim Voors

 

Locations: Mexico, USA, Canada

 

The Great Alone is the inspiring and visually stunning memoir of Tim Voors’ experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

He’s an ordinary middle-aged man not suffering from addiction or any drama but simply looking at how he can improve his life while out on the trail.

 

The book, filled with pictures and artwork, takes the reader through the physical, mental and spiritual journey he experienced on this hike with a nice balance between the descriptions of the stunning surroundings, the meetings with fellow hikers and the psychological impact the hike has on him.

 

Check out “The Great Alone” on Amazon!

 

11. The Two Week Traveller

by Matthew Lightfoot

 

Locations: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America

 

The Two Week Traveller is the easy-to-read and entertaining account of Matthew Lightfoot’s travel adventures in almost 150 countries.

 

As he’s restricted by the demands of a full-time job, Lightfoot explores the world using his annual holiday allowance.

 

In his book, he shares a collection of stories that are hilarious, moving and scary. Reading some of his tales will make you wonder how he got out alive!

 

From being chased by rogue elephants, robbed at gunpoint by a stoned policeman to accidentally cycling down an airport runway and getting trapped in a voodoo ceremony, The Two Week Traveller will definitely give you a high dose of entertainment!

 

Check “The Two Week Traveller” on Amazon!

 

Top Travel Books that will inspire - Journal of Nomads

More Reading Suggestions:

10 Great Novels about Morocco!

 

 

Top 11 Best Travel Series

 

Even while I’m traveling, I sometimes lock myself up all day in my hostel/ Airbnb room and binge-watch TV Series on Netflix to empty my mind.

 

I often feel bad about this about it as there’s a little voice telling me I got better things to do or places to visit. 

 

Now, however, couldn’t be a better time to stay at home and watch some good travel series all day long without feeling guilty about it!

 

Here’s a selection of some very good travel tv-series that will take you around the world from the comfort of your own home!

 

1. Dark Tourist (Netflix)

New Zealand filmmaker and journalist David Farrier takes you in these travel series to unusual and often macabre tourism destinations around the world.

 

His nuanced approach to travel and diversity shines through as he visits some of the lesser-known parts of varying cultures.

 

From vampires in New Orleans, swimming in nuclear lakes in Kazakhstan to witnessing the cleaning of a mummified corpse in Indonesia, this is a very fascinating series that offer you glimpses into the unknown and remarkable parts of our world.

 

 

2. Tales By Light (Netflix)

If you’re into travel photography, then this is a must-see TV show!

 

Tales By Lights follows some of the best photographers on their globetrotting adventures around the world and shows how they operate to capture the absolute best shot.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

3. The Kindness Diaries (Netflix)

Leon Logothetis is a man with a mission. He travels around the world on a vintage motorcycle and barters his way through many countries, counting on the kindness of strangers for food, shelter, and fuel.

 

The Kindness Diaries examines the nature of generosity and gives glimpses into the hearts of some truly selfless people. This travel show shines in its ability to connect people.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

4. Our Planet (Netflix)

Our Planet, narrated by David Attenborough, is a documentary series that focuses on every corner of the world, from the remote Arctic wilderness to the vast landscapes of Africa and diverse jungles of South America.

 

While this is a nature series, it will get you out there enjoying everything nature has to offer and will surely inspire you to see new places in our world!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

5. Long Way Round (Amazon Prime)

Long Way Round follows the 31000km motorbike journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boor from London to New York.

 

They traveled eastwards starting in the UK, through France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Canada and ending the trip in New York City, USA.

 

This series has been filmed in 2004 and it made me intrigued to see Central Asia. A lot has changed in the countries they traversed but it’s nonetheless a very inspiring and interesting TV series to watch, especially if you’re into motorcycle and overland journeys!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

6. Departures (in some countries on Netflix)

Departures is a brilliant adventure travel series following the personal journey of Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach in search of unique experiences in some of the most beautiful and remote places on earth.

 

The series chronicles the unforgettable friendships and the real-life experiences that the two travelers have along the way, all filmed by their friend and cameraman Andre Dupuis.

 

Departures is as much about the journey as it is about its destinations.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

7. Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father (Netflix)

Travels with my Father is a comedy travel show, following comedian Jack Whitehall and his stuffy father Michael Whitehall.

 

They go on far-flung adventures in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, and the USA while challenging each other and trying to get along.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

8. An Idiot Abroad (YouTube and Amazon Prime)

An Idiot Abroad is a British travel TV series created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. They send their uncultured colleague Karl Pilkington who has no interest in traveling abroad under the guise of visiting the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

However, Gervais and Merchant don’t send him to “comfortable” European destinations as Pilkington is expecting. They assign him tasks in China, India, Vanuatu without giving Pilkington any prior warning, resulting in amusing situations.

 

This series really shows what happens when you send an idiot abroad and expect him to live like a local in each location.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

9. Conan without Borders (Netflix and YouTube)

Conan without Borders follows famous TV night show host Conan O’ Brian to some adventurous destinations around the world.

 

While Conan’s humor isn’t for anyone, he spreads positivity, makes genuine connections and brings more awareness to different cultures around the world in this funny and light-hearted TV-series.

 

10. Alexander’s Lost World (YouTube and Amazon Prime)

Alexander’s Lost World is a 6×60” series following David Adams on an extraordinary 2400 km long journey along the course of the River Oxus through war-torn Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

Alexander the Great discovered a highly developed civilization that pre-dated even the Persians. Adams unravels the mysteries of the Oxus Civilization while traveling through the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

This is a beautiful and very interesting documentary!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

11. Equator (YouTube and Amazon Prime)

Equator follows Simon Reeve’s journey along the Equator through Africa, Asia and South America.

 

He travels through Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Maledives, Indonesia, Kiribati, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil to examine and plant life. He catches malaria in Gabon, goes rafting on the Nile and witnesses a bullfight in Kenya among many other things.

 

If you like Equator, you should also check out his other TV-Series Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

 

Watch the first episode here:

 

 

Top 11 Feel-good Travel Movies

 

You’re probably already familiar with travel films like Into the Wild, The Beach, Wild and The Motorcycle Diaries (if not, they’re worth watching!).

 

For this list, I focused on travel movies that inspired me and that left me with a happy and/or heart-warming feeling.

 

There are probably movies on this list that you very likely not have heard of before! Enjoy!

 

1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Locations: Greenland, Iceland, Himalayas

 

Walter Mitty is the type of guy who always plays it safe. He has a stable job as a negative assets manager at a New York Lifestyle Magazine but his life is quite boring with no adventures at all.

 

He often escapes into his colorful day-dreams but in real life, he’s too shy and anxious to go on his own adventures. But one day he’s forced by his work to retrieve an important photo negative and he has to travel all the way to Greenland to find the photojournalist who has the negative.

 

From there on he starts an epic real-life adventure and starts to live the life he always (day)dreamed of.

 

This film is up until today one of my favorite feel-good travel movies. I think that many people can relate to the character of Mitty.

 

I watched this movie for the first time when I wasn’t in the best mind space and it inspired me to seek out my own adventures.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

2. Seven Years in Tibet

Locations: India, Nepal

 

Seven Years in Tibet is based on a true story about a man named Heinrich Harrer who is on a mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas.

 

When World War II begins, he and his team are imprisoned in a war camp in India.

 

Harrer escapes with his companion Aufschnaiter and travels on foot across India and Tibet to the capital Lhasa. Harrer spends several years in Lhasa and becomes a tutor and friend of the 14th Dalai Lama.

 

While Seven Years in Tibet isn’t necessarily a feel-good movie when you watch how the Chinese invade Tibet and kill many people but it’s a heart-warming and deeply moving story of how a cocky and selfish person finds humility, humanity, and love.

 

I’ve watched this film several times and it’s the reason why I’ve always dreamed of going to Tibet and visit the Himalayas. A must-see movie!!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

3. The Way

Locations: France, Spain

 

The Way is the story of a father (Tom) who goes to France to collect the ashes of his son (Daniel) that was killed in the Pyrenees while walking the Camino de Santiago.

 

Out of grief and as an homage to his son, Tom decides to walk the ancient pilgrimage trail taking Daniel’s ashes with him.

 

While walking the Camino, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, each having their own reasons and stories to walk the Camino.

 

I’ve watched this movie already a couple of times. While you’d think that this is a heartbreaking story, it’s actually a feel-good and deeply-moving film.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

4. Tracks

Location: Australia

 

Tracks is the amazing and true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who makes a 1700-miles trek across the Australian desert accompanied by four camels and her dog.

 

Along her incredible journey from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, she meets fascinating characters, learns survival skills and demonstrates determination and strength beyond imagination.

 

Tracks was an incredible movie to watch. The film is an adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir, which I read after seeing the movie and which I highly recommend as well!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

5. GIVEN

Locations: USA, Iceland, Ireland, Thailand, Peru, Nepal, Morocco, Australia, Fiji,…

 

GIVEN is a breathtaking documentary that follows the 14-month journey of a legendary surfing couple (Daize and Aamion Goodwin) and their two children across the world in search of waves and culture.

 

The couple starts their journey from their home on Kauai, Hawaii, with their newborn daughter and six-year-old son Given, who narrates the film.

 

Their journey traverses six continents and 15 different countries in the quest for surf and to fulfill a calling handed down through generations.

 

Given is a visually stunning film and a deeply moving exploration of a young boy’s understanding of life through his familial bonds and their reverence for nature.

 

This documentary left a deep impression on me!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

6. The Bucket List

Location: Tanzania, Egypt, India, Nepal, France, Hong Kong, …

 

Two elderly men, Carter (Morgan Freeman) and Cole (Jack Nicholson) meet for the first time in a hospital after both having been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Both men, coming from totally different backgrounds, find common ground during their time on the ward.

 

Carter had begun writing a “bucket list” for fun with a list of activities he wants to do before he dies.

 

Cole urges him to do everything on the list while offering to finance the travel expenses for both of them. Carter agrees and the two terminally-ill patients begin their last journey around the world.

 

The Bucket List is an easy movie to watch and zone out for a while. I’m sure that after watching this film, you’ll write your own bucket list!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

7. Samsara

Location: Angola, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Myanmar, Namibia,…

Filmed over nearly five years in 25 countries and shot on 70-millimeter film, Samsara is a movie like no other.

 

It explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, from disaster zones and industrial complexes to scared grounds and natural wonders, looking into the unfathomable reaches of humanity’s spirituality and the human experience.

Samsara isn’t a traditional documentary or a travelogue. It’s a visually stunning, non-verbal guided meditation that captures the hidden life and foregrounds our worthiness of living as humans.

 

It’s truly one of the most epic and visually emotional films I’ve ever seen. Samsara takes you to another world and makes you contemplate about life.

 

It’s definitely a really good movie to watch in these changing times!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

8. The Darjeeling Limited

Location: India

 

In the Darjeeling Limited, directed by Wes Anderson, three estranged American brothers reunite one year after the death of their father for a soul-searching train trip across India.

 

The brothers argue, fight and resent each other until they find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert, at which point an unexpected new chapter in their journey begins.

 

The Darjeeling Limited is set in gorgeous picturesque locations of India and it’s a funny film, if you can appreciate the peculiar humor.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

9. A Map for Saturday

Locations: Australia, Europe, Nepal, Thailand, Brazil,…

 

This documentary follows Brook Silva Braga as he travels solo for a year around the world.

 

He films the entire trip, from the anxiety he has before embarking on this journey to his meetings with other backpackers and locals, his fleeting romances and the joys and woes of traveling long-term.

 

After watching this documentary, you’ll want to start planning your own long-term trip!

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

10. The Eagle Huntress

Location: Mongolia

 

The Eagle Huntress follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family.

 

Set in the breathtaking landscapes of the Mongolian steppe, the Eagle Huntress shows the intimate tale of a young girl’s quest in an epic narrative film with some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

11. Losing Sight of Shore (available on Netflix)

Locations: the Pacific

 

Losing Sight of Shore is a fantastic documentary that chronicles the 9-months sea journey of 4 courageous women who row across the Pacific Ocean from California to Australia.

 

This is a very inspiring and mind-boggling documentary about an epic journey showing the strengths of humanity and with fantastic shots of the Pacific.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

That’s it! I hope that this list will keep you busy for a while and that many of these books, series and movies will give you inspiration for your next adventure!

 

What are your favorite feel-good and/or inspiring travel movies and books? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Travel from Home - Best Travel Books, Travel Series and Travel Movies - Journal of Nomads

 

 

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Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years.I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable.I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me.Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable.Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

4 Responses

  1. ingelsoong
    | Reply

    What a great way to open up perspectives with these movies

  2. John Smith
    | Reply

    Now in self-isolation, many people come to the conclusion that we need to look for the positive aspects of this situation. It’s a great idea to read more, watch your favorite movies, and most importantly be with your family and be healthy. Health to all!

    • Hi John, yes, we definitely need to focus on the positive aspects and keep a positive mindset. We can find joy and happiness in the small things, like books and movies who give positive vibes and especially quality time with your loved ones (even if it’s at a distance, hooray for technology). Sending you positive and healthy vibes!

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