The Best Travel Books for 2018

We’re rushing headlong towards the end of the year, and here in Australia the weather is warming up beautifully – two things that make me think of holidays and travelling! For me, the prospect of resuming travelling (after an extended break) is filling me with anticipation – there are still so many places I want to visit!  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or one new to the game, there’s some excellent travel writing to inspire, entertain and inform you. Here are some of our favourites from this year:

Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Here’s all your travel inspo in one hit – the second edition of Journeys of a Lifetime, completely revised to mark its 10th anniversary.  From iconic places to hidden gems, these destinations and routes represent the 500 favourite journeys of the travel writers at National Geographic.  Covering every continent and mode of transport, Journeys of a Lifetime is particularly strong on adventurous trips – whether it’s cruising in Antarctica, trekking up Kilimanjaro or mountain biking in Transylvania.  There are also thematic sections, with ideas for urban walks, food pilgrimages, hot new museums and more.  Packed with maps, planning advice and amazing photography, this gorgeous book will provide inspiration and information for years to come.

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist : the 500 Best Dishes to Eat on the Planet, Ranked by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Eatlist is another “500 Best” book that will be a great reference as well as inspiration.  For many people (myself included), trying different cuisines is a favourite part of travelling, so the team at Lonely Planet has scoured the world for the most delicious, iconic and memorable eating experiences.  From Laksa in Kuala Lumpur, BBQ in Texas to oysters in Tasmania, Ultimate Eatlist will show you what to eat, where to eat it, the history and culture behind each food, and why the experience will be special.  Don’t read this book when you’re hungry!

Rooms with a View: the Secret Life of Grand Hotels by Adrian Mourby

The names of famous hotels – such as the Dorchester (London), Raffles (Singapore), and The Plaza (New York) – instantly evoke images of history, glamour, money, celebrities. These are also potent ingredients for gossip!  Hotel historian and travel addict Adrian Mourby has collected wonderfully entertaining tales about 50 of these grand hotels around the world.  Read about how the details of India’s independence were drafted in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel in Delhi; or about the time Salvador Dali asked room service at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris to send him a flock of sheep. The Great, the Good and the Eccentric, including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor – all made appearances, and some times, history – in these grand establishments.

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Pasta, Pane, Vino is the latest book by Roads & Kingdoms, a crew that applies foreign correspondence-style journalism to food, music and travel (thereby elevating it to a new and impressive level).  Matt Goulding travels across Italy and shows how food staples – pasta, bread, cheese, wine – remain anchored in tradition, whilst allowing new generations of artisans the scope to innovate for the future.  Matt’s exploration of food is also the starting point for deep-dives into Italian history, politics and culture.  Each chapter is like a short documentary that is both intense and intimate. Pasta, Pane, Vino will hit the spot If you like your writing insightful and intellectual.

The Kings of the Yukon: an Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth spent four months canoeing along the Yukon River, tracing the life cycle of the legendary king salmon.  From the spawning grounds of McNeil Lake in the Canadian interior, he travels over 3,000 km to the Bering Sea – and each year, thousands of salmon make this same journey in reverse, against the current and uphill, back to their birthplace to spawn and then die.  Along the way, he meets various locals, whose lives are entwined with the fate of the salmon.  The Kings of the Yukon is a quiet, poetic book befitting a journey through such a remote, rugged area.  The slow pace of canoeing allows Adam Weymouth plenty of time for reflection on ecology, sustainability, and the tension between conservation and cultural traditions.

A Year Off: a Story about Travelling the World and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

“Don’t Dream it, Do it!” is the message by Alexandra and David Brown – if you have ever dreamt of taking a year off to travel the world, then this is the book for you.  A few months into their relationship, Alexandra and David decided to take a year off from work and travel together. Visiting 20 countries in 12 months is a big challenge for a new couple, and this book details the highs and the lows, the glorious moments and the sheer exhaustion.  Alexandra and David also show how to plan and budget for such a trip, the conversations you need to have with your boss, how to manage the mundane stuff whilst on the road.  Combining guidebook, travel essays and memoir, A Year Off will inspire you to finally take the plunge with that dream trip.

The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories that Make your Heart Grow edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

Travelling is exciting because it takes us to new and distant places; however, in such unfamiliar places, without our usual support network, we become vulnerable.   The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met, someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.  Contributors share personal stories of the kindnesses they have received from adventures around the world, from a warm and cheering bowl of soup, to a rescue from a dire situation.  The Kindness of Strangers is not just a travel book, but one that reminds its readers that much good can arise from even the smallest of kind gestures. In doing so, it encourages readers to empathise and be kind too.  All royalties go towards supporting Oxfam in their work with refugees – the most vulnerable travellers of them all.

The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras

The team behind the bestselling Atlas Obscura has returned with a book, designed to inspire wanderlust in a younger generation!  The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is packed with fascinating and unusual information about 47 different countries spread across every continent.  Besides distant and exotic places – such as the Crystal Caves in Mexico and Blood Falls in Antarctica – it also encourages young readers to explore and reveal the hidden wonders of their own environments.  Designed to appeal to 8-12 year olds (the age when curious facts and amazing records really capture their imaginations), this is a beautifully-produced book that will be perfect for gifting.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a newly-qualified librarian working in a public library. As a book- and library-lover from way back, she finds nothing better than being surrounded by books and other library-lovers! Karen’s past lives as a law graduate, corporate warrior and research scientist continue to inform her wide-ranging tastes in reading material, with her favourite genres including historical fiction, fantasy, food writing and popular science.