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Scintillating Armchair Books on Travel

Updated on December 15, 2009

Before I left New Zealand on my quest to travel and work and repeat the cycle, I read numerous armchair books on travel. In fact, I continue to read books by authors in this genre as they have proven to be firm favorites.  

When I'm away, I frequent second hand book stores to try to top up my reading material.  Sometimes, from very limited supplies I manage to find a gem.   I'm usually forced to leave the books behind for others because of space restrictions.  Occasionally the books come home with me.

The books on travel I enjoy are often by people who have uprooted themselves to live in a foreign country or those who leave the comfort of their homes for a year on the road.

I enjoy reading about how they did it, their emotions, challenges, joys etc.  Here are some of them.....

A good book and a coffee - can life be any more perfect
A good book and a coffee - can life be any more perfect

I hope you find inspiration and enjoyment in the selection I have presented here.

Of course, you don’t have to be planning a trip to enjoy them – which is, I guess, why they are called armchair travel narratives!

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Life sometimes presents us with opportunities. Rita recognised it and made a life change.


Tales of a Female Nomad - books by Rita Golden Gelman

The American author says her life was one continuous round of elegant restaurants, interesting people, and events many of us would love to experience, even once, like the Academy Awards and the Grammies. 


But in this world which she shared with her husband of twenty-four years, she felt hollow. Life for Rita was, on the outside, exhilarating, perhaps even one others might want to emulate, but she felt like she was living someone else’s life.

With the agreement of her husband, she took a short break from the marriage.  She shares how she experienced a freedom in Mexico before returning home.  To her amazement, after she returned her husband suggested a longer break.


When it became clear that the marriage was over, rather than wallowing in self pity, she did a quick stock-take of her finances and what she wanted in life and decided to begin life as a nomad.

During her travels, she lived (and has written about) life in Mexico the Galapagos Islands, Bali, New Guinea, Israel and Nicaragua, Thailand and my home country of New Zealand. In Bali she lived in a palace but more commonly she lived like the locals.

Throughout her delightful book she demonstrates a “can do attitude”.

I love this quote from her book “I’m not running away. I’m running toward….toward adventure, toward discovery, toward diversity.” What a great philosophy.

A must read for anyone contemplating solo travel.  But if you just want armchair adventure, then this book is good.
For more information visit -

Jupiters Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph
Jupiters Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph

Ted Simon's book of his first round the world wanderings


Jupiters Travels and more travel books by Ted Simon

Ted Simon
Jupiters Travels

Jupiter’s Travels is an astonishing and inspiring book. It was one of the very first travel narratives I read soon after it was first published in 1979.

Ted chronicles his motorcycle travels around the world – a journey which took around four years. A meticulous recorder of detail he notes that the journey was 60,647 road miles and he undertook a further 17,655 miles by seal, rail and ferry.

A solid read, the book is packed with marvelous anecdotes. The wonderful understated sense of humor of the English shines throughout as he discusses places and people with keen perception. Although he has an impressive grasp of detail and observation, Simon does not allow it to slow the story down. Instead, it carries the reader along on the trip.

Ted began his first journey at age 46 and amazingly at age 70 he repeated the trip and itinerary.  Ted Simons Website has details of the second trip, his new book, photographs, and details of the equipment he took.

A great read even for those not contemplating travel on two wheels.

Educating Alice and more travel books by Alice Steinbach

Alice’s writing is delicious. I have read two of her books on travel and I really want more. Her powers of observation are extraordinary and the way she writes is one of the very best examples in “showing not telling”.

When Alice took six months leave of absence from her job as a journalist, she wanted to use the time for “comfort “travel.

She had fallen into the habit of many people - that of allowing herself to be defined by other people which meant behaving in the way others expected.

Alice wanted to break free of this and live in the moment while satisfying her longing for new experiences.

In January 1993 she left the United States for Paris, a city she knew, having spent some time there as a wife and mother of young children.

In Without Reservations she has chapters on her time in London and Florence. Alice has an amazing ability to turn casual encounters into friendships and these serendipitous events make for enlightening vignettes.

By the time Alice wrote her next travel book (Educating Alice) she had resigned her job with plans to travel the world as a casual student taking courses of interest to her – and these courses are eclectic.

In Educating Alice she explores more interests. It opens with anecdotes from her cooking class at the Ritz in Paris.

In Prague she appreciates the importance of sensible shoes to walk along the cobbles to the ancient castle, puts on dancing shoes for a session in Kyoto with a geisha and finds secret gardens in the city she adores – Paris.

Cuba features too with an extraordinary tale of a dinner and fashion show where the clothes are all in white. A chance encounter with a teacher who extends an invitation to visit her home gives Alice the opportunity to glimpse a life far removed from the usual tourist experiences.

Another chance encounter with a Japanese man, Naohiro, (he was introduced in her first book Without Reservations) ignites a beautiful friendship and Alice’s vignettes of their snatched time together are sprinkled throughout the two books. These glimpses into a smoldering relationship conducted long distance are pure gold.

Like a fine jeweler, Alice crafts her words with care; less is more and anything not advancing the narrative is removed.

Alice’s books on travel are treats to be savored and I want more. I urge you to buy them both. They are keepers - you will not want to loan them to anyone!

1000 Places to See Books

The 1000 places to - - - -.are great books on travel for listing ideas and they look good on the coffee table.

Before I left to do this tripping around, my sister gave me the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. It was an inspired gift to give to someone like me. This and the other books shown here are great to dip in and out of. They are valuable for ideas of where to go to next.

I still have this book, but because it’s so fat, I couldn’t fit it in my red suitcase. It waits for my return to New Zealand where I will be able to tick off a few more of the places listed.

Books on Travel for Everyone

I've read many more books on travel but those listed here are some of my very favorites. There is something here to please everyone - to treat yourself or for a gift for that special someone.

This article is copyright Travelespresso.  Respect my work and if you wish to use any of it, please ask.


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    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Hello and thanks for stopping by BAD! There are so many to choose from and I really enjoy this genre more than any other.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      A great overview of travel books and guides - there are so may to choose from - enjoy your travels and looking forward to reading about them here.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Hello Lita

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I do travel with my laptop. I can't be without it and love it. I have a padded section in my pack (day) and I also put the laptop in a neoprene sleeve for added protection. I even wrote my book on my laptop!

    • profile image

      Leta S 

      8 years ago

      An easy read. I love travel, too, and hope to do more of it. I have Life's "100 most beautiful places to see before you die," I think it is called, lol. Need to get to Europe soon.

      So, question for you is--do you write on a laptop? :)


    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Enjoy them Leop, I'd love to hear how you like Tales of a Female Nomad. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Leop profile image


      9 years ago

      This is very thoughtful of you. Excellent information. I really like this kinds of books and will be checking out the Rita Golden and the other I have read. Thank you.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Hello Kuboje

      They're really nice books to have. The places are well chosen, and they have just enough information about each destination to tempt one to want more. I do hope that you get one of the 1000 Places to See books on travel. When you do, stop by here and let me know what you thought of it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      1000 Places to See Books is the one I really want to read, thanks for sharing travelespresso

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Hello Peggy W

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. They are all great reads regardless of whether you want to pack up and go (like me!) or stop at home and enjoy vocarious adventures. I would love it if you would stop by here again and let me know if you get to read them.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      These sound like very interesting armchair books on travel that would make for fun reading. Thanks for the reviews.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Coverley - hi - Isn't that one of the wonderful things about hubpages - people of like mind can share ideas? I am sure that you will enjoy them.

      aquaseaCreative - thanks for stopping and for your comment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I've added all of the above to my list!

    • coverley1 profile image


      9 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Hi travelespresso....a very informative Hub and well written. All the books you reviewed sound very enlightening. If you had not written this Hub I would have lived in ignorance of their existence. Am considering the book "Tales of a Female Nomad". I agree with you and nice it would be to be able to make a living by being ourselves doing what we love.

    • travelespresso profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      You are always the first with a comment Dohn. Thanks for stopping by. Be great to be earning money this way though huh?

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      It's a good thing that all these ladies all sold their books so in that way, they could pay for their extravagant travels! Thanks for the great review, travelespresso. I'll be sure to look into them!


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