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Take a Mental Holiday With These 10 Travel Books

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us holed up to prevent further spread of the virus. While the idea of lounging at home with nothing to do may have sounded like a dream mere months ago, it can rather quickly lead to boredom, frustration and a general case of cabin fever. While we can’t encourage you to escape to the outside world just yet, there’s nothing stopping you from disappearing on an excursion of a different sort. Lose yourself in an adventure and take a mental holiday with these 10 travel books.

Into The Wild

Christopher Johnson McCandless’ wanderings through the Alaskan wilderness are told by Jon Krakauer in this biographical account. McCandless faces the very human emotions of loneliness, persistence and, ultimately, peace as he goes on a journey of self-exploration amid one of the cruellest and most desolate landscapes in the world, and by the closing page, you’ll be planning your own post-COVID19 backpacking trip.

Eat, Pray, Love

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir-style account will have you in stitches one second, and bawling the next. Wanting to escape her life as a modern American woman is all too relatable, and she promptly whisks you along on her escapades, first eating her way through Italy, then learning how to pray in an Indian ashram, and finally coming to terms with self-love in Bali. The autobiography functions as both entertainment and inspiration for every reader.

bali - flower arrangement

The Alchemist

This classic tale follows the forays of a shepherd boy as he travels from Spain to Egypt, chasing his dreams and adventure! Author Paulo Coelho puts a philosophical spin on a simple story, and the pages are littered with quotes sure to inspire wanderlust in even the least intrepid reader.

The Great Railway Bazaar

Paul Theroux depicts his sojourns while following the famous and now obsolete Hippie Trail from London to Asia for over 4 months. His narrative takes place during the 1970s and it’s interesting for the modern reader to reflect how different the world was almost half a century ago.

The City of Djinns

This historical account of India’s capital outlines Delhi’s rich history, complex culture and key characters. While non-fiction may not be your first choice when it comes to escapism, William Dalrymple’s story-telling flare is unmatched and will transport you right to the bustling streets of Delhi.

India farmers market - show casing fruits, vegetables and spices

Down Under

I say the name Bill Bryson and you’re already reaching for the phone to call your local library. In Down Under, Bryson gives an all-inclusive account of life in Australia, told in his usual jocular tone, and touches on everything from geography and climate to the pioneers who first dared to navigate the notoriously desolate landscape.


Rolf Potts’ tale of bravery and acceptance is loved by many. While on the surface a story of escaping the drudgery of daily life to go to new places, learn new languages and meet new people, the deeper meaning is to escape the comfort zone, accepting and loving each new experience, good or bad, with the goal of growth. A must-read for those feeling the effects of isolation!

Lost on Planet China

In a country as vast and populated as China, it’s easy to get lost! J. Maarten Troost seamlessly entwines travelogue with humour, while still depicting China’s ancient cultural heritage and social idiosyncrasies that often leave tourists baffled, yet somehow remain endearing.

China - ancient Chinese building on the waters edge

Blue Highways

William Least Heat-Moon takes his reader on a tour of the various aspects of the rural American countryside. Featuring memorable encounters with locals and vivid descriptions of the highways that weave between America’s small towns, you’ll feel as though you’re in the passenger seat alongside Heat-Moon until the closing page.

Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer (sound familiar?) now steps into his own exploring shoes in his personal account of the Mount Everest expedition in the mid-1990s. The trip turned into a disaster when a severe snowstorm combined with heightened competitiveness and resultant overlooking of safety procedures, finally culminating in the deaths of eight climbers. The story takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster and will have you itching to turn the page until the very end.

We hope these reads will help you pass the time in this climate of isolation and social distancing, and keep your travel bug alive and well for when the global situation reaches stability and resolution. For now, stay safe and be kind to one another!

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