Travel books by women can help us escape to anywhere in the world at any point in time. Contributing writer Lauren Cortese shares some top travel narratives for women who love to travel.
While we all await the chance to travel again, it’s important to stay motivated and excited for future travels to come. For me, I turn to books in all times of stress, but in particular right now as an escape to find some inspiration.
One of my favorite parts of travel is experiencing a lifestyle outside of my own for a short time.
Luckily, there are many wonderful women travel writers whose stories have helped me do this right from my own couch.
These amazing travel books by women will inspire your global-mindedness. Their stories will help you discover different places through their eyes from the comfort and safety of home.
7 Top Travel Books by Women
Travel Books for Women to Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes
Bears in the Streets, Lisa Dickey
For a memoir with equal parts humor, sentimentality, and adventure, look no further than Lisa Dickey’s Bears in the Streets.
In 1995, while working as a photojournalist, Dickey went on a cross-country train journey through Russia. She returned ten years later to follow the same itinerary and meet the same people to see how things had changed. Ten years after that, Dickey completed the same journey for the third time.
Her memoir provides a detailed account of this expansive, diverse nation by showing us how Russia changed over twenty years.
The locals that welcome Dickey into their lives remind us that travel is more than seeing a new place.
We travel to experience another culture and to forge bonds of friendship with those we meet along the way.
Check out these virtual travel events to stay connected to your global sisterhood
Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue
Not strictly a travel narrative, Imbolo Mbue’s novel Behold the Dreamers tells the story of a family with one-way tickets when they immigrate to the United States.
The Jonga family arrive in New York City from their home country of Cameroon. They struggle to adapt to the cultural differences and class disparities of their new home, but quickly learn to embrace the unfamiliar surroundings.
When the 2008 financial crisis hits, they are forced to reckon with identity and what it means for them to belong somewhere in the world.
Mbue’s novel will remind you that — no matter how far we are from home — we carry ourselves and our values with us everywhere we go.
Women Travel Writers Who Transport You in Place & Time
The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe
As a Francophile and Paris obsessive, this is one of my favorite books I’ve read about the city.
Since we can’t stroll the wide boulevards of Paris or escape to the gardens of Giverny, Sue Roe’s historical account of impressionist painters is the next best thing.
Her biographies of Manet, Monet, and Degas, among others, are full of scandal, struggle, and romps around the City of Lights.
She also gives significant attention to leading female impressionists; Marie Cassatt and Berthe Morisot were pioneers in the art scene disrupting the status quo.
Once you finish this illustrative narrative, you’ll be inspired to check out an online art museum tour. Or pick up some paint and put your own artistic skills to the test.
Feeling inspired? Read our travel guides to explore!
Conquistadora, Esmeralda Santiago
If you’re dreaming of island life, Esmeralda Santiago will take you to Puerto Rico in this lively historical novel.
The story begins in the mid-19th century following Ana, a young Spanish woman from a prominent family, as she journeys to her long-dreamed-of land: Puerto Rico.
Santiago paints beautiful pictures of the island. Through Ana’s eyes, we explore and learn about Puerto Rico alongside our protagonist.
At the forefront of this idyllic scenery, queer romance and political strife keep Ana (and readers) on their toes during this engaging narrative.
My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David-Néel
I was first introduced to Alexandra David-Néel back in college in a travel writing course. Her story changed the game of how I thought about women adventurers.
Her memoir will fill your need for wanderlust and old school adventure as you read about her inspiring expedition to Tibet.
David-Néel was a Belgian-French explorer who traversed the border into the forbidden district of Lhasa at the beginning of the 20th century. Her memoir recounts nights spent in caves, freezing in the mountains, and crossing cultural boundaries to work with locals.
In short, this story made me grateful for the convenience of a Hudson Newsstand and for all the bad-ass women explorers who paved the way for my own travels. I’m sure it will offer you the same inspiration.
Travel Books for Solving a Mystery While on Vacation
The People in the Trees, Hanya Yanagihara
(Trigger warning: sexual abuse)
Full disclosure: I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know (whether they were looking for a book to read or not) since reading it in 2017.
Hanya Yanagihara’s prose transports you to another world in her novel The People in the Trees.
In the 1950s, young American Dr. Norton Perina joins a team of anthropologists on an expedition to a previously unexplored island in the South Pacific.
In the present day, Dr. Perina has been accused of heinous crimes. We must decide if the jaunty young explorer we knew is capable of acting in such monstrous ways.
Yanagihara manages to tackle the heavy themes of colonialism, medical ethics, and race, all while providing beautiful renderings of a magical island paradise.
This makes for a thoughtful work that will have you engrossed from the moment you start reading.
Looking for a travel book club for women? Join Wanderful to connect with like-minded women from around the world!
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
If you haven’t read this classic mystery from Agatha Christie, now is the perfect time.
We follow Christie’s famed detective Hercule Poirot on a westbound train departing from Istanbul. He is soon called upon to solve a strange murder in one of the train cars.
Full of intrigue, a comical cast of characters, and old-world glamour, this campy mystery is the perfect read for an entertaining escape.
What other travel books by women have we missed? Let us know!
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