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Get Your Next Destination Inspo With These 10 Best Travel Books Of 2019

By Kelsey Marie

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This year, many of us got our travel inspo from Instagram, scrolling for hours through our feeds and bookmarking places that seem ideal. If you’ve been looking for a new way to find travel inspiration, opening a book may be a pleasant surprise. 

2019 was definitely a good year for travel authors with releases exposing its readers to amazing journeys and inspirational territories. 

Here are the top travel books of 2019, according to Smithsonian

You never know, you may find your next destination in the pages of these great reads. 

Airline Maps: A Century of Art and Design

Writers Mark Ovenden and Maxwell Roberts collaborated on sharing airline maps with their readers. Commercial air travel began in the early 20th centuries and as a result, airlines designed illustrated airline maps to lure travelers into flying with them. 

The maps were colorful and showed the different destinations the airlines flew to. Over the past century, almost every airline designed its own airline map. 

Ovenden and Roberts did extensive research at libraries and archives to compile a collection of airline maps showcasing every design style. In this book, you can find airline maps showcasing the history of design ranging from Art Nouveau to avant-garde. 

Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure

Journalist Monisha Rajesh and her fiancé, head out on an epic journey of 45,000 miles around the world. They traveled around the globe on 80 train rides within a span of seven months.

Rajesh and her bae began their journey in western Europe and explored destinations such as Russia, North Korea, Mongolia, Canada, Kazakhstan and more. 

In the book, she documents the stories and relationships she built on her travels and shares that “Trains…take the traveler into the nooks and crannies of a country and into the heart of its people.”

Fierce Beauty: Storms of the Great Plains

Photographer Eric Meola captures storms in such a beautiful way, enticing you to dive deeper into this book. Meola shares over 100 stunning photos of lighting, dust storms, tornados and other types of storms. 

Meola was once a storm chaser and captured Bruce Springsteen in the 70s for his cover of the album The Promise. In the photo, Springsteen was standing under the clouds of a storm which eventually inspired Meola to publish this book. 

Great Cities Through Travelers’ Eyes

Peter Furtado shares 38 of the most interesting destinations in the world, through the eyes of various travelers. Discover the way various explorers felt about certain places — Beijing, Cairo, Rome…etc. — while becoming inspired to explore somewhere new. 

Literary Places

Sarah Baxter is a travel journalist who shares her explorations of over 23 literary locations around the world. She takes popular novels and brings her own insight into the destinations mentioned. 

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Billed as an “Inspired Traveller’s Guide” Literary Places connects locations described in books with the location itself. Not exactly a travel book, Literary Places is more a book that highlights certain descriptive text that seem to make the story’s backdrop come alive. A book that is nice to look through (one reviewer compared it to a “coffee table book” but at 6 by 9 inches, it doesn’t really qualify as such). It is always interesting to see an artist's depiction of places you’ve been, either in real life, or with the help of a good story. The 25 books noted here are chosen for their literary depictions. Stories in which the locations become an integral part of the tale and places come alive for the reader due the the incredible talent of the author. These diverse locations span the globe from Monroeville, Alabama in “Two Kill a Mockingbird” to Kabul, Afghanistan in “The Kite Runner” to Cartagena, Columbia in “Love in the Time of Cholera”. Colorful drawings by artist/illustrator Amy Grimes illustrate the text. Here again, I was disappointed. But, art is art, and each person’s taste is different. The 2 dimensional drawings in the book did not evoke the scenes that the passages from the books did. Rather, I found the drawings (are they digital?) to be colorful but flat (no pun intended) and did not make feel much of anything. One or 2 if this art style May have been fine, but an entire book. No thank you But, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a persons who travels regularly to diverse destinations around the world I was looking for more from Literary Places. Interesting as it is to read the descriptive passages from the various stories, the book was a disappointment. If you’re looking for a “travel book” this is not it. ⭐️⭐️ For more book reviews follow me on Instagram at #emptynestreader and on Goodreads #literaryplaces #inspiredtravellersguide #sarahbaxter #amygrimes #bookstagramalabama #bookstagrammichigan #100aday #realalittlelearnalittlelivealittle

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Mud and Stars: Travels in Rusha with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

Sara Wheeler discovers the areas of Russia that aren’t talked about in the media in this book. She uses writers such as Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Gogol, and Ivan Turgenev to guide her through Russia through their words. 

Wheeler gets to know locals, learns to speak their language and even cooks traditional meals — teaching us that Russia is much more than what is shown in news headlines. 

Travel Anywhere (And Avoid Being a Tourist)

This book is ideal for those of us who like to live like a local when traveling to new destinations. Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati are founders of a travel website, Fathom and come together to share their knowledge and wisdom in this book. 

The book provides you with tips on being an ethical traveler as well as a list of chefs in various places around the world and their personal experiences while traveling. 

Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet

If you’ve ever wondered what lies beneath us, this book is for you. Will Hunt became curious about this and as a teenager, he discovered an abandoned train tunnel under his home in Rhode Island. 

Now that he’s an adult, his curiosity is still present and has led him to discover abandoned caves, subway stations, mines, tubes and more. 

He shares his findings in this book and its definitely a page-turner!

Underland: A Deep Time Journey

This book was recently named one of the 100 Best Books of the 21st Century by The Guardian. Robert Macfarlane explores the underworlds “through myth, literature, memory and the land itself.”

Macfarlane travels through history, combining his experience with artists, historians, and other explorers. 

Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World

M.R. O’Connor is an author and journalist who explores the various ways humans have traveled the earth throughout history. 

O’Connor shares the way human’s brains work as well as migration patterns of species on land and at sea. 

She uses her discussions with anthropologists, neuroscientists, biologists, and other experts to write a compelling story of how humans have been navigating the earth. 

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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