Using Books as Travel Inspiration

Using Books as Travel Inspiration

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Today’s post comes to you from my friend and fellow travel blogger, Gillian. We both enjoy exploring new places, and we have similar travel goals. In a recent conversation, I asked her, what inspires you to visit a place?

For me it’s the stories from that place. True stories, fictionalized stories, historical stories, or food stories; they all help me learn about a region and inspire me to see it for myself.

In fact, the first thing I do when I’m thinking about travelling somewhere is not grab a guide book! Yes, the classic travel guides are a necessary part of travel planning but before I need to find a place to stay, a local eatery, or the out-of-the-way must sees, I need to be inspired!

Novels for Travel Inspiration

I reach for novels first. I’m looking for stories set in towns and cities, neighbourhoods and streets, schools and workplaces. Stories about regular people, mysteries, romance novels, popular fiction and comedy. They all help me learn about the culture of a place by seeing how characters live, and interact with each other. I often seek out those stories written by the famous authors of a region – if the locals like the writing then that must mean something!

Travelogues and Memoirs for Travel Inspiration

books as travel inspirationNext up? Travelogues. There are tons of them out there now; true life stories of people who have travelled through the places I’m considering. Some are serious and philanthropic, others are funny accounts of misadventures, and even more and just taking the reader along on a jaunt through a place. I can learn discover areas of a country that I may never have considered, find transportation methods and routes, and learn from other travellers mistakes and foibles!

Cookbooks for Travel Inspiration

Nothing inspires me more than the food of a place! Cookbooks these days are more than simple collections of recipes; they often are punctuated by regional stories about the history of the dish or the ingredients and can really provide a window into a place. I try out recipes and imagine myself enjoying them in the places that they come from.

Reading about a place, in many different forms, is the best way to see yourself in a place. Learning about the people, the culture, the history, and the food extends the life of your trip as it can start so far ahead of even booking your ticket!

About the author: Gillian is a traveller, and serial expat, currently based in Canada but always planning the next exciting journey. She enjoys good beer, cycling, and traveling. You can read more about her and her adventures at

Check out some of my favorite travel books:

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  1. Agness

    This is a very interesting post. Although I am not the biggest fans of books (I mainly write when being on the road) there are few books I really enjoyed reading. One of them is Eat, Pray, Love, truly amazing! Thanks for a nice reading list Gillian. I might start reading soon when I’m back in Europe 🙂

  2. Renuka

    Reading does inspire a traveler – I am reading ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ which is about London and Paris – two of the most coveted cities. It takes me back in time when the atmosphere was different, people were different, culture, language, lifestyle were something that consider classic now! I would love to visit London and see it from Charles Dicken’s eyes!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Renuka! I really enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities too, and I can see how reading that would make you want to visit London. I think there’s even a Charles Dickens tour you can take there.

  3. Maria

    Travel inspiration from books is fantastic. Peter Hessler has done it for me time and time again and recently Lisa Egle with her book, Magic Carpet Seduction – they both offer wonderful stories from Asia… and beyond. Really gets my imagination and wanderlust flowing. Thanks Gillian and Ali!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Maria! I’ve never heard of Peter Hessler, might have to look him up. I *love* travel books!

  4. William S.

    Wow! That’s great! Because reading books about travelling will really inspire those who really want to travel! Thanks for posting!

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