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Travel Books that Transport Us

As students of life and naturally-curious explorers, many within our Smartie tribe are voracious readers of travel books.

And while our vacation plans lie closer to home this year, we continue to dream of faraway adventures through our collection of #smartflyertakemeto moments. With trends showing more travelers booking their bucket list trips for 2021 and 2022 now, it’s never too early to start planning! With that in mind, the travel books in this roundup were selected by our team as a bridge empowering you to envision yourself in a destination through the pages of a book as we work to plan the trip that will truly transport you there.

Finally, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to snag these reads for yourself through a link over to Bookshop, a socially-conscious organization that funnels 75% of their profits to support local, independent bookstores. This collection of recommendations is just the tip of the iceberg, so we’ll continue to share travel books we love in the months ahead; but in the meantime, if there are some of your top picks that we missed, don’t hesitate to slide into our DMs on Instagram to share!

#smartflyertakemeto | Greece

The Island, Victoria Hislop – Recommended by Liana Merriman

“Last summer, en route to Greece, I read Victoria Hislop’s The Island, a fictional account of one family’s ties to Crete – and specifically to Spinalonga – an island off the coast of Plaka and the resort town of Elounda. Spinalonga was previously a Venetian fortress, an Ottoman port and most recently a leper colony until 1957. Today, you can boat over and tour the islands’ ruins, an experience which was made so much more fun for me having just finished the book the day before I arrived!”

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On my @thesmartflyer profile page, it asks what my favorite travel tip is and, because I’m a consummate bookworm, my advice is to read a great book that takes place in the destination you are about to visit. This tip couldn’t be more appropriate than when visiting Crete and the island of Spinalonga! This history-rich island, just off the coast of Plaka and near the resort town of Elounda, was previously a Venetian fortress, an Ottoman port, and most recently a leper colony until 1957. If you are heading to this area, try and read Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island, a fictional account of a family and its ties to Crete, Plaka and Spinalonga. I promise it will bring your visit to life! And of course the best views of the island are courtesy of @bluepalaceresort, where you can gaze over to Spinalonga from nearly every room!

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Purchase The Island on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | Coastal California

Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Joan Didion – Recommended by Rebecca Alesia

“Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem is more than just a collection of essays by one of the most prolific female writers in U.S. history – it’s really a collage and a portrait of California in the 1960s and 1970s. Slices of life from Haight Ashbury, finding peace amongst the violent history of Alcatraz, the romance inherent in Hollywood’s movie star culture, and the importance of non-violence. Her reflections and lyrical descriptions of days past are the absolute perfect accompaniment to the time-honored tradition of driving Pacific Coast Highway and enjoying the best of the Golden State. Bonus points: download the Audible edition narrated by Diane Keaton and just try not to overdose on feelings of nostalgia for a time you never lived through.”

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what I would give to rewind the year and be back on vacation 😭 Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem was the perfect book for my trip to SF back in February especially since I found myself imagining the places I was visiting the way she described them in the 70s — #bibliophile #joandidion #slouchingtowardsbethlehem #tbt #sanfrancisco #goldengatebridge #vacationreads #booksbooksbooks #ilovebooks #nonfiction #bookish #igreads #booksofig #travelingbookishposts #travelgram

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Purchase Slouching Toward Bethlehem on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | Paris

The Paris Wife, Paula McClain – Recommended by Lauren Grubbs

“I read The Paris Wife years ago and still remember the vivid story that transported me back in time to Paris in the 1920s. The book tells the remarkable story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, as they move to Paris and become the golden couple amongst their circle of friends, all poets, authors, and artists like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Reading this story will instantly transport you to the glittering post-war Paris where you’ll feel like you’re right there with the characters participating in all the extravagance and debauchery.”

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“It gave me a sharp kind of sadness to think that no matter how much I loved him and tried to put him back together again, he might stay broken forever.” —Paula McLain, The Paris Wife . This one took me through the 1920s, my favorite era. It was an enjoyable stroll through love, betrayal and Paris. . . . . . . . #thepariswife #paulamclain #ballantinebooks #randomhouse #homegoods #tea #uggslippers #bestseller #nytbestseller #historicalfiction #booksofinstagram #photooftheday #lifestyle #homedecor #bookish #bookworm #readinglist #bookstagram #booklover #amreading #goodreads #bookflatlay #totalbooknerd #bookphotography #epicreads #bibliophile #igreads #bookfeaturepage #mybookfeatures #bookishfeatures

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Purchase The Paris Wife on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | USA Roadtrip

On The Road, Jack Kerouac – Recommended by Annie Chambers

“My husband just read my beat-up copy of On the Road on a recent trip to Palm Springs and it took me back to when I originally listened to the book at 19. My best friend and I drove across the country to work in the national parks; we started in Glacier National Park in Montana and ended in Jackson, Wyoming. This book was the ideal story to accompany our journey road tripping across America. Granted, we weren’t exactly beatniks, but the idea of the open road and meeting characters along the way definitely hit home for us.”

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Purchase On the Road on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | Eastern Europe

The Accidental Empress, Allison Pataki – Recommended by Lucy Williams

“Allison Pataki’s historical fiction book, The Accidental Empress is a royal family love story steeped with rich period details told against the glittering backdrop of the Hapsburg Court. The reader travels with Empress Sisi from her humble home in Bavaria to the Imperial court of Vienna and into Hungary and the hills of Buda. The story of love, betrayal, and political chaos will keep the pages turning and the grand landscapes of Vienna’s palaces and the lush countryside of Budapest will have you dreaming of a trip to the dissolved but not forgotten Austro-Hungarian empire.”

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That time I dressed up as a duchess for the Accidental Empress 📚photoshoot. The sequel Sisi launched this week.@allisonpataki you have done it again! Loved the continuation of Empress Elizabeth's story. #tbt

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Purchase The Accidental Empress on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | New York City

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles – Recommended by Didi Johnson

“Amor Towles is a master and Rules of Civility is a glimpse in the life of a single woman in NYC, circa 1938. Eliciting a list of Manhattan Must-Do’s, I was transported to the 21 Club, St Pats Cathedral, The Adirondacks and Long Island. A thoroughly enjoyable read!”

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*Rules Of Civility * by Amor Towels ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A book about a girl in her mid-twenties, trying to navigate a world that poses more than its fair bit of challenges, while maintaining her integrity and joy of life? I couldn't relate more! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A few love triangles here and there, the magic of the jazz world and challenging jobs are more of what makes this book great. It might portray life in the late 30s in New York, but somehow it felt timeless to me. I found myself in many of Katey's (the main character) internal monologues and struggles. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The book is centered around the power of chance encounters and how they tend to mould our life experience. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I read this quite a while ago, so while the specific details might escape me now, I thought I'd share what stayed with me upon reading this book 😊. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This should be a lesson for me to write reviews as soon as I finish a book as opposed to over a year later 🙄 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ That aside, I'm curious to hear if anyone had a similar experience reading it!

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Purchase Rules of Civility on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | Scotland

Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon – Recommended by Alexandra Stockton

“This series will have you captivated by Jamie and Claire’s love story and Gabaldon’s detailed descriptions of the Scotland landscape. Luckily, you don’t have to travel back in time to experience the historic locations that inspired the books! Inverness, Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, the Scottish Highlands, and the isles of Skye and Lewis can all be visited today. The standing stones of Craigh an Dun are fictional, but you can learn about real ancient standing-stones that dot the Scottish countryside. I can’t promise a steamy love affair with a Highlands warrior on your trip, but I know you’ll be enchanted by the history and beauty of Scotland. Until your visit, you’ll have eight books to keep you busy. As a bonus, the author is currently working on the ninth in the series.”

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“No, I think it is true that some stories simply require a greater space in which to be told.” ―Voyager, Diana Gabaldon • • 𝖖𝖔𝖙𝖉: what is your favorite book or series that you have read this year? For me, it is the Outlander books. They are taking me a long time to read, but if I am being honest, I am intentionally reading them slowly to savor them for as long as possible. & I am a multi-book-reader; I keep Gabaldon by my bed, reading a chapter or two here and there, filling my goodreads with quick audiobooks and ARC’s. I like most of the books I read; I don’t waste my time on books I’m not enjoying and have no shame in DNF-ing, so it is hard to choose just one that I have liked best this year. But Outlander has really captured my heart 💚 • • #dianagabaldon #outlanderbooks #allthebooksjune20 #bookstababesjune20 #bookscoasttocoastjune2 #bookishlovegroup #bookishcoven #booknerdsandfriends #bookish #bookstagram #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookquotes #bookishlovegroup #bookcommunity #bookreadhappyhour #booklover #booktography #bookaesthetic #creativebookstagram #currentlyreading #booknerdsandfriends #cozyascanbee #gothandliterature #readersofinstagram #readmore

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Purchase Outlander boxed set on Bookshop.org

#smartflyertakemeto | everywhere

You Shall Know Our Velocity!, Dave Eggers – Recommended by Laura Epstein

“Dave Eggers’ book You Shall Know Our Velocity! was such an inspirational story for me to read in my college years. I imagined myself on a similar around-the-world trip curious about where I would go and what I would do in the main characters’ shoes. Will has recently received an unexpected (and unwanted) sum of money. He and his friend, Jack, decide to travel the world together following the recent loss of their mutual friend with the purpose of giving away the money along the way. It’s a really fantastic travelogue, but also addresses philosophical differences of how money is valued globally, while also sending Jack and Will on an emotional journey of personal healing.”

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Dave Eggers, You Shall Know Our Velocity! . . . . . . #DaveEggers #YouShallKnowOurVelocity #quotes #qotd #quoteoftheday #quote #quotesoftheday #quotestagram #literature #words #read #reader #reading #igreads #write #writing #book #booklover #bookstagram #bookaholic #bookaddict #bookquotes #bookquote #bookworm #booknerd #bookish #instabooks #instabook #bibliophile

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Purchase You Shall Know Our Velocity! on Bookshop.org

To begin chatting about travel books turned destination inspiration, contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor.

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