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!”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”


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!”

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.”

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.”

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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