10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

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When I was a kid, travel memoirs were my favorite kind of books to read. I yearned to explore, and lived vicariously through the author’s words, picturing myself in far away lands that I planned to visit when I was older. My fellow book lovers will understand the feeling; nothing is closer to a real life experience than discovering it through a book. To me, the long written texts became a spell that opened the portal to a world I may never have an opportunity to visit. Later, these travel stories become the first steps towards a life filled with exploration.

10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

One of my first long trips alone was to Tokyo, when I was a teenager. I remember that my suitcase was so heavy that I had a hard time carrying it because I’d stuffed it half full of books. For the past few years, instead of lugging a stack of books with me wherever I go, I’ve instead listened to audiobooks via the app on my phone. It’s such an improvement. Now, instead of having my head down, I can listen while watching the sights go by on the train, or while people-watching at a cafe.

Although I am compelled by habit to pour into any travel story with good reviews, when it comes to determining the ones I liked the most, I’ve become very picky. Here are ten travel stories I love, that will bring out your wanderer and make you feel like no place on earth is too far…

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

Given that I just wrote about why I don’t want to have kids, it seemed fitting to start with this audiobook. Kristin Newman spent her 20s and 30s dealing with the stresses of her high-pressure job as a television comedy writer, and the anxieties of watching most of her friends get married and start families while she wrestled with her own fear of both. Not ready to settle down and yet loathe to become a sad-sack single girl, Kristin instead started traveling the world, often alone, for a few months each year, falling madly in love with attractive locals who provided moments of the love she wanted without the cost of the freedom she needed (“vacationships”, as she calls them). She introduces listeners to the Israeli bartenders, Argentinian priests, Finnish poker players, and sexy Bedouins who helped her transform into “Kristin-Adjacent” on the road – a quieter, less judgmental, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home. Ultimately, Kristin’s adventures led her to a better understanding of what she was actually running away from at home and why every life hurdle seemed to put her on a transatlantic flight to the unknown. Equal parts laugh-out-loud storytelling; thoughtful, candid reflection; and wanderlust-inspiring travel tales, it’ll leave you scrambling to renew your passport.

Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

I have always felt that traveling alone as a woman falls in one of those categories of activities for which women have been discriminated and judged. In this inspiring memoir, Whitely, who braved all odds, even her 300 pounds and food addiction, takes us with her on her journey to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Her difficult but inspiring trek speaks to every woman who has struggled with her self-image or felt that food was controlling her life. Honest and unforgettable, Kara’s journey is one of intense passion, endurance, and self-acceptance. It is a must read for every woman who thinks that traveling is not their cup of tea.

10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine

If you’re interested in France, fashion, or simply the experience of being a young American abroad, or if you’ve have ever wanted to live in Paris, or meet Yves St. Laurent, then this is the audiobook for you. Authored by Kate Betts, the successful former editor of Vogue and then Harper’s Bazaar, this book gives listeners a unique insider view into the glitzy world of high fashion. In this wonderful memoir, she slides down the memory lane to give her readers an entertaining account of her struggles to fit in and get ahead in the most glamorous scene in Paris. Her descriptions of the French, their mores, their habits, their music, their food, their way of life, all ring true and take us right into the heart of the French world and society. But in my view the author is at her best in her introspective reflections on her coming of age. While there is romance in the book, the real focus is a young American woman finding herself in a foreign working world and coming to terms with her ambitions and her doubts.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

You may already know the plot of this audiobook because it’s been made into a Hollywood film starring Reese Witherspoon. In case you don’t, I’ll recap. With her marriage falling apart, and with no experience or training, driven only by blind will, Cheryl hiked more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. It’s a great read for my fellow nature lovers, or anyone struggling with personal transformation.

…and if you like Wild, you’ll love Tracks: One Woman’s Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback, an extraordinary tale of a woman’s journey through the difficult and dangerous Australian desert, while defending herself against deadly snakes and hostile men.

10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

A House in the Sky

Here is another inspiring book for my fellow independent ladies who love to travel. This audiobook managed to strike a chord with adventure-loving readers despite its murky storyline. A House in the Sky is about a backpacker, Amanda Lindhout, who started working as a television journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan following her travels to countries like India, Pakistan, and Syria. But her life took a sudden turn when she was kidnapped in Somalia on her fourth day in the country and kept in captivity for 460 days. She passed her days in confinement remembering the happy times when she traveled from one place to another.

She sheds light on a growing culture of young women who have the freedom and inclination to define their own, increasingly global, lifestyles, unfettered by traditional roles and conventions of past generations of women.

Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents

Spanning 15 years of travel, beginning when she is a sophomore in college, Wanderlust documents Elisabeth Eaves’s insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people and cultures. Young and independent, she crisscrosses five continents and chases the exotic, both in culture and in romance. In the jungles of Papua New Guinea, she loses herself—literally—to an Australian tour guide; in Cairo, she reconnects with her high school sweetheart… Wanderlust, however, is more than a chronological conquest of men and countries: at its core, it’s a journey of self-discovery. In the course of her travels, Eaves finds herself and the sense of home she’s been lacking since childhood—and she sheds light on a growing culture of young women who have the freedom and inclination to define their own, increasingly global, lifestyles, unfettered by traditional roles and conventions of past generations of women.

10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

Love With a Chance of Drowning

Opposites attract and then what do you do? Sail across the Pacific Ocean in a dilapidated 32-foot boat dubbed the Amazing Grace, of course. Naturally, you are terrified, but love for an adventurer pulls you forward and you risk life and limb for what? For him. Now, don’t get me wrong — this is a true love story and I enjoyed the vicarious thrills of being onboard during the good and bad times with Torre and Ivan. But what I loved about this audiobook is that this sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and always poignant memoir is set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Equal parts love story and travel memoir, this audiobook is not just a fodder for the wanderlust but also a source of inspiration for readers who are unable to overcome the deep-rooted phobias inside them.

Eat, Pray, Love

I fell in love with this best-selling travel memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert long before Julia Roberts portrayed her on the silver screen. Elizabeth is a typical American woman who has everything she could have asked for, but something is still missing. At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Her quest for the answers takes her to three wonderful places, Italy, India and Bali, where she comes face to face with three aspects of herself.

Tales of a Female Nomad

Rita Golden Gelman shows the world that age is just a number through her memoir Tales of a Female Nomad, in which she gives a clear account of her travels to different parts of the world, from Borneo to Nicaragua. Living in LA and on the verge of divorce, she left an elegant life to embark on this long and enlightening journey. She lived in a Zapotec village in Mexico, slept with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and resided everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. She realized that one must always have the courage to chase their dreams no matter the situation or the age. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.

10 Travel Memoirs That Will Activate Your Wanderlust

A Year In Provence

This is a classic that set the standard for many travel stories that came along later on. The uncomplicated and gentle lifestyle portrayed in the book is quite tempting and made me wonder if I’ll end up in their shoes later in life. The plot follows a couple in their 50s who moves to Provence with their two large dogs and experience unlikely encounters as they refurbish an old and dilapidated farmhouse. Throwing themselves into the life of this rural region, they master the local customs, gain partial understanding of their neighbors’ patois, overcome the frustrations of French bureaucracy, and learn to deal with workmen who operate on the idiosyncratic Provencal sense of time. In nimble prose, Mayle, a columnist for GQ, captures the humorous aspects of visits to vineyards, markets and goat races, and hunting for mushrooms.

It’s easy to get complacent in our lives and rationalize all the reasons why we’d rather stay near home than embark on an exotic journey. We often need to make deliberate efforts to allow the adventurer in us to surface. Some watch travel shows on television, some force themselves to go on weekend trips, while some listen to travel stories. Whichever your preference, traveling is one of life’s most enriching experiences. So lean back and enjoy these audiobooks. Then, go book a flight already!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

67 Comments

  1. My paris dream: an education in style, slang, and seduction in the great city on the ceine by kate betts has been my favorite ever since.I’ve listened to it,for like 5 times already!

  2. Nellie Solano

    I’d like to read all of these books! They seem pretty engaging. I’m interested with Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail because of Reese Witherspoon, because she’s my favorite actress.

  3. Olive Williams

    Can I read them all at the same time?! Haha! Kidding. But jokes aside, I like them all. I think it’s time for me to switch to audio books. I’ve been into books ever since I was old enough to read Dr Seuss.

  4. Sherry Manust

    A House in the Sky sounds appealing to me. I always travel alone and as a backpacker and I live alone in my apartment. I not really fond of books but I could start with this one.

  5. Kelly Gonzales

    I like the term Vacationships! I love the thought of an independent woman who appreciates being in a relationship with work and travel AND doing this by herself. So liberating…

  6. Gloria Lili

    I would still use books because you can’t take away the feeling of experiencing a book at the palm of your hands.

  7. Kimberly Holder

    This all sounds so amazing. I want to read them alllllll! This excites me to travel and to try audio books. I love reading books and it’s really hard to bring books when you travel especially when you own tons of them! It was hard to choose. So I prefer Audiobooks because they are so convenient and you can bring ALL of your books and have them in just a few taps on your phone.

  8. Eloisa Clay

    Books and a good camera are every traveler’s best friend. You can still dream while you’re on your dream vacation! Everything is perfect. Just capture the moment to save it forever and you’re all set.

  9. George Sumanta

    Funny — I’ve read most of these books 🙂 All of them are my favorite (LOL) since I’m addicted to traveling and audio books are my company when I travel alone (which you taught me, Hilary, so thanks for that!) These kinds of stories are what I want when I’m traveling because it eases my mind and makes my traveling more enjoyable. Also, it doesn’t add weight in my luggage every time I travel.

  10. Jeweli Prater

    I’m amazed by all of these books. They’re all interesting and perfect for traveling. Great list! You’ve inspired me to make audiobook lists for my blog, too!

  11. I’ve already read What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. It’s a must for all those independent women out there — especially you, Hilary! Based on your article about not having kids, I can see why you liked this one 😉 This is perfect for us. I really do recommend this book since we can all relate to this. 🙂

    • Osana Smith

      I read My Paris Dream. It’s every girl’s dream about Paris — as it says on the title! It’s all about Kate’s journey into the fashion world in Paris. Imagine getting all fashioned up at Paris and being in that glam world. I’m telling you, if you love fashion, this one is for you.

    • Betty Ramos

      I read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds and they are really good books! Readers won’t get disappointed with these. And I think I’ll try the other books that are listed here.

  12. Zerin Martin

    Kindle is also like real books. You have to read them. You have to use your eyes and you’ll get tired. It might even affect your vision if you read while riding a vehicle. So it’s better to have audio books. All you have to do is listen using your earphones, like what you do when you’re listening to music, but instead, you’re listening to your book.

    • Ruth Schaefer

      Yeah, I find audio books better than actual books because it can’t damage your eyes and it’s easy to listen while traveling.

  13. Luthi Sanders

    I want to read all of these! All have good stories and looks really inspiring to travel! Are there any travel books other than novel books? I’m looking for that because I’m a traveler and I want to go around the world.

  14. Kseniya Tomlin

    I’ve read Love with a chance of drowning! It’s really a good book. I’m in love with DeRoche and how her story went. This is absolutely a must read! I recommend this to everyone who wants to read an audio book.

  15. Jessie Fernande

    I like all these books since they’re about being independent and traveling. I live alone and was a backpacker for 3 years and I’ve been to 10 countries, which I’m really proud of. It was a learning experience for me.

  16. Nataliya Smith

    These are all good books! Can’t wait to read them! Seems like audiobooks are a good investment if you love to travel and you’re always on the go since these audio books are handy. Happy that these were created! Brilliant idea! Haha

    • Lana Wiliam

      I still prefer books over this because nothing compares the feeling of having a book in your hands and feeling every page and the smell of a newly bought book.

  17. Angelo Henderso

    Great list — I know that listening to these will inspire me to travel (and bring these with me on my phone!) I imagine myself riding a plane or a bus going to a different place and listening to these books with my earphones. Oh my gosh. #exciting!

  18. Juli Woods

    Wow. These are all amazing books! All are really interesting for those who are travelers by work and by heart. And not to forget that audio books are so convenient. I love it!

  19. Lusi Martin

    What other books can you suggest? I’d like to hear romance stories. I love that genre. But I’ll be trying A House in the Sky in the Audio Book. I’m curious what the narration will be like. I’ve never tried Audible before!

  20. Honey Smith

    I used to always bring books with me everytime I leave the house. But then I discovered (because of you!!) how beneficial it is to have audiobooks instead. Your eyes won’t get tired by reading books while on the road. And won’t ruin your vision!

  21. Blom Marcus

    As a book lover, I’m really not fond of Kindle. But you’re convincing me that audio books are worth a try. Bringing books while traveling is really hassle. As it also adds to the weight of the luggage especially when you really want to bring thick books! Audio books seem really convenient.

  22. Jonathon Swift

    Are audiobooks that addictive? I always watch my wife listening to them, and I can see that she feels every word. Once, I saw her crying, and I asked her why and she just stared at me, and I realized that it was the audiobook.

  23. Cries Moris

    Oh, shoot! I won’t let my girlfriend read this because she will buy all of these, and she won’t talk to me anymore while she’s listening to it. Hahaha!

  24. Anila William

    I’m excited to listen to all of them!! My bestie would probably purchase them all too, especially the one that is about Paris. She super loves Paris, and it’s her dream to go there.

  25. Quin Meri

    Thanks, Hilary! You’re the best. Please give us more audiobooks!

    • Nancy Smith

      Yes, please!! More audiobooks about traveling!!!

  26. Henriett Bond

    I like the idea of listening to audiobooks. I’ll refer these audiobooks to my girlfriend because I want her to do something else than to hang out with her toxic friends when she’s bored.

  27. Jenifer Jeni

    All of them are inspiring and worth reading. Aside from that, it’s more convenient that bringing a book wherever you go.

  28. Artur Piterson

    Perfect! I’m going home late tomorrow, and I know how to make my wife happy. I’ll just let her choose her preferred audiobook, and purchase it using my card. Olah!

  29. Brett Lee

    This article ‘s title doesn’t lie. I just finished reading it, and oh, I want to go to Paris right now. I’ll ask my girlfriend if she wants to come with me, or I’ll travel alone. Lol. I guess she will say yes to my offer. Hahaha! 😂

    • Eloise Ferris

      I do want to travel too, as in now. I guess I’ll look for travel promos, and I will book it.

  30. Genie Mackenzie

    Exciting, dramatic and fun… Yeah, I have mixed emotions when it comes to this topic — travel! But I’d rather read travel articles than listen to them. I’m much of a pictographic learner. I’d love to see photos of travel destinations than just listen to author’s narratives.

  31. Mikaela Campbell

    Your articles do a great job of entertaining me while challenging me to push myself, try and conquer my fears! Thanks for the list, Urbanette!

  32. Maddi Lemmon

    I think these stories are lovely and inspiring but not something that could change my life. Some sort of pick-me-up audiobooks. I might be wrong though…

  33. Ofelia Ruley

    One of a kind travel destinations… challenging (and a bit scary experience)… new love… 🤔🤔👍🤔🤔

  34. Doreen Morales

    I listened to two of the titles you mentioned: “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” and “Love With a Chance of Drowning.” Fantastic job, Audible! These memoirs are entertaining, relaxing and perfect! I find it fulfilling to listen to someone else’s wonderful, scary, funny and one of a kind experiences.

  35. Hachi Komatsu

    I love these words from Kristin Newman: “When you’re traveling alone, you¿re desperate for company. And the secret about traveling alone is that you’re alone for about a minute.”

  36. Jodi Thil

    I’m always on the lookout for new travel articles from Urbanette. I wonder, have you ever considered creating “audiobooks” for your travel memoir?!

  37. Candis Melton

    My boyfriend is asking me what do I want to receive on my birthday, and you just gave me an idea, Urbanette. 😉 I will ensure that I will get all of these audiobooks. I don’t need a fancy dinner date on my birthday, all I want is this. 😌

  38. WAIT!!! SERIOUSLY??? OMG!! I WANT THE AUDIOBOOK MY DREAM PARIS!!! OMG!!! I BADLY WANT THAT!! NOW I CAN FINALLY PURCHASE ONE. OMG THANK YOU, URBANETTE!!!

  39. Carol Joyner

    It’s hard to determine which one is my favorite audiobook because all of them are amazing.

  40. Carrie Bleau

    Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds is an inspiring audiobook. This audiobook is perfect for men and women who suffer from depression because they can’t accept themselves.

  41. Jack Tucket

    They say that reading books are just for women, but I disagree to that. If a woman can do what men can do, men can also do what women can do, right?

  42. Yeah! I feel you, Hilary. Reading books gives me an idea on what should I imagine! I remember myself as Cinderella or other Disney Princesses. Hahaha, how funny is that, right?

  43. Evelyn Harris

    My passion in traveling also started when I was a child. I imagined myself going to castles, and living far away from people. Until now, I imagine myself living far away, and living far away from toxic people.

  44. Luisa Rodriguez

    A house in the sky, Wanderlust, and Paris dream caught my attention. I would love to listen to them while I’m traveling!!!

    • Deanna Woods

      That’s my top three too. Hihi

  45. Ani Hoker

    So the Love With a Chance of Drowning is a love story, and at the same time about traveling? Yay! Romance, and traveling in one book, how exciting is this, right?

  46. Katherine Donnelly

    What I love about listening to audiobooks is that it let you imagine the scenes in the book. You are like a cartoonist, but you’re not using a pen, or tablet, instead, you are using your brain to make scenarios for real.

  47. Robert Patel

    Oh yes, I’ve heard about audiobooks. My girlfriend listens to them before we go to bed. I’m not into reading books, and so as my girlfriend, that’s why she preferred listening to audiobooks.

  48. Britni Baynes

    I want to listen to these audiobooks!!!!! I’m planning to travel alone in Sout Korea because I got hooked in their Korean Dramas Lol. My friends don’t want to go to Korea, but I want to!!!

  49. I still prefer reading a real book because I can feel the author by reading it there. Although listening to it can also give life to the book, but I don’t know, having the real book for me, is much better.

  50. Lancy Stanford

    The what I was doing, while you were breeding audiobook, is interesting. I think I can relate to this one because I can feel the pressure knowing that my family, and friends in my age are already getting married, or having babies. I don’t want to settle for now, but you know, there’s something in your heart that hurt even though it is you will not to do it.

  51. Marina Josef

    I can imagine you with your books. Lol. Seriously? HAHA! I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine myself bringing books on my travels. It’s a hassle for me, and we should thank the technology for giving us, PDF, and audiobooks.

  52. Marina Bozek

    I envy you, Hilary. When I was a teenager, I used to travel with my friends with their pick-ups, and we just drove around the USA. I remember when we went to Canada for a long drive, and I was elated because that was the first time I went somewhere far, but you traveled to Tokyo Japan when you were a teenager? WOW!

  53. Paul Daiz

    My wife would love this audiobook. Her past time is listening to audiobooks, whenever she’s at home, she always listens to them using our speaker. She will be happy if I give it to her as my birthday gift. She always wanted to travel, but she’s too busy in her career, and I want her to fulfill her dreams as a traveler.

    • Lisa Bryson

      Oh, your wife is so lucky to have you as her husband. She will love that, I swear.

  54. Ryan Caraballo

    Damn it! It’s hard to choose which one should I buy first because all of them are fascinating. Can you help me? Any suggestion which one is the best?

  55. This article made me want to travel alone. The farthest place that I’ve been was in Nebraska when I visited my grandmother. HAHAHHA

  56. Jesse Wyss

    I find My Paris Dream interesting. I always dream of living in Paris, although I already went there years ago. My experience in visiting Paris is superb, but I know that living there has more to offer.

    • Brittany West

      Luck you’ve been to Paris because I’ve never been there.

  57. Yuliya Bruce

    I guess I’ll be renewing my passport, and start looking for promos. You made me crave for new places, hahaha! How can I resist the call of my soul? I never tried traveling alone, and I guess I’ll give it a shot now. Do you have any suggestion or tips for new travelers like me? I’ll download audiobooks to make it more fun.

  58. Alena Martin

    You bring books in your travels, lol. Audiobooks are blessings for people like you. You won’t have to bring books on your travels now, just ensure that you have enough battery or bring power banks. Lol

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