• Zoe

Books To Help Your COVID-19 Travel Blues

With the international COVID-19 pandemic taking over our lives for the last 9 months and counting, so many of us have missed trips we had planned and not been able to make any new travel plans.

Enjoying adventures closer to home- St Michael's Mount, Cornwall.

There's been plenty more serious things to worry about, but it's still safe to say not being able to travel has sucked!

As well as listening to my favourite new travel podcast, I've found travel books are a great way to beat the Coronavirus Travel Blues!

Travelling in your mind is almost as good as the real thing, right?

Plus it's always great to find inspiration for new travel destinations.

So here's a list of some of my favourite books for some travel escapism!

  1. Prisoners Of Geography

This book makes the world make sense!

It turns out almost everything a country does can be explained by its geography- who knew!

It's not a typical travel book in the sense that it doesn't follow someone's adventures, but it explores the history, politics and cultures of many countries in a way that made me want to visit every single one.

The book taught me so much about the USSR, the complicated relations in the middle east, how the USA became a superpower, the creation of North Korea, the colonisation of Africa and much more!

It's in an easy to read style, with each section taking an area of the world and starting from scratch- great if you don't already know much about geopolitics (which I didn't).

I loved this book so much I read it in two days whilst working full time!

2. The Penguin Lessons

This fiction book is based on the true experience of a young teacher rescuing a Uruguayan Penguin and their South American adventures together.

It's a heartwarming story, with some political background about Juan Peron the Argentinian President, and general life in Argentina.

It definitely inspired me to add Argentinia and Uruguay to my travel destinations list, and provided me some happiness and comedy (which is currently very much needed!).

3. The Illustrated Virago Book Of Women Travellers

This awesome book talks about the adventures of nearly 50 women over a period of 300 years.

These women, with different reasons for travelling, from different countries and backgrounds, break with society's norms and gender stereotypes to explore the world on their own terms. How inspirational!

The book has many short stories, making it easy to dip into, and beautiful illustrations of the women's adventures.

A must-read for female travellers!

4. Step By Step

I bloody love Simon Reeve.

His BBC travel documentaries are amazing, and I love how he explores the "light and shade" of every destination- nowhere is all good or all bad!

I even saw one of his live talks, where he gave some awesome advice to just go out there and break your own travel boundaries, even if you're scared!

This book is split into two halves.

The first talks about his personal struggles with mental illness, coming from a working-class background, and how he got into the ultra-competitive world of travel journalism.

The second half is about some of his many adventures around the world filming his shows.

My favourite bit is about "places that don't exist"; these countries around the world aren't formally recognised but continue regardless. I'd never heard of most of them before, despite lots of them being in Europe, but almost all are now on my travel list!

An inspirational book, with many turbulent and original travel locations!

5. Shantaram

What's not to love about the partly-true adventures of an ex-heroin addict living in Bombay, India after his escape from an Australian maximum-security prison?!

Even better, the author is literally the convict himself, whose book was published after he returned to Australia to serve the remainder of his time!

I'm going to be honest, I haven't actually finished it yet (it's nearly 1000 pages long!), but it's an engaging book written in quite an original spiritual style.

His descriptions of the city and Indian life made me really want to visit!

It's clear to see why this is a universally-loved travel book, and a backpacker favourite.

6. Adventures Of A Young Naturalist

Yes I love animals. Yes I love David Attenborough (who doesn't?).

This book is awesome.

David writes about his adventures all around the world collecting new animals for the London Zoo, whilst filming documentary material of many previously-unseen animals.

Set in the 1950s and 60s, the world is a different place. Some of the locations are almost impossible to get to!

Charter a tiny local fishing boat to take him to a remote Indonesia island where the legendary Komodo dragon lives? David will do it!

Sleeping on the floor of a communal village hut in the middle of the unchartered rainforest, with hundreds of locals singing through the night? No big deal for David.

Although some of the methods of collecting animals and opinions are a bit outdated, his love and respect for animals really shine through.

An adventure from start to finish, with major inspiration for future travel destinations; if only I could travel back in time to see them in the unspoiled and daring way he did!

Oh, and by the way, there's a sequel!

7. Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth- Rough Guide

A guidebook with a twist.

This informative book is organised by country and area of the world.

It features an imaginative variety of activities, sights, places of interest, locations, and more- many that you would never think of!

From snorkelling under ice through a rift in the earth's tectonic plates, to sleeping overnight in an ex-soviet prison, to a sobering tour of an ex-slave castle, this book is packed full of unique ideas for you to consider.

Whether you are looking for inspiration for new destinations, things to do for an upcoming trip, or just bored and interested in reading about some of the most interesting experiences in the world, this book is for you.

And that's it, my list of travel books to help you through the pandemic! I hope you enjoy them, and they offer some respite in these strange times we live in.

In the words of Mason Cooley: “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”


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