The Best Travel Books From 2020

I’ve always loved a good travel book. They have been a way to escape to far-flung destinations and get a glimpse of other cultures. I have traveled across the world through beautiful coffee table books, travel literature, and entertaining novels set in dreamy destinations. This year, travel books have been especially meaningful. In a year where travel has been so restricted, it has been wonderful to have a means of escapism through the pages of a good book. This year, I fell back in love with reading. I realized, that sometimes you can take a break from working to read because traveling, even virtually is good for your soul. I learned about new destinations, read entertaining narratives, and was even featured in the best coffee table book, Dame Traveler. Maybe I’m a little biased, but this book is truly amazing and deserves a spot on the list of the best travel books of 2020.

As a parting gift to 2020, I’m sharing my favorite travel books of the year. And I’m announcing that books are going to have a bigger place on Come Join My Journey. First and foremost, this is a travel blog so travel guides are articles will be forefront. But reading about travel is a huge part of my process. (And yours, hello, you’re reading a travel blog right now)! I love reading about a destination before I visit it and escaping to a place that I may never have the opportunity to see for myself. So keep your eyes out and subscribe for more travel book posts and updates.

The Best Travel Books of 2020

Leave Only Footprints My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park, by Conor Knighton 

This book is a must-read, it may even top my list of favorite travel books of all time. In Leave Only Footprints, the author, Conor Knighton, ambitiously set off to visit every national park in one year. The book is not in chronological order of the parks he visited, they are ordered thematically. In this entertaining memoir, each chapter reads more like an article so it is the perfect book to read periodically when you are seeking an adventure.

Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure, by Nastasia Yakoub

Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure is a beautiful coffee table book by Nastasia Yakoub, the creator of the Instagram account Dame Traveler. This book further solidifies Nastasia’s mission to empower women to travel more, through her story and the stories of the contributors. The images in the book are beautiful and the short blurbs from the different contributors are an interesting read.


World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, by Anthony Bourdain and Laura Woolever

Technically this book will be published in 2021, but I had the pleasure of reading it this year. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide is the much anticipated last book by Anthony Bourdain. This travel guide showcases some of Bourdain’s favorite destinations, including his usual wit. It is entertaining and informative and the coauthor did a wonderful job pulling bits and pieces of Bourdain’s previous works to create this book. 

Read my full review here

The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide to the World’s 500 Most Colorful Places, by Taylor Fuller

This is the type of book that you look through over and over again. The colorful images are a joy to look at, and each page transports you to the vibrant destinations featured in this book. Especially in a year so grim, this book was the fresh breath of air I needed. 

Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan

Sex and Vanity is written by Kevin Kwan who is the author of the extremely popular Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Kwan has a way of setting the scene in his novels, where you can truly visualize being there. In this truly entertaining book, you are brought on a trip to Capri, through the streets of New York City and to East Hampton. After reading this book, I was left wanting to jet off to the island of Capri.

Always Italy, by Frances Mayes

I couldn’t think of a better person to create a guidebook on Italy. The expert on all things la dolce vita and author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes created the best guide I’ve seen on Italy. Truly, this is a guide book you will want to sift through. The National Geographic images will transport you to the famous regions of Italy. And there’s insider tips and information throughout the entire book.


Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide, by Sarah Baxter

I need to get my own personal copies of all the books in the An Inspired Traveller’s Guide series. The destinations covered in these books are so unique and interesting and has the most beautiful illustrations by Amy Grimes. These are unlike any other guide books I have seen. Hidden Places, one of the newest books in the series of Inspired Traveller’s Guides is no exception. Hidden Places allows you to wander off the beaten path to unearth places that you haven’t heard of.


Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure, by Monisha Rajesh

Around the World in 80 Trains was released in 2019, but I read it in Spring 2020 and simply could not leave this book out of my end of year round-up. It was too good and deserved a spot on the list. This travelogue follows Monisha and her fiance as they circumnavigate the world by train. It is a truly compelling and entertaining story. Mind you, this train journey only covers 3 continents, so it’s not exactly the around the world journey the title suggests. But, it is an inspiring tale that left me wanting to book an epic train ride for myself. 

Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan, by Michael Booth

To be completely transparent, I haven’t read this book…yet. But I already know that I will love it. After reading other books by the author, it is apparent that Michael Booth is a lively storyteller. Three Tigers, One Mountain tour through Japan, Korea, and China exploring the history and cultures of these countries. This is part travelogue, part history book which is the best type of travel writing in my personal opinion.


Have you read any good travel books this year? What books do you think belong in the best travel books of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

I must admit, this year, I delved so deeply into certain destinations that I didn’t read as many new travel books as I would’ve liked this year. A lot of the books I read were published years ago. A goal for this year is to read as many newly published travel books as I can. Wish me luck!