Holiday Gift Guide: Best New Travel Books of 2022

Holiday Gift Guide: Best New Travel Books of 2022

BY Fifty Grande Editors | November 30, 2022

With the holidays just around the corner we thought it was the perfect time to gather our picks for the best travel books released this year AND start using, something we’ve been a fan of for a while.⁠

If you’re unfamiliar with Bookshop, here’s how they describe themselves: “ works to connect readers with independent booksellers all over the world. ‍We believe local bookstores are essential community hubs that foster culture, curiosity, and a love of reading, and we’re committed to helping them thrive. Every purchase on the site financially supports independent bookstores. Our platform gives independent bookstores tools to compete online and financial support to help them maintain their presence in local communities.”⁠

We’ve chosen 15 of the best travel books in this collection and they are pretty great gifts for the travelers on your shopping list. Bonus points: Every purchase made will financially support your independent local bookstore. ⁠Happy shopping and reading!

Slow Escapes: Rural Retreats for Conscious Travelers

In Slow Escapes, sustainable tourism expert Clara le Fort introduces converted monasteries, transformed windmills, and many other enchanting places around the world, that embrace slow living and breathe new life into a region. This book shows us how travel can be a saving grace for the long term. It is for everybody who wishes to be more than a mere consumer of place.

Shape of a Boy: Family Life Lessons in Far-Flung Places (a Travel Memoir)

Shape of a Boy is a hilarious and eye-opening travel memoir by the mother of three boys as she documents her travels with her family around the world.’Have kids, will travel’ is veteran travel journalist Kate’s mantra. Her intrepid spirit is infectious in this warm, engagingaccount of her family’s adventures and misadventures. She shares the life lessons learnt on their travels, from overcoming disappointment in Thailand to saying sorry in Japan, discovering perseverance in Borneo and learning about conservation in Malaysia.

The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World

In this inspiring travelogue, celebrated traveler and photographer Jessica Nabongo–the first Black woman on record to visit all 195 countries in the world–shares her journey around the globe with fascinating stories of adventure, culture, travel musts, and human connections.

A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home

A Place in the World explores Mayes’s passion and obsessions with houses and the things that inhabit them–old books, rich food, beloved friends, transportive art. The indelible marks each refuge has left on her and how each home influenced the next serve as the foundations of its chapters. Written in Mayes’s signature intimate style, A Place in the World captures the adventure of moving on while seeking comfort in the cornerstone closest to all of us–home.

The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit, and Peril at the Beach

A captivating exploration of beach resort culture–from its roots in fashionable society to its undervalued role in today’s world economy–as the travel industry approaches a climate reckoning.

The Slow Road to Tehran: A Revelatory Bike Ride Through Europe and the Middle East

In 2015, as the Syrian War raged and the refugee crisis reached its peak, Rebecca Lowe set off on her bicycle across the Middle East. Driven by a desire to learn more about this troubled region and its relationship with the West, Lowe’s 11,000-kilometre journey took her through Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, the Gulf and finally to Iran.It was an odyssey through landscapes and history that captured her heart, but also a deeply challenging cycle across mountains, deserts and repressive police states that nearly defeated her. Plagued by punctures and battling temperatures ranging from -6 to 48C, Lowe was rescued frequently by farmers and refugees, villagers and urbanites alike, and relied almost entirely on the kindness and hospitality of locals to complete this living portrait of the modern Middle East.This is her evocative, deeply researched and often very funny account of her travels – and the people, politics and culture she encountered.

Riverman: An American Odyssey

For decades, Dick Conant paddled the rivers of America, covering the Mississippi, Yellowstone, Ohio, Hudson, as well as innumerable smaller tributaries. These solo excursions were epic feats of planning, perseverance, and physical courage. At the same time, Conant collected people wherever he went, creating a vast network of friends and acquaintances who would forever remember this brilliant and charming man even after a single meeting.Ben McGrath, a staff writer at The New Yorker, was one of those people. In 2014 he met Conant by chance just north of New York City as Conant paddled down the Hudson, headed for Florida. McGrath wrote a widely read article about their encounter, and when Conant’s canoe washed up a few months later, without any sign of his body, McGrath set out to find the people whose lives Conant had touched–to capture a remarkable life lived far outside the staid confines of modern existence.Riverman is a moving portrait of a complex and fascinating man who was as troubled as he was charismatic, who struggled with mental illness and self-doubt, and was ultimately unable to fashion a stable life for himself; who traveled alone and yet thrived on connection and brought countless people together in his wake. It is also a portrait of an America we rarely see: a nation of unconventional characters, small river towns, and long-forgotten waterways.

Crossed Off the Map: Travels in Bolivia

Blending travel writing, history and reportage, Crossed off the Map: Travels in Bolivia journeys from the Andes to the Amazon to explore Bolivia’s turbulent past and contemporary challenges. It tells the story of the country’s profound and unexpected influence on the wider world over the last 500 years – fragments of history largely forgotten beyond its borders. Once home to one of the wealthiest cities on Earth, Bolivia kickstarted globalisation, helped to power Europe’s economic growth and trigger dynastic collapse in China, and played host to everyone from Che Guevara to Butch Cassidy.

The book also explores how ordinary Bolivians in and around the world’s highest city, largest salt flat, richest silver mine and most biodiverse national park are coping with some of the touchstone issues of the 21st century: the climate emergency, populism, mass migration, indigenous rights, national identity, rapid urbanization, and the ‘war on drugs’.

In its pages, award-winning journalist and travel writer Shafik Meghji illuminates the dramatic landscapes, distinct cultures and diverse peoples of a country that – in the words of one interviewee – ‘was the building block of the modern world, but is now lost in time’.

Explorer: The Quest for Adventure and the Great Unknown

What does it mean to be an explorer in the twenty-first century?Explorer is the story of what first led Benedict Allen to head for the farthest reaches of our planet – at a time when there were still valleys and ranges known only to the remote communities who inhabited them. It is also the story of why, thirty years later, he is still exploring. It’s the story of a journey back to a clouded mountain in New Guinea to find a man called Korsai who had once been a friend, and to fulfil a promise made as young men. It is also a story of what it is to be ‘lost’ and ‘found’.Honest, sensitive and packed with insight, in Explorer Allen considers the lessons he has learnt from his numerous expeditions – most importantly, from the communities he has encountered: there is a value in disconnecting from all that we are familiar with, particularly in today’s crowded world. And there is a value in connecting with worlds unfamiliar to us, some of whom have lived in harmony, not competition, with nature for generations.We explore not to plant a flag, or leave a mark, but to open up and allow the place and people to leave their mark on us.

Imagine a City: A Pilot’s Journey Across the Urban World

This love letter to the cities of the world–from the airline pilot-author of Skyfaring–is a journey around both the author’s mind and the planet’s great cities that leaves us energized, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives (Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel).

Nowhere for Very Long: The Unexpected Road to an Unconventional Life

In this beautifully written, vividly detailed memoir, a young woman chronicles her adventures traveling across the deserts of the American West in an orange van named Bertha and reflects on an unconventional approach to life.

The Hiking Book from Hell

An adventure, a comedy, and a tragedy, The Hiking Book from Hell is destined to become a nature writing (and nature hating) classic.

Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas

Lost in the Valley of Death is about one man’s search to find himself, in a country where for many westerners the path to spiritual enlightenment can prove fraught, even treacherous. But it is also a story about all of us and the ways, sometimes extreme, we seek fulfillment in life.

All Abroad: A Memoir of Travel and Obsession

All Abroad is the memoir of a man hungry for the logistics of travel: getting there, staying there, and feeling at home on any continent. Woven into his entertaining anecdotes is an informative account of a lost era in travel. As a witness to compelling and monumental changes in the industry, Weill offers a unique view into how our vacations have been shaped deeply by human trends, tragedies, and technologies. While some long for the grandeur of tourism from decades ago, Weill insists that travel–the conveyances and hotels that await journey’s end–remains as glamorous as ever.

The Taverna by the Sea: One Greek Island Summer

The Taverna by the Sea is an enchanting, funny, poignant travel memoir about answering the call of adventure by taking on the challenge of running a Greek beach taverna. During a walking holiday on Karpathos, a chance encounter with a Greek-American hotel owner results in a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Jennifer Barclay. The best-selling travel writer and long-term resident of Greece drops everything, returning with dog and tent to the remote bay that will form her home for one hectic, event-filled summer. This travelogue offers a rare account of life in north Karpathos in the South Aegean, an island famous for its traditional community and dramatic, rugged landscape, and with strong connections to Baltimore and New York. Barclay’s fourth book about life in Greece provides a light, engaging and amusing read – full of anecdotes, one-liners, twists and turns – while conveying the life-affirming importance of trusting one’s instincts, taking risks and grasping opportunities.