Armchair Travel Books to Spark Your Wanderlust

by Bebe Brown on October 24, 2017 in Travels, What I'm Reading,
12 New Zealand Stirling Falls Fiordland South Island

If our travel issue left you craving the open road, we have some further recommended reading to help you cure that cabin fever. These photo-heavy coffee-table books also make great gifts for the travelers on your list. Warning, they may inspire you to …

Winter in a village at the base of Morocco’s Mount Toubkal.
From Natural Wonders of the World by DK, produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution

Natural Wonders of the World (DK; Hardcover, $50)

A dazzling exploration of over 240 of the world’s most incredible natural wonders, Natural Wonders of the World takes a continent-by-continent journey around Earth’s most beautiful, spectacular, and captivating landscapes. You’ll travel to over 240 of Earth’s greatest natural treasures, from the spectacular granite domes of Yosemite to the reefs of the Bahama Banks and the ice sheets of the Antarctic.

You might recognize iconic adventure locales such as Torres del Paine, Antelope Canyon, and The Great Blue Hole, and learn about new places, including:

  • An underground cavern in Mexico that contains some of the most enormous natural crystals ever discovered
  • A partially hollow glacier close to the Alaskan city of Juneau, best known for its extraordinary blue ice caves
  • The largest salt flat on Earth, the legacy of a huge prehistoric South American lake
  • A famous Icelandic geyser, which erupts roughly every eight minutes
  • A centuries-old Belgian woodland, where one species of wildflower produces a seasonal transformation
  • A desert of chalk, shaped by wind-driven sand into an eerie landscape of stone monoliths

A truly unrivaled exploration of Earth’s most amazing places, Natural Wonders of the World will make you realize there is so much more to discover.


Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel (DK; Hardcover, $50)

For some 60,000 years, humans have explored the world, out of necessity and curiosity. Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel, explores travel in all its varied forms. Produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution, Journey is an illustrated account of human movement, travel, exploration, and scientific discovery—from the first trade networks in ancient Sumer to the epic Voyager missions.

Whether on foot, on horseback, by steamship, railway, hot-air balloon, or aircraft, “Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel” captures the romance of travel and asks where our lust for adventure will take us next.

“Each generation has contributed to novel means of travel. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, conceived the original idea of a helicopter in 1493, but it was only in the last century that airborne travel became commonplace,” says lead contributing author Michael Collins. “Today, luxury tourism is the largest-growing industry in the world. Voyages into space continue to broaden our understanding of the vast expanses beyond our galaxy, yet the sea floor, beneath the oceans that cover 70 percent of our planet, still remains largely unexplored. Many people have gone before us, and we can be sure that many more will pass beyond the limits of our present horizons.”

The book covers the epic journeys made throughout the ages—including the soldiers of Alexander the Great who marched all the way from Greece to northern India, the Polynesian sailors who set off across vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean in search of new islands to colonize, and the merchants who transported goods along the mountainous Silk Road from China to Europe.

Whether on foot, on horseback, by steamship, railway, hot-air balloon, or aircraft, Journey captures the romance of travel and asks where our lust for adventure will take us next.


Malama Honua: Hokule’a – A Voyage Of Hope (Patagonia; Hardcover, $60),

The double-hulled canoe Hōkūle‘a sails past New York City’s One World Trade Center during its 42,000- mile open-ocean journey around the world.
Photo courtesy John Bilderback/Patagonia Books

After 3 years, the double-hulled canoe Hōkūle‘a has completed its Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage—a 42,000- mile open-ocean journey around the world using only ancient Polynesian wayfinding techniques—and returned home to Hawaiʻi.

Patagonia chronicles the epic journey in Mālama Honua: Hokule’a – A Voyage Of Hope by Jennifer Allen, with photographs by John Bilderback. From the launch in Hawai‘i in May 2014, around the world to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and North and South America, the book chronicles Hōkūleʻa’s epic mission to raise awareness of and nurture worldwide sustainability. Interwoven with descriptions of Hōkūleʻa’s experiences in port are the voices of the master navigators and crew members, who guide the ship along the ocean’s trackless path, and the local pioneers – scientists, teachers, and children touched by Hōkūleʻa – who work tirelessly to weather the many environmental challenges in our modern lives. This is a story about our need to draw together into one global community. By respecting one another and nature’s delicate and intricate systems, this book captures the many ways indigenous cultures are committed to living in ecological balance.

This is a story about our need to draw together into one global community. Chapters highlight local voices and environmental solutions in Hawai’i, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Cuba, New York, Galapagos, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Tahiti.

Cover image: Stirling Falls, Fiordland, South Island New Zealand from Natural Wonders of the World