Best Travel Books – Guide Books & Personal Memoirs

Travel books are wonderful aren’t they? Whether it’s a guide book for a certain travel destination, or personal memoirs from travellers who have jet set around the world. They can be used to plan your own trip, relive the travel experiences of others, or just satisfy your own virtual wanderlust. 

Here are some reviews and recommendations for some of my favourite travel and guide books. At the end of this post you will also find links to my selection of tripfiction books too.

In this post you will find:

Guide to Spiritual LA by Catherine Auman

United States on the Road by Insight Guides

Turning Left Around the World by David C Moore

Today South London, Tomorrow South London by Andrew Grumbridge & Vince Raison


book cover for Guide to spiritual LA by catherine auman in a post about the best travel guide books and personal travel experiences for those who have wunderlust

The Guide to Spiritual LA by Catherine Auman

This book is a wonderful collection of spiritual sites that can be found around Los Angeles in California. It covers many different beliefs including Native Americans, Christians, Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, through to some of the darker sides of life, the Occult, and even UFOs.

Each spiritual site is described with a full history and interesting stories surrounding the location and its followers. Addresses are provided and many entries have gorgeous photos. 

The book also details days out from Los Angeles to more spiritual sites including Salvation Mountain/Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, and Santa Barbara. At the back of the book there is a comprehensive list of places to find more spiritual information from bookshops, movies, and YouTube documentaries.

It is written in a light personal way that is easy to read and understand.  It’s by no means preachy, this is an information book for those who are looking for difference places to visit or learn about. It’s a fascinating read.

I read this on Kindle, but I bet it makes a superb paperback or hardback.

book cover depicting a long road leading up to red rocks of arizona in a post recommending travel guide books

United States on the Road by Insight Guides

I have read and reread this book so many times to plan and research road trips in The United States. It has always provided me with so much useful information. This book lists several different road trip routes across the USA. At over 500 pages long, it is packed full of photos, maps, history, traveller tips, and recommended places to stay, visit, and eat at.

There are several location specific guide books in this range too, but this is a must as a starting point.

book cover for turning left around the wold by david c moore showing a picture of a man and woman walking off an aeroplane in a blog post about the best travel guide books and travel stories

Turning Left Around The World by David C Moore

David and Helene Moore dreamt of adventure. When they retired, they set about fulfilling that dream with a ten-month-long travel challenge that would experience the culture and landscape of  fifteen countries. 

There is so much that I want to share with you from this book but can’t through not wanting to spoil your reading. It was absolutely fascinating. In this ample sized paperback, David shares the trip of a lifetime that he and his wife, Helene embraced. Although Turning Left Around the World details their personal experiences, it is also filled with history and factual information. Suffice to say, I did have to keep stopping to give my family titbits of interesting information. It was like watching the Discovery Channel but in a book.

As all the chapters are fairly short (they are broken down into places visited for 3-5 days), it’s easy to pick up and put down over several days and really absorb all that information.  The book has a photo at the start of each chapter as well as a few more dotted throughout the book. I would have liked to have seen a few more but as the scenes were described so perfectly, I could imagine it myself.

I loved the relationship between Helene and David. David comes across as a typical English gent with that quirky sense of humour that only another Brit can get. Helene is the organiser and the ‘carer’ that so many of us have to be to our husbands “you need more layers on”. Yep, we all do it. She is also the brunt of her husband’s loveable teasing even though she is prepared to have a go at new experiences. It comes across really well. I would like to say to Helene that you are not alone in a “Magic Kingdom Moment”, yep I had one too and my family still tease me mercilessly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would make a great present for anyone who likes travel, nature, or the history of other cultures and customs. Or just go ahead and treat yourself, it really is a great read.

photo of a floor to ceiling bookcases with the test Best travel guide books
Pin for later – original photo thanks to Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

Today South London, Tomorrow South London by Andrew Grumbridge & Vince Raison

This book claims to be the one that South London deserves, the first to be written about the area since 1947, and the one that will put it back on the map so to speak.  ​Today South London, Tomorrow South London was published by Unbound and features the memoirs of the authors, Dulwich Raider and Dirty South. Whilst, I’m not sure I could class it as a travel guide book, it will certainly show you some of the more unusual places to visit in London.

For those living outside the capital, are you aware that the north and south of London are thought of as totally different entities? Having spent time in the capital and having lots of friends there, I’m well aware that it is definitely the case.

This book and the storytelling technique is quite unique. You initially accompany the authors around a beer triangle pub crawl, followed by a tour of London’s finest hospitals rating their cafes and facilities. Back onto pubs where we read about the finer side of life with art and pubs, then leaning and pubs, betting and pubs, sports and pubs, and so on! Do you get the theme here? Other attractions include graveyards and vinyl record shops. And more pubs!

You’ll read some interesting facts about the history of South London, alongside the team’s own viewpoints and observations. Who knew there was once a female only pub decades ago? We’ve all heard of gentlemen’s clubs but never one for ladies which must have caused quite a stir back then.

Today South London, Tomorrow South London is an amusing journey around South London written by people with a clear love for the area, and pubs of course.

You don’t necessarily have to know South London well although it does make it more enjoyable when they are talking about places that you, as a reader, know.

Warning of strong language and drug taking at times, but it’s not excessive and I think unlikely to offend those interested in the subject matter covered in this book.

This would make a quirky gift and I could think of many people who will enjoy this.

orange book cover depiction 4 people looking over a london skyline for a post about best travel guide books and travel memoirs

If you like to experience travel in a fiction books then why not read my recommendations for the best tripfiction books here. They cover destinations from all over the world. 

You may also like to read my own travel reviews and experiences. If so, head over to my travel section and see if anywhere inspires your wanderlust.

UK TRAVEL

USA TRAVEL

I will of course, add more recommended books as I read and review them, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what travel guidebooks or travel story books have you enjoyed?

6 thoughts on “Best Travel Books – Guide Books & Personal Memoirs

  1. I will have to check out that Turn Left Around The World book, sounds interesting! It sounds like it might be quite similar in style to Bill Bryson?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when we used to be able to travel….great reviews of not the usual kind of travel guides!
    But do pray tell what your ‘magic kingdom moment’ was. Or is this a reference that has entirely passed me by?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, I will hold my hands up and admit to getting a little bit emotional when I saw Mickey Mouse. One or two tears may have popped out from my eyes, which of course, my family found hilarious. Helene in the story had her own “moment” too.

      Liked by 2 people

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