10 of the Best Travel Books Written by Women

From personal memoirs to coming-of-age odysseys, these are the women-written travel books sure to both empower and inspire.

A good travel book can transport you to the rolling lavender fields of Tuscany, awaken you to the power of prayer in India and inspire you to hike an off-grid trail on the American west coast. Whether we've found you lying on a hammock strung between palms or curled up on your sofa with a cuppa to hand, read on to discover the travel reads written by women that will both sate wanderlust and galvanise you for your next adventure.

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islands of abandonment

Islands of Abandonment

by Cal Flyn

Ever wondered what happens to abandoned places? Cal Flyn will cure your curiosity in her Islands of Abandonment. Taking us on a haunting adventure through ghost towns, exclusion zones, no man's lands and fortress isles, this fascinating book will enlighten you as to what happens when neighbourhoods become silent and nature takes its course. In doing so, the author does much to answer the most pressing question of our times: can we reverse humankind's damage to nature?

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A Field Guide To Getting Lost

by Rebecca Solnit

An investigation into loss, A Field Guide To Getting Lost explores the difficulties of navigating uncertainty. Historian, activist, feminist and writer of more than 20 books, Solnit's exploration takes in everything from mapmaking to Renaissance paintings and Alfred Hitchcock films. A philosopher at heart, the author begins this dynamic collection of nine essays with a quotation from one of her students: "How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is unknown to you?"

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Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

by Noo Saro-Wiwa

Growing up, English-raised Noo Saro-Wiwa spent her summers in Nigeria, a place she considered gritty and unglamorous - somewhere that stripped her of all her usual home comforts and routine. When her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was executed by the country's military dictatorship in November 1995, she closed the doors on any thought of return. A decade later, however, the writer challenged herself to rediscover her roots. Spanning the chaos of Lagos to the tranquillity of the eastern mountains, Looking for Transwonderland is an enthralling read, combining elements of travelogue with meditations on corruption, identity and religion.

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journeys_by_jan_morris

Journeys

by Jan Morris

Be it Las Vegas or Bombay, Athens or Aberdeen, leading contemporary travel writer Jan Morris has a special power when it comes to conveying the very essence of a place. In Journeys, she gifts us a collection of passionate and evocative travel essays that are both historically and politically astute. Read it and you'll be in no doubt as to why doyenne of travel writing Rebecca West called Morris "the best descriptive writer of our times" and the equally legendary Alistair Cooke christened her the "Flaubert of the jet age".

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by Cheryl Strayed

"It was a world I thought would both make me into the woman I knew I could become and turn me back into the girl I'd once been," states Cheryl Strayed in the uplifting Wild. At the age of 26, Strayed was convinced she'd lost everything. Her mother had suddenly passed away from cancer and her marriage had fallen apart. Thinking she had nothing to lose, she decided to walk 1,700km of North America's west coast - from the Mojave Desert to Washington state - alone, and with no experience of hiking. Follow her on her incredible journey, during which she pieces her life back together.

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything

by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you haven't heard of Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love, which inspired the 2010 film of the same name, starring Julia Roberts, we assume you've been living under a rock. Telling the tale of her bitter divorce, the author invites us to join her in the pursuit of happiness, as she sets out to nurture her own interests - pleasure, devotion and balance. It is a path that sees her falling head over heels for Italy's culinary scene, understanding the power of prayer in India and, finally, finding peace in Indonesia, where she meets her soulmate.

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The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

by Helen Russell

Eager to get to grips with the secrets of the famously happy Danish, author Helen Russell gave herself a year to uncover the recipe. Embarking on a new life in rural Jutland, she takes us on a beguiling journey that sees her surviving a long, dark Scandinavian winter with the help of cured herring, Lego bricks and pastries. Offering an insightful analysis of the country's childcare, education, cuisine and design, The Year of Living Danishly shows us how we can all benefit from taking a leaf out of the Danes' book.

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Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy

by Frances Mayes

Want to escape to the Italian countryside? Under the Tuscan Sun makes for the perfect literary getaway. When Frances Mayes set her sights on an abandoned Tuscan villa, she wasn't aware of the challenges that lay ahead. Join her in this warm, witty memoir, as she navigates cultural misunderstandings, legal frustrations and the reality of renovating a house that appears determined to remain a ruin.

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Travels with Myself and Another

by Martha Gellhorn

After a lifetime spent travelling, American powerhouse Martha Gellhorn - who died in 1998 in London, at the age of 89 - mined her "best horror journeys" for the purposes of this critically acclaimed, 2002-published book. From a journey through rain-sodden, war-torn China, to sailing in the Caribbean and visiting a dissident writer in the Soviet Union, the stories contained in these pages are both gripping and hilarious.

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what_i_was_doing_while_you_were_breeding_by_kristin_newman

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir

by Kristin Newman

Your 20s and 30s come with an unspoken amount of pressure. There's securing and balancing a job, watching friends purchase houses and others start families. Not ready to settle down, Kristin Newman instead chose to travel the world, often alone, for months at a time. In What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, she introduces us to a colourful array of lovers - think Israeli bartenders, Argentinian priests and Finnish poker players - and equally entertaining landscapes. This one will have you running to book your next flight.

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