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25 Books to Inspire Your Educational Travels

April 10, 2014 James Glavin No Comments

A book is a way of exploring the world without ever leaving home. And while we would say there’s nothing better than actually traveling, reading about the many amazing places in the world is a great way to find inspiration for your next trip.

Everyone who works at ACIS has such a passion for all things travel related, we decided to find out which books have inspired us to travel.

We ruled out travel guides (that’s a blog post for another time), but instead thought about contemporary novels, literary classics and historical works that make us want to reach for our passports and hit the road. The resulting list is very eclectic, but hopefully includes one or two works that are new to you and that might inspires your next travel adventure.

Do you agree with our list? What would you add? Tell us in the comments below!

1. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

‘It made Paris come alive for me and made me want to travel to the City of Light to experience what Hemingway describes first hand.’
Linda Carpenter, Academic Travel Advisor, Huntingdon Beach, CA

‘Ça, c’est Paris!’
Sabrina Denault, Encore Tours Regional Manager, Boston, MA

2. A Time of Gifts, Patrick Leigh Fermor

A Time of Gifts, Patrick Leigh Fermor

‘He’s a traveler who really gets under the skin of the countries that he visits. He’s always open to new experiences, learns from everyone he meets and sees the best in them. Best of all, he never looks back but always forwards to the next day’s journey.’
Richard Oates, Tour Manager, Dorset, UK

‘It’s the most beautifully evocative set of travel memoirs I’ve ever read.’
Peter Ede, Tour Manager, London, UK

3. The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

The Paris Wife, Paula Mclain

‘There are certain cities in the world that give off a special electricity and vibe and this book helped to remind me that Paris is one of those cities. It’s about Hemingway’s first wife and her life in Paris and gives an intimate portrait of the neighborhoods and cafés made famous by artists and writers of the early 20th century.’
Erin Stern, Online Marketing Manager, Boston, MA

4. My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell

‘Amazing descriptions of Mediterranean island landscapes and people from a child’s viewpoint’
Rachel Morris, Tour Manager, UK

5. The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton

The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton

‘This book seeks to explore the reasons and desires behind our need to travel. It takes a look at our instinctive wish to seek out the exotic, the curious and the striking. It examines how we decide on where we would like to go, what we expect to find when we get there and how we may enhance our excursions to meet these heady expectations. De Botton draws on his own personal experiences of travel and weaves these together with the experiences and thoughts of a eclectic assortment of artists, explorers, philosophers and writers.’
Valeria Bullo, Tour Manager, London

6. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Laurie Lee

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Laurie Lee

‘His love of Spain and its people sparked an interest in me that led me to live here.’
Deborah Wilson, Supervisor/Tour Manager, Granada, Spain

7. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

‘It’s an inspirational story about someone who finds herself and her strength through experiencing a handful of different cultures. It inspired me to want to create a similar experience for myself through travel.’
Roni Hyman, Marketing Intern, Boston, MA

‘It sums up the emotions that travel brings. The joys of other cultures and people can change our views on life and most of the time improve the way we see the world.’
Mark McBride, Group Leader/Academic Travel Advisor, Bloomington, IL

‘While we can’t all take a year out of our busy lives to travel the globe, it is fun to imagine that we could! Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir is a great example of the transformative power of travel.’
Liz Tyrell, Regional Director, International Programs, Chicago, IL

8. Peter Pan, J M Barrie

Peter Pan, J M Barrie

‘This book has always fueled my passion for adventure and seeing new and exciting places.’
Jill Federschneider, Senior International Program Manager, Boston, MA

9. The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron

The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron

‘I read the book when I was 17 and I realized what an incredible and diverse world there is out there.’
Simone Aquilina, Tour Director, Malta

10. Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, Andrew X. Pham

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, Andrew X. Pham

‘Wonderful travel memoir about a “viet kieu” (Vietnamese-born American) who travels back to his home country to experience all that he thought he left behind. This is a great alternative to the myriad Vietnam War books and memoirs that exist out there. Very descriptive of the landscape, the people and the culture of Vietnam.’
Jenna Sigman, Academic Travel Advisor, Chicago, IL

11. On the Road, Jack Kerouac

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Apart from making me want to travel across the USA, which I subsequently did without the use of hard drugs(!), it describes traveling as a joy in itself rather than a means to an end.’
Tim Godby, Tour Manager, UK

‘The feeling of freedom and of not being tied to any rule or relationship, the sense of adventure and excitement.’
Elena, Tour Manager, Edinburgh, UK

12. Four Seasons in Rome, Anthony Doerr

Four Seasons in Rome, Anthony Doerr

‘I love books that portray what it’s like to actually live in a place as a newcomer rather than just visit it. In this same vein, Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon and Peter Mayle’s books on Provence are also favorites, making me want to walk in the author’s footsteps as locals not tourists.’
Jeff Hild, Vice President of Marketing, Boston, MA

13. In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson

‘Bill Bryson is someone whose writing style I find “laugh out loud” funny. I enjoy his more sociological look at travel as, for me, travel is essentially people watching in the sun!’
Lucy Ryan, Tour Manager, Spain/Italy/UK

‘Bryson’s wit and ability to point out the not-so-obvious, but hilarious differences between cultures inspires me to experience them myself. If you haven’t read his travel novels, please put them on your reading list!’
Christopher Layson, Academic Travel Advisor, Michigan

14. Il Milione (The Travels of Marco Polo), Rustichello da Pisa/Marco Polo

Il Milione (The Travels of Marco Polo), Rustichello da Pisa/Marco Polo

‘It’s an enthralling medieval work (c. 1300) that has lost none of its potency as an insight into what it’s like to experience an unknown culture (in this case, the Orient) and have your preconceptions challenged by diverse experiences in that new world.’
Daniel Finch-Race, Tour Manager, UK

15. Un barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall), Marguerite Duras

Un barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall), Marguerite Duras

‘I read this again and again as a teenager, when I had not traveled the world much and lived in a small provincial French town, and it made me dream of traveling to Vietnam, which I eventually did as an adult. The writer’s descriptions of life in Indochine (now South Vietnam) were beautiful, haunting and compelling. Her world was so different from mine she could have been describing another planet. It sparked an urge to travel to Vietnam, but also other countries in South East Asia. I still have many to discover…’
Michele Deleaz, Director of Overseas Operations, London, UK

16. History of Ancient Egypt, Bob Brier

History of Ancient Egypt, Bob Brier

‘His passion for the art of ancient Egypt excites me! What’s even more exciting, after reading his lectures, I traveled to Egypt with ACIS in 2010 and ran into the author Bob Brier in the Luxor Temple! Wow! It was like I came full circle… reading his description of this place months before and now standing there with him.’
Tricia Hacker, Academic Travel Advisor, Southern California

17. Sarum, Edward Rutherford

Sarum, Edward Rutherford

‘I was only 15 when I read it and it made a huge impression, as it invited me to think of history, language, people, art and architecture in a much more organic way, leaving me with the idea that we are all connected.’
Marcello Mereu, Tour Manager, Brussels, Belgium

18. The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto Che Guevara

The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto Che Guevara

‘This book inspired me and my dream to travel across Latin America.’
Florent Santaniello, Tour Manager, London, UK

19. Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China, Philip P. Pan

Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China, Philip P. Pan

‘Inspiring stories about courageous individuals standing up to the their government in order to bring greater personal freedom to the Chinese people.’
Rick Mulroy, MIS, Boston, MA

20. Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky

Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky

‘A superb pair of novels and amazing to think it was lost for so long.’
Ben Pollard, Tour Manager, York, UK

21. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

‘I was a big fan of classic French literature when I was a student and this book, plus other works such as Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, made me want to go and live in France! The day I got on a boat to Château d’If in Marseille, where Edmond Dantes was imprisoned for years, I cried like a little child…’
Dana Ptacinsky, Tour Manager, London, UK

22. Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernières

Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernières

‘Inspired me—a hellenophile—to see the other side of the story and to investigate the whole Greek-Turkish / Christian-Muslim issue in greater depth and with greater awareness. Changed my perspective totally.’
Kate Webb, Tour Manager, Paris, France

23. The Drifters, James Michener

The Drifters, James Michener

‘I read this in high school and loved the tales of travel and adventure.’
Susan Margot Ecker, Director of First Impressions, Boston, MA 

24. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

‘The description of the Battle of Borodino in the novel inspired me to visit the annual reenactment of the battle, at Borodino, West of Moscow. Amazing novel—and an amazing event.’
Catherine Brown, Tour Manager, London, UK

25. Pompeii, Robert Harris

Pompeii, Robert Harris

‘I love this historical fiction, it turns learning into a story.’
Julie Fratarcangeli, Director of New Business Development, Boston, MA

I hope this list inspires you both to read and travel.

Here is another list of books for students thinking of going on their educational travels.

6 Perfect Books to Inspire Your Students to Travel

James Glavin

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