13 Sustainable Travel Books to Inform and Inspire Your Next Trip

Everything from human rights awareness to contextualized cultures to food systems to inspirational stories — and more.

7 min readJan 27, 2020

Sustainability is a concept that covers a lot of ground. Working towards sustainability means bringing equilibrium to many imbalances on our planet — from ecosystems to human systems. If you’re interested in making a positive impact and living a more “sustainable” life, a concept that is relatively undefined, it can feel daunting to figure out where your next steps might lie.

Luckily, with the help of our community and some wonderful bloggers in the sustainable travel space, we’ve put together a list of sustainable travel books that help to both break down and expand upon what “sustainable travel” means. Topics cover everything from human rights awareness to contextualized cultures to food systems to inspirational stories — and more. These books will help inform and inspire your next trip.

Which book was your favorite? What did you learn that you didn’t know before? Let us know on Twitter!

Fair Food: Growing a Healthy Sustainable Food System for All

Oran B. Hesterman

Fair Food by Oran B. Hesterman

Our food systems are intricately linked to our health and the planet’s health, and healing this system is key to protecting the ecosystems that nourish us. But beyond the generic guidelines to “eat local” and “eat organic”, what can we each do to eat more sustainably and change our participation in our food system for the better? Good food pioneer Oran Hesterman dives into how changing our food system goes beyond what’s on our own plates — and into how food relates to human rights issues.

Get the book here.

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy

Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamandon

Life Without Plastic by Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamandon

Walking the talk, this book is printed on FSC-certified paper with BPA-free ink, written by authors who, when they discovered after the birth of their first child that procuring glass baby bottles was not as easy as it sounds, set off to make them more accessible to everyone. Jay and Chantal provide tools to analyze your own plastic consumption, and smart, practical ways to eliminate the single-use plastics in your day-to-day life (and, for all of you, on the road, as well).

Get the book here.

This Is A Good Guide — For Sustainable Living

Marieke Eyskoot

This Is A Good Guide — For Sustainable Living

Traveling sustainably means having a baseline understanding about what living sustainably looks like. This book contains simple answers about what it means to live a more sustainable life — from work to home to beauty to travel and everything in between.

Get the book here.

Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

Elizabeth Becker

Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker

In this thrilling expose of the travel industry, New York Times journalist Elizabeth Becker dives into the layers of the industry that weave through world economy, environment, and culture. Becker reveals travel as a product, shows the industry from the inside out, and provides some concrete solutions for issues concerning recreational travel. This is the perfect read for those looking to understand the nature of the travel industry itself — and how, as consumers, we play a role in promoting positive change.

Get the book here.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (recommended by Life with Less)

Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

A book I would recommend is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s about her family’s year of living on food they grew or produced themselves, or got from within 100km. Not only are there lots of great recipes and tips for sustainable living, but each chapter also has a report or article outlining the science or statistics behind each sustainable idea. Barbara Kingsolver is a successful novelist, and although this is a personal account, it is absorbing and easy to read as a novel.

Check out Life with Less for more sustainable living and travel content.

Get the book here.

Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life (recommended by Sharon Bryce)

Brooke McAlary

Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary

Many of us live a fast-paced life, and that has unintended consequences on our physical and mental health, on our relationships, and on the planet. However, there’s a growing group of people choosing to slow the pace down — and find peace in busy moments, minimize their stress, and reassess what’s truly important to them.

Get the book here.

Start Something That Matters

Blake Mycoskie

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

You might have heard of Blake Mycoskie because he’s the man behind TOMS Shoes and One for One — for profit ventures aimed with a social good mission. This book is an overview for anyone who is wondering what it takes to start a socially conscious business. But the scope of this book goes beyond inspiring entrepreneurs, as it appeals to travelers and overall conscious consumers seeking to make an impact in the way that they travel and the businesses they support.

Get the book here.

Live Your Dash

Linda Ellis

Live Your Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

This book falls into the straight-up inspiration category. After Linda Ellis’ poem “The Dash” was read on a syndicated radio program, it became an instant success and led her to the authorship of “Live Your Dash”. This book contains stories of hope, positivity, and pure underline-able quotes to make you stop and think about what “living your dash” might mean.

Get the book here.


Bruce Poon Tip

Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip

G Adventures is a highly successful international travel adventure company, and Looptail is the personal story of how it came to be. The fact that the Dalai Lama chose to write the introduction for this book is telling, and it begs the question, “Can travel create a path to world peace?” This is a story of purpose-driven business, and a business that believes that empathy-backed, authentic travel experience are powerful in bringing us all together.

Get the book here.

Half the Sky

Nicholas D. Kristof

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof

Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn introduce us to women across Africa and Asia, combatting systems meant to oppress their health, freedom, and wellbeing, and ultimately, succeeding. Through the stories in this book, the authors help readers see that the key to economic growth is to unleash women’s potential. In terms of traveling, this illuminates a fragment of the human rights issues humanity faces across the world, and allows a new lens through which to understand the nuances in the places you are traveling to.

Get the book here.

In the Shadow of Man

Jane Goodall

In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall

Primatologist, conservationist, and humanitarian Jane Gooddall unravels the intricate relationship humans have with animals through this tale of her life spent with the chimpanzees of Gombe. The narrative woven helps us to understand how protecting animals and their habitats is not only important for their survival (important in-and-of-itself), but for our own.

Get the book here.

Adventures by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America (recommended by Janet LoSole)

Janet LoSole

Adventures by Chicken Bus by Janet LoSole

Throughout the chronicles of a homeschooling adventure through South America like none other, Janet’s desire to inspire the next generation of travelers, environmentalists, and social justice activists is readily apparent. Rather than turn away from cultural differences, material poverty, and ancient history, Janet and Llloyd place their family right in the middle of it — all while traveling by chicken bus. This is an up-close and personal look at a very real (and perhaps extreme) example of what it looks like to raise the next generation sustainably.

Get the book here.

Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life

Tyler Gage

Fully Alive by Tyler Gage

Tyler Gage, a young entrepreneur, brings lessons he learned after his life-changing experience in the Amazon jungle to build a successful, socially responsible company, live a purposeful life, and make a difference. This is an exploration of global business, a tale with both practicality and heart, a cultural ethnography, and a toolkit full of tools to help push you to your edge.

Get the book here.

Photo Credit: JAEMON JUNG on Unsplash

Originally published at https://prontopia.com on January 27, 2020.




Santa Barbara based start-up. B-corp dedicated to human rights awareness. Prontopia provides in-person travel help when and where you need it. prontopia.com