Research suggests that most travelers are happier anticipating a trip rather than actually taking one. On your next long-haul flight, boost your mood and build anticipation for your upcoming trip by reading these six books about international travel and adventure.
The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan
“On May 11, 2012, I walked out of my job and into a warm and beautiful spring day,” Dinan begins her memoir. After she and her husband, Brian, decide to quit their jobs and travel the world, their mentors, Michele and Glenn, give them a yellow envelope as a parting gift. Inside, they find a check and a letter; the couple writes, “During your travels, we want you to give all this money away in whatever way you want.” They also give Kim and Brian a series of rules: “Don’t overthink it”; “Share your experiences” and “Don’t feel pressured to give it all away.” The book follows the couples’ travels through destinations like India, Peru, Germany and Nepal as they offer the money to recipients in each country. For travelers who are interested in paying it forward while abroad, some copies of the book even come with a yellow envelope.
My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock
While Hancock’s book is not a travel memoir, she describes the year she followed Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” At 29 years old, she lost her job blogging about celebrities. Realizing that she has become increasingly anxious, she decides to step outside of her comfort zone by conquering her fears. Slowly regaining her confidence, Hancock documents her year pursuing experiences like performing stand-up comedy, jumping out of an airplane and interviewing her ex boyfriends.
The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman
Journalist and travel writer Carl Hoffman decides to spend nearly half a year traveling on the world’s most dangerous airlines, boats, trains and buses. Hoffman says that during his writing career, he began noticing newspaper headlines like “A Russian-made Cuban commercial jet smashed into the side of a mountain near the Venezuelan City of Valencia” or “At least forty-five people died when a packed-passenger bus plunged into a ravine in Peru’s southern Andres.” Throughout his memoir, he weaves these headlines into descriptions of his own rides on the same planes and buses. Hoffman introduces readers to the people he meets in each country and his newfound observations of Western privilege.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman
While many of her friends started getting married or having children, Newman chose to travel solo around the world for several weeks each year. She describes her adventures and misadventures, like paragliding in New Zealand, getting her foot run over, hooking up with men in places like Israel and Finland and falling in love in Argentina. As she writes, while traveling, she became “Kristin-Adjacent,” or “a slower, softer, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home.” Readers who aren’t ready for marriage or kids — and those don’t want either — will relate to Newman’s memoir.
After working in the hospitality industry for more than 10 years, Jacob Tomsky has experienced a lot: He’s “checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money.” In his memoir, he shares comical stories about the ins and outs of hotel life, plus tips on how to get the most bang for one’s buck during future hotel stays.
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
Making stops in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and the United States, Weiner describes his travels to some of the world’s happiest and unhappiest countries. “As a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio… I roamed the world telling the stories of gloomy, unhappy people… What if, I wondered, I spent a year traveling the globe, seeking out not the world’s well-trodden trouble spots, but, rather its unheralded happy places?” he begins his memoir. Including witty one-liners in each chapter, Weiner shares his observations and research on why citizens from some nations are happier than others.