Reads on the Road: Books to take on your Travels

by | Sep 26, 2019

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Last updated on March 8th, 2023

By Ursula Maxwell-Lewis, Guest writer 

Ursula is a travel journalist based in Vancouver BC who shares our love of great reads! 

Among the joys Evelyn Hannon shared with friends and followers was her passion for reading. Readers and book-lovers among us understand that books are marvelous travel companions. Information, inspiration, tranquility, companionship – it’s all packed between covers of works laboured over by fellow travellers, writers, and artists. In turn, we stuff them (or pages from them!) into our luggage.

How often have you dined solo in a foreign city or village with a good book? Sometimes it wards off unwanted attention. More often I find it a ‘door opener’ – an excuse to connect with a fellow reader, writer or traveller.

A much-loved sampler cross-stitched by my mother hangs on my office wall as I write this. It reads:

“A ship is a Breath of Romance
That Carried us Miles Away:
And a Book is a Ship of Fancy
That Could Sail on Any Day”

So, whether you’re an armchair traveller, an inveterate explorer searching for inspiration, or a wanderer looking for a print ‘companion’, let’s exchange books.

My Top Picks

The Paris Wife, a fictionalized tale crafted around Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, by Paula McLain inspired Journeywoman CEO and publisher Carolyn Ray to set out on a Hemingway-esque mission to explore Spain, Paris, Cuba and Key West. Who can resist the urge to go in search of 1920s Paris?

As autumn days dawn in the northern hemisphere curling up with Under the Tuscan Sun is tempting. Author Frances Mayes told The Guardian in an interview that book returned something unexpected to her.” I began to see that something crucial had come through to readers: if I can do it, you can too.” With the journey and the book, she took a risk. Both paid off for her and legions of readers. Italy and Sicily here we come!

Nothing to Declare – Memoirs of a Woman Travelling Alone by American author Mary Morris inspired a reader now resident in San Miguel De Allende. Adventure travellers may connect with this author’s often harrowing self-discovery through Central America. Honesty, raw emotion and history drive this memoir.

For detailed up-to-date European guidebooks, Rick Steves’ publications and videos are tough to beat. These easily accessible online or in print gems will help you while away winter hours planning 2020 trips to warm climes across Britain and the Continent. Since Rick needs little introduction you will appreciate the detailed accommodation, dining and historical data tucked into these handy publications.

For me, Canadian novelist Pauline Gedge whisks me off to warm, intriguing, Egypt. Depend on The King’s Man Trilogy to warm you up on the banks of the Nile. Becoming immersed in these immaculately researched stories of Amenhotep lll, Huy, Ramses, Hatshepsut, and others I have to remind myself this is ancient, not modern-day, Egypt. The roles of women and the scribe, Huy, particularly intrigued me.

Do let us know what books lure, or lured, you out into the world. What was their appeal? How did they inspire you – or frighten you! How did change your thinking, life, plans, dress-sense or diet!

Journeywoman book lovers are listening. Contact us at [email protected] and put “I’m a Journeywoman Book Lover” in the subject line.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a British Columbia journalist and photographer with a newspaper and aviation background.

All the books chosen and recommended are first read either by us or another woman in the Journeywoman Network. Some of these book links are affiliate links. That means that If you buy a recommended book by clicking on the Amazon link Journeywoman will automatically get a small commission. There will be no added cost to your book. This is just an easy way to support the website and our newsletter.

At JourneyWoman, we love receiving articles and tips from guest writers if they are part of our community!


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. JourneyWoman is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

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