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Inspiring novels and books on traveling internationally you'll never forget

Beaches of Thailand in Ko Pha Ngan.
Beaches of Thailand in Ko Pha Ngan.
Micha Schmidt via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us yearn to travel on a whim whenever the notion strikes us, but realistically in today's economic times that is not always possible. Besides films and television, books are a practical and inexpensive source of escaping too far off lands without the worries and headaches that go along with real-life traveling.

In your readings, has there ever been a book that truly made you want to travel to that particular destination? You felt so compelled you have to go there one day soon. If so, here are five books that may leave a lifelong impression with a desire to travel globally.

The Beach by Alex Garland

Here's a novel about a British traveler in Thailand who goes on the adventure of his life, literally, to a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s one of the unspoiled islands nearby Ko Pha Ngan. This island is inaccessible to tourists and its original inhabitants want to keep it that way in “The Beach.” There is certainly more to Thailand than just Bangkok as the main character, Richard, would later find out. In Alex Garland’s writing, you experience all the good and bad points about Thailand and its unique foreign travelers.

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

This is a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories published in 1947. It’s based on James Michener’s time in the U.S. Navy while stationed in the New Hebrides Islands during World War II. Now it is known as Vanuatu. These stories take place in the Solomon Islands around the Coral Sea. If you’ve read any of Michener's other novels, you know how detail-oriented he can get. You go on his journey like you're right there as a travel companion.

His experiences in the book, along with a collection of people he encounters in “Tales of the South Pacific,” include: colonials, immigrants, and indigenous natives on the island. This is from a time that unfortunately does not exist anymore. Now when you travel, it's so globalized with Dunkin’ Donuts or MacDonald's on every street corner overseas. However, not all places have been subjected to this massacre yet.

Many may be more familiar with the book's adaptation to a Broadway musical and major motion picture simply titled "South Pacific." Naturally the stage and film productions are sanitized versions of his book, yet the music in them is absolutely romantic. When you read this book you will catch the island fever and desire to visit this part of the world.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

It's the ultimate adventure novel from 1873 has spawned countless adaptations in theater, film, TV, animation, and exhibition productions. This is the definitive book if you desire to literally go around the world, maybe not in eighty days. The story is about an English gentleman who gets into an argument with a fellow club member they all belong to. A newspaper article states it’s now possible to travel the world in 80 days, thanks to a new railway in India.

The bet is on and the countdown begins. To achieve this remarkable journey, it begins in London with various modes of transportation. They start out with the railroad and by steamer, or steamboat, to destinations such as the Suez, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. Then it's across the ocean into the U.S. from San Francisco to New York, and back to London. The amazing people, places, and situations he gets into are definitely interesting. In the book “Around the World in Eighty Days,” unlike the film version, they did not travel at any time by balloon. That would have taken too long.

National Geographic Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations by National Geographic

Anything to do with National Geographic will make anyone want to travel, even from one of their incredible magazines that have been around since 1888. “National Geographic Sacred Places of a Lifetime” is a 400-page coffee table book, published in 2008, is a travel pictorial within each page. It depicts the most extraordinary places on earth that hold a great deal of historical and spiritual value. Many of these destinations are yearly pilgrimages for some such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Stonehenge in England, Mt. Fuji in Japan to name just a few.

Lonely Planet by Various Authors

Anyone who travels to an international destination they’re not at all familiar with or have never been to, you need this travel guide in your possession. Founded in 1972 “Lonely Planet” is the largest travel guidebook in the world. Their information is worth its weight in gold.

Once you pick up one of their guides to another country, it will make you want to travel there in a heartbeat. “Lonely Planet: is always well-written, thought out, and concise of all the travel guidebooks out there. Whatever you do while traveling, don't leave home without it.

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