Travel Tips

Still Need Holiday Gifts? One Bookstore Owner’s Top Travel Books

Locations in this article:  London, England Los Angeles, CA Shanghai, China

‘Tis the season to show the favorite traveler in your life how much you care. But what better way to do so than to gift a good book? Books are informative yet personal and make excellent gifts. True explorers love to armchair travel with a perfect read, especially while en route to another unknown locale. World traveler and bookstore owner Natalie Compagno shares some of the best travel books for the travelers on your list.

Destination Cocktails, The Traveler’s Guide to Superior Libations by James Teitelbaum $19.95

destination cocktails

This frequent traveler’s guide to craft cocktails has suggestions from all over the world, from Milwaukee to Shanghai. It’s also got historical trivia, interviews with mixologists, early and late night bar recommendations, plus recipes to help you continue the fun back home.

Best in Travel 2015 by Lonely Planet $14.99

best in travel

This is a must-have for all travel addicts. Each year, the company that redefined travel guidebooks comes out with its ultimate publication which includes helpful lists such as “Top 10 Countries,” “Top 10 Regions,” and “Top 10 Cities,” as well as a calendar of global festivals in the back that will inspire an immediate purchase of an around-the-world ticket.

World’s Best Cities by National Geographic $40

worlds best cities

Urban life creates art, chaos, innovation, and late-night fun—all of which this NatGeo book captures in World’s Best Cities. This coffee table book sings the praises of 220 cities around the world and also groups them in interesting ways to emphasize certain facets of the city, such as haunted locales, nightlife, and food. Iconic pictures, local insider tips, and hip stats make this a top choice for jet setters.

The Golden Lands, Architecture of the Buddhist World by Vikram Lall $95

the golden lands

Escape from the stress of city life with this lavishly illustrated book. Spanning six countries, this ambitious six-volume set by scholar and architect Vikram Lall has history, photos, and case studies that will keep you occupied for hours. Organized by country, The Golden Land guides readers through both small and massive Buddhist monuments, which might just inspire you to visit.

The Broken Road: From the Iron Road to Mount Athos by Patrick Leigh Fermor $30

the broken road

Fermor was the ultimate traveler—some even say he was the best travel writer of all time. This travelogue filled with strange encounters will make everyone with wanderlust want to pack a bag instantly and hit the road. Fermor tells tales of counts, prostitutes, poets, and bon vivants.

The London Times Atlas of the World $200

the times atlas

This is an epic world atlas. Redone this past year, The London Times Atlas of the World comes in four sizes, but the large, almost-too-heavy-to-carry volume is the best choice to show off in a home. The cartography is, as always, a work of art, and the up-to-date references will satisfy even the biggest globe trekker.

Unusual Hotels of the World by Steve Dobson $22.25

unusual hotels

In Unusual Hotels of the World, you’ll find former prisons turned into funky art hostels, tree houses, bed coffins, glass igloos, and lodgings shaped like a boot. This book is definitely for the eccentric traveler. Some hotels are almost too crazy to believe, and some are too amazing to exist. Dobson’s work is a great addition to any travel book collection.

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die by Chris Santella $24.95

fifty places to paddle before you die

This book has the world’s top spots for kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and stand-up paddleboarding for the healthy, outdoorsy type. Travelogues, vibrant photos, and profiled destinations—ranging from the Antarctic to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula—may all seem intimidating, but there are useful tips for all types of travelers, from beginner to expert.

Looking for more holiday gift ideas? Check out:

By Natalie Compagno for Natalie Compagno is the owner of Traveler’s Bookcase, an independent bookstore in Los Angeles, and has traveled to 85 countries. All of these books are available at local bookstores or at