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Travel The World A Page At A Time With This Non-Fiction Reading Challenge - Antsy Labs

Travel The World A Page At A Time With This Non-Fiction Reading Challenge

Spring break and summer vacations are already here, which means you’re likely thinking about packing the sunscreen, the swimsuit, and the sunglasses for your next trip.

The problem with that trip? You’re likely only going to one or two places.

Read More Books and Reward Yourself

Reading well -- and being well-read -- is a challenge. You're ready for it. But it takes a lot of hard work -- a lot of time -- before you see the results you want. Stay motivated and reward yourself with IRLA Reading challenge medals. Get a series of five medals that mark your milestones for reading more books and different book. As you set more goals and make progress in your reading challenges, your IRLAs give you the motivation to do more and more.

The solution? Non-fiction travel books!

Reading travel books is both a great way to satisfy your wanderlust from home and a perfect way to prepare for your summer travels.

It’s like George R.R. Martin says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Except instead of using the quote to face our mortality, we can spin it to say that “A traveler who reads visits a thousand places, while the traveler who never reads visits only one.”

As big fans of both travel and non-fiction travel books, we thought we’d put together a non-fiction travel reading challenge.

By tackling the major non-fiction travel genres, you’ll get to experience new cultures from the comfort of your own home through the pages of non-fiction books. 

Read A Book From Each Of These 7 Travel Genres

Travel books can help you plan your trip and inspire you to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations that you might not have considered before, while providing some practical tips and interesting tidbits that make your trips all the better.

Plus, they’re one of our favorite ways to challenge ourselves as readers!

For this non-fiction travel challenge, we’re going to have you read a book from each of these seven travel genres. We’ve included some popular recommendations for each section, but feel free to do your own research and find something that’s right up your alley.


Memoirs are the ideal genre for travel non-fiction because they offer a personal and intimate perspective of the travel experience. Unlike traditional travel guides or narratives that focus solely on the destination, memoirs allow readers to experience the journey through the eyes of the author, offering insight into their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. 

Examples of travel memoirs:

“Travels with Charley: In Search of America" by John Steinbeck - This memoir follows the author's road trip across the United States with his dog, Charley, as he reflects on the changing American landscape and the people he meets along the way.

 "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert - Immortalized by the Julia Roberts movie, this is the chronicle of the author's journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia as she searches for spiritual and personal fulfillment.


Though waning in popularity thanks to the overwhelming amount of resources online, guidebooks are still highly valuable, as they’re written by experienced travel writers or locals, who have a deep understanding and knowledge of the destination. 

Plus, reading them as a part of this non-fiction travel challenge can be a refreshing reminder of how to prepare to travel to a new destination.

Examples of guidebooks:

"Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door" by Rick Steves - The classic guidebook. Though the internet is full of content and tips about Europe travel advice, this is the gold standard for finding off-the-beaten-path destinations and cultural experiences

 "Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist" - Who needs to spend time opening and closing tabs when this guidebook highlights the 500 best places to visit around the world in one easy package?

Travel narratives

Travelogs, also known as travelogues or travel narratives, share firsthand accounts of the author's journey, including their experiences, observations, and insights into the destination.

Unlike guidebooks, which focus on practical information and recommendations, these are often more literary in style, offering a more subjective and emotional account of the journey.

Examples of travel narratives:

"The Great Railway Bazaar" by Paul Theroux - Follow the author's four-month journey by train from London to Tokyo, as he observes the landscapes, cultures, and people along the way.

"A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle - Sit back and settle in with a couple as they settle into a small village in southern France and experience the local culture, cuisine, and customs.

Adventure travel

Adventure travel narratives typically offer readers a detailed account of the author's experiences – or a subject’s experiences – along with the challenges, and triumphs, often accompanied by vivid descriptions of the natural surroundings and cultural experiences.

For those of us who prefer armchairs to crampons, this is a great genre for enjoying the essence of a destination and its people… at a distance!

Examples of adventure travel:

"Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer - A harrowing account of a disastrous 1996 expedition to climb Mount Everest that resulted in the deaths of eight climbers.

"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed - A hybrid memoir-adventure travel book that documents the author's 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Food and drink

Food and drink travel narratives can be written by food critics, chefs, journalists, and travel writers who have a deep appreciation and understanding of the local cuisine.

(And they have the tantalizing side effect of whetting our appetites while we read!)

These offer readers a personal and immersive experience, providing detailed descriptions of the taste, texture, and aroma of local dishes, as well as the ingredients and cooking methods used.

Examples of food and drink travel books:

“The Art of Eating" by M.F.K. Fisher - A collection of essays that explore the author's love of food and drink, as well as her experiences dining in various locations around the world.

"The Spice Route: A History" by John Keay - Learn about the history and origins of spices, and their impact on food and culture around the world, including into the cultural and economic significance of spices, as well as their influence on culinary traditions and cuisine. 

Nature and wildlife

Nature and wildlife travel narratives provide us with a glimpse into the natural beauty and biodiversity of different destinations – which is particularly handy since some of these places are so hard to reach!

Written by nature enthusiasts, wildlife photographers, conservationists, and travel writers, these narratives offer a personal and immersive experience, with detailed descriptions of the natural surroundings, wildlife encounters, and the challenges and rewards of exploring the wilderness. 

Examples of nature and wildlife travel books:

"The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild" by Lawrence Anthony - The author shares his experiences from creating a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, along with the deep bond he developed with a herd of elephants.

"The Soul of an Octopus" by Sy Montgomery - Follow the author's encounters with octopuses in various locations around the world, including the New England Aquarium and the Great Barrier Reef. 

History and culture

History books might rightly be called the original travel genre, as they routinely offer us readers with deep understandings of the people, traditions, and heritage of different destinations. 

Examples of history and culture travel books:

"In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson - This travel narrative follows Bryson's journey across Australia, exploring its history, culture, and unique quirks, including the Aboriginal culture, the convict past, the natural wonders, and the modern society of Australia.

"The Lost City of the Monkey God" by Douglas Preston - Get immersed in this true story of an expedition to a remote jungle in Honduras in search of a lost city, as the author uncovers the history and culture of a forgotten civilization.

Get Ready For Your Next Reading Challenge

Has this non-fiction travel reading challenge piqued your interest for more? Then take on our IRLA Reading Pack, and unlock the five reading achievements within. With daily, weekly, and yearly reading challenges, you’ll be set up to have your best reading year yet!



Earn these IRLAs with your dedication to the written word as each book notched brings you closer to another coin earned. Push your reading boundaries and expand your world with award-winners, genre-benders, and page-turners. Each coin you receive is just further proof of what we all believe: reading makes you the hero in this hero’s journey. 

Time for your next page one.

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