An exotic travel mural fuels wanderlust much as the best travel books do

Travel planning releases endorphins! Anticipation, actively planning an adventure, picturing the fun you’ll have, reading the best travel books – all help relieve everyday stress. They lift you out of the humdrum of daily routines. Reading about adventures, watching movies about destinations, even pouring over maps, creates happiness. Travel fantasies also help relieve the eventual, inevitable complications that arise from making any trip a reality.

Here are a few of the best travel books I’ve come across in the last few months. Two fall into the aspirational category, one is eye-opening for anyone interested in extending their travel budget and immersing in new cultures. The final book is a keen reference for anyone who suffers from Jet Lag.

yoga in poppies at Antelope Preserve.

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent – Karan Bajaj
Rumi once said: “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.”

Compelling and contagious, this novel hooked me deeply. I’ve been meditating for decades and was a yoga teacher for nearly ten years. It was easy to imagine the aspirations of the novel’s character, Max, but his fictionalized journey into and beyond Yoga will shake anyone who’s fantasized about exploring India’s spiritual culture.

The first page introduces us to Max, a Wall Street banker who travels the world in search of truth and enlightenment. Don’t imagine hippie beads and tie-dye, you can’t anticipate where Max goes with the desire to be something more. Author Karan Bajaj, was already a No. 1 bestselling author in India when he followed the endless trek of professionals chucking their productivity-obsessed professions, their complicated lives, to become beginners again and explore simply being. Within a year sabbatical, Bajaj grasped enough to settle into writing and returned to his corporate job in New York, changed in unexpected ways. The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is one of the best travel books I’ve read.

travel wall art looks like an illustration in the best travel books

The Yellow Envelope – Kim Dinan

A lighter read, Kim Dinan’s novel about embracing a nomadic life will appeal to any of us who have pictured selling everything and leaving for parts unknown for as long as we can. The yellow envelope of the title becomes something of a talisman propelling Kim’s journeys, or repelling them. While the most compelling shifts happen within, luckily, Dinan pens introspection vividly. She dances close to Eat, Pray, Love territory but twists to surprising revelations.

Kim, like the protagonist Max, also abandoned a cubicle job, and told me that “There are times in life where we have to do the things that terrify us.”  I won’t spoil her trajectory for you but the hopeful adventure is fraught with change, realization and quiet drama. How she gets there and where she goes next will surprise you.

everyone smiles in the same language

Going Local: Experiences and Encounters on the Road – Nicholas Kontis

Authentic experiences, cultural immersion, and peer-to-peer encounters have become buzzwords within the travel industry. Long before business caught on, Nick Kontis was traveling and seeking new opportunities to experience the world. The sharing economy and internet access has opened up travel to those venturing on a shoestring as well as luxury wanderers. Kontis details Apps and other tools to connect with locals.

How to travel responsibly and consciously are issues dear to my nomadic heart. Kontis has connected with some of the most successful travelers in media, Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet,) Rick Steves (TV and podcasts,) Richard Bangs (often considered the father of modern adventure travel,) Don George (pre-eminent travel writer and editor,) Judith Fein (award-winning travel writer and lecturer,) David Noyes (travel writer and photographer,) and James Dorsey (Explorers and Adventurers Club, photographer and lecturer.) Their wisdom pepper the chapters with invaluable insights. Food tourism, volunteer efforts, and home stays and exchanges, with Kontis’ guidance, will turn the exotic, otherness into face-to-face exchanges of a lifetime.

I will be referring to Go Local again and again.

Aiplane art with house sculptures

The Cure for Jet Lag – Lynne Walker Scanlon and Charles F. Ehret, PhD.

I’m including a book that has transformed the way I approach any time-zone hopping flight. Whether it’s crossing from California to New York or zipping abroad, this program – The Cure for Jetlag – has saved many a trip. Jet lag affects each of us differently and unfortunately, I’m one who suffers most. My cells rebel, leaving my head heavy with fatigue and I spend long nights tossing in an effort to sleep. It’s not just personal discomfort but jet lag impacts my work and relationships. This program, which I’ve written about before, is detailed and specific. It becomes second nature with use. I’ve included a link to the updated book below. The program was originally developed at Argonne National Laboratory and used by Fortune 500 executives as well as U.S. Army Rapid Deployment Forces since Ronald Reagan was President.

Where to find the best travel books:


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Morning in magnificent Edfu.

Here, the Pharoahs celebrated and prepared offerings. The god Horus protected. Isis ruled with compassionate justice.

Today, the temple was hot, noisy with excitement and wonder, but the power of this space endures.

#egyptlove #egyptseraitravel #solotravels #sheisnotlostbutfound #tripwellgal #traveltuesday #travelwritersuniversity #travelernotebook

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Weekend break from regular programming...
Attended the final tour concert of Half.Alive at the Los Angeles Wiltern.

What a masterful show and great crowd!

I discovered they were from Long Beach (a formative place for me.) Then they blew me away when I stumbled across their first Jimmy Kimmel performance well before the Big Pause. This was my 3rd show, and the night was so well curated, such fun - start to finish.

What favorite local band have you followed for years?

Thanks to @alongcomesmary26 for joining me!

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A few moments of bites and sips in Aswan, Egypt.
See all the Egypt food experiences on YT:

#aswanegypt #cataracthotel #carriageride #travelwritersuniversity #foodiefriday

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I found a few moments to myself in Karnak Temple.
Tourism is back, and the heat is rising, but go, just go.

#egyptseraitravel #egyptseraitravel #egypttravel #solotravels #karnaktemple #traveltuesday #travelwriters
#travelwritersuniversity #templearchitecture #gratitudedaily

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The most beautiful train station - Cairo`s central. It`s full of symbolic shapes on a scale that complements the country`s history.

I didn`t need a ride. This was the destination.

#visitegypt #tripwellgal #traveltuesday #travelwriterscafe #egyptseraitravel

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I`ve waited a lifetime...many actually....
Egypt, Day 1 - Cairo

Many thanks to @egyptseraitravel for masterfully arranging everything.

#cairoscene #greatpyramids #tripwellgal #travelernotebook #solotravelers #wanderbeauty #sheisnotlostbutfound #egyptseraitravel #visitegypt

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Resembling prehistoric birds, three gigantic stilt-walking puppet performers moved through the crowd in San Diego`s Marina Plaza. It was all a little scary, extremely beautiful, and mesmerizing.

The Close-Act Theater Company creates large-scale, interactive performances based on direction by Hesther Melief and Tony Aerts. The performance is just one of many different acts free this weekend as part of the WOW Festival in San Diego. Reservations suggested. Birdman was supported by

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Ending a sublime week with a sunset flashback to a few days with friends in Baja Norte.

Celestial serendipity to see the sunset between the Coronado Islands. Thank you, @chefjulied for sharing the beauty.

Have a great weekend, my friends.

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The best travel books build happiness