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:


This post contains affiliate links which do not increase costs to you but, when you place an order it helps to support this blog and future posts. Thank you.

Love travel pictures? Follow me on Instagram:

The joy of jumping. After pulling the raft over on a hot afternoon, my mates splashed into the cool waters of the Colorado River. One of those trips of a lifetime - 3 days rafting through the truly great Grand Canyon.
Lots more to come...

With thanks to the mighty crew and team of @westernriverexpeditions who make navigating rapids seem easy. Their sixty years of experience runs deep.

48 18

A perfect fall night market at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Foodieland swept into town for the weekend with literally hundreds of vendors from across the southland. Best international street eats I`ve had without a passport.

The family-friendly event was crowded, but timed entry made getting around easy. Along with sugar cane, juices, and soda drinks, there were canned adult beverages as well as hard cider or Komucha samples.

Wear your walking shoes and bring wipes, you`ll eat standing - the tables were far from the stalls.

Music: Sunny. Musician:Ikson

48 18

Oslo Sardine Bar keeps morphing. This month, the night unfolded from the street to the interior of @mabelsgonefishing with specialty cocktails and local brews (indoors.) The curated @oslosardinebar menu, taped in panels on the wall, offered cans of sardines, pickled mussels, smoked trout, and more... along with fresh baguettes and half loaves. Of course, Captain Daily tended all with a quick pour or comment while Brady and Chum serenaded everyone.

The passion project has morphed from a shipboard `closet,` to a bread factory, Seaport Village, and on to this beautiful setting with room to breathe.

I have to selfishly admit preferring the smaller, more permanent spaces that Max and friends embellished as only they can. Still, his ubiquitous, turntable meekly spun out ship sounds next to the bar, and calm seas prevailed.

Ahoy, San Diego, give these boys a permanent berth!

51 20

A garden of odd delights - Desert View Tower and Boulder Park, an hour east of San Diego.

They`re one of the last Historic Folk Art Landmarks that remain intact in California. I`ve been past the stone tower dozens of times while driving east along Highway 8 between the desert and San Diego. This was the first time I found it open.

California State Landmark #939 sits in the boulder field just before the land slopes steeply into the desert. As a `station` it`s hosted travelers for hundreds of years. The First People established a stop on routes through the massive stones, then it served stage coach passengers, and in the 1920s, a plank road led across the desert floor to Yuma. The Highway bypassed it in the 1960s.

You need a ticket to climb the Tower stairs or wander Boulder Park. It can be tortuously hot, but luckily, we had cloud cover. Next time I`ll bring a picnic lunch, pause longer to enjoy the eccentric collections inside the Tower, and commune with the numerous carved creatures.

72 35

Sphere has arrived. The Las Vegas phenomenon opens for events within soon, but the exterior show now flows on day through the night.

Bravo, Team Sphere - Creators of the largest globular building in the world.

47 21

Sailing between Egypt`s Temples is glorious, and the smaller ships share the route graciously. Here`s a taste of their dance as we floated towards Aswan.

After years of scuba diving, the sweet fragrance of fresh water mesmerized me.

What a magnificent river.

52 16


The best travel books build happiness