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The best travel and tourism reading list

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Having a travel and tourism reading list is important, whether you are a teacher, a student, or a tourist.

The key to success is knowledge. And where better to look than books? Having a travel and tourism reading list is a great idea whether you are a student, an entrepreneur or a travel enthusiast.

In this article I have outlined a number of essential and recommended texts covering a range of travel and tourism-related topics. These are the perfect additions to any travel and tourism reading list.

The first list is intended for travel and tourism students and teachers. The second list is useful for people working in the tourism industry, especially those who run their own business or who are managers. The third list offers practical guidance for travellers. The final list provides my recommendations for leisurely reading that will inspire your wanderlust!

My travel and tourism reading list

Below you will find a list of the best books in the business. Not got a huge budget? Not to worry! Abe Books is a great website selling discounted second-hand books- just use the search option to see if they have what you’re after. Otherwise, I have no doubt you will find your books on Amazon.

Academic-based tourism texts

adult blur books close up

The reading material needed for each travel and tourism course will differ slightly. However, there are some key tests that are largely relevant for the majority of programmes. Below, I have outlined some of the key texts

Tourism: Principles and Practice

This is the ultimate beginner’s guide for any travel and tourism student and is on almost every university travel and tourism reading list.

This book covers all of the core travel and tourism management subjects and the explanations are clear and easy to understand.

There are multiple editions, so if you’r budget is tight, opt for an older copy to save a few pennies!

The Business of Tourism

This book is an essential text for students of tourism management or travel and tourism.

It provides background theory and research that is easy to understand. It also has lots of relevant and current case studies.

Tourism: A Modern Synthesis

The world is changing and evolving quickly and the tourism industry must keep up.

This book looks at the modern-day issues that are effecting the travel and tourism industry. It examines new and emerging markets and disruptive technologies such as the sharing economy, low cost airlines and e-travel. It also includes current debates on sustainable tourism, future jobs in travel and tourism and generational marketing.

Worldwide Destinations: The geography of travel and tourism

Every travel and tourism reading list should have a geography-based element, because geography is such an important part of travel!

This book is great because it explores the concepts of tourism demand and supply for a comprehensive range of destinations and every country worldwide.

This book is essential reading for any travel and tourism student!

The Geography of Tourism and Recreation: Environment, Place and Space

Another geography-based text, this book combines management theory with a range of geographical case-studies around the world.

Practical tourism management guides

ethnic young woman using laptop while having tasty beverage in modern street cafe

There are some really handy tourism management guides on the market at the moment. These are perfect for those who are considering a career in travel and tourism or for people who are looking to climb the career ladder.

If you are thinking about starting up your own business in the tourism industry then these books are must-haves! The tips and advice given in these texts are invaluable- they will help to save you time and make you money!

Here are my recommendations-

The Escape Industry: How Iconic and Innovative Brands Built the Travel Business

The travel and tourism industry is fun and dynamic. And there are endless opportunities to businesses: travel is a hugely competitive, multi-million pound industry and marketers of all sectors can learn important lessons from it.

From mass tourism to business tourism to specialist tourism, there are some fundamental principles to setting up and running a business in the tourism industry.

This book presents an expert view of travel marketing and branding (and loads of helpful advice), focusing particularly on how travel has been transformed for both consumers and providers since the beginning of the 21st century.

Traditional travel agents are fast becoming a thing of the past. High street stores are exchanged for home-based working. Many of the big travel agencies (Thomas Cook, Lunn Poly, Monarch to name a few) no longer exist.

There have never been so many opportunities to work online and to be your own boss as there are right now. The evolution of the internet and the reduction in competition means that the marketplace is wide open.

But being an online travel agent isn’t something you can do without any training! This book teaches you the fundamentals of setting up your businesses and how to be successful.

Optimize YOUR Bnb: The Definitive Guide to Ranking #1 in Airbnb Search

Want to get rich quick? Airbnb could be the way to go!

There are plenty of people who are making decent sums of money each year from Airbnb. But it is a competitive market and if you want to succeed, you need to know how!

This book is written by Danny, who claims to be the best in the world at Airbnb. His book teaches you how to optimise your listing, leverage tools to automate your workload, undertake interior design without paying premium rates, navigate the slow season and identify and solve guest issues.

How to Start and Run a B&B

Owning a B&B is the dream of many…but where do you start?

This book teaches you all the basics in order to run a successful bed and breakfast business. It looks at types of customers, financial tools, preparing your home, marketing your property and managing profit.

The Small Business Start-Up Workbook: A step-by-step guide to starting the business you’ve dreamed

Whatever business you are considering running/starting, the small business start up workbook will help you to be successful.

This practical and comprehensive workbook is packed with real-life case studies and practical exercises, checklists and worksheets, it provides a step-by-step guide to researching and formulating your business ideas, planning the right marketing strategies, and managing a team that will drive your vision forward with you.

The Idea in You: How to Find It, Build It, and Change Your Life

Whilst not specific to tourism management, this book is a great addition to any travel and tourism reading list.

Do you have an idea in you? A hobby, a project, a product … something that could change your life? The Idea in You will help you to formulate a business plan and turn your idea into a reality.

Travel tips and advice

guest guidebook

If you love travelling then you will love these books, which offer heaps of helpful travel tips and advice. I’ve read lots of these types of books and consolidated a list of my favourites below.

Travel the World on $50 a Day

Not everyone travels on a budget, but most of us can’t resist saving money and getting a great bargain!

Matt Kepnes is one of my favourite travel bloggers. Specialising in budget travel, he has put together this brilliant guide on how to travel the world without breaking the bank. He offers some really helpful tips and advice from how to find the best bargains to using air miles to avoiding paying bank fees abroad.

The Responsible Tourist

Travel takes us to see wonderful places around the world, but sadly, it also helps to destroy those places.

This book is a fantastic guide which teaches you how you can offset the damage caused by travelling and help the local communities, economies and environments that you visit.

By being a sustainable tourist, you will feel better about your travels and help to preserve the places that you are visiting for future generations.

The Family Travel Handbook

Travelling as a family has created my most special and favourite memories. My kids get so much out of travelling- after all, travel is the best education, so they say!

But travelling with small kids isn’t always easy. You need to adapt your travel habits and revise plans to suit the children. Your luggage will double in size. You will experience issues and dramas that had never crossed your mind pre-kids.

This book is great because it gives plenty of tips and advice about how best to travel with kids. A must-read for any avid travellers who are planning to start a family soon and for families who are yet to embrace life on the road.

The Camper Van Bible

Ever dreamed of travelling in a camper van? What an amazing experience, huh! But, there is a lot to learn if you’re going to do it properly…

Martin Dorey, acknowledged camper van expert and presenter of BBC2’s ‘One Man and His Campervan’, delves headfirst into the nitty gritty of camping and camper vans in this book, which makes a perfect addition to any camper glovebox.

In this book he covers four main areas of-

-Owning and living day to day with a camper van (LIVE) 
– Cooking and eating in your camper (EAT) 
– Sleeping in your camper (SLEEP) 
– Keeping you and your van going (REPEAT)

Your Money or your Life

Whilst this book is not directly about travelling, it does provide invaluable tips about how to manage your money. And more money=more travel, right?

This book is 5star rated on Amazon. It covers getting out of debt, developing savings, reordering material priorities, living well for less, resolving inner conflicts between values and lifestyle, saving the planet while saving money and much more.

Bush Craft 101

If getting out and about amongst nature is your thing then you will love Bushcraft 101. Whether you’re the next Bear Grylls or trying your hand at glamping, there are many helpful tips and tricks in this guide.

Written by survivalist expert Dave Canterbury, this guide is based on the 5Cs of Survivability-cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages. This guide teaches you the most important survival skills to use in a range of outdoor contexts.

Whilst I fundamentally disagree with the title (if you are travelling for leisure then you ARE a tourist, no matter what you do- and there is nothing wrong with that!), this book does offer some pretty handy tips.

This book presents a range of stories and anecdotes to help teach you how to make the most out of your travel experiences, get off the beaten paths and have a deep and meaningful experience.

Books to inspire wanderlust

man wearing sunglasses reading book on body of water

Whether you are looking for a good holiday book or some night time reading, there is nothing better (in my opinion) than a book which inspires your inner wanderlust!

I personally love to snuggle up in bed on a cold winter’s evening when my next trip away is a distant dream and immerse myself in the adventures of others. Here are some of my favourites that I have read over the years. Some of these pop up on most ‘must read’ travel lists and others are lesser-known books that I have come across on my travels.

The Beach

Alex Garland’s, The Beach, has a lot to answer for!

This is is one of the most popular travel books of all time and one of my all-time favourites. It is also the reason for the occurrence of overtourism in Maya Bay, Thailand and its subsequent temporary closure.

The Beach, later made into a film starring Leonardo Dicaprio, is based on the [once] pristine beach in Maya Bay, Thailand. When people started reading about this perfect, unspoilt beach, they bagan to flock there in their hundreds and thousands. Fast forward a decade or two and the area was filled with litter and flora and fauna dying. The beach has been closed to tourists to allow for rejuvenation in 2018 indefinitely.

Despite the current state of ‘The Beach’, the book itself is a fantastic read. It details the search for unspoilt lands and the life that these backpackers live when they find them. It is an absolute must-read for anyone who has caught ‘the travel bug’!

Eat, Pray, Love

Another one of my favourites is Eat, Pray, Love. This book has also been made into a film, starring Julia Roberts. I am a massive fan, so much so that I think there was a time in my life when I watched this film at least twice a week!

Eat, Pray, Love documents a woman’s journey through Italy, India and Bali. On a journey of self-discovery (as many of us are during our travels at some point or another), this book takes you with her on an emotional and philosophical level.

Whilst this book may resonate more with women than men (my husband certainly isn’t a fan!), it is well worth a watch and will definitely spark some inner wanderlust!

Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

Bryson’s Down Under is one of the best travel books I have ever read. I have vivid memories of starting to read it whilst laying in bed in my hostel in Sydney and finishing it shortly after I left Australia whilst in the Gili Islands.

This book is funny and informative- two criteria to make an excellent read! I learnt so much about Australia in this book, from the history of colonialism in the area to what life is like in the outback. This book really complimented my travels and helped to me to understand and appreciate what I was seeing and experiencing so much more.

If there is one book that you MUST read when travelling down under, it’s this one!

How to be a Family

If, like many parents, you are nervous about travelling with your kids then read this!

How to be a Family is a funny memoir of a family round the world trip. It shows that travelling with kids doesn’t have to be stressful or cost the earth.

Sand in my Bra

This one’s for the girls! Sand in my Bra is a hilarious collection of tales from females who have travelled all over the world from Alaska to Zanzibar. It’s a light-hearted read that will be sure to make you laugh. And I definitely have a few stories of my own that could be added to the collection…

Without You there is no Us

This book gives you a sneak peak into a place that you will likely never travel to- North Korea. OK, so there are a few tours to the country but these are completely inauthentic, heavily censored and somewhat dangerous (one step wrong and you’re in a North Korean prison for the rest of your life…).

This book is a real page turner. It tells the story of Suki Kim, who travels to North Korea as an English teacher to learn about her heritage and culture. This book provides insights into the world’s most secretive country, many of which will shock you.

I definitely recommend this book if you plan to visit South Korea. No trip to Korea is complete without a trip to the DMZ and this book gives you some excellent background knowledge before you go.

First they killed my father

I was sold this book by a street seller as I got off a bus upon my arrival in Cambodia. Prior to reading this book I knew little about the Khmer Rouge regime and about the country that I had just arrived in.

Whilst this book has many moments which are sad and scary, it really enabled me to develop a thorough understanding of the horrors that were suffered just three decades earlier. Yes, you can read guidebooks and information plaques, but hearing it through the words of a child who has lived through this time is something pretty special.

Sihpromatum – I Grew my Boobs in China

This is a book that I am currently reading at the moment and I am loving it so far! I grew my boobs in China is the story of a family’s four year backpacking adventure, as told by teenager Savannah Grace. Initially unimpressed to be dragged away from her school and her friends, Savannah ended up having what literally became the adventure of a lifetime.


Wild is another example of a popular travel book that has subsequently been made into a movie.

Whilst this isn’t my personal favourite book or movie, it is hugely popular around the world, which is why I included it in this list.

Wild is the story of Cheryl Strayed who set off on a journey to walk 1100 miles along the west coast of America alone. Bearing the grief of her mother’s sudden death and her crumbled marriage, she embarks on a spiritual journey fro lost to found.

The Alchemist

The last book on my travel and tourism reading list is the Alchemist.

The reason it’s last is because I haven’t actually managed to finish it. Personally, I found this book a little slow going and I just haven’t managed to find the motivation to finish it yet…. having said that, many others have! In fact, I think I may be the only person in the world who doesn’t absolutely love this book!

The Alchemist is included on almost every list of recommended travel books I have ever read… which is why I have included it here. It might not be to my taste, but it could be to yours!

Travel and tourism reading list: YOUR recommendations

To finish off this article, I would love to ask for your suggestions of essential travel and tourism reading. Whether it’s a textbook, a how-to guide, fiction or non-fiction, please let me know what is missing from my travel and tourism reading list! You can use the comments box below.

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