Focusing on your career 24/7 may make you wealthy, but at what cost? The more myopic businesspeople get, the less innovative they become. To combat the stasis that comes from staying in one place or focusing on one topic too long, professionals should explore more of the wide world. Whether that means a private vision quest in the New Mexico desert or an eco-safari in Botswana, the results can’t help but be transformative.
If you need a bit of inspiration to move you from your desk (or even your couch), pick up at least one of these compelling travel books—and let your mind wander.
The late Tony Horwitz had a penchant for weaving history into epic tales that take you beyond your experiences. In his last book, published earlier this year, Horwitz follows the path of a farmer turned literary spy who traversed the southern states in pre-Civil War America in search of stories to send north. The real-life protagonist, Frederick Law Olmsted, went from semi-aimless drifter to renowned creator of Central Park. Spying on the South solidifies my belief that everyone is born to find his or her purpose.
The 40 female travelers discussed in Gale Straub’s book have so much gusto, chutzpah, and drive that I acquired 40 new role models just by reading it. You’ll be awestruck at their imaginative ways of living and thriving, even in the most inhospitable circumstances. And many took their kids along for the ride—bumps and all. No reader of She Explores will ever complain again about little hiccups like a hotel skimping on towel service.
I’m no marathon runner, so I was concerned this book might be out of my league. I had nothing to worry about. North pumped me up both spiritually and emotionally. Scott and Jenny Jurek bring readers along for a 46-day breakneck run across the formidable, yet breathtaking, 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. You’ll race alongside Scott through grueling mileage, terrifying moments and near heartbreak. Reading about someone who ran more than 50 miles a day for weeks will make that looming work project look like a piece of cake.
Give me a good pet story and I’m hooked. Rob Kugler shares his return to psychological health after serving in the Marines overseas and losing his brother. His chapters are punctuated by his devotion to Bella, the chocolate lab who accompanies him wherever he goes. Sadly, Bella gets a devastating diagnosis, accelerating the intensity of their travels and giving new meaning to the beauty of waking every day. A Dog Named Beautiful is about the encounters man and dog had with strangers who became friends along the way—teaching the reader a wealth about the value of making human connections.
Looking for a practical travel read with tons of insider secrets? This is your winner. We’ve all felt the embarrassment of standing out like a sore thumb on vacation, but with the help of Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati—the founders of the travel site Fathom—you’ll never act like a foreigner again. Aside from explaining the customs of various cultures, the authors inspire readers to take the roads less traveled. After finishing Travel Anywhere, I definitely added a few out-of-the-way spots to my bucket list. See whether the same doesn’t happen for you.
For Chris Herrmann, reaching midlife wasn’t just a moment in time. It was an epiphany that led him to embark on a yearlong walkabout to all corners of the globe. And get this: He just winged the whole thing. As an entrepreneur who lives by calendars, I found myself wondering whether being hyper-organized might be a bit overrated. I’m not ready to ditch my to-do list yet, but after reading The Youthful Art of Midlife Travel, I hope to be more spontaneous at home and work.
America’s southern border has taken center stage for long enough. In this book, Porter Fox sheds light on the history of our northern border. Prepare to be surprised as he takes you through the history of this fascinating, little-discussed landscape. Northland is more enthralling than any social studies class, yet you’ll be left with a better understanding of what makes this boundary so important to native peoples, fur traders and explorers. Just thinking about the book makes me eager to experience this seldom-talked-about land that separates us from Canada.