The best travel memoirs that will both inform and amuse you

Mary-Lou Weisman Author Of Traveling While Married
By Mary-Lou Weisman

Who am I?

Since I was a kid, “someplace else” has always looked good to me. I turned that passion into a career. I have been a travel writer for the New York Times and travel commenter for Public Radio International. Three of my published books are humorous travel memoirs. I’ve written books about what’s funny when your destination is middle age, the hilarious thrills and disasters that befall you when you’re pretending to be French in Provence, and the gender problems that arise when traveling while married. Bragging is a vice I usually avoid, but I can’t resist telling you that reviewers of my travel books have compared my humor to that of the late Erma Bombeck. I also enjoy giving credit to other successful, amusing humor writers.

I wrote...

Traveling While Married

By Mary-Lou Weisman,

Book cover of Traveling While Married

What is my book about?

What really happens when marriages leave home? Travel can put extra strain on a marriage. Being the same old couple in a new and different place is a disorienting experience. All too often, when people don’t know where they are, have jet lag, don’t speak the language, and can’t figure out the money or maintain intestinal regularity, they get hostile. The very concept of vacationing can mean different things to each partner. People like to possess a piece of the country they are visiting. Women like to wear it; men like to eat it. Does a vacation have to have palm trees? Does it have to be far away?

My husband Larry wants to go white water rafting. I prefer a spa. We compromise with surprising results. And those are just two of our fifteen adventures. This hilarious, insightful book is illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist, Edward Koren.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Innocents Abroad: Or the New Pilgrim's Progress

Why did I love this book?

The Innocents Abroad is the classic travel diary written by America’s most celebrated, tongue-in-cheeky humorist Mark Twain. For the five months that you are sailing with him and his select companions, you are privy to what he does and doesn’t like about his adventures on land -- Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land -- as well as at sea. Twain’s laser focus on human foibles -- his own American-style arrogance and that of his fellow passengers -- is both hilarious and spot on. Written in 1869, his insights into human nature and travel still ring true.

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Innocents Abroad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party?'

So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land in June 1867. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World - to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the 'Old Masters'.…

Book cover of Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

Why did I love this book?

I’m middle-aged and then some, and I’ve traveled to many places more than once. I was curious to compare my double experiences with Bryson’s. Would the Leaning Tower of Pisa be leaning even more? Would Paris disappoint on a second visit? I won’t tell, but bear in mind I hold a special place in my dark heart for snarky humor, which I find perversely amusing.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Neither Here Nor There as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.

Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and…

Book cover of Where Am I And Who's Winning?

Why did I love this book?

Pity or envy this sports journalist as he jet-lags around the world on an all-expenses-paid journey reporting on familiar Olympic events as well as competitive games he knows nothing about in countries he’s barely heard of – all on deadline. This is a hilarious whirlwind read for the armchair traveler. Although I’ve been a journalist and written several funny memoirs about travel, I have never had or even imagined such a unique travel experience. Probably neither have you. I loved the crazy pace, and the odd events and places. This book is a legal high.

By Andrew Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where Am I And Who's Winning? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the armchair fan, the life of the sports writer is one of unalloyed joy: all-expenses-paid trips to the most exciting events in the world, the best seats in the house, and one-on-one interviews with Anna Kournikova... Well, up to a point.

Where Am I And Who's Winning? describes what it's really like to make your way through the world of sport, always on deadline, always between time zones, on a frantic, chaotic and hilarious tour of the planet's most famous and most bizarre sporting venues. There's football to be watched. And Formula One. And tennis. And two Olympics, two…

Book cover of Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide

Why did I love this book?

The author gets ahold of his mother’s copy of Frommer's 1967 Europe on Five Dollars a Day and uses it as his basis for a contemporary visit. Like his mother, I, too, did the tour in 1967. I was curious to see what had happened to Europe and to my view of it. Of course, most of the restaurants no longer exist, and $5 dollars a day was more like $50 dollars a day, but this travel memoir is full of funny, disastrous, and touching adventures. I admit to a fondness for funny disasters.

By Doug Mack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path...

When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that's nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother's much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and the result is a funny and fascinating journey into a new (old) world, and a disarming look at the ways the classic tourist experience has changed- and has not-in the last…

Book cover of Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida

Why did I love this book?

Don’t be put off by the title. This is a funny, perceptive, deep dive into the workings of Disneyland. I’ve been to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, and wondered about the inner life of this well-run American cultural phenomenon. I was surprised by some of what I learned – think the Great Wizard of Oz behind the curtain -- and enjoy the voice of this intrepid and funny author.

By Catherine Ryan Howard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mousetrapped as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling travel memoir by the author of Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America Three big dreams, two mouse ears and one J-1 visa. What could possibly go wrong in the happiest place on earth? When Catherine Ryan Howard decides to swap the grey clouds of Ireland for the clear blue skies of the Sunshine State, she thinks that all of her dreams (living in the United States, seeing a Space Shuttle launch and, um, owning a Starbucks card) are about to come true. Blissfully ignorant of the realities of moving thousands of miles away from home - and…

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