The best travelogue memoirs to help reminisce or plan your holiday—with what you won't find in guidebooks

Who am I?

Primarily I’m a wife and mother, who loves holidays and writing about our experiences: from the many family holidays in a static caravan 90 minutes’ drive from our hometown in Scotland to the wonderful opportunities we’ve had to travel the world since, including through my work as a lecturer (when the family came too for a holiday while I worked!) or with friends. I like reading other authors’ personal experiences especially when I’m drawn into feeling I’m with the author during the travels, experiencing what’s not always included in travel guidebooks: the not-so-good as well as the good, the challenging as well as the amazing.

I wrote...

From Sri Lanka with Love: A Tapestry of Travel Tales

By Margaret Moore,

Book cover of From Sri Lanka with Love: A Tapestry of Travel Tales

What is my book about?

This book centres around a wonderful holiday my husband Douglas and I had in Sri Lanka in 2017 exploring our immediate surroundings and travelling around this wonderful island. Each day brought new experiences ranging from relaxing to exhausting, amusing to thought-provoking, straightforward, and the very opposite! 

Our holidays have changed hugely over the years from simple caravan holidays with two sons in our Scottish homeland to jetting across the world adapting to different climates and cultures. Journey with me as we holiday in Sri Lanka and recount previous holiday tales from around the globe: Iceland, America, India, Hong Kong, Norway, Spain, Italy, London, Scotland, Madeira, South Africa, Canada, Austria, and Australia. My hope is you’ll feel you’re on holiday with me as you read.

The books I picked & why

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Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

Why this book?

I had great intentions of reading this before my Australia holiday but afterwards it was!  

The book combines experiences from several trips Bill made in Australia, the first on the Indian Pacific train, from Sydney to Perth. Other places he writes about in this travelogue include the Gold Coast, Queensland, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Uluru, Alice Springs, Darwin, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, and Western Australia including Perth. 

I enjoyed the variety in the book ranging from factual research, anecdotes, humor, and descriptions of nature helping me visualize what he saw. Accounts of conversations he had with local people he met entertained and enlightened me. 

Bill travels the way I like to travel—finding out about interesting places to visit, experiences to have, and getting to know the local people.

Isle Walk Clockwise: A year of half-marathons round the Isle of Barra

By Kath Kelly,

Book cover of Isle Walk Clockwise: A year of half-marathons round the Isle of Barra

Why this book?

The Isle of Barra, a small island off the west coast of Scotland was a holiday destination I yearned to visit. Uniquely, planes land on a tidal beach. ‘Isle’, meaning island, is pronounced I’ll, so the title also reads I’ll walk clockwise.

The author walked the A888, a 13-mile-long road round the island once a month for a year—partly during the 2020 Covid pandemic restrictions. 

The book recounts the walks while giving an insight into remote island life with its varied scenery and wildlife through the changeable weather conditions.

The book fired my enthusiasm. Soon I experienced the island myself; the plane landing on the beach, walking Kath’s route—once (!) and seeing the fantastic, virtually deserted, golden sand beaches and clear water, while enjoying numerous other walks.

Medic on the Move: Even Further Adventures of a Scottish Country Doctor

By Dr. Tom Smith,

Book cover of Medic on the Move: Even Further Adventures of a Scottish Country Doctor

Why this book?

This third book written by the country doctor recounts tales from his working experience not only in the sleepy harbor town setting in Wigtonshire, Scotland but during his travels around the world.

I was astounded by the situations he found himself in: murders, near mayhem, a flying and sailing ‘Good Samaritan’ and mixed up in undercover police operations. Certainly not what I expected.

I loved reading the conversational, light style of writing which introduced me to entertaining characters I felt I’d got to know and would happily have learned more about. It is a light read, not full of medical jargon, and left me in feeling good when I finished reading.

Just a Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes

By Rosie Swale Pope,

Book cover of Just a Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes

Why this book?

I found myself regularly asking, 'How does she keep going!!?’ Rosie is an amazing person, battling through temperatures as low as -62 degrees C, deep snow, packs of wolves, a monotonous diet, and breaking equipment. After running and pulling a cart between 500 yards and 30 miles a day (depending on weather conditions), she reached home 5 years and 53 pairs of shoes later having run 20,000 miles around the world.

The book recounts all the challenges and how they were overcome. I felt it was a summary of diary writings which wasn’t always fluent or of the same level of detail but then I thought ‘no wonder!’ given the level of difficulty of the expedition. I felt compelled to read to the end of the book. An inspirational tale.

Last Voyage

By Ann Davison,

Book cover of Last Voyage

Why this book?

This book is out of print but available in a second-hand market and worth finding. My copy once belonged to my Grandma.  

I’ve learned preparation for a holiday or journey is key to success. This book tells the background which led to Ann and her husband acquiring Reliance, a 2-masted sailing ship. Making it sea-worthy was far from straightforward. Their journey to cross the Atlantic began in extremely difficult circumstances. The book recounts in agonising detail the journey’s progress and ending.   

I felt as I read this book I was with Ann and Frank, through the many ups and downs they experienced. I’m full of admiration for their resilience and determination.

The author, Ann, later became the first woman to single-handedly sail across the Atlantic Ocean in 1952.

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