Around the World in 80 Laughs: 10 of the Funniest Books About Travel

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Ever found yourself squished in a middle seat on a long-haul flight, sandwiched between a snorer and a chatterbox, and thought, ‘This could be a comedy sketch’? Or perhaps you’ve navigated a foreign city with a map that seemed to be playing a practical joke on you?

Well, you’re not alone in these travel tribulations, and luckily for us, some brave souls have documented their hilarious journeys, turning misadventures into laughter.

For those who love to explore the world through the written word, or are on the hunt for the perfect gift to tickle the wanderlust (and funny bone) of a loved one, we’ve rounded up the funniest travel books that promise to deliver gut-busting laughter with every page turn.

So, buckle up (or recline your seat if you dare) as we embark on a literary journey that proves travel isn’t just about the destination—it’s about the countless laughs along the way!

The Dark Tourist

Comedian Dom Joly’s unconventional childhood in war-torn Lebanon sparked a fascination with dark tourism. In this hilarious and harrowing travelogue, Joly visits destinations that most tourists avoid, from skiing on segregated slopes in Iran to spending a weekend in Chernobyl. He tours assassination sites in America, gains rare access to North Korea, and uncovers a surprising connection to Osama Bin Laden in his hometown of Beirut. With witty observations and sharp commentary, Joly sheds light on the absurdities and horrors of the human experience in the world’s most unsettling places. “The Dark Tourist” is a fearless and darkly humorous adventure that ventures beyond the beaten path.

...And Then You Die of Dysentery

This travel book takes you on a trip down memory lane. “…And Then You Die of Dysentery” features 50 witty and snarky life lessons gleaned from the game’s most memorable moments, all presented in a delightful 8-bit style. From the perils of exhaustion to the importance of responsible hunting, this book offers a fresh and entertaining perspective on the trials and tribulations of pioneer life. Packed with clever pop culture references and tongue-in-cheek humor, it’s the perfect trip down memory lane for anyone who ever braved the digital frontier.

Holidays in Hell

In “Holidays in Hell,” celebrated humorist P.J. O’Rourke embarks on a wild, no-holds-barred adventure through the world’s most desperate and dangerous places. From war-torn Belfast to communist strongholds in the Philippines, O’Rourke fearlessly uncovers the absurdities and horrors that lie beneath the surface of nations in turmoil. With his signature wit and biting satire, he charges through student barricades, goes undercover in the Gaza Strip, and exposes the banality of American culture. Packed with classic riffs on global politics and culture, “Holidays in Hell” is a rollercoaster ride of dark humor and insightful commentary that showcases O’Rourke’s unparalleled storytelling abilities.

Terrible Maps: Hilarious Maps for a Ridiculous World

Prepare for a side-splitting journey through the world of absurd cartography with “Terrible Maps,” the perfect gift book for geography enthusiasts and humor lovers alike. From the average jean color across the US to the perils of Antarctic train travel, this book showcases the most bizarre and entertaining maps from the popular social media feed. Discover the connections between oddly-named places, countries that eat their national animals, and nations that have hilariously declared war on birds. With witty commentary accompanying each terrible map, this book is guaranteed to have you laughing out loud and marveling at the world’s cartographic curiosities.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

In “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush,” Eric Newby recounts his iconic 1956 journey from London’s haute couture scene to the remote wilderness of Afghanistan. Alongside his friend Hugh Carless, Newby embarks on a month-long adventure through the breathtaking Hindu Kush mountains, northeast of Kabul, despite their lack of experience and preparation. With wit, charm, and keen observation, Newby’s narrative captures the essence of travel, adventure, and the indomitable human spirit. This classic memoir, featuring new photographs, an epilogue by Carless, and a prologue by Evelyn Waugh, cements Newby’s status as one of Britain’s most beloved travel writers.

The Geography of Bliss

In “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner, a former NPR correspondent, embarks on an unconventional journey to uncover the secrets of happiness. Guided by ancient wisdom and modern science, Weiner explores the world’s most contented places, from Iceland to Bhutan, seeking insights into the essential ingredients for a fulfilling life. Through witty observations and thought-provoking reflections, Weiner challenges readers to reconsider their understanding of happiness and the influence of place on our well-being. Part travelogue, part philosophical inquiry, “The Geography of Bliss” offers a captivating exploration of the human experience, inviting readers to join Weiner on his quest for true contentment.

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan

In “Hokkaido Highway Blues,” Canadian author Will Ferguson embarks on an unprecedented 1,800-mile hitchhiking journey through Japan, following the annual Cherry Blossom Front. As he rides with a colorful cast of characters, Ferguson gains a unique perspective on the country, witnessing a side of Japan that guidebooks often overlook. Through witty and insightful observations, he delves into the heart of this intriguing nation, where the arrival of cherry blossoms triggers intense celebration and reflection. Ferguson’s warm-hearted and satirical narrative style makes for a laughter-filled and enlightening read, reminding us that the true essence of travel lies in the journey itself.

Notes From a Small Island

Before returning to the U.S. after twenty years in Britain, writer Bill Bryson embarks on a farewell tour of his adopted homeland. Traveling by public transport and foot, he encounters charming villages, lively cities, and eccentric characters. With humor and insight, Bryson shares his affectionate observations on the idiosyncrasies of British life, from the joys of a proper tea to the frustrations of erratic schedules. Both a travelogue and cultural study, Notes from a Small Island is a hilarious and illuminating portrait of a nation that will leave readers laughing out loud while yearning to explore Britain themselves.

Round Ireland with a Fridge

When Tony Hawks drunkenly accepts a bet to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge, he embarks on a hilarious and unexpected adventure. As Tony and his appliance companion traverse the Emerald Isle, they encounter a colorful cast of characters, from genuine royalty to curious onlookers. The duo’s unusual journey leads them to surf together, join a bachelor festival, and even have a brush with romance. Round Ireland with a Fridge is a heartwarming travelogue that showcases the infectious humor and resilient spirit of the Irish people, delivering an irresistible tale of an extraordinary adventure in a captivating locale.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals

Disillusioned with his mundane existence, 26-year-old Maarten Troost embarks on a journey to the remote South Pacific island of Tarawa, hoping to find paradise. Instead, he encounters a world of relentless heat, toxic fish, and a lack of modern amenities. Alongside his girlfriend Sylvia, Troost battles incompetent officials, giant critters, and unreliable electricity, all while surrounded by the incessant music of “La Macarena.” Amidst the chaos, they meet a cast of eccentric characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and a drunken, self-proclaimed Poet Laureate. The Sex Lives of Cannibals is a hilarious and original travelogue that celebrates the absurdity of life in the most unexpected places.

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