Planning to backpack Europe for Spring Break, or backpack Europe this Summer? Here’s a list of the top reads guaranteed to get you stoked for your very own grand tour around the continent.


The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan

Follow Phoebe through free-spirited, 1970s Europe, where she’s searching for answers about the death of her older sister. Not short on romantic description and atmosphere, the Euro-hippie backdrop serves as a tried-and-true place to come of age and have questionable sex.

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

This fatalistic and oh-so-French novella is not so much about the trip, but more the destination. Narrated by precocious seventeen-year-old Cécile, the story captures that languid, carefree mood of a long, hot summer spent in a holiday home (in this case it’s a secluded white villa in the French Riviera) rife with sun, sea, sex, and symbolism.


The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall

Emylia Hall’s study-abroad plotline covers friendship, self-discovery, bittersweet romance, and an ever-twisting mystery, all set against the scenery of winter-white, chocolate-box Lausanne, Switzerland. The sense of place is so masterfully rendered that it seeps like melting snow into protagonist, Hadley, and makes us ponder the power and influence of location on our shifty and suggestible formative years.


Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert

This brash memoir mimics the migratory path of most backpackers—Shukert tears though a whole bunch of countries, but her story really hits her stride when she stays in one place for more than just a drive-by. (In Shukert’s case, she ends up temporarily living in Amsterdam with Dutch friends). Her shameless misadventures and often un-sexy sexcapades are told with the forthcoming, laugh-aloud humor of an endearing, but foul-mouthed smart-ass friend.


The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

In solid, unflinching prose, Hemingway gives us the unofficial manual on “How To Be An Expat.” Set in the 1920s, much of the Lost Generation’s traveling style can be replicated today: eat, drink, and be discontent – in Paris and Pamplona. Jake tells his buddies, “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another,” but we can’t fault these world-weary social-alcoholics for trying – not when it’s so damn entertaining to read about.


No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering By Clara Bensen

Benson puts a new spin on the Euro-trip travel memoir by embarking on a journey with someone she barely knows and with barely any baggage. Through her intimate storytelling, it’s easy to fall in love with this couple as they negotiate the road and their relationship


Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas

Full disclosure: I wrote this book. But one of the reasons why I wrote a travel-themed rom com based largely in London, Italy, India, and other far-off destinations is because I am utterly obsessed with travel. When gallivanting around the globe, this is the kind of story I like to read: something lighthearted, something smile-inducing, and best of all: something set in amazing locations.

Maybe your backpacking adventure is still a dream? Read up on where you should go, how to backpack on a college budget, book your flights and hotels, and then learn what to pack. We’ve got you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *