I love a good travel book, especially one that makes me laugh. While everyone has different tastes in humor, we can all agree that there is nothing better than a good belly-aching laugh at someone else’s expense.
While there are plenty of travel books that make us laugh out there, some are better than others. I’ve read a lot of funny travel books over the years, and I’ve carefully curated what I believe at the best ones.
Get your tenor lady ready, these books will have you peeing yourself with laughter!
Quick Answers: Top 3 Picks!
Need a book fast but don’t have much time? Here are our top three favourites!
#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Novel
Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
- International bestseller
- Hailed as one of the best travel writers of all time
- A hilarious novel about journeying through small-town America
#2 Best Travel Memoir
Not Tonight Josephine by George Mahood
- A hilarious novel about a British man travelling around the backroads of America
- An up-and-coming author with lots of promise
- Well written, easy to read, and a lot of belly-aching laugh moments
#3 Best by a Comedian
How to Survive Family Holidays by Jack Whitehall
- From highly acclaimed stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall
- Part memoir, part advice-giving, with a few comments from mother and father Whitehall
- Hilariously written with a lot of dad jokes
Hilarious Non-Fiction Travel Books
I begin my list with some incredibly funny travel books that are based on real-life situations. Some of the scenarios you get into on your travels are so far-fetched, you can’t possibly make it up. And that’s what these non-fiction travel books demonstrate so well.
So here they are, my favourite funny travel books based on true events.
1. Not Tonight, Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small-Town America – George Mahood
I begin my list with my ultimate favourite funny travel book by George Mahood. His debut novel, Not Tonight, Josephine, literally had me in tears of laughter!
Mahmood shares a diary of the time he and his best friend, Mark, bought a banged-up station wagon in New York and decided to road trip across the small towns of America.
The vehicle, which they named Josephine, was unreliable, old, and had bullet holes in the back window. What could go wrong?
It turns out, quite a lot actually, which is what gives this novel its funny edge. But even though Mahmood went through some tricky situations, there is no doubt that his travels across America were a blast and you really get a feel for how special it was to him.
Honestly, I was sad when the book was over. I also loved his book, Travel with Rachel: In Search of South America, which was his next trip after this one. It’s more of a light read and can be finished pretty quickly, and I personally found Not Tonight Josephine funnier.
2. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales Of A Botswana Safari Guide – Peter Allison
This hilarious novel by Peter Allison is a brilliant collection of fascinating stories of hilarious happenings that took place while he was an African safari guide.
Allison has seen it all, confronting the most fearsome of creatures and tough African terrain, but the biggest challenge of being a safari guide is…the people.
These stories are so outrageous that you can’t possibly make them up. It’s surprising how stupid and reckless some people can be, including being asked to be charged by a lion so a tourist can video tape it.
These tales will have you howling with laughter, as well as slapping your forehead saying “I can’t believe these people exist.” We can all empathize with Allison, but in his misery, we find comedy.
3. All Over The Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft – Geraldine DeRuiter
All Over the Place is the hilarious chronicles of Geraldine Deruiter, who after getting laid off from her job, decided to travel the world in search of adventure.
The only problem was, Deruiter wasn’t quite prepared for what was out there. Unable to read maps, has only a vague idea of where Russia is, and is terrified of pigeons. Not the toughest traveler material by any means.
However, from the experience, she learned a great deal and has a hilarious story or two to tell along the way. She learned that travelling the world with someone you already know and love can make faraway places feel like home.
She learned about lost luggage and lost opportunities, and…well, getting lost in general. But most importantly, she learned that you should always be yourself, no matter where you are and how silly you look.
4. Footloose: Twisted Travels Across Asia, From Australia To Azerbaijan – Mark Walters
Footloose is the incredible story of how Mark Walters travelled from Sydney, Australia to Azerbaijan without flying, and wearing flip flops for the whole journey. He also doesn’t own shorts or a towel.
Using buses, train travel, and boats that ventured across three continents, Walters shares the exciting and hilarious tales of his travels. and the people he met.
From coming face-to-face with a risky gauntlet or terrorists and Chinese tanks, and having beers with a naked ex-Soviet officer, to eating hallucinogenic for breakfast in Amsterdam, Walter’s journey is packed with adventures that are both comical and a little frightening!
5. In A Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is a well-acclaimed funny travel writer, and choosing which of his funny travel stories should make this list of the funniest travel books of all time is not an easy task. Especially since Bill Bryson has been hailed as one of the funniest travel writers in history.
After his previous novel, A Walk in the Woods which tells the story of his journey around the appalachian trail had such great success, I was incredibly excited to read In A Sunburned Country, which takes the reader on a journey through off-the-beaten-track Australia in the eyes of Bill Bryson.
As Bryson talks about his time in Australia, he offers a great introduction to whimsical and cheerful characters.
In a country that has more deadly creatures than any other, Bryson’s comedy-style of travel writing will have you longing for a trip to Australia.
6. Queenan Country – Joe Queenan
Joe Queenan is an American humorist who sought to answer one important question: what makes the Brits tick?
When Queenan’s English wife suggested cooking a chicken vindaloo on the 4th July for dinner instead of the traditional BBQ, after 26 years of marriage, he decided he had to find out what is going on in the mind of the Brits.
After taking a solitary pilgrimage to Great Britain to figure out why British people are the way that they are, he describes all the traits and mannerisms that make British people different from the rest, including detailing all the quirky oddities that are unique to the British culture.
Whether you’re reading this funny book as an American or a Brit, you can’t help but laugh at all the stereotypes and characters he meets along the way.
7. Westward Ha! – S.J. Perelman
Westward Ha! describes the misadventures of satirical journalist and former foreign correspondent S.J. Perelman.
In these madcap travel chronicles from Hollywood to China, Singapore, Thailand, India, Egypt, as well as several cities in Europe, Perelman and his cartoonist companion, Al Hirschfield, tell of their hilarious adventure through former war zones.
Their journey takes them to far away places, where they learn about other cultures during a time that was a little perilous being just a few years after WWII.
Hailed as one of the best comic writers of his generation, Perelman’s funny travel writing is considered zany, snappy, and with a little bit of self-mocking too.
There are some real belly-aching laughs in this story, which is on the whole lighthearted and enthralling.
8. Sisters Behaving Badly: The laugh-out-loud, feel-good adventure – Maddie Please
After an argument at a Carvery lunch, sisters Kitty and Jenny stop speaking to each other. But when both sisters inherit a rural French farmhouse, they are given an opportunity to right some wrongs.
Only the farmhouse is a mess and the farm animals have terrorized the garden.
This comical book set in France will have you holding your sides with laughter!
As the two sisters repair their relationship, Kitty is determined to enjoy herself with the handsome neighbor, while Jenny finds comfort in the fully stocked wine cellar.
This laugh-out-loud comedy travel book highlights how sometimes it feels good to be bad.
9. Going the Wrong Way – Chris Donaldson
Going the Wrong Way is a coming-of-age, travel book of self-discovery that tells the story of Chris Donaldson’s road trip from his home in Belfast, which was experiencing some troubles, on a motorcycle voyage that bought Donaldson his own troubles.
Going The Wrong Way takes the reader back to the 70s, during simpler times, before technology and social media. It’s raw, honest and edgy, and packed full of adventure and hilarious experiences.
In it, Donaldson reflects on his journey that took him all the way to the highs of the Andes, traveling more than 50,000 miles, before returning to Belfast.
This is part humour and part self-help memoir.
10. Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States – Pete Jordan
Pete Jordan’s Dishwasher is an amusing travel memoir of his adventures dishwashing his way across America.
Part adventure, part humor, and part journey of self-discovery, “Dishwasher Pete” talks about how he spent 12 years washing dishes from a bagel joint in New Mexico to a Mexican diner in Brooklyn before he gave it all up for love.
The premise is very simple, but it’s hilariously written and Jordan is clearly a very smart and funny guy. If you love a love story like the likes of Nick Hornby and Tom Perotta books, you’ll also love this.
11. Round Ireland with a Fridge – Tony Hawks
After losing a drunken bet, Tony Hawks set out on a hitchhiking journey around Europe with a fridge.
As you can imagine, the experience of lugging a domestic appliance around the continent would lead to hilarious encounters, including meeting a real prince, a bogus king, and a priest who christened the fridge.
They had been through a lot together, and as Hawks describes his adventures, you forget that at times he is talking about an inanimate object and not a best friend.
This novel quickly became an international bestseller, with writing similar to that of Bill Bryson and Dave Barry.
12. That Bear Ate My Pants – Tony James Slater
Contrary to what the title suggests, a bear did not actually eat Tony James Slater’s pants, but it does give you an idea of the hilarious travel stories you’re about to read in this epic travel memoir.
This part travel memoir, part self-help book, is the journey of Slater as he tries to better himself as he volunteers at an animal refuge in Ecuador.
From battling a tree with a machete, finding numerous tarantulas (both alive and dead) and helping to sew the head back onto a partially decapitated crocodile, you wouldn’t believe the great stories that Slater has to tell!
13. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before – Tony Horwitz
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic, Tony Horwitz details his adventure as he retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook.
In the 18th century, Captain Cook’s voyages were considered the last of the great adventures of the seas. He sailed 150,000 miles from North to South poles, from Oceania to North America, and from Easter Island to Siberia. He was essentially responsible for drawing the map of the world.
Tony Horwitz was inspired and decided to embark on the same quest. In Blue Latitudes, he vividly recounts tales from Cook’s voyages as well as details from his own adventures, from places such as Tahiti, Savage Island, and the Great Barrier Reef.
After signing on as a crewman aboard a replica of Cook’s vessel, Horwitz has first-hand experience of the life, highs and lows of life on the high seas.
In this insightful and hilarious novel, Horwitz brings the life and times of Captain Cook to life!
14. Hokkaido Highway Blues – Will Ferguson
Hokkaido Highway Blues is a memoir by Will Ferguson, who hitchhiked the length of Japan following the Cherry Blossom Front.
Along the way, he racks up a hilarious collection of funny travel stories which have you laughing as you read the entire book from start to finish.
As well as the hilarious situations he gets into along his journey, you also learn a lot about Japanese culture.
Of course, he is largely poking fun at himself, but the cultural differences are what make this one of the top funny travel books of the 21st century.
15. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure – Sarah Macdonald
Holy Cow is the hilarious account of journalist Sarah Macdonald’s return to India, after swearing an oath never to return after her backpacking trip there in her 20s.
Now married and forced to live in New Dehli because of her husband’s job, so begins her funny travel stories of her time in India.
Although these stories are funny, there is a nice balance between memoir and educating the reader about the spirituality and cultural traditions of India.
If you’re ever looking for travel inspiration about the mystical land of India, be sure to add Holy Cow to your reading list.
16. The Full Montezuma – Peter Moore
Peter Moore is one of those travel writers who never disappoints! One of my favourite books by him is The Full Montezuma. It tells the story of a time he travelled around Central America in a budding relationship.
Not the most exotic of destinations to take your new girlfriend, especially after it had just come out of decades of civil war and poverty, disease and natural disasters were rife. Since she is only referred to as ‘The Girl Next Door’ you get a good idea of how the journey turned out.
The good news is that six months of backpacking together made for hilarious stories and a truly great insight into what life in Central America is like. But hey, not everyone can endure hurricanes and mosquitos galore!
For all the highs and all the lows, I’m here for it.
Funny Travel Books Written by Comedians
It would come as no surprise that the funniest travel guide usually comes from those written by comedians.
17. Made in Scotland: My Grand Adventures In a Wee Country – Billy Connolly
A Sunday Times Bestseller, Made In Scotland: My Grand Adventures in a Wee Country is a hilarious novel by Billy Connolly, Scottish comedian, and national treasure, as he journeys around his homeland and reflects on his Scottish roots.
In Made in Scotland, Connolly talks about what it means to be Scottish, both now and in the past and how Scotland has affected his life.
Of course, being written by a professional stand-up comic means it is packed with Billy’s distinctive Scottish humor, but it is more than that. It’s also a heartfelt love letter to the land and people from his home of Scotland.
18. How to Survive Family Holidays – Jack Whitehall
Stand-up comedian and TV personality, Jack Whitehall shares his top secrets on How to Survive Family Holidays.
Part memoir, part Lonely Planet Guide Book, this is a middle-class family’s version of what it’s like to travel the globe as a family, and not tear each other’s throats out.
As you might expect, it also has some comedy anecdotes from Jack about his former family holidays, which are both witty and relatable.
With a few comments thrown in from mommy and daddy, this whimsical book is a short but hilarious book on travel that will leave you in stitches.
Best Funny Travel Books of All Time
Not all hilarious travel books are written by comedians and based on true events. Some of the best travel books of all time simply need a good, imaginative story, and an excellent author behind the pen. These are my all-time favourite funny travel books.
19. T. Rex Time Machine – Jared Chapman
Of course, I had to include a funny travel guide for children in my list! The T.Rex Time Machine is a hilarious children’s book that tells the story of two hungry dinosaurs that jump into a time machine and transport to the future.
What they see is unbelievable and surreal, as they come to terms with all the wonders of the modern world.
Written by author and illustrator, Jared Chapman, this hilarious novel is packed full of jokes and funny adventures.
His use of bold colors and the adventurous storyline will have your children entertained and giggling throughout.
It will be a book that will stay in your family for generations.
20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
While the Ulimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not your conventional travel book, after all, it does take place in space, it is a hilarious cult classic novel about traveling and exploring new places.
After a bulldozer turns up at Arthur Dent’s home, he didn’t know it, but shortly after it would be the end of planet Earth, and he would find himself hitchhiking on a spaceship.
Along the way, he meets a variety of comical characters who help him come to terms with his new life of space travel and adventure.
The events in this funny travel book are both random and absurd, but pleasantly enjoyable and will have you laughing your socks off!
It’s a lovable story that was ranked at number four on the BBC’s “Big Read”, an event designed to find the Nation’s top books.
21. The Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific is a travelogue by author J. Maarten Troost who describes the two years he and his girlfriend spent living on Tarawaatoll, a remote South Pacific Island nation of Kiribati.
And no, before your mind goes wandering, it’s not really about the sex lives of cannibals…jeez!
It talks about how he and his girlfriend adjusted to everyday life on the remote island and built a life for themselves there. Complete with some unusual people and bizarre and unfamiliar local customs, the author reminisces on his own American complacency towards America’s history.
He also describes his overwhelming fish-based diet, how he handled the extreme heat and ineffective government, the frequent electrical and water shortages, and many other hilarious idiosyncrasies of living on a small and remote island.
22. The Innocents Abroad – Mark Twain
The Innocents Abroad is a classic funny travel book from highly acclaimed author Mark Twain, famous for writing the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn novels.
During Twain’s life, The Innocents Abroad became his highest selling book and is hailed as one of the best travel books of all time.
It tells the story of a long excursion between Mark and a group of fellow travelers shortly after the Civil War. The humourous story takes the reader through Paris, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, during the time of 1869.
The story is riveting, hilarious, and entertaining, as well as enlightening.
23. Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
The Great Railway Bazaar is a travelogue by Paul Theroux, who travelled for four months across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Part memoir, part Lonely Planet-style guide book, this entertaining railway odyssey is a classic piece of travel literature. As he travels halfway across the world on the trains, he details his observations and hilarious encounters in a comedic style of travel writing.
While this book is a bit dated compared to the others on this list, it is no doubt a classic funny travel book that would make anyone’s heart fill with joy.
24. Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America – Bill Bryson
Ok, I know I said that I had to choose one of the best Bryson books for this awesome list of the best funny travel books but that was before I remembered the Lost Continent.
With an urge to discover his youth, Bill Bryson embarks on a journey through small towns in America across 38 states.
As he’s rediscovering America, he paints a perfect picture of his boredom, meetings with strangers and all the colourful experiences he has.
Bryson’s humorous books are loved by the whole family and it’s no wonder he’s an international bestseller.
25. Best. State. Ever: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland – Dave Barry
From New York Times bestselling author, Dave Barry, Best State Ever is a brilliantly funny travel book that defends how Florida is the greatest place on Earth – at least, in the eyes of Barry.
Barry tells a story about how there is always something happening in Florida, and how somehow the state has been labeled as a place of subtropical stupidity. But loyal Floridian Barry begs to differ.
As Barry defends his homeland, he shares some of the most hilarious adventures he’s had in Florida, including going hunting for the legendary Skunk Ape; visiting the psychic capital of the world, Cassadaga, to have his dog’s aura read; enjoying the thrills of alligator-wrestling; and what it’s like to visit a clothing-optional bar in Key West.
Whatever your opinion of Florida is, you can’t deny that Barry has a very appealing case after reading this book.
26. Don’t Go There: From Chernobyl to North Korea – Adam Fletcher
Don’t Go There is an unusual and hilarious travel memoir by Adam Fletcher has he visits ten of the strangest places on Earth.
To understand why people keep telling him “don’t go there” he embarks on a journey through a blizzard in China carrying only a pack of biscuits; through the radioactive aftermath of Chernobyl; is chased by the Croatian police as he tries to visit the world’s newest country, Liberland and comes face-to-face with two supposedly dead dictators in North Korea…and so much more.
His journey is both fascinating and hilarious, packed with British humor, and a story that is absolutely unforgettable.
27. Last Chance to See – Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine
Last Chance To See is a 1990 novel by the acclaimed author Douglas Adams and co-author and zoologist Mark Carwardine.
In this novel, Adams and Carwardine take the reader on a journey to various locations that they have traveled to. On their travels, they try to find places where they will encounter endangered species on the brink of extinction.
This funny non-fiction travel book starts in Africa and continues on to Asia and the Northern tip of America. On the hunt for animals, what they find were troublesome tourists, bureaucracy, and poachers.
While this three-year-long adventure highlights the imposing truth about how we need to work to save endangered species, Adams’s humorous travel writing style is evident throughout as he discusses his adventures with Carwardine.
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Final Words on Funny Travel Books
So there you have it, my all time favourite funny travel books, from classic non-fiction biographies and memoirs to far-fetched make believe. There’s something for everyone on my list.
If you enjoy travel books that are light-hearted and fun, then you might also like these books set in Hawaii.
Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments!
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