The Best Armchair Travel Audiobooks

Summertime is, for me, synonymous with travel. The heat, which always feels oppressive and inspires lethargy at home, is transformed by hopping on a plane and jetting off to someplace new and exciting. The sun, it seems, just shines more delicately when you’re on a different continent.

This year—however—like most, the only travelling I’ll be doing is taking trips down memory lane with old vacation photos. But even that can only tide me over for so long. After a couple months holed up in the same place, even the most devout homebodies are probably itching for a change of scenery. With audiobooks, you don’t need plane tickets or a passport to take a whirl around the world!

Keep reading for our favorite armchair travel audiobooks that will whisk you far, far away, and check out our full booklist for even more recommendations.


Australia

The Dry by Jane Harper, narrated by Stephen Shanahan

Award-winning author Jane Harper whisks you away to a small Australian farming community that is hiding big secrets. Amid the worst drought in a century, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them.

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Botswana

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, narrated by Lisette Lecat

Mma ‘Precious’ Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns. Potentially philandering husbands and seemingly schizophrenic doctors all compel Precious to roam about in her tiny van, searching for clues. Her methods may not be conventional but she’s got warmth, wit, and canny intuition on her side, and Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger.

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Canada

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese, narrated by Tom Stechschulte

From the celebrated author of Indian Horse comes a stunning story of a father/son struggle set in the dramatic landscape of British Columbia. Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He’s sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they’ve shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son’s duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner. What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon’s end.

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China

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong, narrated by Nancy Wu

Embark on the trip of a lifetime with a romp through the decadent world of Beijing high society! In an attempt to snap Iris Wang out of her funk, her parents decide to send her away to visit family in Beijing with the hopes that she would “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. Instead, she gets swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.

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Colombia

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, narrated by Marisol RamirezAlmarie GuerraIngrid Rojas Contreras

Inspired by the author’s own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricably linked coming-of-age stories set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras has written a powerful testament to the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.

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England

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, narrated by Jacqueline Milne

In the dark underbelly of Victorian London, Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons while investigating the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery. Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried.

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France

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, narrated by Cassandra CampbellEmma BeringSteve West

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls by prescribing the exact book he intuits a reader needs. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he departs on a mission to the south of France travelling along the country’s rivers, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story.

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India

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, narrated by Sneha Mathan

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni vividly reimagines the world-famous Indian epic Mahabharata, taking us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. The Palace of Illusions traces the princess Panchaali’s life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war.

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Ireland

Love by Roddy Doyle, narrated by Morgan C. Jones

One summer’s evening, two old friends reconnect in a Dublin restaurant. Both are now married with grown-up children, and their lives have taken seemingly similar paths. But Joe has a secret he has to tell Davy, and Davy, a sorrow he wants to keep from Joe. Both are not the men they used to be. Neither Davy nor Joe knows what the night has in store, but as two pints turn to three, then five, the men set out to revisit the haunts of their youth, the ghosts of Dublin entwining around them.

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Italy

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman, narrated by Armie Hammer

André Aciman brings listeners the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. During the restless summer weeks, unrelenting but buried currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them and verge toward the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

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Japan

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, narrated by George Blagden

The Travelling Cat Chronicles gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends. With his crooked tail—a sign of good fortune—and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

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Liberia

She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore, narrated by Wayétu Moore

Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s formation through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond: Gbessa, an exile under suspicion of being a witch; June Dey, a man raised on a plantation in Virginia who possesses unusual strength; Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, who has learned to fade from sight at will. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

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Mexico

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, narrated by Frankie Corzo

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

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South Korea

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, narrated by Sue Jean KimRuthie Ann MilesFrances ChaJeena Yi

If I Had Your Face plunges listeners into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul—a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret “room salons” to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move. Four young women making their way through this world defined by impossibly high standards find their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.

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United States of America

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. For years, rumors of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

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