5 YA Books About Teens Who Travel (When You Cannot)

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Abigail Clarkin

Staff Writer

Abigail can often be found holding a book in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. When she is not devouring stories (or dessert), Abigail trains for marathons and writes poetry about growing up with eight brothers and sisters. She enjoys working in marketing for a real estate developer and creating Instagram content for fun (@marathonandmunch) about all the tasty eats found in Providence, RI.

With many students and professionals working from home, it feels like the perfect time to take advantage of the flexibility and fly off to a seaside resort or the British countryside. But alas, COVID-19 has made travel a risky and much coveted event now more than ever. I myself was set to board a plane to London mere weeks after the school I work at was closed down. One way I am coping? I am plotting my next trip while reading about YA characters who leave their home soil in the U.S. to see the world. From learning how to cook in a restaurant in Spain to unexpectedly inheriting a French apartment, travel alongside five teenagers in YA books about teens who travel.

with the fire on highac

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni has been making magic in the kitchen her whole life. She dreams of having a career in the culinary arts, but caring for her daughter, finishing school, and working do not leave much room for making that dream a reality. Then she gets the chance of a lifetime: a class trip to Spain. If Emoni and her classmates can raise enough money to fund the trip, she will have the opportunity to cook under chefs in Spain and taste the glories of Spanish cuisine.

A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow book cover

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Lila is a proud Cuban American and talented cook who cannot wait to run her family’s restaurant in Florida when the time comes. Before that time arrives, Lila is shuttled off to Winchester, England. Her family members believe that England will help heal her aching heart after the loss of her abuela, a traumatic breakup, and a split from her best friend. England, however, is the last place she wants to be…until she meets a British boy named Orion who may be able to change her mind. When faced with two different futures, how will Lila choose?

The Paper Girls of Paris

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

Alice thought she knew everything about her Gram. But when Gram passes away, she leaves behind secret doors left for Alice and her parents to unlock. The story begins with Alice finding the Parisian apartment her grandmother left to her. The apartment is in immaculate condition, basically a time capsule hailing days long gone. Alice not only spends her time in France frequenting cafes and visiting the usual tourist attractions—the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower—but reading the 70-year-old diary from the great aunt she never knew existed.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

After an altercation with an Islamophobic teacher lands Zayneb in suspension at school and a target on social media, her parents fly her off to spend an extra week with her aunt in Doha, Qatar. The hope is that her time away will allow matters to settle. But on the plane ride there she runs into a boy who will tilt her life on its axis. Adam is an artist who has recently chosen to leave college. He believes that he and Zayneb were meant to meet, even if the timing does not feel perfect as he is struggling to come to grips with his own secrets. Through exhibits at the Museum of Islamic Art and delicious cups of karak, Adam shares his city and his heart with Zayneb.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

This list of YA teens who travel would not be complete without Lucky and Jack. Lucky has seen the world from the stage. As a K-pop sensation, she is constantly touring all over the world. But when she arrives in Hong Kong, her fast life slows to a halt and her life is altered forever. Jack lives in Hong Kong. He dreams of becoming a photographer, unbeknownst to his parents, but is settling for an undercover tabloid job. When the two meet, they spend a day exploring the glories of Hong Kong, from eating congee and bao, to taking a tram to to the highest mountaintop in Hong Kong. (Somewhere Only We Know is often described as a retelling of the film Roman Holiday.)

Is your literary travel lust still unsatisfied? Read about more YA teens who travel in 3 on a YA Theme: 3 YA Romances About Finding Love Abroad.