This paper sets out the tourism-in-literature research approach and applies to the intersection between existentialism and tourism. Illustrated is the value of reading works of literature as a means of enriching theoretical understanding within tourism studies. Reviewing selected short stories of the 19th Century French writer Guy De Maupassant, themes of existential alienation, avoidance and authenticity arise in tales involving travel. Through the unexpected events and encounters tourism allows, comforting or confrontational experiences are had by protagonists. However catastrophic developments are also catalysed. De Maupassant’s writing shows a sophisticated understanding of the possibilities of travel, including an awareness of the darker and unpredictable possibilities of tourism. Complemented is a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between existentialism and tourism.