Backpack to Buggy

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Know Before You Go: Travel Guides

September 20th, 2010 · No Comments · Know Before You Go

Personally, I am a big fan of travel guides when planning anything from a weekend away to a multi-week adventure.  Travel guides can be anything from a good magazine or blog story to the traditional tour books.

There is a good deal of free content online which will cover information needs for a for a weekend trip.  For example, I always check with Yankee Magazine’s online portal for New England travel or Rookie Mom’s “A week in” series for ideas on where to entertain Mirielle in various cities.

For the bigger trips, travel to new places, or sightseeing-based travel, I like to read an old fashion travel guide to help with planning and often bring one along for reference.  How do I choose what guide I will buy when there are so many different ones? I’m not loyal to any single series or publisher. I look for the right guide for the destination and type of trip I am taking.

As a poor student in Asia, my Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring was getting so much use I let the binding fall apart and used ring clips to hold it together, country by country.  In Hawaii, I buy the relevant Wizard Publications’ “Revealed” guide where the critical reviews and snarky attitude work for me.  Europe is covered by so many publishers, you can pick which style of writing or travel you prefer.  I actually made my own guide book for Spain by piecing together online stories and reviews.

The best way to find the right book for me and my trip is to browse through as many as possible before buying.  I start at my public library (free) and supplement by thumbing through books in a local bookstore (free). This gives me enough information to start planning my trip and make a decision on what guide to purchase.

A recent twist is availability of guide books on an e-reader.  Since discovering the Kindle for iPhone app (free), the idea of not bringing any extra weight along is very enticing (not even an extra electronic device). Not all publishers have e-book formats available and photograph-rich guides won’t work on the current generations of e-readers.

For my upcoming trip to India, I have gone through this process and have my brief reviews of the different guides and how I made my purchase decisions (Stay Tuned).

Are you loyal to a guide series or publisher?
Do you have a favorite guide?
Do you make your own guides?

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