Have you ever stood in front of the “travel” section of a bookstore and looked lost?
Need a guide on how to choose the best travel guide? Carry on reading.
What to look for in a travel guide?
This is what you want to look for:
- Date of publication: in which year was it published? Needless to say that the more recent, the better. Tip: ask the bookstore staff if there’s any updated version coming out soon (normally every two years a new edition is published) And book it in advance!
- Structure: is it intuitive? Will I easily find the content that I need when I will need it?
- Maps: does it contain maps? Are they easy to “read”? Are they detailed enough for my liking?
- Content: Are the main topics (accommodation/restaurants/sights) covered? Are there enough options on what to visit, where to eat and where to stay?
- Extra content: Is there any extra content that may be of interest? (sport activites in site? Itineraries? Transport links? Useful vocabulary? Activities for kids? Animal-friendly hotels? Etc.)
(Tip: if it’s something very specific you’re looking for and the guide does not even begin to cover the topic, well, I’m afraid you may have to search for it online or buy a more specific book)
- Size: is it too big and heavy to carry with me? Is there a pocket-sized version available? Size matters… sometimes!
- Esthetic: is the font easy to read? Are the colours or lack thereof going to bore me? (Tip: let the hedonist in you decide on this one).
Once we agree on a destination, we head to the nearest bookstore and we go through this lengthy, painful but necessary screening and scrutinizing process, until we find what we need, be that a guide that covers the whole country or a specific city.
Lately, as we have been relying on the same travel books for a while now, and especially if we’re short on time, we simply purchase the latest edition online. We almost always settle for either Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. Read a comparison of the two here.
A little note
Unless we are planning a short stay in a city in particular (normally it would be the capital city), we always prefer to opt for a guide that covers the whole of the country.
It tends to have more general info on the city you’re visiting, agreed, but it may give you ideas or useful suggestions on day-trips to famous landmarks that are not far from the city you are based in.