What Should I Consider When Buying a Travel Guide?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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In the "old days," people bought travel guides that were much the same for every country. They listed the historical points of interest, churches and accommodations. There were some written especially for young ladies or young men, with particular emphasis on "appropriate" accommodations and activities, suitable for the innocent and pure-hearted. Nowadays, a travel guide may feature almost any aspect of traveling in a particular region or country.

When choosing a travel guide, the traveler should first consider whether he is looking for generalities or specifics. If he just wants an all-around travel guide that covers the main points of interest, restaurants and accommodations, perhaps with suggestions for day trips, he can pick up a guide from Fodor's or Frommer's that will hit most of the high points of his visit. These companies publish guides for individual world cities, such as London or Paris, as well as for countries. They are established guides and usually offer a good value. Travel guides are widely available in book stores, or from the Internet.

Some travelers may have special interests. They may want to hike the Alps, bike through Tuscany or cruise the Greek Islands. They can find a travel guide that will assist them in planning any of these adventures.


Guides are available for singles, couples, gay travelers, the physically challenged -- almost anyone. The Lonely Planet folks specialize in publishing travel guides that take a person far off the beaten path, into the cultural interior of a place. If a person is budget-conscious, he can find a travel guide to suit his needs there, as well.

A traveler should look for a travel guide that meets his or her particular needs, but the publication should also provide crucial information -- such as customs regulations, applying for visas, airline information, language, currency and advice on culture -- to assist a traveler in getting from point A to point B. A travel guide should also provide a good overview of the country or city, along with maps and helpful phone numbers or Web sites a traveler can access for more information. A good travel guide should help a person have a memorable trip. It should be a help, not a hindrance.


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Post 3

A good travel guide should be user friendly. Remember, you are going to want to have the guide with you for much of the time you are traveling, so you want a design that allows you to easily find the right sections, and you want something easy to carry with you.

I prefer the spiral bound guides over the ones designed like traditional books. I also like smaller guides that have bullet points so you can get the information you need without having to read several pages of information.

Post 2

Travel guides are great for helping you explore new places. When I travel, I like to use a travel guide to get an idea of the main historical sites I should visit, and I like to get a general history of the places I am visiting. This way I can decide which of the usual tourist attractions will be worth my while and which ones I should avoid.

Once I have the outline for my exploring, I pretty much just like to walk around and see where I end up. Of course, you have to be careful when using this approach. My brother and I once found ourselves lost on the back streets of Paris, and there were some sinister looking characters and businesses there.

Post 1

I can remember going in the library years ago and seeing all of the Fodor's travel guides lined up on the shelves. My friends and I would go in and pick the guides that most appealed to us and would learn about the particular places. Then we would tell one another about the places we read about.

We lived in a small town, and not many people there traveled outside the county, let alone the country. The travel guides were our windows to the outside world, and we liked to read them and think about what it would be like to visit those faraway places.

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