Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Don't Forget Travel Books

Believe it or not, the internet is not the only way to learn travel skills to save you money, time, and stress. As an author, I am partial to travel books. As a travel consultant, I find travel books invaluable. When I am planning a trip, especially to an unfamiliar destination, my first stop is usually my public library--from where I will check out several guidebooks. Guidebooks provide sample itineraries and recommendations for sightseeing, lodging, eating, transportation, when to visit, and more.

There are many different publishers of guidebooks, including Lonely Planet, Frommers, Fodors, Let's Go, Rough Guides, Rick Steves (Europe Through the Back Door), Moon, Insiders. I encourage you to, as I do, use several different guidebooks when planning your trips. The more times you do this, the more familiar you will become with each series. You will likely find yourself attracted to one or more series. Each publisher has a target audience, whether it is budget or luxury, young or old, independent or not. Everyone has their favorites, including me. By the way, the above guidebook publishers are listed in the order they came up in Google (not my preference).

The main disadvantage of travel guidebooks is that the information takes a long time to get released. By the time a guidebook is published, the entries (lodging, dining, attractions, etc.) may be obsolete (changed ownership, closed, changed prices or policies). Another problem (for some) with guidebooks is that since many travelers follow their advice that the once-quaint recommendations are soon tourist traps. I have seen many stories of someone visiting a remote village only to find other travelers with the same guidebook at their breakfast table or visiting a unique spot.

The value of guidebooks is that the information is provided by people that have already visited destinations I want to go to. They tell me places to visit (stay or eat) and not to. To independently plan trips, it really helps to know how long other people spend visiting area or how to use local transportation, for instance.

OK, that briefly covers travel guidebooks.

In my next post, I will discuss travel reference books. Whereas guidebooks cover specific destinations, travel reference books truly teach travel skills--such as how to save money, time, and stress.

© 2009, Charles McCool