Many people, including yours truly, think a guide book can make or break a trip. Particularly when we are traveling to a new country or unknown destination, we look to our guide books for expert advice on where to stay, where to eat and most importantly where to shop. (wink wink)
Guide books should be entertaining and helpful. They should offer us a personal insight into this new destination. They should teach us, guide us and show us the location before we’ve ever stepped off of the plane. There should not be a learning curve when reading a guide book – it should be easy to follow and user-friendly.
Is this asking too much?
Well, even if it is – I’m asking it. I’m adding to last week’s travel guide book reviews with a few more of my trusted favorites.
Frommer’s has a magazine, an interactive website and a whopping 20 guide books in their series, including Great Walks, The Unofficial Guides and my personal favorite The Irreverent Guides. Someone bought me The Irreverent Guide to Paris before I relocated there and I chuckled throughout the nine-hour plane ride and enjoyed the book almost as much as I enjoyed my first day in Paris. Almost. The original Frommer’s books tend to favor travelers with a healthy budget and word on the travel writing street is that only 1/3 of the listed points of interest have to actually be visited by the author.
The Green Guides are my absolute favorite for uncovering the history and culture of a new destination and for prioritizing my list of must-see attractions. Their rating system never fails and they have useful maps and fun pictures. We trusted the Michelin Green Guides when we visited Sicily last winter, I devoured my Paris Green Guide and the last guide book I purchased before I moved to Italy was Green Guide Italy. That being said, the text is long and rather dull and you absolutely must be interested in the history to get through them.
Fodor’s I searched high and low for the perfect guide book to accompany us on our Belize honeymoon last November. The winner? Fodor’s Belize. History and cultural tidbits were sprinkled throughout the book, as were glossy prints of the Caribbean, snorkeling sites and Mayan ruins. The “Top Reasons to Go” sections were instrumental in helping us choose specific regions and itineraries while the “Word of Mouth” inserts from real travelers confirmed our choices. Additionally, we used the Fodor’s Choice stars to select a hotel and were blown away by our resort.
What about you? Do you use the Internet or guide books to research a trip? What do you depend on more, expert guide book authors or “real travelers” advice? Do you think the Internet is hurting or helping the guide book industry?
Until next time … Buon Viaggio!