Traveler’s Digest: Must Take Guidebooks

Posted on April 16, 2009. Filed under: Books, Destination: Travel!, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

When getting ready to travel ‘across the pond’ there are a variety of guide-books that have curb-appeal and beg you to choose them. I’ve tried out a few and gathered up my resources to find out which were actually the most useful and helpful when you get to your destination. As background my destination was Italy.

Rick Steve’s Italy : This is by far the most useful, informative, fun and worthwhile guidebook. It surpassed my expectations and I did not put it down during my trip! It had EVERYTHING you could possibly want to know listed in this book. From dinner suggestions to what you need to be aware of, etc this book contained it all. Some restaurants had the tacky – show this book get a discount, and while I am very opposed to this, they really did give you a discount and after spending a ton on airfare that came in handy and yes – I stooped to that level. (I had the waiter take a Book Picturepicture of us with the book so I didn’t have to leave it on the table to be honest). The recommendations were great – the guide let you know what was very touristy and what was more of the local spot and it was spot-on for everything I tried. I used the book sometimes as a way to find various streets and tried my own quiet dining spots instead just to keep my adventurous spirit alive. In smaller towns and villages maps were provided as well as walking routes and advice on the quaint things that larger-scaled books may overlook. It was a worthwhile book to have and my friends living in Italy demanded that I leave them my copy for them to use after I left. Even the locals loved this book, just proof that you only really need 1 and this was it. I would recommend buying this used – I used the 2006 version which I bought used online – came with some great line notes from the previous traveler which is always nice! Also the 2006 version seemed bigger than the 2008 version which to me yells that it has more info!

Europe by Eurorail: If there are lots of things you want to see and do, even if it’s just within 1 country a Eurorail pass is the way to go! You can only buy them in the US so plan ahead! I bought an Italy-only pass that was valid for 5 days – they did not have to be consecutive days. I used everyday and loved it! In Italy if you take the Eurostar trains you just have to pay a $15 reservation fee – this is a deal because many of the trains I was taking would have cost me upwards of $100 each way if I didn’t have my Eurorail. This book gave you really good advice for traveling between the countries as well as smaller trips that you can see through the train. I like train travel so this book really appealed to me and confirmed how much fun train travel is and can be.

Good ‘Ole Maps: The larger guidebooks mentioned above are great – but please buy yourself a handy map. Find one that can get wet if you find yourself in a rainy situation as well as one that you feel is quick and easy for you to use and orient yourself with. You do NOT want to be fumbling around trying to open/close a large map. Find something quick to open, quick to close that’s small and can fit in your pocket – you don’t want to scream tourist to everyone and a large map will do that for you. Also try to use your map BEFORE you are lost. If you take a train places before you arrive orient yourself through the map with where you should be and where you need to go, it helps you to keep on moving along when you finally arrive.

If you have any other good travel guide books that you’ve found in your travels please share them!! Guide books are also an individual experience so they may not have what everyone is looking for, but recommendations are always helpful in a foreign place so before you go – talk to those you know that have been before: they’ll have the best advice for you!


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