Which travel guide is the best for me and for the destination I’m planning a trip?

travel guide to Lapland, Nordic, Europe, sample page
A page from travel guide to Lapland.

When a traveler is planning a trip to a new destination, he or she usually looks up some information about the city, region, country or continent. The internet is a source of information, but many reviews and recommendations published at, for instance, travel booking services have been proven misleading time after time. Travelers who want to get reliable information that covers all aspects of a destination turn to travel guidebooks.

If you search for travel guides for popular tourist destinations, like Riviera in France or Southern Beaches of Portugal, you quickly realize that there are plenty of books that cover the same destinations. Then, the inevitable question is which guidebook is the one that you like to read, and provides you the information you were looking for?

You don’t have to make a trip to a downtown bookstore or to a library to browse books, but you can login to an online bookstore, find a few books that promise to deliver the information you want. Then, simply download sample copies of those books, and see if you like any of them.

Ebooks are changing the content and presentation of guidebooks

The evolution of ebooks is gradually changing the way information is presented in travel guidebooks and which sections are included in them. The following are the sections that are being reconsidered and revised by publishers (although not all publishers are changing their traditional content or layout).

  • The amount of visual information, like photos and other images
  • Hotel information
  • Restaurant and bar information
  • Cultural information, such as local customs, etiquette and in general, how to behave so that you understand local people and they don’t misunderstand you
an excerpt from travel guidebook Valencia, Spain
Sample page from travel guide to Valencia, Spain.

Before ebooks were introduced, only a few travel guidebooks had plenty of color photos. The cost of printing color pages used to be so high that publishers avoided guidebooks with a lot of visual information. This has changed because including visual information in an ebook doesn’t necessarily raise the product cost.

Yet, many traditional publishers hold on to the tradition, featuring only textual information on pages. Naturally, it is very difficult to show the reader how a destination looks like without color photos. Visual information also allows a reader to browse a book, find an interesting section, and read the details about it.

Hotels change names, they may join another hotel chain, re-brand, may get a new owner, renovate and build a new restaurant, launch a member program, and so on. Travel guidebooks can’t keep up with these changes, even though the update cycle can be faster in ebooks than in printed books. Today, travelers stay at Airbnb apartments, other short-term rentals, camping resorts, caravan sites, and in many other places as well. The up-to-date information can be found on the internet, but it is important to doublecheck the information from multiple sources.

The same applies to restaurants, bars and cafes. Restaurants come and go, change their menus, lose their chefs, renovate or simply lower their standards. Again, a travel guidebook may not have the latest information, but online services specialized in restaurants and bars can have up-to-date information. This is why modern travel guidebooks focus on other things that really provide value to the reader.

The more I travel, the more I understand how different cultures are in each country and in each region. That’s exactly what makes travel so fascinating (in addition to landscapes, natural attractions and human-created sights, of course). Today, a good guidebook should be able to explain the most common do’s and dont’s for tourists in that particular destination.

This was a long way to describe what items you might be evaluating when you are looking for that best guidebook. Every traveler has his or her preferences, but as the world changes, travel changes, travel guides change as well.


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