Whenever I travel abroad I like to take a decent travel guide with me. This is doubly important if I have never visited the country or region before.

So, what makes a good travel book?

Well for me there are a few essential elemnts such as:-

  • User friendly. The book needs to be written well but in plain language.
  • Useful illustrations are helpful.
  • Local customs.
  • Local currency details.
  • A few words of the local language.
  • Advice on the best food, drink and restaurants around.
  • Calendar of events.
  • Places to visit.
  • Places to avoid.
  • Advice for emergencies.
  • Getting around.

The above list is not exhaustive. You may however think that I am asking a lot of a travel guide. However, when you visit a strange land all of the above are important.

Finally I like a travel book to guide me and know what to omit. The fun of visiting a new place is discovering the place's treasures for yourself.

Here are a few travel books which I have used and deemed good.

Insight guidesInsight Guides.

Insight guide books are a little larger than pocket sized. It is still possible to carry such a travel book with you on holiday but it will need to be carried in a bag. I prefer to use an Insight Guide to read back at my accommodation. This will help in deciding where to visit and when.

As these travel books are comprehensive they are a little more expensive. However you could sell the book on, after your vacation. Alternatively look for a second hand book online.

Rough GuidesRough Guides.

Rough Guides offer a different perspective of your destination. These books will offer details of unusual aspects of the subject. There will be inexpensively priced local restaurants and hotels and quirky, off the beaten track places to visit.

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet travel books are similar to Rough Guides. The information here will be more unusual and the book will detail the less commercial aspects of the destination.


Berltiz provide pocket sized travel books, which contain a wealth of information. For the size of book, the amount of detail is fabulous.

AA Guides AA Guides.

AA, automobile association, Guides are a British concept. The books are sometimes very large and may include extensive travel maps. These books are perfect for those who are driving during their vacation.

Final thoughts.

New travel books, such as Eyewitness, are also very good. Eyewitness offer many phrase books and are also very cheap to buy.The Internet has also brought new opportunities for the traveller. It is possible to research Internet Travel Guides, select the relevant information and then print what you need. Staple these pages together and you have your own, purpose made travel book.

EyewitnessRussianItalianDutchEyewitness travel book

Of course the choice is yours.

Think about what you want from your travel book. If you are into bird watching, visiting museums, eating traditional local food, archeology, painting and the like on holiday, you will need a travel book which fits your personal requirements. However most of the travel books detailed above will include a little information of such activities.

Consider whether you want a tome of a book or a handy pocket sized guide. Shop around for the best price avilable. Perhaps the January Sales will enable you to bag a travel book that is a bargain.