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Ready to Go?: Travel Guides

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Travel guidebooks

Bellaire librarian Mary Cohrs suggests helpful travel guidebooks for summer vacation planning. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Smartphones, GPS products, apps and all other types of connectivity have made traveling easier, but there is something to be said about not having to rely on Internet service or battery life that makes a printed guidebook an important part of travel plans.

It is already April and summer travel plans are in full swing and as soon as the last bell on the last day of school rings the bags are packed and the trip begins. While we were growing up, our summers were road trips to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Missouri and various national parks staying in camp grounds along the way. I still have a stump rescued from being tossed into a campfire during one camping trip. My father dutifully packed it for the trip back and never failed to comment on its survival each time he visited me over the years. As an adult, trips to London and other destinations in Europe are still favorite memories and I relish looking through travel books to relive those trips. 

Traditional guidebooks are informative and will have a reputable company standing behind the information. One of the important things to look for when selecting a guidebook is the publication date since some companies update every two to three years. Also, you will also want to check for a comprehensive index in any book you consider. 

These are just a few of the series to consider in planning your next trip:

Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet covers most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The Lonely Planet series offers comprehensive, no-nonsense facts, low- and mid-budget listings, and helpful on-the-ground travel tips. They’ve published around 500 titles that cover 195 countries hiring a combination of travel writers and local writers.

Fodor's Travel: Fodor’s has been providing travel advice and publishing guidebooks for 80 years. They prefer to hire local writers based in each destination for their guidebooks instead of travel writers. In total, they’ve published over 300 travel guides that cover more than 7,500 destinations around the globe.

DK Eyewitness Travel: Visual guides that offer appealing color photos and illustrations (like cutaway cross-sections of important castles, museums and churches). They are great for trip planning and visual learners offering practical travel suggestions.

National Geographic Traveler: Well-produced, with beautiful maps and photos. Short descriptions of highlights squeeze in facts about history, geography and local life, while marginal notes provide practical info like addresses, phone numbers and prices. One thing that’s unique is their Insider tips, short blurbs written by seasoned travel writers.

Rick Steves Travel Guides: A familiar name in travel, Rick Steves has guided and educated travelers through Europe for over 38 years. His advice and suggestions are useful to the new traveler as well as the experienced one providing a broad look at European culture and history.

So whether you are a seasoned traveler or an armchair traveler looking for your next exotic location to visit or new places to discover in the USA, explore the travel section at your local public library and start planning your trip. 

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