Travel by the Book

What’s your first step in planning a trip? Many people jump online to research and plan. But more and more experienced travelers say a guidebook is the best place to start. The library has a vast selection of popular, up-to-date travel guidebooks for you to check out and peruse.

Of course, the internet can be a valuable source of current prices and schedules, but travel guidebooks can give you so much more information on the culture, climate and the best places to spend your time. In fact the travel guidebook industry is thriving, with many great choices. Here’s an overview of the most popular guidebooks we have.

Fodor’s is one of the earliest and most well-established travel guide companies. It was founded by Eugene Fodor who published his first guide in 1936 because he thought the travel books of his time were boring. The Hungarian-born adventurer was also recruited by the CIA as a spy in 1942, shortly after he started his guidebook company. He was the first to print updates of his guides and to recruit writers who lived in the areas they wrote about. These guidebooks are still considered well-researched and spot-on with their recommendations.

Frommer’s is considered the granddaddy of American travel writers. Arthur Frommer first published a guidebook for soldiers when he was stationed in Germany followed by his trademark Europe on $5 a Day in 1957. Born in Jefferson City, Missouri, he is committed to low-budget and alternative travel. Frommer’s guides are recommended by the website Vagabondish as the “Best Guides for Newbies” as they contain everything you need to know. The guides are very much geared toward American travelers and users find them very reliable and cost-conscious.

Rick Steves is a charismatic American travel writer from Washington who advocates for independent travel. His first big book was Europe Through the Back Door in 1979 and this is also the name of his first company. In 2000 he began hosting “Rick Steves’ Europe” on PBS, many of which are available on DVD in the library. His enthusiasm for travel is infectious and he has many fans. Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. His mission is to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening.

Lonely Planet has some of the best-selling guides. Originally founded by Maureen and Tony Wheeler, the name is drawn from a misheard line in the song “Space Captain” (it was actually “lovely planet”). The guides were aimed at backpackers and other low-cost travelers and still retains that reputation for travelers who want the “off the beaten track” experience in their trips. Its legion of fans swear by the comprehensive, easy-to-understand information and the guides are highly recommended.

Other great guidebooks by DK Travel, Moon, Rough Guides and Insight Guides are also available.

Photo credits: Mark Chaves, Marten Bjock and June Liu all at Unsplash

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Donna Casey

I work in Circulation as a senior library associate. I love mysteries, traveling, gardens and libraries. My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, Patricia Cornwell and Harlan Coben, but I enjoy any well-plotted mystery.