Tag Archives: travel guidebooks

Travel Guides: Use Them or Lose Them?

My husband and I take a Homeric odyssey by car each July and two to five smaller trips during the rest of the year–sometimes I fly solo and sometimes we go together.  Putting together our road trip takes Herculean effort–luckily, I love to do reserach and organize itineraries and schedules.

Orchestrating parties, trips, and other seemingly daunting tasks, especially when under a tight deadline, is sport for me.  This love of planning compliments my travel obsession and that’s why you’ll find me pouring over travel books, magazines, and websites all through the year. 

For our annual road trip, I have a giant accordion file where I stuff pages ripped from magazines and articles printed from the internet.  By May, the file is usually filled to bursting with places to visit, stay, or see and sheaves of restaurant suggestions.

In the pre-internet era, I called on my dear friends Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and Let’s Go to get ideas and information about my trips.  In the last few years, I’ve relied more on websites to guide me, though I did take out two or three books from the library for this year’s trip (old habits die hard).

travel books

A few of my travel guide books--one is a library book.

I do a fair amount of research on Trip Advisor, though recently they’ve had some issues with review integrity.  I tend to read reviews with a grain of salt and just use the website for ideas.  I also post reviews to help other travelers on their way.

I plan about 75% of our trip beforehand, leaving the remaining 25% to chance and suggestions from locals.  I’ve found, through trial and error, that if I plan too much we don’t have enough downtime to relax and if  I plan too little, we get bored.

By now you know that I’m a curious person and like to know if other people have better or more efficient ways to do things that I do, so I’m turning this over to you guys.

  • When you travel, do you use travel guidebooks to set your course or do you just use the internet for research? 
  • If you don’t plan at all (*gasp*) please tell me how that works too!
  • Do you have a great local gem (in the US or Canada) that we need to check out next year’s road trip?  (We’ll pick our Summer 2010 destination in August so toss out some ideas!)

*There have also been scandals in the book form of travel guides–see Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm for details.