Even in this modern era of smartphones and Wi-Fi, nothing replaces a well-written guidebook. Travelers, climbers, and many other adventurers can glean wisdom from the research and advice found in traditional paper. Not every guidebook is created equal and most are written with a type of audience in mind. Finding the right guidebook for you and your trip or outing will add enjoyment and help avoid pitfalls that can dampen your spirits.
When purchasing a guidebook, be sure to investigate the size and style of the printing. A heavy hard cover book can take up a lot of room in a suitcase. Other considerations are water resistant covers, maps, and brief, concise sections listing things like hotels, restaurants, and attractions with up-to-date prices. Be sure to get the most recent edition possible as businesses can change quickly near popular attractions.
Travel Guides: Travel guides are usually compact and packed with useful information and maps. Some also contain colorful photography and brief histories that can enrich a traveler’s experience.
It’s important to choose a guide that caters to the style of travel you hope to undertake. A traveler who hopes to experience fine dining and five-star hotels, a budget travel guide will probably disappoint and vice versa.
Fortunately, technology makes it really easy to find book reviews. Read a couple about guidebooks for the areas you plan to visit and pick those with positive reviewers who gybe with your travel goals and sensibilities.
The scope of travel is an important consideration. For example, a visitor to Columbia will get more helpful information from a country-specific book that another that covers all of South America. Many books are available on specific regions and cities that offer great detail but are smaller in scope.
Broad Guidebooks: Books that cover entire landmasses like South and Central America can be helpful for long distance adventures.
Thematic Travel Guides: For specific types of travel, these are available for those with focused goals such as gastronomy, wine tasting, surfing, art – the list goes on and on. Look for sections such as what to bring, getting to and from, getting around, where to stay, what to eat and safety and concerns.
Climbing Guides: Climbing guides are usually written for a specific crag or geographical region in mind. A few notable exceptions are generalists that feature brief descriptions of many, even hundreds of climbing areas. A great example of a helpful generalist is Rock And Road by Tim Toula. These are great for road trips and can be used in conjunction with local guides for adventure planning.
Canoe and Kayak Guides: Many books exist to help with water-bound adventure. Areas like the Boundary Water Canoe Area and Quetico are featured in dozens of planning guides that help newbies prepare for wilderness travel by unpowered vessel.
Enjoy your trek into the wilderness or voyage into a foreign land. Choose the right guidebook and enjoy your adventure with proper preparation.