Choosing a Guidebook

A guidebook many not be the be-all-end-all travel companion, I do believe it’s an important accessory for any trip. It helps with planning a trip and is a great resource to bring along your journey. There are many different books on the market now and choosing the best one for your budget and interests is becoming harder all the time.

There are books for the off-the-beaten-track backpacker, the luxury traveller and everything in between. So how to you choose between them? Your first step should be to go down to your local library, pick up a bunch and begin reading.

Try looking up activities that interest you or comparing chapters on areas you’d like to visit. Take a look at the accommodation and restaurant section to get a feel for the budget the book writes to. You’ll soon find a style that suits you. The maps should be clear and the practical information should be easy to read. Also consider is the publication date, if the book is more than 3 years old then the information may be out of date.

Each guidebook publisher may be stronger in one region over another. Make sure you look at a few before you buy one. Here is a general breakdown of the major guidebooks:

Lonely Planet


Arguably the number one in backpacker and independent travel. Clear maps, lots of practical info and guides for almost every country on earth.

Rough Guides


Another big name in independent travel with good practical information as well as cultural and historical text. Not as many updates as LP, but nice to read.

Footprint Guides


No pretty photos here, but an incredible amount of practical info jammed in. A backpacker favorite and especially good for South America.

Moon Handbooks


This new comer is easy to read and upbeat. Still lacking a few travel destinations, but a good find for the ones it does cover.

Rick Steve’s


Excellent for Europe, perhaps even the best. Has excellent tips on sites and aimed at budget to middle travel.



A popular guidebook aimed at middle and upper range travel budgets, not for backpackers.



Another guide that speaks to middle and upper range travel budgets, but with an emphasis on food travel.

Eye Witness Travel


These illustrated guidebooks are glossy and beautiful, but maybe a bit heavy for backpacker purposes. Better suited to pre-planning.

There are many other guides besides the ones listed here, some covering specific activities or cities.

Here are some other guides worth looking at:

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