You've decided where to go on your honeymoon, but which hotel to choose? What to do when you get there? Where to eat? A good guidebook can assist you with all of those questions. But, how do you pick the book that best suits your needs? Travel books can be expensive, so it's important to choose wisely.
Types of Guidebooks
Travel books come in all shapes, sizes, and with emphasis on at least a dozen topics. There are books for adventure travelers, such as the Lonely Planet guides; books for restaurant fans, such as the Michelin red books; books for sightseers, such as the Baedeker series; and books for generalists, such as the Frommer's and Fodor's books.
How to Choose a Good Guidebook
There are so many choices of guide books. Consider the following when picking a guide book:
• The Scope – Does the book try to cover an entire country in 300 pages? In such a book, individual cities can't get a lot of attention. Consider, instead a book devoted completely to your destination.
• The Author – Does the author's bio read like a high school year book entry – or does it indicate a deep knowledge and experience with the region about which he or she is writing? Likewise, the absence of an author bio is not a good sign.
• The Brand – Just like automobiles, some guide books are best suited to certain tastes. For instance, the "Let's Go" series is targeted to student travelers and "Rough Guides" are designed for adventure travelers. Budget Travel magazine advises that if you aren't sure of a guide book's emphasis to look up your hometown in one of their guides to see what they cover.
• The Edition – The edition indicates the number of times a guide has been updated. It's usually found on the copyright page, inside the front cover. The more times a guide has been updated the better, because each revision adds a little more information. The first edition, almost by definition, just can't cover the entire range of information needed about a destination.
Buy, Rent, or Bid
Buying brand new guidebooks at the bookstore can get expensive. For the latest restaurant and nightclub information, a new book might be best, but if you're looking for sightseeing hints or weather information, a guidebook from last year may suit you just as well. The Tower of London hasn't changed in centuries, nor has the city's blustery weather. Look for discounted copies of "old" guides on bookstore remainder tables or at library sales and flea markets.
For planning your honeymoon, consider a trip to the local library. Although, libraries don't generally have the latest editions, they are good sources for background and sightseeing information. Plus, you can scour dozens of books without paying a cent.
Other good sources for slightly-dated guidebooks are the online auction sites, such as eBay. Although you'll have to pay shipping, many sellers get rid of "collections" of guide books after they return from their trip. I've been able to get dozens of barely-used travel books this way for pennies on the dollar. Try searches in the book section, such as "travel lot" or "travel collection."