Travel Tips for Really Really Smart Folk – Guidebook Love

I love to do it yourself (DIY) travel.  That means when I roam, I like to make my travel arrangements myself.  Nothing against travel agents, they offer awesome service to many people I know and I will likely use them someday as well.  However, I get tremendous enjoyment out of researching my own accommodations and transport options and consider it part of the adventure.

A few days ago, a good friend of mine was crowd -sourcing for travel tips and I realized I have lots to give, way more than I can flame up in a social media comment thread.  Therefore, I figure it’s time to share. In fact, in writing this post, I realized have way more to give than I can fit into a single blog; therefore, you’ll have to bare with me as I explore the topic over a series of posts.

In this offering, I’ll deal with one of the first travel resources to consider:  travel guidebooks.

Get Thee a Trusty Guidebook
Paying $35 dollars for a book you may only use once is not easy for all.  I’m a thrifty guy and I have trouble buying things period but thirty five bucks is a whole lot of money for a meager public servant.  However, I’ve rapped my mind around to the point where I consider it a small price that makes possible substantial returns on much larger travel investments, such as airfare, accommodations, admission tickets, and food.

Furthermore, a guidebook makes my trips more enjoyable and rewarding, in addition to boosting their cost effectiveness.  Being more knowledgeable unlocks adventure.

Get your guidebook from the library to save $ but be careful about autograph seekers

Get your guidebook from the library to save $ but be careful about autograph seekers

Tightwad tip (takes one to know one) consider loaning your travel guidebooks from your local library.  After-all, what’s a book on Italy that has never actually been to Italy.  If you do this, consider wrapping the cover in brown packaging paper or wrapping paper so you don’t look a tourist geek (like me).  And be careful of little old ladies that will rip a guidebook out of your hand to find a page with their picture on it and autograph it before you can blink.

There is a Rome travel guidebook in the Prince George Library collection that is defaced in just this way.  Don’t tell.

Find Your Brand
Another thing to consider is to find your brand. When I first started travelling, I would check-out multiple travel guidebooks for the same destination because I figured they were all competing with each other to find unique items that the others would not mention.  I thought the more information I had, the better.

I love Rick Steve's quirky humor & budget travel philosophy

I love Rick Steve’s quirky humor & budget travel philosophy

However, travel research is a lot of work and combined with all the compressed effort you have to exert to be able to get away, both at work and at home,  I suggest you think differently.  I had to put my self-diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder aside and trust one franchise that best alighted with my travel philosophy and the things I enjoy during travel.

For Europe, I have gone with the Rick Steves brand because I like his folksy humor and emphasis on walking tours and food.  He also has introduced me, painlessly, to many an art museum, and I like his backdoor, budget way of travelling.  I don’t always use his recommendations, ask me about my Three American Tourists in Positano story, but I almost always consider them.

Rip it, Rip it Good
Rick Steve, who I might have a tiny man crush on, recommends to rip up your book into sections and only take the parts you want.  He even has a short video on this.  I haven’t been able to do this yet but here are a few other tricks I use to save bulk and weight:

Rip your books to save space and weiight

Rip your books to save space and weight

Only take one guidebook per destination.  Don’t laugh, my first trip to Europe I had a 2-3 books per place from competing brands so I wouldn’t miss out.  It was a load off when I learned to find my brand (see above).

  • Photocopy or scan the guidebook pages you want, but be wary  provoking the copyright police.
  • Purchasing an online version of your book and access it on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop.  If you go this route, consider packing an extra battery since your device will be activated for much longer in a given travel day.
  • Take notes and save them on your device or use an online storage service like Dropbox.

Travel guidebooks are the first great travel resource that a traveler should employ. Finding one that suits your travel style and finding a way to reconcile the mass, cost, and bulk of these books are worthy considerations.  Stay tuned for my future posts on other travel tips.

What are your thoughts on travel guidebooks?

Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at

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2 Responses to Travel Tips for Really Really Smart Folk – Guidebook Love

  1. I am a frequent traveler and I travel a lot. I am a great fan your writing skills. Even today, when I was searching for the free airline upgrades I found your webpage somewhere in the search engine result pages. I just love the post you have shared. Thanks a lot for sharing your reviews with us.

    • gsjonuk says:

      Thanks for your interest Amanda. I learned heaps more about travel during a recent trip to Spain. Hope to blog about it soon.

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