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Travel Tips: Guidebooks

Ah, guidebooks. If there's one subject guaranteed to generate debate, it's which guidebooks are better than others. There's even the argument that taking any kind of guidebook ruins the spontaneity of your trip, but you try telling me that when I've spent hours getting lost in the windy streets of Varanasi without a map...

Printed Guidebooks

There's one company whose books I thoroughly love, and that's Footprint Handbooks. They're no-nonsense tomes, obviously put together by travellers who've actually been travelling, and I can't recommend them enough. If you're travelling to Africa, then Bradt guides are just as excellent, and knock spots off the more touristy publications. However, Footprint and Bradt don't cover every nook and cranny of the planet, in which case Rough Guides are probably the best bet, followed by the ubiquitous Lonely Planet. Talking of Lonely Planet, the maps in their books are absolutely the best I've used, though their recommendations are a little too tourist-oriented for me (though this can be turned to your advantage). If you're starting out on your first trip, however, you'll probably find the hand-holding style useful.

eBook Guidebooks

I love my Kindle, and the first thing I thought when I bought it was how much easier travelling would be with all my guidebooks squeezed into one lightweight eBook reader. Unfortunately, guidebooks and eBook readers aren't the best bedfellows, and even though I'd like to, I can't yet recommend dropping printed guidebooks from the packing list (though I'm sure this will change as eBook readers evolve).