Book It

The best travel guidebooks for your clients

By: By Anne Burke

Remember when the travel section only took up a few shelves in the bookstore? Clients now must wander through aisle after aisle of guidebooks, each claiming to be more authoritative than the next. To help you decide which guidebook is best for each client, we spent time with a few of the more prominent series.



Insight Guides
Buy this book well before departure, settle into an armchair and prepare to be transported. Insight Guides teams with the Discovery Channel to produce well-written backgrounders that will make clients feel like educated travelers rather than bumpkins abroad. Beautiful and evocative color photographs jump out from each page, but there’s a tradeoff: little space left for details on lodging and dining.
We like: Sturdy maps on the front and back cover folds.





Nearly half a century after publishing “Europe on $5 a Day,” Arthur Frommer is still helping the budget-minded see the world in comfort and style. The complete series has sturdy, pullout maps and is exhaustively detailed with nonessentials like history and foreign words relegated to the appendix. Cutting out the excess verbiage (“You can’t see Rome in a day” — no kidding!) might have helped with portability. At 785 pages, “Italy 2006” could also be used as a doorstop.
We like: The free online updates at 





Rick Steves
The blond and bespectacled darling of public television preaches the gospel of low-cost travel as the best way to experience a country and culture as the locals live it. Steves’ “Europe Through the Back Door” is a pre-departure must-read for anyone who wants to avoid tourist traps like the Blarney Stone and a $5 cup of coffee.
We like: The author endorses using travel agents.





Lonely Planet
Once found mostly in the rucksacks of the young and adventurous, Lonely Planet is now favored by anyone who aspires to be a “traveler,” but not a “tourist” and recoils at bus tours and souvenir shops. This series crams an impressive amount of information into a compact size; the photography is the best anywhere. Clients who are environmentally and socially conscious will appreciate the tips on responsible travel.
We like: Lonely Planet guidebooks carry no advertisements.





In years gone by, the Gold Series was the standard for traditional, high-end travel. Today, bright yellow has replaced the metallic gold cover and the series caters to travelers with moderate budgets — there’s even a “¢” symbol for cheap eats and sleeps. Clients who are turned off by long-winded expositions on history and culture will appreciate the succinct backgrounders. The star-rating system identifies must-see sights.
We like: The “word of mouth” tips from real-life travelers.





Rough Guide
The series that started as a shoestring guide for students in 1982 has evolved into a thorough and authoritative companion for independent travelers looking for good value for their money. For $5, Internet users can purchase an e-book that contains everything in the regular guidebook except for maps and illustrations.
We like: The section tabs make it easy to find what you’re looking for.