Non Rick Steves Guidebook Assessment
There are a lot of guidebooks other than Rick's. What are some of your experiences using different guidebooks, positive and negative?
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Other Useful Guidebooks
Never use an old guidebook no matter whose it is! For Spain we used Rick's book for that year and then added DK for Madrid because of its photos and organization.
Fallbrook, CA USA 07/04/2013
Good travel resource
In addition to consulting many Rick Steves resources I have found www.frommers.com to be a very helpful site. The website allows you to look for restaurants, attractions, hotels, etc. by price, alphabetical order or by neighborhood.
Laura L Fitzgerald
Buffalo, NY USA 04/05/2013
When I am preparing to visit a country or city for the first time I find the Dummies series helpful - but I do not travel with them. DK web site allows you to select a location and choose the hotel-dining-tourist information to print that you want - this is a free service. DK also has guidebooks that offer tourist info on places not covered by RS; that can useful when visiting a "side door". That said, I always travel with a RS book with me in Europe.
Fairfield, Ohio USA 11/22/2012
Knoff Mapguides are a godsend!
I just got back from a two-week excursion in Berlin, and first off I would recommend getting the Eyewitness guidebooks if you're a visual person like me. It's nice to be shown pictures of things to look for like ticket kiosks. They're packed with practical info as well, so it's not just a pretty book.
I used it to familiarize myself with what to see and do, and used the Knoff Mapguide for Berlin when I was out and about. I can't recommend those series enough. Small, compact, and they have clear easy-to-read maps by neighborhood that fold out just once so you don't look like such a tourist fumbling with a large fold-out map. It had a map for the U- and S-Bahns as well, with the station stops cross-referenced in the neighborhood maps. They also had landmarks and recommended sight-seeing places marked, with descriptions. For such a slim guide, it was packed with all the right info I needed. I used it constantly, and even used it to help out others who asked me where to get to things! And it all fit nicely in my coat pocket. The next place I go to, I'll be using a Knoff guide, hands down.
Seattle, WA USA 11/14/2012
I like Lonely Planet guide for Guatemala and Fodor's for New York City. Guide books are worth the money. Honest assessments, prices, maps. Help you get more out of your trip and fewer problems/disappointments.
Sebring, Fl USA 05/19/2012
Walks Series, Blue Guides, Eye Witness
For the Geeky, I recommend the Blue Guides. If you want to know everything about ever niche and cranny of a cathedral, the Blue Guides are the way to go. But, they make a lousy primary guide. Think of them as an English speaking tour guide to answer all of your obscure questions. We cut them up and take only the relevant pages as they tend to exhaustively cover everything.
For arm chair touristing and deciding where to go and what to see nothing beats the Eye Witness Series. They aren't nearly as good about logistics as Rick Steves. We use them when planning but don't take them with us. Kindles may change that.
For interesting walks the Henery Holt and Company's Walk books are fantastic[INVALID]well if you're geeky. Lots of local lore and small details you might miss. But, in any city we've never used more than two of the walks. Chose before you go and take just the relevant sections. Like the Blue Guides they are aimed at the intellectual, but they are far far more entertaining.
To travel cheap use Rough Guides. If you are young considered Let's Go[INVALID]- but never use Let's Go to decide what to go to. It's useless for that.
If you are interested in places off the beaten path you must take info beyond Rick Steves. He's great at choosing and great at telling where he chose but he doesn't cover everything anywhere. Look to Rough Guides and Let's Go for the smaller places.
Saken, OR USA 05/18/2012
Recently stayed at Rick's recommended Hotel Fontana in Venice and it was great. Such a nice homey feeling, family run. Hope you enjoy also.
Castle Pines, CO USA 05/07/2012
"Living Abroad" series by Moon
I recently picked up Moon's "Living Abroad in Ireland." It's worth thumbing through the country guide you are interested in, and reading the author's bio, before buying.
"Living Abroad" gives more insight into daily cultural habits and politics than most travel guides (my shelves represent many). You may also learn about more 'little out-of-the-way' places worth visiting that locals like, but may have been skipped by travel writers. These books are especially good for future study-abroad students. Moon "Living Abroad" guides run about $20.
Fort Worth, TX USA 04/08/2012
Eyewitness Travel Guides for the Sights
I am a big fan of the Eyewitness Travel Guides for planning what sights to see. In addition to a history of the country I am visiting, I thoroughly read the ETG and scope out the pics. I use Rick's Books to figure out where to stay and eat. His books also compliment what the ETGs say about sights. To me, it is a winning combination.
Portland, OR USA 03/07/2012
Rick Steve's maps are the best. But even he is a bit up scale for us. Lonely Planet is a cut below Rick for prices. Rick seriously wants you to have a painless vacation. Lonely Planet is for those who are willing to have a few more bumps.
The Insight Guides
Whenever I go anywhere, whether in the U.S. or overseas, I try to find the Insight Guide for it. These guidebooks are not so good for information on lodging or restaurants, although they have basic listings in the back, but they are unsurpassed for background information. They start with essays on the history, culture, and lifestyles of the destination, all illustrated by superb photographs, and continue with essays about the sights of each part of the country or city, also illustrated by beautiful photographs. I use them mostly for suggesting places to go within the country, especially off-the-beaten track places, and then I use Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, and the Internet (and Rick Steves if the destination is in Europe) for practical information such as hotels and transportation links.
Minn, MN USA 01/18/2012