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11 BEST Travel Guides for 2024 [Websites & Guidebooks]

* This article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you.

TL;DR: The two best travel guides are Rick Steves for first time travelers—especially anyone going to Europe—and Bradt Guides for off-the-beaten-path destinations and “Slow Travel.” Both are reliable, will give you ideas for what to do, and help you plan the best trip.

The way we travel has changed drastically in my lifetime. Information is more readily available in the digital age, a massive plus for traveling. 

Everyone, including myself, wants to make the most of every trip abroad. That’s why I love reading travel guide books or online guides. 

Some of these guide books help you get off the beaten path. Others give information on tours you can take on your own to learn the history of a certain destination you’re visiting. 

But which are the best?

After years of reading and doing research, I have found the best travel guides for you to use when planning your next trip abroad!

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

A smiling brown-haired woman wearing sunglasses and a backpack slung over her shoulder, holding an example of one of the best travel guides in the form of an open book, with an out of focus city square behind her.

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations

  • DK Eyewitness
  • Bradt Guides
  • Rick Steves
  • Lonely Planet
  • Blue Guides
  • Footprint Guides
  • Frommer Guides
  • Tripadvisor
  • Rough Guides
  • Moon Travel Guides
  • Insight Guides

Table of Contents

#1 DK Eyewitness

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of DK Eyewitness books.

DK Eyewitness is one of the best travel guide books on the market today. But they offer more than just travel information. 

After publishing books for over 45 years, DK Eyewitness Books cover everything from travel, science, history, pop culture, and children’s topics.

Their travel guides give the information you desperately need for travel– such as maps, itineraries, accommodations, where to eat, and more! 

I also love how easy their visuals are to look at. I sometimes get lost in their maps and start imagining myself there (I’m a big daydreamer if you can’t tell!).

DK Eyewitness Travel guide books might not be the most in-depth on a particular location, but they help with travel inspiration. 

If you want more information, DK Eyewitness has a podcast called ‘Where to Go,’ which is another excellent way to get your travel information on the go!

  • 100+ destinations
  • Heavy on history
  • It has both outdoor and city guides
  • Amazing visuals
  • Not as in-depth as other guides

#2 Bradt Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Bradt Guides Books.

A Bradt travel guide is perfect if you’re interested in visiting countries that are less traveled to— written by experienced travelers with fantastic insider tips. 

Bradt travel guide books has a reputation as the “World’s leading independent travel publisher.” They are also the best India travel guide company.

Some unique destinations include Iraq, Sri Lanka, Galapagos Islands, and Grenada. But don’t worry. Bradt Guides also has a British series for those interested! 

Lately, I’ve been striving to travel like a local. Bradt has a ‘Slow Travel’ guidebook series, which I love using these days because it helps me travel like a local. 

The trip ideas are great in detail but might not be for your preferred country to visit. 

Bradt Guides prides itself on being the most comprehensive on the market. Their authors give cultural insights and expressions of interest and knowledge.

You can support Bradt’s Guides even further by subscribing to their Patreon! Here you can pay monthly for a specific tier and earn different things like one free e-book a month.

  • More off-the-beaten-path destinations
  • Slow travel series
  • Has a Patreon page
  • Unique style of travel not for everyone

#3 Rick Steves

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Rick Steves Books.

Rick Steves books are the guide books your mom hands you when traveling to your dream destination in Europe. And that’s a good thing! They’re trusted by many for a reason.

These travel guide books are always up-to-date, thanks to Rick Steves’ research partners. 

Rick’s books will have you feeling like you’re on guided tours! He ensures you’ll have some fantastic cultural experiences. 

I love Europe, but there are many other cultures throughout the world that I’m even more interested in. So, since Rick Steves’ guidebooks are primarily Europe-focused, I’m not as drawn to them.

Also, traveling in Europe long-term can get expensive. His books cater to a more wealthy crowd. 

Pick any European country, and you will have high-quality content on that destination. Rick has visited Europe countless times, and other travel websites can’t compete. 

Rick’s bestseller is his Italy guide, which isn’t surprising. In that guide, he goes over the best places to eat and sleep and how to beat the crowds. 

It’s a good idea to grab a Rick Steves’ book simply for the detailed maps.

  • Best guides for Europe
  • It gives in-depth information for solo tours
  • Perfect for a beginner traveler.
  • Catered to upper and middle-class travelers

#4 Lonely Planet

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Lonely Planet Books.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Lonely Planet , as they’ve been a dominant force in the travel scene for quite some time now. Their goal is to make travel planning easy, and they’ve succeeded!  

I loved using Lonely Planet books when I first started traveling. These books helped me up my game as a budget traveler. 

Lonely Planet dominates the internet with a wealth of online resources. While the information they offer online is easy to access, it can be vague. 

You can subscribe to Lonely Planet on their website for free. I’ve done this, but I’ve found that there tends to be some destinations/articles that are low in detail. 

Considering Lonely Planet’s sheer amount of content, it’s not too surprising that they sometimes gloss over details. 

Their claim to fame is their numerous experts located worldwide. These experts cover adventure travel, family holidays, food and drink, and much more. 

Plus, a Lonely Planet magazine is an amazing coffee table piece, am I right?

  • Backpacker friendly
  • An extensive collection of guides for the entire world
  • Free information is available
  • Some of their content is outdated or not detailed

#5 Blue Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Blue Guides Books.

If you love the art and history of Italy, then Blue Guides is for you! People often plagiarize Blue Guide books due to the amount of accurate information each book has. 

With over 14 books on Italy alone, you won’t find more detailed information on a particular destination than with Blue Guides– they deliver it all! 

Italy was the first country that I visited outside of the United States, and I’m so glad that I had a Blue Guide book with me. 

Their award-winning maps and exceptional attention to detail made it feel like I was on a private tour! 

Be aware: there aren’t a lot of online articles from Blue Guides or many countries to choose from, which could be an issue if you like to visit more unusual locations.

Blue Guides’ first publication date was in the early 1900s, so it’s undoubtedly a top guidebook for a travel junkie!

  • Helps travelers understand art and history
  • Multiple guides on Italy
  • Extremely thorough in their research
  • Not a lot of destinations

#6 Footprint Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Footprint Guides Books.

Footprint Guides is the go-to source for Latin American travel tips for all budgets! My love for this region of the world has only grown since I started using their books.

Even if Latin America isn’t one of your top destinations, they do offer other print books. All Footprint Guides are written by experts who have lived in that destination. 

Unfortunately, for North American travelers looking to plan a dream road trip, you won’t find much helpful information here, as their focus is decidedly on the south. 

Alongside their practical information, Footprint adds a layer of imagination to their guidebooks, giving them an edge that makes them one of the best travel guide series available today!

  • Wide range of budgets
  • Specializes in Latin America
  • Practical information
  • Not much content on the United States

#7 Frommer Guides

Frommer Guides

Does traveling on $5 per day sound appealing to you? Arthur Frommer thought so when he set out to create his Frommer travel guides . 

Alongside some of the best guidebooks, Frommer also offers other forms of information, including podcasts, online articles, and hotel deals!

I love using Frommer guides on road trips because they help me in many different situations. 

I usually like to have a podcast for when I’m driving , a guidebook on specific destinations while I’m in a hotel room, and online sources when on the go. 

Having Frommer guides in all their varied forms is essential since each one typically doesn’t go into heavy detail. 

If purchasing travel guide books doesn’t interest you, then keeping up to date with Frommer’s online travel guides is the way to go.

  • Many styles of information are available
  • Updates information frequently
  • Offer hotel deals
  • It covers only the main details

#8 Tripadvisor

Screenshot of the of the Tripadvisor website homepage.

Tripadvisor is an online source that most travelers have heard about. It’s unique on this list of travel guides because you interact with other travelers!

If you’re looking for help with trip planning, look no further than the Tripadvisor forum . Here you can talk with fellow travelers about your upcoming trip! 

When I have a specific question that needs answering, I always check Tripadvisor first. They have information on most countries, but some info on the forums can be outdated. 

Tripadvisor is great because it’s free! But they’re more than just a review and forum-based platform; you can also book different travel deals and tours through their website.

Sometimes the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming to click through.  If that sounds relatable, you might want to purchase some guidebooks instead. 

Tripadvisor started the wave of online travel planning. They’re worth browsing, even if you just want to write down a few travel tips!

  • Multiple reviews from other travelers
  • Travel deals available
  • Forum can be out of date
  • The massive amount of information can be overwhelming

#9 Rough Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Rough Guides Books.

Rough Guides has grown into a leader in the travel industry with its amazing travel guidebooks and online travel guides. 

What I love about these books is their authenticity. Their recommendations from locals helped to grow them into who they are today.

It all started with their Greece travel guide, and it quickly blew up. Demand increased for more and more Rough Guide content; they released a guidebook series for people who were eager for more. In 2017, Rough Guides expanded even further.

Today Rough Guides are more than just a travel guide company that sells books. They offer tours, custom-made itineraries, and more! I love using their website when planning my next trip. 

These custom-made itineraries and tours are expensive but for a reason. Rough Guides’ experts are located worldwide to give you the best travel experience ever. 

Rough Guides best selling guides offer a ton of background information and local tips, making them worth the high price!

  • Detailed itineraries
  • Personal recommendations from locals
  • An extensive list of countries
  • High prices for tours and custom itineraries

#10 Moon Travel Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Moon Travel Guides Books.

Moon Guides are my favorite guidebooks for traveling around the United States. Planning that perfect road trip is challenging but Moon Guides makes it easier.

Moon’s travel guidebooks are all about traveling sustainably. I’ve used them countless times in the Americas and have found them super helpful.

But Moon Guides don’t focus on the Americas only– they also offer some of the best travel guides for Japan in particular.

I’ve learned to use these books more for research instead of bringing them on my travels– they don’t always hold up with how rugged traveling can get for me.

Moon’s detailed maps are so good in their guidebooks that I fill my phone library with them. They are easy to read and use, which is what I think makes a good map. 

The best travel tips are from locals, and that’s what Moon’s travel guidebooks bring. They don’t have a fancy touring app or anything, but they don’t need it. 

If you want one of the best travel guides for families, then there’s no better choice than making Moon Guides your tour guide when traveling. 

Find your dream destination, get travel inspiration from their maps, and book that plane ticket.

  • Emphasis on the Americas and the Pacific
  • Easy-to-understand maps
  • Many pages of information solely for hotels/accommodations
  • Guidebooks aren’t durable

#11 Insight Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Insight Guides Books.

Insight is one of the best travel guidebooks on the market for a reason. The beautiful photographs in these travel guidebooks will have you daydreaming for days.

Insight guides are perfect for those history buffs out there like me. They combine great information with also some off-the-beaten-track activities. 

Insight has produced over 200 guidebooks and language books. Their books provide information on nearly any country you can think of (besides Mexico).

I love their books because they also have a mini-series.

During the Covid years, I was in the mood to read a lot. I picked a different destination each week and bought a new e-book. 

I could do this because they only cost five to ten dollars! Most of the best travel guidebooks are double this.   

Besides its guidebook series, Insight offers a handmade trip planned by experts to the destination of your choice. What more could you ask for?!

  • Multiple countries in each continent
  • Has language guides
  • Sells hand-picked vacation packages put together by locals
  • Offers mini versions of guides to sell for cheap
  • No Mexico guide

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Travel Guide

A man wearing a red and black checkered shirt reading an open guide book holds hands with woman in a black and white striped tank top, jeans, and a wide-brimmed hat while walking down a European-looking cobblestone street.

What to Look for in Travel Guides

Is the information up to date.

Picking the best travel guidebooks can be an overwhelming process. But the most important thing to watch out for is making sure the information is up-to-date.

Compared to online sources, guidebook information tends not to get updated as quickly for obvious reasons. 

You don’t want a travel guide taking you to a restaurant that doesn’t exist anymore, do you? No. You want to get off the beaten track but not THAT off that it gets you lost.

Pick Locally-Based Travel Guides

My ideal travel style is meeting locals, living, and eating like a local. I have the best travel experiences when I dive deep into the culture.

The best information about a destination comes from locals. When you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, wouldn’t you want to consult someone who has lived there for many years?

When you rely on locals’ recommendations, you’ll truly have an experience of a lifetime. 

Know What Type of Traveler You Are

A young woman in a peach tank top and sunglasses holds a travel guide book under one arm, and checks her phone.

This next tip can be difficult for some, and it can change from year to year. I have gone from being a true budget traveler to somewhere in the middle. 

I used to love history (I still do) and would base my travels around that. Now I seek adventure activities. 

Different types of guides will focus on different things, such as budget travel, adventure, expensive tours, food, or history. 

Finding the travel guide that fits your style will be more beneficial in the long run.

Know Which Destination You Want to Visit the Most

The best world travel guidebooks are often better for certain locations than others. For example, Rick Steves has a reputation for being the best travel guide for Europe and, specifically, the best travel guide for Italy. 

So, choose your travel guide based on which one specializes in the area you’re curious about.

Other Helpful Travel Guides

Travel is a huge industry which means there are more guides than you could ever possibly use. 

If you prefer your travel content in video form, one of the best travel guide Youtube channels is Ryan Shirley . 

His videos showcase the top places to visit in different countries with some of the best drone shots you’ll ever see. 

FAQs About Travel Guides

A woman with short brown hair wearing a black and white striped tank top squints as she opens a Lonely Planet book on Myanmar in front of a blurred background.

Should You Even Buy a Travel Guide?

A travel guide has its place. It may seem outdated to use one, but you can find some of the best information in them. 

Some guides take years to make and are very specific in the details they write for certain locations. The maps tend to be better and easier to read in these types of guides as well.  

Which is better: Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?

It depends on the style of travel you prefer. I prefer budget travel and tend to take fewer tours, so I like Lonely Planet. Rough Guide also has amazing tours if you’re interested in those.

What is the difference between Fodor’s and Frommer’s travel guides?

Frommer travel guides are excellent for those who want an easy read. Fodor is typically the better choice if you want more details about your activities. 

Fodor also has one of the best travel guides for Ireland, so check out Fodor if that’s your destination.

Is it better to travel with a tour guide or alone with a travel guide?

The answer differs from person to person! If you want your trip planned, then a tour guide is perfect. Going alone with a travel guide is nice because you can go at your own pace. 

Do people still buy travel guides?

Absolutely! There’s something different about having a travel guidebook to look at rather than scrolling through a website. 

Rick Steves and Bradt are my favorite travel guides.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Phillip Anderson

Phillip Anderson is a freelance travel writer, personal trainer, and adventure enthusiast. With years of travel experience under his belt, Phillip is an expert in finding the best deals through travel apps and websites. He knows how to find cheap domestic and international flights, like a flight to Peru for as low as $350.

When looking for cheap accommodations, Phillip combines his knowledge of websites like Airbnb, Booking.com & Hostelworld with more unique sites like TrustedHousesitters, for even more savings. Whether it’s flights, accommodations, or local experiences, he teaches travelers to make informed decisions, ensuring their adventures are both memorable and economical. For more from Phillip, check out his website, JaywalkTheWorld.com.

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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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15 Best Travel Guidebook Series & Why You Will Love Them

  • Updated: 07/02/2024

Are you an avid traveler or someone who loves exploring new places? If so, you know the value of good travel planning  information and particularly the value of editorial independent guidebooks . Though—with so many options, how do you choose the best book? 

In this article, I share the top 15 must-have travel guidebook series , from Lonely Planet to Rick Steves and everything in between. These books offer essential resources for travelers seeking reliable details about destinations, local cultures, and tips for a seamless journey.

The guides deliver a one-stop-shop that combines the best of the internet without the pop-up ads and paid-for-placement “recommendations.”

So, join in—as I delve into the pros and cons of each travel guidebook series, considering factors like accuracy, depth of coverage, user-friendly layout, and unique features. I will cover what sets these guidebooks apart, helping you to make the best decision on which one to choose before your next trip.

Table Of Contents

Why travel guidebooks are still relevant in the digital age.

From our early days of travel, I remember one of the heaviest parts of backpacking around the world used to be shouldering the weight of hefty printed guidebooks as we made our way from one country to another. We would often carry four or five thick books at a time. This heavy stack included guides for our current country, our recently visited country, and, if we happened to be organized—for the country we were going to next.

We did this because, at the time, we had no other choice. Before the prevalence of e-books and travel blogs, YouTube channels, and social media, old-school travel guidebooks provided the only source of travel information available.

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However, today, when information is just a few clicks away, you might wonder if travel guidebooks still hold any value. The truth is, despite the abundance of online resources, guidebooks continue to be an essential tool for travelers worldwide.

Here are three reasons why: 

  • Travel guidebooks offer a curated, reliable, and comprehensive source of information . While the internet can provide a wealth of data, it can also be overwhelming and often unreliable. Guidebooks, on the other hand, are meticulously researched, are editorially independent (aka do not receive payment from businesses for placements), written by experts who often share a distinct opinion on a place and its attractions, and are constantly updated to ensure accuracy.
  • Guidebooks provide a complete overview of a destination. They go beyond just listing tourist attractions, offering insights into possible itineraries, local customs, traditions, and lesser-known gems that are easy to miss. Whether your interests lie in history, art, food, or adventure, guidebooks typically cover it all comprehensively.

For example, after reading Frommer’s EasyGuide to Washington, DC  before a family spring break visit, I learned I needed to act fast to request tickets for Capitol and White House tours. Because the guidebook let me know to reserve so early, we successfully booked a tour and visited the Capitol building. Standing in the historic and beautiful US Capitol Rotunda and viewing the House and Senate Chambers was an unforgettable experience I would not have wanted to miss. 

With these benefits in mind, we will explore things you should consider when choosing the best guidebook in the section below.

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Travel Guidebook

To help you choose the ideal travel guidebook for your next trip, here are five key factors to consider:

1. Destination: Consider the specific destination you plan to visit. Some guidebook series specialize in regions or countries, offering more in-depth coverage and insider tips. For example, Rick Steves’  travel guidebooks focus on Europe only.

2. Travel Style: Think about your travel style and preferences. If you are a backpacker looking for budget-friendly recommendations—you will likely want to read Lonely Planet . Or are you more interested in luxury and upscale experiences? Then, a DK Eyewitness Guide or a Fodor’s might be more to your taste. Different guidebook series cater to specific travel styles, so choose one that best aligns with the way you travel.

3. Content: Evaluate the type of content you are looking for. Do you prefer detailed historical information, practical tips, or recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences? Some guidebooks, like Culture Smart! , focus on cultural insights, while others provide a broader overview.

4. Layout and Format: Consider the layout and format of the guidebook. Is it easy to navigate? Are there maps, photos, or illustrations? Does it offer an easy-to-follow rating system for top recommendations like the Frommer’s guides include? A well-organized guidebook with clear visuals can significantly enhance your travel experience.

5. Publish Date: Reference the date the travel guidebook was most recently published. If it is several years old, see if a newer version with updated content is available for your destination from a different guidebook series. 

Now that we have covered the factors to consider, check out the top 15 picks for the travel guidebook series in the sections below.

Lonely Planet: The Iconic Travel Guidebook Series

Best for: Budget and mid-range independent travelers.

Coverage: 50+ countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, Americas, Australasia & the Middle East.

Lonely Planet  is—undoubtedly—one of the most well-known and respected travel guidebook series. For over five decades, Lonely Planet  has been helping travelers discover the world with its comprehensive guides.

Here are three things that set Lonely Planet apart:

  • Accuracy: Lonely Planet guidebooks are known for their accuracy. Writers and editors meticulously research the information, ensuring that you have the most up-to-date and reliable details at your fingertips.
  • Depth of Coverage: Lonely Planet offers extensive coverage of destinations worldwide. From popular tourist spots to hidden gems, you will find detailed information on attractions, accommodations, transportation, and more.
  • User-Friendly Layout: Lonely Planet guidebooks have a user-friendly layout that makes it easy to navigate and find the information you need quickly. Clear maps, color-coded sections, and helpful icons enhance the reading experience.

However, it is worth noting that Lonely Planet guidebooks can sometimes be overwhelming due to the vast information provided. Additionally, since it focuses primarily on budget and mid-range travel, you may want to consult other sources for more luxury recommendations.

Though given that their library is so extensive and refreshed so frequently, they may offer the only up-to-date travel guidebook for your destination. We recently used their Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo guide for a spring family trip to Gozo  and Valletta and found it an excellent resource. 

The only other downside when it comes to Lonely Planet for travelers who prefer e-books is that it can be slow to e-publish new editions, offering only print guides for sale.

Rick Steves: A Comprehensive Guide for the European Traveler

Best for: Independent European travelers.

Coverage: 30+ European countries.

For travelers planning a trip to Europe, Rick Steves’ guidebooks are a must-have. With a focus on European destinations, Rick Steves has been helping travelers explore the continent for over four decades. 

Three reasons why travelers regard Rick Steves’ guidebooks so highly:

  • In-depth European Coverage: Rick Steves’ guidebooks offer unparalleled coverage of European destinations. Whether visiting popular cities like Paris and Rome or exploring lesser-known towns, like Dingle Town in Ireland, you will find detailed information and valuable insider tips provided by experts. For example, in his Ireland guidebook, the excellent detail for the Dingle Peninsula self-guided route is supplied by a local archeological tour guide and retired police chief, Tim Collins.
  • Cultural Insights: Rick Steves is known for emphasizing cultural immersion. His guidebooks provide insights into local customs, traditions, and history, helping to give you a deeper understanding of the places you visit.
  • Practical Advice: Rick Steves packs his guidebooks with practical advice for European travel. From transportation options to money-saving tips, you will find everything you need to make the most of your trip.

One downside of Rick Steves’ guidebooks that might be an upside is that Rick always has an opinion, and he shares it. You may love his strong point of view. Or you might not agree with what he thinks. 

For example, I love Rick Steves and always reference his guides for any new European destination. However, in his Switzerland guidebook , Rick shares his low opinion of a Berner Oberland mountain hub town called Grindelwald for being too busy and overly commercial. Upon visiting Grindelwald, I could see his point. However, a short five to 10-minute walk from the train station showed me a very different view of a beautiful and much quieter destination that I would, without hesitation, highly recommend for any traveler to visit. 

Read Rick for his deep knowledge of Europe, though take some of his strongest opinions with a grain of salt. Then, visit and form your own views. 

Fodor's: The Go-to Guide for Luxury and Upscale Travel

Best for: The upscale traveler.

Coverage: 150+ guides for countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australasia & the Middle East.

For travelers seeking a more luxurious and upscale trip experience, Fodor’s guidebooks are an excellent choice. With a focus on high-end destinations and experiences, Fodor’s offers a curated selection of recommendations for the discerning traveler. 

Here are three things that make Fodor’s stand out:

  • Luxury Recommendations: Fodor’s guidebooks offer comprehensive coverage of luxury accommodations, fine dining options, and upscale experiences. If you want to indulge in the finer things during your travels, Fodor’s has you covered.
  • Insider Tips: Fodor’s guidebooks offe r insider tips and recommendations from local experts. Whether a hidden gem or an exclusive experience, you will find unique suggestions that cater to luxury travelers.
  • Beautiful Photography: Fodor’s guidebooks are known for stunning photography. The visuals not only inspire wanderlust but also provide a glimpse into the luxurious experiences that await you.

However, due to its upscale focus, you may find Fodor’s guidebooks to be not as budget-friendly as other series. If you are on a tight budget, you may need to supplement this book with additional resources.

Frommer's: A Trusted Guide for Budget-Conscious Travelers

Best for: The all-around traveler looking for value for money. Also, for family travelers.

Coverage: 350+ guides split across 10+ different series from Frommer’s Complete Guides to EasyGuides that cover Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australasia & the Middle East.

If you are a budget-conscious traveler looking for value-for-money recommendations, which includes most family travelers, Frommer’s guidebooks offer an excellent choice. With a focus on affordable travel, Frommer’s offers practical advice, insider tips, and a reliable rating system, bestowing one to three stars on places and experiences it recommends as worth your time and money.  

Over the years, and as a value-conscious traveler always looking to get the most out of my travel budget, I have come to rely on Frommer’s guidebooks as my first resource for how I want to shape a trip. I use these guides to set high-level itineraries and develop a broad-strokes list of things I want to see and do most. For example, its Hawaii guide provided just the right amount of information for me to figure out which islands were best for our family to visit on a two-week trip. 

These three factors set Frommer’s apart:

  • Budget-Friendly Recommendations: Frommer’s guidebooks provide a wide range of budget-friendly recommendations, including affordable accommodations, dining options, and attractions. They also offer money-saving tips to help you stretch your travel budget.
  • Practical Information: Frommer’s guidebooks are known for their practical and detailed information. From transportation to multiple sample itinerary options, you will find everything you need to plan your trip efficiently.
  • Local Insights: Frommer’s guidebooks include insights and recommendations from local experts, allowing you to experience a destination like a local. This adds a unique perspective to your travel experience.

One limitation of Frommer’s guidebooks is their coverage, which may not be as extensive as other series. Especially if you are visiting lesser-known destinations, you will want to consult additional resources.

Rough Guides: The Adventurous Travel Companion

Best for: The adventure traveler.

Coverage: 100+ countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australasia & the Middle East.

For adventurous travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences, Rough Guides is the perfect companion for your journeys. With a focus on adventure travel, R ough Guides offers a wealth of information for those looking to explore beyond the usual tourist spots.

Here are three things that make Rough Guides unique:

  • Off-the-beaten-path Recommendations: Rough Guides detail recommendations for lesser-known destinations and experiences. Whether trekking through remote mountains or exploring hidden cultural gems, Rough Guides will inspire your adventurous spirit.
  • Adventure Travel Tips: Rough Guides offer practical advice for adventure travel, including information on outdoor activities, gear recommendations, and safety tips. If you are planning a hiking, diving, or wildlife-focused trip, Rough Guides supply a valuable resource.
  • Cultural Immersion: Rough Guides emphasize cultural immersion, providing insights into local customs, traditions, and indigenous communities, helping you achieve a more authentic travel experience.

One potential drawback of Rough Guides is their limited coverage of popular tourist destinations. If you plan to visit major cities or well-known attractions, you may need to consult additional guidebooks.

DK Eyewitness Travel: Visual Guides for Immersive Travel Experiences

Best for: Travelers who love to learn while they travel.

Coverage: 200+ guides to destinations throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australasia & the Middle East.

If you are a visual learner or prefer a more immersive travel experience, DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks or their Pocket Top 10 guides are a perfect choice. Or the ideal complement to read along with a more detail-intense series. With its stunning visuals and in-depth coverage, DK Eyewitness Travel offers a unique way to explore the world. 

Here are three things that make DK Eyewitness Travel stand out:

  • Visuals: DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks are known for their beautiful photography, detailed illustrations, and 3D maps. These graphics bring destinations to life and help you visualize your travel experience.
  • Immersive Content: DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks provide immersive content beyond just listing attractions. They offer insights into local culture, history, and traditions, helping give you a deeper understanding of the places you visit.
  • User-Friendly Layout: DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks have a user-friendly layout with color-coded sections, detailed maps, and easy-to-read text. Readers find these convenient to navigate, helping them to find the information needed.

However, it is worth noting that DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks may not offer as much depth of coverage or budget-friendly recommendations as other series. If you seek more specific or detailed information, you will want to pick this up elsewhere.

National Geographic Traveler: Discover the World Through Stunning Photography

Best for : Travelers who want their guidebooks to double as keepsakes and prefer a culturally immersive experience. 

Coverage: 40+ guides to destinations throughout the world, with the heaviest coverage in Europe and a few titles for top destinations in the US, Central America, Asia & Africa.

National Geographic Traveler guidebooks offer a unique perspective on travel, combining stunning photography with informative content. 

Three factors that make National Geographic Traveler guidebooks a must-have:

  • Photography : National Geographic Traveler guidebooks are known for breathtaking photography. The visuals capture the essence of a destination and will inspire your wanderlust.
  • Insider Tips: National Geographic Traveler guidebooks provide insider tips and recommendations from National Geographic experts. These insights offer a deeper understanding of a destination, allowing for more unique travel experiences.
  • Cultural Exploration: National Geographic Traveler guidebooks emphasize cultural exploration, focusing on local customs, traditions, and indigenous communities. These elements add a deeper layer of authenticity to your travel experience.

One potential limitation of National Geographic Traveler guidebooks, like the DK Eyewitness Guides , is their limited coverage of the logistics of travel as compared to other series. If you are planning a trip to lesser-known or off-the-beaten-path locations, you may need to consult additional resources. 

8 Other Notable Travel Guidebook Series

1. Bradt Travel Guides : Known for their offbeat and unconventional destinations, and Slow Travel titles to British regions, Bradt Travel Guides are perfect for travelers seeking unique experiences.

2. Moon Travel Guides: Moon Travel Guides offer comprehensive coverage of worldwide destinations. Though—it publishes many titles for less mainstream places. For example, Moon offers the best, and in some cases, the only guidebooks for less common places like Vermont  and Door County, Wisconsin .

3. Berlitz Pocket Guides : Berlitz Pocket Guides provide concise and practical information for travelers who prefer a more compact and portable guidebook.

4. Michelin Green Guides : Michelin Green Guides are known for their meticulous attention to detail and focus on cultural, historical, and architectural landmarks. Although, check the date of publication. Many of its Green Guides are due for an update.

5. Blue Guides : These in-depth guides are indispensable for culture and history lovers. Expect a deep and thorough dive into art, architecture, and history for major and minor destinations and sites throughout Europe. Also, look for their Art/Shop/Eat guides  for major international cities.

6. Culture Smart! : Culture Smart! guides offer excellent pre-trip reading. Learn about the people, the culture, and the dos and don’ts travelers should adhere to while visiting. These illuminating guides—we read Culture Smart! Switzerland  before a trip to the Bernese Oberland —written by long-term expats, journalists, professors, and diplomats, help provide visitors with a deeper understanding of a place and direction on how to be a good guest. 

7: Not for Tourists : Although these guides, mainly offered for major US cities and a few large international ones, are designed for residents, they provide an excellent alternative read for visitors seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience.

8: Independent Local guidebooks: When planning a visit to any new destination, search online for the term “best guidebooks for [your destination]” and see what you find. Many travel locales offer hyperlocal guidebooks written by experts in the know and are sometimes not easily found without an engaged search.

A good example of this is the Himalayan Travel Guides  series, offering 20+ titles dedicated to in-depth information about trekking in the Himalayas. Or the Hawaii Revealed  series, which provides the most extensive and detailed travel resource for the four most visited Hawaiian Islands. I read both the Oahu Revealed  and Kauai Revealed  guidebooks before a two-week Hawaii stay, and each was excellent. 

Or even for a recent trip to Acadia National Park   in Maine, I found and read two non-mainstream travel guidebooks, Acadia: The Complete Guide  and Ten Days in Acadia—A Kids Hiking Guide to Mount Desert Island , both off-the-radar reads written by locals. The history section in the Complete Guide was so good that I read it twice. And our heavily used dog-eared copy of the Hiking Guide is a testament to how valuable I found it to be during our trip. See a few pics from our Maine visit below.

About Finding the Perfect Travel Guidebook for Your Next Adventure

Choosing the best travel guidebook can easily enhance your travel experience, providing you with the most useful information, insights into local culture, and practical tips. From Lonely Planet  to Rick Steves , Fodor’s to DK Eyewitness Travel , each guidebook series has its own unique strengths and specialties.

Consider factors like accuracy, depth of coverage, user-friendly layout, and unique features to help pick the right book. Determine the destination, travel style, and content you are looking for to choose a guidebook series that fits your needs best. 

If you are still unsure which travel guidebook is the right one, try one out. Borrow a book from your local library, visit a nearby bookshop to skim their travel section , or take a leap and buy and download an e-book to determine if you want to keep or return it.

Guidebooks continue to offer a valuable travel planning resource in the digital age, delivering curated and reliable information not often replicated by online sources. So, before your next adventure, find your perfect travel companion from the travel guidebook series that fits you best. Happy travels!

Related Reading

If you are searching for more travel planning assistance to help you save time and money and to stay organized, check out the related articles below.

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Additional Trip Planning Resources

To further help you with travel planning, I share my go-to resources for every trip below. 

Google Flights. My first research stop for affordable flights for every trip. Learn why here . 

Google Hotels . Use its “ Where to stay ” button to discover the best neighborhoods to base your visit.

Booking.com. For hotel and rental bookings, I appreciate its flexible cancellation, candid user reviews, discounts, loyalty program, and easy-to-use interface.

Viator , Get Your Guide , & Airbnb Experiences . Quickly find and book highly-rated tours and activities on these sites.

Google Travel Things to Do & Google Maps . Find more things to do in your destination on Google Travel, then record where you want to visit on a custom Google Maps list. 

AllTrails . Love to hike? Me too. I religiously use AllTrails to discover hiking and biking trails and download its offline maps to manage my hikes.

Guide Along . 5-star self-guided audio tours that are GPS-compatible for US road trips and national parks. We loved the Glacier National Park tour .

Insure My Trip. I never travel internationally without trip insurance. Learn why here . My preferred place to shop and compare policies is InsureMyTrip.com . 

Plus, check out the 15 travel apps I use on trips, my preferred guidebooks , and my free customizable travel itinerary template , downloadable in four file formats.

Janice Moskoff in front of doorway in Valletta, Malta. (Credit: Danielle Cassar)

About the author:  Janice Moskoff is a travel writer and blogger who loves hiking, exploring the world, and reading. She writes to inspire travel-loving families, adult friends, and couples on her blog,  Gather and Go Travel . Check out  her bio , learn how she became  a blogger , and discover how to  work with her . Sign up for her monthly  Discovery Newsletter  to get her latest travel recommendations and  how-to’s .

Love to travel? Sign up for m y monthly Gather & Go Travel Discovery Newsletter and get a free trip budget calculator.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use. And the income goes to keeping the site community-supported and ads minimal.

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The Best Travel Guides (Online and Books)

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Even in the digital age, travel guide books are an important part of my travel planning journey. I have read and tried many different travel books and online travel guides. And I pulled together a list of what I think are the best travel guides (books and online resources). 

couple using a map while planning a trip

I return to my favorite travel guides again and again with each trip that we plan. Once you find a travel guide series that you know and trust, it can really speed up the travel planning process.  

But which travel guides are the best? Keep reading for the full list!  

Need help with planning your trip? Check out our guide to the best travel planning resources .  

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  See disclaimer.

Are travel guidebooks still used now? 

Absolutely! Although you can find a wealth of travel planning help online, the good old-fashioned travel guidebooks are still very much available and in use. 

Some people prefer to use paper travel guidebooks. You can flag important sections and highlight things you want to remember. We’ve even ripped our books up (they’re meant to be used!) and traveled only with the sections covering the cities and sites we visited. 

E-books are also a great option for travel guides. If you use e-books, you can easily travel with several guides without adding a single ounce to your luggage. It’s a perfect option for those who travel carry-on only .

Rick Steves: best travel guides for Europe 

Rick steves guidebooks .

Some seasoned travelers look down their noses a bit at Rick Steves guide books . There’s no reason for that. Rick Steves knows Europe inside and out from decades of traveling, leading tours, writing books, and producing episodes of his wonderful series  Rick Steves’ Europe.  

Rick Steves books are excellent guides and well worth the money. I highly recommend them, especially for travel planning beginners or for anxious travelers who are looking for an expert to tell them where to visit and how. 

His books are kept up to date and quite detailed, even to the point of including full guided walking tours (often several) and detailed guided tours through major sites. 

cover image of Rick Steves Rome travel guide book

  • Steves, Rick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 604 Pages – 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) – Rick Steves (Publisher)

Rick Steves online 

You can also get a lot of good free travel tips and help on the Rick Steves website, including the forums . There are forums specifically for countries, reviews, and several forums about general travel tips topics. 

They’re a great way to get insight and tips from other experienced travelers…even those who disagree with Rick Steves itinerary suggestions. (Shocked face.)

Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App 

I also highly recommend the Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App . It’s loaded with audio guides for walking tours and top travel destination sites like the Colosseum in Rome and The Louvre Museum in Paris.  

Download the audio tours for your destination so you can listen to them on your mobile device as you explore your destination. 

Rough Guides: my favorite travel guidebooks overall 

Super practical and easy to read, Rough Guides are my top choice for any destination that isn’t in Europe (for which I prefer Rick Steves guide books ). 

The UK-based company was founded in 1982 with the  Rough Guide to Greece . Since then, they have published travel guidebooks for well over 100 destinations all over the world. 

In addition to their main guidebook series, they also offer Pocket Rough Guides, On a Budget, Snapshots, phrasebooks, and inspirational guides like “Make the Most of Your Time on Earth.” 

cover image for The Rough Guide to Greece guide book

  • Guides, Rough (Author)
  • 840 Pages – 10/18/2022 (Publication Date) – Rough Guides (Publisher)

Rough Guides website 

Rough Guides isn’t just a guidebook publisher though. Since 2017 they have offered tailor-made trips to over 70 destinations. created by local travel experts. 

Their website provides some basic itineraries, travel recommendations, and basic destination information for free that can help get you started on planning your travel itinerary . 

Fodor’s 

The great travel writer Eugene Fodor once said “You don’t need to be rich to travel well.” And that’s been kind of my mantra for the last several years. 

In 1936 Fodor wrote the first modern travel guide book . It was for British audiences and he wrote all 1200 pages himself. The book was O n the Continent: An Entertaining Travel Annual .

According to Fodors.com , “The guide went beyond reporting on the sights and for the first time included information about Europe’s culture and people, practical information like how to tip, and was the first to be annually updated.” 

Since  On the Continent  was first published, Fodor’s has been a trusted name in travel guides. They now claim that their travel writers have covered more than 8,000 destinations around the world . 

In addition to the Signature Guides, their other series include Fodor’s Inside, In Focus, and 25 Best. Fodor’s says that  Fodor’s   Italy  is the company’s top-selling guide book. 

cover image of Fodor's Italy travel guide

  • Fodor’s Travel Guides (Author)
  • 896 Pages – 12/20/2022 (Publication Date) – Fodor’s Travel (Publisher)

Fodor’s website 

Fodors.com was one of the first travel websites when it launched in 1996 . Today the site offers destination guides, general travel content, and forums about specific destinations or general travel topics such as air travel. 

Frommer’s 

The venerated Frommer’s travel guides were launched by Arthur Frommer in 1957 with a guide to visiting Europe on $5 a day (yup. $5.). That guide followed his book about how to travel Europe as a GI (Frommer was in the Army at the time). 

Frommer’s quickly grew to become one of the most trusted names in travel guidebooks. 

Several years ago, Frommer’s was acquired by Google, which pulled the plug on their print books in the spring of 2013.

Arthur Frommer reacquired the company shortly thereafter and then quickly made a deal to get the books back in distribution. Frommer’s then started emphasizing their Easy Guides and Day by Day series, which were smaller and easier to read and carry than the typical large guidebooks they saw on the market. 

cover image for Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks travel guide book

  • Gordon, Yvonne (Author)
  • 602 Pages – 08/23/2022 (Publication Date) – FrommerMedia (Publisher)

Frommer’s website 

Frommers.com is a fine place to start planning for a trip for free. Destination information includes city layouts, how to get around, and their top picks for hotels and dining. 

They also provide other general travel content and feature articles plus trip ideas for honeymoons, arts and cultural travel, national parks, family travel, road trips, and more. 

The Frommer’s Travel Show (podcast) 

Pauline Frommer, daughter of Frommer’s founder Arthur Frommer, hosts The Frommer’s Travel Show podcast . New episodes come out approximately once per week or several times a month. 

Bradt Guides 

Known for publishing guides for lesser-traveled destinations (though certainly not less deserving), Bradt bills itself as “the world’s leading independent travel publisher.”  

Bradt guides are the go-to for destinations not covered by other publishers. They say that “over two-thirds of Bradt guides still have no direct competition from other publishers.” 

The Bradts’ first book,  Backpacking Along Ancient Ways Peru & Bolivia , was the first to detail the Inca Trail.

Later they became known for writing guides to destinations “post-conflict.” These included Rwanda, Kosovo, and the Baltic States after the fall of the Iron Curtain. 

In addition to their destination guidebooks, Bradt also publishes a Slow Travel series of UK destinations, a Wildlife series, and general travel literature. 

cover image for Bradt travel guide

  • McIntyre, Chris (Author)
  • 456 Pages – 06/01/2022 (Publication Date) – Bradt Travel Guides (Publisher)

Bradt Guides Travel Club 

Avid travelers can support Bradt by joining their Travel Club through Patreon. There are three tiers: Bradtpacker, Globetrotter, and First-Class Traveller. Each tier offers differing levels of subscriber benefits including things like e-books and access to their bespoke travel planning service. 

Lonely Planet  

Lonely Planet books for a long time were quite popular especially with younger backpackers looking to travel on a budget. The books can be light on the details that certain travelers (beginners, anxious travelers) might wish for when making good decisions about where to spend their travel dollars. 

Lonely Planet books are good for independent and adventurous travelers . Or for those who just want some recommendations but not a prescribed itinerary with a ton of detail.  

In addition to their popular guidebooks, Lonely Planet also publishes phrasebooks, general travel books, food books, and children’s books. 

cover image for Lonely Planet travel guide

  • Mayhew, Bradley (Author)
  • 288 Pages – 03/16/2021 (Publication Date) – Lonely Planet (Publisher)

Lonely Planet website  

You can get some basic, inspirational travel information to start your travel planning from the Lonely Planet website . Sadly, they set their forums to “read-only” some time ago. In my opinion, the forums were the best (and most valuable) part of the website. 

Marco Polo 

Marco Polo is best known for its compact and colorful pocket travel guides. They also offer spiral-bound itinerary-based guides, phrasebooks, folding maps, travel handbooks, travel journals, city maps, and road atlases. 

Cover image for Marco Polo guide to Santorini

  • Marco Polo Travel Publishing Marco Polo Travel Publishing (Author)
  • 136 Pages – 10/15/2022 (Publication Date) – Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Ltd. (Publisher)

Marco Polo Discovery Tours App 

The free Marco Polo Discovery Tours app offers travelers a variety of guided itineraries through many destinations. For example, you can download a 23-day driving tour of New Zealand with a step-by-step driving tour over both islands. 

DK Eyewitness: among best travel books for visuals 

I enjoy reading DK Eyewitness guides, especially when I’m looking for information about the history and culture of my destination.  The glossy full-color books feature beautiful photographs and illustrations perfect for inspiring your travel itinerary. They cover more than 100 destinations. 

DK was founded in 1974 by Christopher Dorling and Peter Kindersley. They published their first travel book in the early 1990’s promising to show you “what others only tell you.”

They also cover all the usual grounds for travel guidebooks: itineraries, maps, dining and accommodations recommendations, top sites, etc. 

cover image for DK Eyewitness travel book

  • DK Eyewitness (Author)
  • 592 Pages – 04/26/2022 (Publication Date) – DK Eyewitness Travel (Publisher)

Where to Go podcast 

Produced by the team behind the DK Eyewitness books, each episode of the Where to Go podcast dives deep into a particular destination. New episodes come out every two weeks or so. 

Insight Guides 

For more than 40 years, Insight Guides have published guidebooks covering more than 200 destinations. 

In my experience, they’re quite a bit heavier on destination history and culture than any other travel guide I’ve encountered. So, if that’s not something you enjoy, then these guidebooks might not be your top choice. 

Insight Guides series include: Explore Guides, City Breaks, Pocket Guides, City Guides, and Experience Guides. 

Insight Guides Explore New Zealand (Travel Guide with Free eBook) (Insight Explore Guides)

  • Guides, Insight (Author)
  • 144 Pages – 04/01/2018 (Publication Date) – Insight Guides (Publisher)

Insight Guides website

You will find some travel information on the Insight Guides website , making it a decent place to start if you’re unsure of your destination.

The emphasis of their website seems to be on advertising their Insight Guides trip offerings…not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

Atlas Obscura 

Atlas obscura book .

Unlike all of the other travel guidebooks listed above, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders is not a series of guidebooks but rather one book that details an incredible array of oddities and wonders around the world. 

Here’s how the authors describe their book and website (more on that below): 

“The site, and this book, are a kind of wunderkammer of places, a cabinet of curiosities that is meant to inspire wonderlust as much as wanderlust. In fact, many of the places in this book are in no way ‘tourist sites’ and should not be treated as such. Others are so out of the way, so treacherously situated, or (in at least one case) so deep beneath the surface, that few readers will ever be able to visit them. But here they are, sharing this marvelously strange planet with us.  Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton,  Atlas Obscura , revised second edition, (New York: Workman Publishing, 2019) vii

The revised second edition (published in 2019) added more than 100 new sites to the 2016 first edition. The book is delightful reading if you’re into oddities around the world. I definitely recommend picking up a copy. 

Atlas Obscura

  • Hardcover Book
  • Foer, Joshua (Author)

Atlas Obscura website 

Make sure you stop by the Atlas Obscura website  during your travel planning if you like finding out-of-the-way sites, or unusual places to visit, or want to make it a priority to get off the beaten path. 

You can even take Atlas Obscura trips to some pretty unusual places and even with some unusual activities…such as assisting biologists with bee research at Redwood National Park. 

Atlas Obscura podcast 

Atlas Obscura launched a podcast in March 2021, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. Early episodes covered sites such as the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan, the Museum of Bad Art in Massachusetts, and the old Widow Jane cement mine in Rosendale, New York. 

Final thoughts on the best travel guidebooks 

The best travel guides will be the ones that you use and that help you plan a trip that you truly love. I personally like to use a combination of travel guidebooks and online travel planning resources. 

But don’t just follow my advice. Try these guidebook series and online travel guides for yourself and find the ones that you will like and use for your trip planning. 

What are your favorite travel guidebooks?

More articles related to travel guides 

  • Travel planning resources  
  • The top books about travel and self-discovery 
  • Best books to read before you travel to Paris  
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Darcy Vierow is a busy professional and travel planning expert with years of experience maximizing travel with limited time and on a less-than-average salary. Her tips have been published by Forbes, MSN.com, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Aol, Newsbreak and GOBankingRates. Read more about Darcy Vierow .

Michelin guides (the green books) are great!

I used to use the “Let’s Go: Europe” guides, which were great. They were targeting college age students mostly, but they had lots of good information re: trip planning for everyone.

Which guidebooks (and/or websites) are best for planning train/plane travel while in Europe? Any standouts?

Thanks for your very helpful information!

You’re welcome, Wayne. The Man in Seat 61 is THE expert in European train travel. His website is: https://www.seat61.com/ . He’s also pretty active on Twitter. I’d also recommend checking out https://www.rome2rio.com/ for helping with planning transportation for any trip. Thanks for reading!

My family had a great time in Paris. We had a wonderful time there and enjoyed the culture of the region. The nightlife was fantastic, and the city’s elegance is indescribable. We are in love with the place and explore so many places like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, Cruise on the Seine, etc. After reading your blog I would like to revisit there.

Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip. Thanks for reading!

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.

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Top 10 Travel Guide Websites [2024]: Time to Get Inspired!

Top 10 Travel Guide Websites [2024]: Time to Get Inspired!

With the overwhelming number of travel guides that exist out there, it's hard to find one that'll satisfy your wanderlust or inspire your next travel. Luckily for you, we've found all of the best places to look for travel inspiration. Keep reading to see all of the best travel guide websites that'll help guide your next travels!

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Travel guides help us plan our trips better. But, with thousands of sites claiming to be travel wizards, it can be hard to pick and choose the best travel guide sites that fit your requirements. 

While some like to travel with a paperback guide in hand, others prefer to outsource well-detailed itineraries tailored to our preferences. The pundits, perfectionists, and ardent travelers want to take matters into their own hands and plan trips by themselves. They also need guides and recommendations to help with their research and planning.

Well, folks, worry not because our list of best travel guide websites covers it all. Regardless of where you fall on the travel planning spectrum, you'll find a travel guide that'll inspire and prepare you for your next trip. Use these fantastic travel guides and start planning your trips with Pilot!

travel guide while backpacking

10 Top Travel Guide Websites for travel inspiration!

10. lonely planet .

Lonely Planet  is a dominant brand in the travel industry, offering both travel guides and other resources on destinations worldwide. It is mainly geared towards backpackers on a budget. 

Its travel guidebooks, available in both digital and print form, come under a variety of categories such as regions, countries, cities, hikes, treks, etc. They include itineraries, maps for navigation, insider tips from experts, off-the-beaten-path attractions, and other helpful information. 

You can subscribe to their services for a monthly fee of $4.99 or a yearly fee of $39.99. It will give you access to resources on their website and app. You can purchase Lonely Planet books individually too.

Although Lonely Planet is not as resourceful and updated as it used to be, it's still one of the best travel sites to get an overview of destinations. You can also book accommodation and dining options via the website. Check out our full review of Lonely Planet  here . 

  • A collection of over 825 guides
  • Phrasebooks to learn the local language 
  • Covers a lot of destinations worldwide 
  • General travel information about countries is free
  • Complaints on outdated information
  • Unreliable customer service 
  • Travel forum "Thorn Tree" is no longer available 

Lonely Planet Travel guide

9. Fodor's Travel

Fodor's Travel  is another popular website offering travel guides for destinations around the world. Their specialty is the guidebooks available in both print and eBook versions. They have over 300 travel guides covering more than 7000 destinations. The website also has plenty of information, insider tips, and appealing visual content on different destinations. It's great for inspiration and general information. 

Fodor's forum is a great place to get recommendations, tips, and insider advice that will be useful for your trip plans. It has an active community, so it's more likely that you will receive prompt answers. You have to be a member to access all of its features. 

You can access Fodor's Travel website and forum free of charge. But, the guides have to be bought either from the website or sites like Amazon. On average, prices range from $10-$20. You can read our in-depth review of Fodor's Travel  here . 

  • Helpful forum to seek advice
  • Good recommendations
  • Covers a lot of destinations 
  • Incomplete guidebooks (complaints of missing pages)
  • Lack of localized recommendations   

Fodor's Travel Travel Guide.

8. Rough Guides 

Initially,  Rough Guides  was solely focused on selling travel guidebooks in paperback and eBook formats. These books are still a popular choice among travelers today. They provide:

  • Itineraries.
  • Background information.
  • Maps to help you find the way around.
  • Independent recommendations of the writer.
  • Detailed regional coverage.

Books are available at varying prices.

At present, Rough Guides also specializes in providing tailor-made travel guides to suit your personal preferences. You can connect with a local expert to create a special itinerary for you by entering your budget, destination, accommodation and dining choices, preferred activities, and other details. Depending on what you need, you can get everything planned and booked by a local expert or only resort to insider tips. The prices vary based on the kind of service you need.

Besides this, you can also find articles on travel advice, top destinations, and other travel-related subjects on the website. So, even if you are planning the trip by yourself, Rough Rides is a good place for inspiration. 

  • A wide range of travel guidebooks 
  • Personalized itineraries 
  • Local knowledge and recommendations 
  • Not very user-friendly 

Rough Guide Travel Guide

7. ViaHero 

If you are more inclined towards personalized travel guidebooks by locals,  ViaHero  is one of the best to consider. The platform also promises to take the hassle of planning by outsourcing a day-by-day traveling guide from an expert, aka a 'Hero.' The good thing, however, is that you will be updated about every step of the planning.

You can select the destination and review the Heroes available there. Each Hero has a detailed bio outlining their personality, travel specialty, and expertise. You can also check the reviews left by past travelers about them. All you have to do is pick a Hero and specify your requirements. The cost of a customized itinerary is $40 per day. 

The Hero won't be accompanying you, although you will be in touch via email or messaging. ViaHero also posts travel articles for users to read and be informed about the destination(s) they plan to visit. If you want to learn more, check our ViaHero  review . 

  • Convenient 
  • Travel guides focus on local and uncrowded attractions 
  • Quality, well-detailed itineraries 
  • Service is available only to limited destinations

ViaHero Travel Guide and app.

6. Frommer's 

Frommer's  remains one of the best travel sites because it is very resourceful for travelers. Frommer's offers guidebooks, podcasts, and the latest travel-related information for wanderlusts. They're also one of the oldest travel guide publishers. 

Its titles cater to a range of travel styles, covering every major destination around the world. Its travel guidebooks are available in both eBook and paperback formats. The books are pretty similar to others in the market.

Frommer's website has a treasure trove of travel content, and you can browse them by 'Destination' or 'Trip Ideas.' There's also a separate section dedicated to travel 'Tips and News.' It is especially helpful as travel rules and restrictions are constantly revised and updated on the pandemic. 

There's also a 'Deals & Bookings' section to help you grab great discounts on accommodation, airfares, cruises, and car rentals. Even if you don't want to purchase travel guides, Frommer's is a good website for updated travel information. 

  • Updated travel information 
  • Over 350 travel guidebooks 
  • Good choice of accommodation
  • Guidebooks cover only major highlights 
  • Website looks outdated 

Frommers Travel guide.

5. Tripadvisor 

Obviously, you know  Tripadvisor , famed for both its usefulness and weird reviews. It is a one-stop place to read travel guides, get advice and tips, make reservations, and plan trips.

Tripadvisor is one of the most  popular travel apps  travelers use to seek advice and recommendations from locals or other travelers. It's a great place to find and read reviews – just about any restaurant, hostel, attraction, or different travel experience anywhere in the world. If you can't find a review or discussion about the topic, you can start a discussion in their forum! 

You will also find a lot of content for travel inspiration, including travel guides from ardent travelers and 'Things to Do' lists on different destinations. Besides guides from experts, you can use Tripadvisor to book hotels, tours, activities, accommodation, etc. It's one of the best travel deals websites .

You can also save your favorite places and experiences in a destination and view them on a map. However, if you are looking for a planning tool, we recommend trying a  better travel planner .

  • Active travel forum for trip guidance and tips 
  • Plenty of user reviews to help your decisions 
  • Loads of travel content
  • Attractive travel deals 
  • A mobile app for convenience 
  • Infamous for  fake or biased reviews  
  • A glorified checkout cart, not great for inspiration
  • Reserving and managing bookings is not always streamlined

TripAdvisor Travel guide and app.

4. Localeur 

Localeur  is one of the best travel websites for travelers who want to avoid tourist traps and enjoy local and authentic experiences. It offers useful insights and recommendations from local insiders as opposed to tourists. At present, it covers over 200 destinations and has a user base of 5 million worldwide.

You can find recommendations on everything from road trips to places to eat to shopping tips on the platform. Their local expert base consists of writers, artists, foodies, and other specialists from different fields. It's great to plan your trip and want to cover the best attractions in your itinerary. 

Localeur's main features are only offered to its subscribers. You can go for a lifetime subscription of $150 or a monthly subscription of $10. You get recommendations, personalized travel guides, and two weekly emails for travel inspiration.

But, you can still check out its travel content, featured guides and recommendations, and 'localeurs' for free. Subscription to their newsletter is also free of charge. Read our full review of Localeur  here ! 

  • Reliable and quality recommendations 
  • Information of local experiences
  • Wide range of choices
  • Costly subscription 
  • Limited destinations
  • Recommendations could be biased

Localeur Travel guide website.

3. Atlas Obscura 

Atlas Obscura  is about intriguing people to travel with its attractive and quirky guides and travel content. It publishes stories focusing on nature, science, culture, history, food, and hidden wonders. If you love sights that are hidden, weird, or rare, this travel guide is the perfect choice for you. 

It has an extensive collection of content on unusual attractions and cool dining places in destinations worldwide. They seem to be very informative and attractive to add to the itinerary. The community forums under each destination help you discuss travel-related topics with fellow users. 

Another specialty of Atlas Obscura is their guided tours to amazing places described by them. Most of them are adventure trips to less-traveled places, so there's no doubt that travelers are in a for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The traveling guide website also offers virtual travel experiences. 

Although you can browse travel content for free, membership is mandatory to access experiences and events hosted by Atlas Obscura. There are both monthly and yearly plans to choose from. 

  • Amazing and high-quality travel guides 
  • Focuses on unique attractions 
  • Availability of virtual experiences and guided tours
  • Not so much of a place to get travel guides and tips 
  • Not ideal if you are looking for guidance on usual tourist spots 
  • Paid membership 

Atlas Obscura travel guide.

2. Travel + Leisure 

Of course, no list of best travel sites is perfect without mentioning this leading travel and leisure magazine. While  Travel + Leisure's  focus is primarily on an exotic holiday destination, high-end vacations, its high-quality content is worthy for every traveler. From best places to travel to best gadgets to carry, it is a very informative source that educates travelers on how to best prepare for an upcoming trip. 

Travel +Leisure provides unique accommodation, dining, attractions in different destinations. You will also find content on the latest travel news, deals, tips, accessories, and inspiration on the site. In the 'Travel Guides' section, you can filter guides based on location, language, the best time to visit, and activities.

Last year, the magazine launched its trip booking and subscription features. The Travel + Leisure Go platform lets you book trips to destinations published on the website and other exclusive itineraries. The travel and leisure magazine's subscribers ($9.95 per month) can enjoy discounts on accommodation and other services. 

  • Very informative and updated content 
  • Covers a wide range of travel-related topics 
  • Convenient trip booking feature
  • Travel deals 
  • Limited destinations under 'Travel Guides' 
  • Doesn't offer detailed travel itineraries 
  • Expensive subscription fee

Travel + Leisure Travel guide.

1. Condé Nast Traveller

Condé Nast Traveller is another magazine & travel guide website that caters to luxury travel experiences. The website is a ripe source for travel inspiration, albeit for quite pricey staycations. On the plus side, there's some focus on budget travelers as well. Nevertheless, we think it's one of the best travel guide sites out there with up-to-date information. 

The articles on this travel leisure magazine cover a wide range of topics from best pizza places to shooting locations of famous films to activities for kids while traveling. On the Condé Nast Traveller, you can browse for the best accommodation and dining choices and travel content on style and art. It's a good website for you to get travel ideas from experts in the industry.

You will also find travel news and tips to help you plan and navigate. For those interested, Condé Nast Traveller also offers subscription plans to get its digital and/or print magazine copy delivered to you. The cost varies based on your country.

  • Great, informative content 
  • Promptly updated travel news
  • Focus on unique destinations and attractions 
  • Not for budget backpackers 
  • No trip booking feature

Condé Nast Traveller Travel Guide.

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What to Know About Trusted Traveler Programs — PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI

Here’s what you need to know about Trusted Traveler Programs, including TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI.

Harrison Pierce is a freelance writer and digital nomad passionate about personal finance and travel. He is traveling full-time with the help of points and miles and enjoys connecting with people on the ground. His work has been published in Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today Blueprint, Matador Network, and other publications. 

TSA PreCheck

Global entry, which trusted traveler program is right for you.

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Your time at the airport is precious. You want to ensure you have enough time to enjoy a pre-flight snack or cocktail at an airport lounge, but you also don’t want to get there so early that you’re waiting to board for hours before departure. Luckily, there are programs that can help you more reliably budget the time you need to get through security. 

Trusted Traveler Programs are issued through the Department of Homeland Security, and they allow members to move through security more efficiently. There are four main Trusted Traveler Programs offered to regular travelers: Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, NEXUS, and SENTRI. There’s a lot of overlap in what each program offers, so you will likely only need to apply for one. However, requirements, cost, and time to get approved can vary significantly from program to program. I spoke with Steve Orens , a senior vice president at FROSCH Travel and T+L A-List travel advisor, to compile this guide.

The best tip to anyone wanting to apply for these programs is to be thorough, says Orens. “Be prepared, fill out all requested information,” he explains. “Check back on the [application] page on a regular basis to follow the progress or provide any other information requested.”

Although it can take months or more than a year in some cases, these programs provide significant utility to travelers. Here’s everything you need to know about the Trusted Traveler Programs, and who should apply for each. 

Meet the Expert

Steve Orens is a senior vice president at FROSCH Travel and a T+L A-List travel advisor specializing in insider access.

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The first Trusted Traveler Program, and one of the most popular, is TSA PreCheck , which allows travelers to enjoy expedited security benefits. Travelers enrolled in PreCheck will not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or jackets when going through TSA airport security. In 99 percent of cases, travelers will get through security in 10 minutes or less. In my experience, it’s typically even faster. 

The enrollment process is quite simple — all you need to do is choose an enrollment provider , submit an application online , and visit an enrollment location for fingerprinting and payment. Once you receive your Known Traveler Number, you can start enjoying your benefits. The cost varies between $78 and $85 for new enrollments and $70 and $78 for PreCheck renewals , depending on your provider. You can even get TSA PreCheck for free thanks to credit cards that will reimburse you for the application fee, making it extremely worthwhile to enroll. 

U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents can apply for TSA PreCheck. Most airports will have dedicated TSA PreCheck security lanes. If not, you will receive a card indicating your membership. You will have to go through the regular security line with the card but will receive the same benefits. 

Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Global Entry allows travelers re-entering the U.S. from abroad to expedite the customs process. Members can use a dedicated Global Entry lane to proceed to a kiosk, which will capture a photo to confirm membership in the program. Then, proceed to the Customs and Border Patrol officer, and you’re all set. Global Entry includes all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck, so you do not need to apply for these programs separately. 

Global Entry is for pre-approved and low-risk travelers. As part of the application, you must undergo a background check and in-person interview to complete enrollment. Typically, the process requires you to visit an enrollment center for your interview before departure. If you cannot, you can complete your interview when you return to the U.S. through Enrollment on Arrival . 

It was just announced that you can also complete your Global Entry enrollment with Enrollment on Departure , a brand-new offering only available (for now) at Washington Dulles International Airport. The application fee is $100, but like PreCheck, many credit cards will reimburse you for the fee as long as you have not already been reimbursed for TSA PreCheck. 

Global Entry members can also validate their arrival to the U.S. via a Global Entry mobile app at select airports, further improving the process. 

The following people are eligible for Global Entry:

  • U.S. citizens
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents
  • Citizens of Argentina
  • Citizens of Brazil
  • Citizens of Bahrain
  • Citizens of India
  • Citizens of Colombia
  • Citizens of the United Kingdom
  • Citizens of Germany
  • Citizens of the Netherlands
  • Citizens of Panama
  • Citizens of Singapore
  • Citizens of South Korea
  • Citizens of Switzerland
  • Citizens of Taiwan
  • Mexican nationals

There could be additional requirements to meet, depending on your country of citizenship. Canadian citizens and residents can also be eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in NEXUS. 

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

NEXUS is similar to Global Entry but specific to Canadian entry ports. You can use NEXUS when traveling by land, air, or sea. Members use expedited processing lanes when entering the U.S. and Canada: dedicated lanes at northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air, Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports, and expedited processing at marine reporting locations. 

U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadian lawful permanent residents, and Mexican nationals who are members of Viajero Confiable are eligible to apply for NEXUS. The process to get approved takes a lot longer than Global Entry or TSA PreCheck because you have to get approved by both the U.S. and Canada. The average processing time is around 12 to 14 months, and the application fee is $50. The process for applying is similar. All you need to do is submit an application and schedule an interview at an enrollment center. Note you will need to be interviewed by both U.S. and Canadian officials. NEXUS includes TSA PreCheck benefits. 

The fourth and final Trusted Traveler Program is SENTRI , which allows expedited entry into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico. SENTRI works the same way as NEXUS but enables the benefits on both the northern and southern borders of the U.S. Members can use dedicated processing lanes at southern land border crossings, the NEXUS lane when entering the United States from Canada by land, and Global Entry kiosks when entering by air. There aren’t any citizenship requirements for eligibility into SENTRI. However, Mexican nationals who wish to use the Global Entry kiosk when traveling by air will need to apply for Global Entry through their Trusted Traveler account. 

This is the most expensive program, with an application fee of $122.25. The processing timeline is slightly shorter than NEXUS, taking 10 to 12 months to complete. However, the process is the same as the other programs: complete an application, receive conditional approval, and schedule an interview at an enrollment center. You must bring your vehicle registration and proof of automobile insurance in the U.S. to your interview. SENTRI includes TSA PreCheck benefits. 

The best program for you depends on your travel habits, budget, and timeline. If you only travel within the U.S., TSA PreCheck is likely the best option. It includes all the security benefits and has one of the quickest processing times. However, if you take a couple of international trips per year, Global Entry is a fantastic option. I have Global Entry, and it has made my life significantly easier. Not only can I enjoy all of the same PreCheck benefits, but I can pass through customs quickly when entering the U.S., whether for a layover or my final destination. There are so many credit cards that will cover this application fee, too. 

NEXUS and SENTRI are both excellent programs for anyone who frequently travels between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Although they typically include the same PreCheck benefits, they won’t include Global Entry benefits when entering the U.S. from elsewhere, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before applying. Enrollment in each program lasts for five years, so once you’ve decided, you can enjoy the benefits for a long time before having to renew. 

You should also think about present and future timelines, explains Orens. “For example, TSA PreCheck comes with Global Entry, but you can also only renew your TSA PreCheck when you renew your Global Entry,” he says. “So, when your Global Entry expires, so does your PreCheck.  If you don’t have time to [renew] Global Entry, then you will not have PreCheck back until you do.”

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Save time getting through airport security with Trusted Traveler Programs

Trusted Traveler Programs, like TSA Precheck and Global Entry, can help reduce airport security and border crossing wait times. Learn about applying for and managing memberships.

What is the Trusted Traveler Program, and how do you apply?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) manages the Trusted Traveler Programs. These include TSA Precheck and Global Entry . As a pre-approved member, you can use expedited lanes at U.S. airports and when entering the U.S. by land or sea. TSA Precheck is for travelers departing from U.S. airports. Global Entry is for travelers entering the U.S. from international destinations by air, land, or sea. There are also programs for entering the U.S. from Canada and Mexico . 

To apply, you will need to pay a fee and provide documents proving your identity. Depending on the program, you may need to complete an interview. If approved, your program membership will last 5 years.

Apply for a Trusted Traveler Program

Manage your Trusted Traveler Program account

If you are already a Trusted Traveler Program member and have questions about your account, check the Trusted Traveler Program’s frequently asked questions page . Scroll to the “membership” section at the bottom of the page to find out about:

  • Logging into your account
  • Changing personal information like your address
  • Finding your membership number
  • Replacing a lost, stolen, or damaged membership card
  • Renewing your membership

LAST UPDATED: May 16, 2024

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Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.

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trusted travel guide

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

trusted travel guide

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

CBP Seal, U.S. Customs and Border Protection:  U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Links to CBP.gov homepage

Trusted Traveler Programs

Are you a frequent traveler, going to international destinations for pleasure? Or a commercial truck driver hauling goods from Mexico or Canada? Whatever your travel needs, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can help move you through the line at the airport or port of entry.

These programs provide modified screening for pre-approved members, improve security by being more efficient during screenings, and facilitate legitimate trade and travel.

Use the tool on the Trusted Traveler Programs website to find the right program for you, or to learn more about all of the Trusted Traveler Programs that DHS offers.  

TSA PreCheck ®

TSA PreCheck® logo. Links the the TSA PreCheck® page.

The TSA PreCheck ® program expedites traveler screening through participating TSA security checkpoints.

Global Entry

Global Entry logo. Links to the Global Entry page.

Global Entry allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S.

NEXUS logo. Links to the NEXUS page.

The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the U.S. and Canada.

SENTRI logo. Links to the SENTRI page.

The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S.

FAST logo. Links to the FAST page.

The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) is a commercial clearance program for known low-risk shipments entering the U.S. from Canada and Mexico.

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You asked: How do I find a local tour guide I can trust?

By The Way Concierge asked tour guides and travel experts how they find guides on their own trips

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Traveling has always come with complications. Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see your question answered? Submit it here .

“We’re stopping in Casablanca, Morocco, for one day on an upcoming cruise. How can I find a reliable local guide? I’ve found several sites promoting local guides, but I don’t know whether any of them are trustworthy.” — Edith G., Laurel, Md.

A quick Google search will turn up the major tour companies operating in a city — or the ones paying for ads and searching juice — but you’re looking for the right guide to transform your understanding of a new place and avoid tourist traps .

This has become even more challenging as third-party companies and unauthorized guides have proliferated in tourism hot spots, scooping up tickets and driving up prices. Travel is already complicated; a guide should make it easier.

I’ve found plenty of reliable tour guides through social media and Airbnb Experiences . Before a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, I went down rabbit holes on Instagram , looking at local food influencers and tour companies. Along the way, I ended up on the account of Lily Palma, a guide who founded Zapotec Travel by Lily . We coordinated a custom experience over WhatsApp, I sent a deposit in advance and paid for the rest in person, and I had a magical time with one of her guides.

Third-party tours have made Europe a maze. Here’s how to avoid them.

Using Airbnb Experiences required far less trawling. For food tours on a trip to Southeast Asia , I looked for local guides and strong reviews in Phuket , Thailand, and Vietnam , and I was delighted with the outcomes. In Bangkok, I took a risk on a new tour that looked unique but had no reviews; it paid off, and I had a spectacular time learning to cook with Prawit “Wit” Chankasem and his mom, Maew, at their coconut farm.

To get you started on your hunt, I took a spin through the Casablanca Airbnb Experiences options and thought this history and food tour sounded like a solid pick. In the many detailed reviews, customers described the Moroccan guide as flexible, adaptable, informative and in-depth. You could go on one of his small group tours for $60 per person or book a private one for about $300. Another guide had similarly strong reviews, so strong that his tour is described by customers as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

I was curious what other travel professionals do, so I reached out to some hotel concierges, travel planners and tour guides for their advice. Multiple industry insiders warned against using mass-market sites such as Viator or Tripadvisor — which aren’t tour operators themselves but search aggregators.

“The challenge with some of those big-box operators is that it is hard for them to vet every experience provider, and so there’s a lack of consistency,” said Annie Sim, founder and CEO (chief eating officer) of the Table Less Traveled .

“We recently had a guest of who booked through a big website,” said Sue Yoon, VIP concierge supervisor at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, Canada. “They prepaid and everything, and the driver never showed up.”

Yoon says her hotel always opts for local guides it has personally vetted and recommends travelers always ask their hotel for input — even if the traveler has already booked something. Many will be happy to double-check your pick. In your case, you could ask your cruise concierge.

Katie Parla, a tour guide in Rome and a cookbook author, says to seek out locals who specialize in a field that interests you. If you’re more into food than museums, search for a food historian or a food writer in town who may do tours on the side. Look for expert titles in your guide searches. “Certified guide” doesn’t tell you as much as “art historian” or “former chef.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Natalie Compton (@natbco)

Aaron Millar, a British travel writer and the host of the “ Armchair Explorer ” podcast, said some of his best experiences were with people who were experts in their field, including a biologist in Costa Rica and a paleontologist in Utah.

“You’ll get next-level insight, but also passion,” Millar said in an email.

You can also skip the search yourself and turn to a well-established travel adviser or planner to help coordinate a custom trip with one of their preferred guides. Such companies tend to have decades-long relationships with independent guides and can vouch for their services, says Haisley Smith, vice president of product development at Internova Travel . They’ll be able to handpick the right guide for your travel style, “for example, one who specializes in food or architecture or history or maybe that is good with families,” Smith added in an email, recommending you try Abercrombie & Kent’s Morocco office .

It usually won’t cost you more to go through a professional. However, Clio Morichini, head of travel and events for Italy Segreta , a magazine and travel planning company, says you can usually expect a higher price point with a locally based or boutique operation vs. ones you might find on Viator. But you get what you pay for, Morichini says, because they’re more likely to have vetted their guides several times before — not only to be qualified, but also entertaining.

Lastly, Seda Meral, director of the front office for the Hotel Nikko San Francisco , recommends crowdsourcing information through Facebook travel groups or Reddit , or going to a city’s tourism office. She plans to check in with London’s to find tours for her upcoming trip to the United Kingdom.

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The Trusted Traveller

USA Travel Guide

This USA Travel Guide aims to provide you with simple and stress-free travel planning information and inspiration for planning a trip to USA.

On this regularly updated page you will find links to useful posts on The Trusted Traveller, budget information, details on types of accommodation available, information on getting around the country and more useful links to resources around the web.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Quick Facts

Capital:  Washington DC

Language:  English

Currency:  USD US Dollar which is made up of 100 cents. Coins come in 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and $1 denominations and notes in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.

Electricity:  120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs with two flat pins with or without a third round grounding pin are standard.

Travel Tips

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The United States of America shares borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south with the Pacific Ocean in the west, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to the south.

The USA is made up of 50 states, with 48 states part of the mainland and Alaska separated by Canada and Hawaii by the Pacific Ocean.

The country has just about every landscape known to man covered. Pristine beaches, towering mountains, arid deserts, rolling fertile farmland and dense forests.

Because of it’s sheer size and diversity of landscapes, the USA is a year round destination. However, when you visit depends on what you want to do when your there.

Summer (June to August) is generally hot all over the country, while the weather in winter (December to February) can vary depending on where you are in the country.

Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) are cooler than summer and can be a nicer time to visit.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Best Time to Visit

There really is no bad time of the year to visit the USA. Of course, if your purpose is to ski then the winter months would be when you want to be there. And if you are after warmer weather perfect for enjoying the wonderful great outdoors and beaches then summer is the time for you.

California, Florida and Hawaii are warm all year round and perfect for those looking to enjoy the beaches and great outdoors. For the perfect winter destinations, head to Alaska or the mountains of the west.

Summer is peak tourist season, as well as popular holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, that draw in big crowds.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

It is always recommend to have a mixture of cash and bank/credit card with you when you travel anywhere in the world and this is no exception in the USA.

ATM’s are found in all major towns and cities across the country. As well, credit cards are widely accepted although some establishments such as small hotels and shops, especially in remote areas, may only accept cash.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Getting There

The USA is connected by land to only two countries, Canada and Mexico. This means that unless you are coming from the Canada or Mexico by road, rail or boat, you will be flying into the country.

There are dozens of carriers that operate to and from almost 100 international destinations around the world like Canada, Central and South America, Asia, UK and Europe and Australia..

Flight time from London to New York is seven hours, from Sydney to Los Angeles it is 14 hours, from Tokyo to Los Angeles it is 10 hours and from New York to Mexico City it is about six hours.

I use and recommend  Expedia  for researching and booking flights all around the world.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

The only access to the USA by road is to the south with from Mexico and to the north from Canada. There are lots of road crossings along the Canada border and limited official crossings from Mexico.

Greyhound   run several coach services between the US and Canada if you don’t have your own vehicle. However, note hat there is no coach services that run west of southeastern Ontario until you reach Vancouver.

There are a few rail routes available through Amtrak connecting the USA with Canada. New York-Albany-Montreal, New York-Buffalo-Toronto and Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer train also travels between Seattle and Vancouver.

From Mexico, the Mexican rail system has limited connections with the USA in Yuma, Arizona and El Paso and Del Rio, Texas.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Ferries operate for a few different border crossings also. The  Victorian Clipper  runs from Seattle to Victoria on Vancouver Island, the  BlackBall Ferry  runs from Port Angeles in Washington to Victoria also.

From  Alaska ferries  run south to Prince Rupert. And on the east coast you can take a ferry from Portland, Maine and Yarmouth to Nova Scotia.

Getting Around

Because of America’s size, travel times can sometime be long. Whether you want to travel slow or fast, there are lots of cost effective (and a few splurge) transport options available.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

If you want to get from A to B quickly then flying will be your best option. There are a lot of carriers to choose from when flying domestically so prices are usually pretty competitive.

All cities in the country are well connected with multiple departures daily. Booking in advance will get you the best deal.

Amtrak operates all trains across the country connecting a lot of the major cities from east to west and everywhere in between.

With the exception of a few high speed services (Washington DC to New York and New York to Boston), trains can be slow and not the most time efficient way to get from a to b.

However, if train travel is your thing, popular routes include those that run along the west and east coasts and the coast-to-coast services connecting Los Angeles in the west and Jacksonville in the east.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Greyhound   is America’s main coachline provider with a comprehensive network of services that cover most of the country. Smaller budget operates are popping up more and more these days too. Check out BoltBus and Megabus who’s networks are growing.

America’s vast distances make it a great country for slow travel on a road trip if you have the time. Remember to carry plenty of supplies with you when setting out. Things like water, food and gas, especially if you are driving through some of the more remote areas.

Road quality is generally pretty good however roads in the more remote regions may be unpaved. Snow and ice may cover the the road in some areas during the winter. Ensure you drive to the conditions and have good tyres and chains properly fitted.

Some of the world’s best drives are in America, like the iconic Route 66 and the Pacific Coast drive. RV’s, or campervans/motorhomes, are very popular for those travelling for longer time periods.

I use and recommend  Expedia  for researching and booking car hire all around the world.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Where to Stay

The USA caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Here is a list of the types of accommodation you’ll find:

  • Camping/Cabins –  With America being a very outdoorsy country you’ll find lots of camp grounds that offer tent sites and basic cabins at low costs. You’ll also find large camp sites on the outskirts of big cities that you can stay at cheaply and commute each day into the city for sightseeing.
  • Hostels –  You’ll find hostels in abundance all over America. Condition in some hostels can vary greatly, so be sure to read reviews and ask around for recommendations. But for the most part, hostels are clean, safe and cheap places to stay.
  • B&B’s –  Small family run style accommodation like B&B’s can be found all over the country in big cities, small towns and popular rural locations. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and the experience usually comes with friendly hosts and a home cooked breakfast each morning.

Get up to $45.00 AUD credit when you join  Airbnb using this link .

  • Hotels/Apartments –  You will find both chain hotel/apartments brands and independent hotel/apartments to be in abundance in cities across the country. The good thing about this type of accommodation is in most cases you know what you are going to get, a clean, comfortable and modern room with a decent array of facilities in the room and on the property. Apartments are great for longer stays as they allow you a bit more space and the option to self cater.

I use and recommend  Booking.com  for researching and booking hostel, motel, hotel, apartment and resort accommodation around the world.

  • Luxury Hotels & Resorts –  America has its fair share of 5 star properties, some of which have been named in top lists of accommodation around the world. These will offer you brilliant service and a top location, sometime with incredible views of the surrounding area.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

The USA has a variety of eating options that will suit all budgets and tastes. While you will find the majority of its restaurants and cafes typically serve North American fare, the USA is one of the most multicultural countries in the world and offers cuisine to match.

  • Supermarkets/Markets   –  Save money and shop in supermarkets and local markets for snacks, picnic lunches and even ingredients to make a whole meal in your self catering accommodation.
  • Fast Food / Take-away   –  Chain fast food stores are in all major centres of the country and along highways as well. If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty fast food meal, look to where the locals are, usually getting snacks and light meals from food trucks and stands on the side of the street. A popular street food snack is a hot dog.
  • Cafes –  In the USA you will find chain and independent cafes or coffee shops on just about every corner. They are great or grabbing a quick coffee or cold drink as well as pastries and sandwiches.
  • Restaurants –  Portion sizes tend to be on the larger side in the USA as with the rest of North America so eating out in restaurants can be really good value if you stick to two meals a day. Consider sharing a meal with a travel companion if you’re not too hungry to save money or sticking to one course.
  • Fine Dining –  The USA has it’s fair share of the worlds best restaurants so if it is fine dining experiences you are after then you won’t be disappointed.

USA Travel Guide - The Trusted Traveller

Useful USA Posts

Suggested itineraries.

4 Day Itinerary for Las Vegas, NV (written by a local!)

Where to Stay Near the Orlando Theme Parks

Tours & Attractions

Buying Orlando Theme Park Tickets

Guide to the Orlando Theme Parks

Getting Around Guides

Getting Around the Orlando Theme Parks

Other USA Travel Planning Resources

Here is a constantly growing collection of resources from around the web to help you plan you dream trip to the USA.

  • The Visit USA  website is a great place to continue your travel planning.
  • The authority in all things travel,  Lonely Planet  has an extensive section all about the USA. Or why not buy the  USA Lonely Planet Guidebook  in hard copy or as an eBook.
  • Bethaney, along with her husband Lee, and two adorable kids are the experts on all things family travel in the USA. They’ve spent about 18 months road tripping their way across North America and tell the world all about it on their blog Flashpacker Family . Not only are their tips great for other families looking to do the same thing, but really anyone with aspirations to travel can learn something from this adventure loving family from New Zealand.
  • If you like your travel with a dash of adventure, the you’ll want to check out Mapping Megan . Having lived in the US, Megan and Mike have covered some of the country’s best adventure activities, wildlife experiences and places to stay on their blog.
  • Two Scots Abroad , Gemma and Craig, recently spent time travelling around the USA and even chose to get married there! Check out their blog for lots of tips about travelling in the USA including their very informative posts about what they spent.
  • The USA should be on every food lovers bucket list and the place we turn for USA foodie travel inspiration is 2 Food Trippers . We guarantee they’ll leave your mouth watering!
  • Probably one of the most comprehensive US travel blogs I have seen. Blogger at Large is a blog by the talented Megan Singleton.
  • Tina, The Local Tourist loves her home country and travels the USA as much as she can.
  • If you love to combine food and travel you will want to check out Yulia’s blog, The Foodie Miles , for everything food in the USA.

2 thoughts on “USA Travel Guide”

Those are all lovely photo galleries! It’s always nice to get a good look at different destinations and sights before you go make any official plans. Looking forward to your travel tips and other resources! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Morgan.

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