Best travel guides

Best travel guides to prepare trips, guide comparison

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Are you thinking of buying a travel guide and don’t know which one to buy? Do you want to travel soon and do not know which is the best destination for you? In this article, you will find information about the different travel guides that will make your next decision easier. Sounds good? We started!

Types of guides

Apart from the different publishers of travel guides, there are also different types of guides. There are travel books for all tastes, from the most generic guides with all the information of an area or country, to very specific guides of a city, museum, natural park, etc. Here we summarize some of the most common formats. Do you use them all?

Country guides

These are the typical travel guides with all the necessary information to travel to a country. Here you will find the best time to go, the places to visit, itinerary proposals, information on hotels and restaurants … In short, everything you may need during your days at the destination.

City guides

When the destination of the trip is a specific city, the previous guides tend to fall short of information and are too voluminous (and expensive). The city guides offer much more specific information about the city, timetables of the places to visit, detailed plans of museums.

We do not usually use this type of guide because we are not very fond of cities and because more and more cities have their own fully updated tourism websites. However, there are many people who still prefer the paper format!

Guides to specific places or types of travel

travel guides to prepare trips

Sometimes we do not look for information about a country, but we need first-hand information on ways to travel: car route through the Alps, motorcycle route through Bali …

When you need very specific information about a certain place or route, we usually turn to blogs of travelers who have already done this route, they have the information first-hand.

However, with the facilities provided by ebooks, many travelers are encouraging themselves to offer this information in electronic book format, very practical when you are offline! Some publishers are even starting to publish this guide format.

Generic books

This section includes those guides that serve to read about places around the world and help in the search for the next destination, not so much to orient oneself in one already chosen. There is a great variety: Best places in the world, best backpackers destinations, best motorcycle routes …

They are very useful when you do not have a fixed destination or when you want to look for something different.

Guides 2.0 Paper or ebook?

With the appearance of ebooks and the increase in the size of the screen of our smartphones, more and more publishers are converting their guides to digital format, but … is a digital guide better than a paper one?

To make sure we tried it ourselves last year during our trip to Indonesia and Singapore. We had our ubiquitous backpacking Southeast Asia physical guide and downloaded the country guides to our Kindle for free using the Kindle Unlimited trial program.

After our tests, we are very clear about the advantages and disadvantages of this new format.


  • You can carry all the guides you want (or can afford) in a device with smaller dimensions and weight than a single guide.
  • Digital guides have approximately a 40% reduction in price.
  • It is easy to buy guides in your language online once you arrive at your destination.


  • We do not organize ourselves as well as with paper one, probably due to lack of habit. Even using markers, moving between them is a hassle.
  • Although the battery lasts a LONG time, it is not infinite … Another device to charge and more possibilities of running out of battery.
  • It is not a device designed to operate in extreme weather conditions.
  • We have never broken a paper guide, an ebook yes.
  • Although it is possible, it is difficult to take notes on the go.

Free and legal Lonely Planet travel guides

Still don’t know that you can download some Lonely Planet guides for free and totally legal? Yes, we too were surprised when we found out.

To take advantage of this promotion, all you have to do is sign up for the free 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited. After 30 days you will decide if you are interested in the service or cancel it at no cost.

Once registered, you can search for your favorite guide for free by selecting the “Available on Kindle Unlimited” filter on the left bar. Here is a list of free Lonely Planet on Kindle Unlimited.

Do I need a travel guide?

Before purchasing your new travel guide, think about whether you need it. Today we can find practically all the information necessary to travel completely free and up-to-date on the internet.

However, if you plan to go to a less well-known place or do not want to follow a certain route, you may prefer to buy a travel guide of the country to organize as you go.

Be that as it may, you think that acquiring a travel guide has its advantages and disadvantages:


  • You have all the information clearly summarized in the palm of your hand.
  • They usually come accompanied by maps and images that end up being very useful.
  • They have verified information on accommodation and restaurants.


  • The information they include was true on the day of its issue. The inexpensive restaurant will raise prices due to the large influx, the ideal accommodation will be full and that remote place that nobody was going to will now have even a box office. You are not the only one buying that travel guide, remember that.
  • They are general guides and therefore they have a lot of information that you do not need but that you will have to pay and carry throughout your trip (they are not especially light guides).

Our opinion

After trying different guides and even traveling without them (yes, it is possible!) We will continue, for the time being, buying and using the paper guides.

It is true that we have not bought many guides. In our trips to Asia, we have taken the great Southeast Asian guide for backpackers to the destination. And we have read one of the countries themselves, more complete and voluminous, before leaving on a trip (some loaned by friends and others by the library).

  • The price of these guides (especially in Spanish) seems disproportionate for the type of trip we do, although their quality is well worth it.
  • The size and weight of these guides make them not very recommendable for those looking to be independent travelers or backpackers.

We have to face it, we are fans of the Lonely Planet! Although we always value all the options in case a specific destination has a better option. 99% of the time we end up with a Lonely in our backpack. Can you help us to change? We await your opinion in the comments!

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