Let’s start with a confession – I am a travel book junkie.
I own dozens of guidebooks for places I have no concrete plans to visit. I will hang out at Barnes & Noble for hours scouring the travel section if nobody stops me. In down time, I will sometimes revisit travel books from past trips. I can’t quit them. While I’ll also use internet resources when planning and executing a trip, a good travel book (or three) are still the foundation of my trip planning process.
Mentally, I separate guidebooks in two categories (I'm not just a junkie, but also a nerd!):
1. Inspirational Guidebooks - best for the planning stage, with a focus on:
- Itinerary ideas
- Other content to help the me choose what I want to see
- Example: Lonely Planet's Discover Series
2. In-Depth Guidebooks - best to use during a trip, with a focus on:
- Food recommendations
- Longer descriptions and historical context for the sites
- Example: Fodor's, Rough Guides
In general, Lonely Planet is my favorite travel book publisher. Their “standard” guides are probably the best comprehensive resource out there although they do suffer from a lack of full color and pictures throughout. However, of all the guides out there, they have the best combination of inspirational and in-depth.
Here's what I've got so far for the Northeast USA:
Lonely Planet's Best Trips
This book series is largely structured around road trips, and they do a great job of profiling potentially underrated destinations. Towns and sights that aren’t likely to end up on anyone’s “Best of” lists can feature quite prominently in books like this. They also seem to be written by different writers than the standard Lonely Planet guidebooks, so they will give a different perspective. Highly recommended.
The first book was actually given to me as a gift by someone that knows my obsessions too well. I felt the second was “necessary” as it is one of the few books that digs deep into New York State, an area that we are very much looking to explore.
And Some More:
These three round out our collection (for now!) with a few more books to give us more context on places that we will be visiting more often.
Oh, and These:
Broad as they are, these books have been well-used by our family and have served us well. They fall on the “in-depth” side of the spectrum, but they both have enough photography and inspirational content up front to serve in trip-planning purposes.