For me a holiday really starts once I have the guide book of my chosen destination in my hand. The feeling that you are really going to a new place, reading up on tips, looking at dazzling pictures gives me the feeling my holiday that is about to come is “real”. I love the section in my book stacks with all my travel books from past adventures. And on rainy Sunday afternoons they provide a good source of endless memories: the one time I decided 2 weeks would be ideal to go by train from Bucharest to Athens (tip, it isn´t), backpacking in Borneo, or that city trip to New York.
But before I can buy the book for my new destination some inspiration is needed of course as well. You can´t make me any happier than with a new book with pretty pictures and stories about must visit destinations. I am an easy target for presents for the people around me, and I have to say I did receive a large amount of books, or gift vouchers for books to stack up my collection. So, I tried to make a selection of my favorite inspiration books to look through on a rainy Sunday afternoon to dream away to new destinations.
If you want to buy just one inspiration travel book (something I obviously not recommend) it has to be straight forward called book “The Travel book”. This book is published by Lonely Planet and is absolutely huge! It covers every country in the world with amazing pictures, funny facts, and inspiring stories. And the best thing is the book is for sale at amazon for just £13 pounds! Unfortunately due the the size I can´t take it with me on my current trips, but it is definitely one of the best travel books to have just lying around.
My guilty pleasure is the book 501 Must Visit Destinations. The book is relatively old, but describes the 501 ultimate destinations to visit (no surprises there). I got this book about 5 years ago (another small habit, I mark in each book when I got it, where, and why) and it has been serving as my travel check-list since. I secretly mark in the directory all places I have been so far, and I have to say I still have many more to go!
A book that I recently discovered is Great Adventures. This book describes most epic exeriences you should do once in your live (think seeing Gorilla´s in the wild, climb Mount Everest etc.) and provides a really good source of inspiration about wild possibilities, since most of the trips and recommendations are out of my league (unless I got really sporty with a lot of cash)…But browsing through it I get exited about places and things to do which I didn´t even know what is possible!
A book that is really nice to have, or an excellent present (I have given this to various people for Christmas, Sinterklaas or birthdays) is Best in travel 2013 (or 2014 etc.) Which is a small and compact book that summarizes interesting places to visit the upcoming year: upcoming destinations, major celebrations and badass parties. You can buy the book for about £6 on Amazon, making it the perfect little gift!
As said in my introduction, next to having big inspiration books I love to have guides specifically about the destination that I am going to. If you have ever been to the travel section in a book store, you probably came to realize there are about a gazillion different books for each destination, so which one to choose? For most backpackers the Lonely Planet is part of the basic equipment, and indeed the Lonely Planet is a useful guide. It provides an overview of affordable options, quircky tips and useful information about transportation between places. However, if you are in more remote areas you will learn the hard way that the information is not always correct. I once had to walk about 3 hrs back to the nearest village from the rock church in Ivanovo, Bulgaria (was a tip from my 501 must visit destinations book, check!) but according to the very up to date Lonely Planet there was definitely a bus. Therefore I tend to like the Rough Guides more. Rough Guides are very similar to Lonely Planet guides, but less commercialized, which often leads to better information in remote areas. When it comes to city trips I usually take a 100% Stockholm/Barcelona/New York etc. with me. These books provide 6 walks designed by locals, with interesting stops underway (local coffee bars, cute stores etc.) I like these little books because they provide me with a side of the city which I would otherwise perhaps have missed.
So even writing this story about my favorite books I am dreaming away again to all the must visit places I read about in my books. But currently I don´t need to think about the next place where I am going: I will be moving soon to Palma de Mallorca, but more about that later! In the mean time, enjoy and dream away about tropical destinations, especially with these temperatures currently!