We’re all used to checking loaves of bread and bags of lettuce for the “Best By” date. We crave quality. We want fresh, not stale. It’s important to keep this in mind when you purchase a new travel guidebook. Fresher is better. And in the world of travel guidebooks that means you want the most up-to-date edition available. At the very least, a book with a recent copyright date.One of my favorite phases of travel is destination research. I want to know what the experts know. What should I see and where should I eat? Since my family usually schedules a home exchange, I don’t need to pay attention to hotels.
Call me old school but I like guidebooks; the kind you can hold in your hands while sitting in a comfortable chair in your living room. Flip pages, study photographs. Flip pages again and dog ear corners.
When we travel to Europe, our favorite literary tour guide has always been Rick Steves, America’s leading authority on European travel. http://www.ricksteves.com/
“Guidebooks are $25 tools for $4,000 experiences,” Steves says. “Many otherwise smart people base the trip of a lifetime on a borrowed copy of a three-year-old guidebook. The money they save in the bookstore is wasted the first day of their trip, searching for hotels and restaurants long since closed.”
Is The Travel Guidebook Fresh?
Although I like to shop at my local used bookstore for the classics, when searching for travel books I buy newly printed and up-to-date guidebooks. Just like with baked bread, you can sometimes tell the freshness of a guidebook by the smell.
Recently I purchased a new guidebook; it smelled fresh, but I forgot to check the expiration date. It wasn’t until I got home and was sitting in the aforementioned comfortable chair in the living room that I noticed some of the event information seemed out of date. This can happen with any travel guidebook, no matter how new. (That’s why we have the Internet.)
But when I looked on the front of the book, I suddenly realized there wasn’t a year on the cover! And although I’ve now looked everywhere for a copyright date, I can’t find one.
I had forgotten my own travel guidebook tenet.
While working on this blog post, I found another tip from Rick Steves; I only wish I’d read it sooner. “Most guidebooks get an update every two or three years, but a handful of titles are actually updated in person each year. The rule of thumb: If the year is not printed on the cover, the guidebook is not updated annually (and you’ll have to check the copyright information page— usually just inside the front or back cover— to see when it was most recently updated). When I’m choosing a travel guidebook for a trip, the publication date is usually the single most important factor in which one I buy.”
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