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Guidebook Guide

Australia * Caribbean * Costa Rica * Disney World * England * Europe * Family * France * Gemany * Hawaii * Hong Kong * Ireland * Italy * Mexico * New England * New Orleans * New Zealand * San Diego * San Francisco * Solo Travel * Switzerland * Washington D.C.

Want to learn more about this fascinating land down under? Here are our top picks for Australia travel guidebooks.

If you're traveling to Asia or the South Pacific, and you plan on buying one guidebook, pick a Lonely Planet guide. There are a few on Australia, which is, after all, home to the Lonely Planet founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, covering Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, and the more general Lonely Planet Australia.

The Rough Guide to Australia is an interesting alternative. These candid, practical, comprehensive and opinionated guides are written for independent-minded and adventurous travelers. Don't let their moniker fool you -- these guides are not just for the low-budget traveler.

Rail aficionados should check out Bradt Travel Guides' Australia and New Zealand by Rail, which also highlights Australia's beautiful neighbor. Covering the unusual and less-traveled-to locations of the world, this thoroughly researched and useful guide is for adventurous travelers only! Focusing on three major areas -- country guides, hiking and trekking guides, and rail guides -- this organized guidebook reflects unique and enjoyable ways to explore some of the world's most interesting cultures and natural wonders.

A pair of entries from Insight Guides, your best choice for armchair background reading on a particular destination, will give you a wonderful picture of the people and customs of Australia. The Insight Guide Sydney and Insight Guide Australia are great choices. Insight Guides are the perfect books for pre-trip planning and post-trip reminiscing and they also make excellent companion guides for learning about the sites you are visiting.

Packed full of practical tips, Lonely Planet's Eastern Caribbean is another guidebook that we would highly recommend. It covers the islands of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Barts, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. The guidebook is particularly good for moderate to budget travelers, but you they also give restaurant and accommodation options for every budget from beachside bungalow at luxury resorts to inexpensive guesthouses. Lonely Planet also publishes an excellent guide to Jamaica.

Moon Handbooks are ideal for the adventure-seeking independent traveler who's young at heart. If you want to go beyond superficial tourism, Moon's Jamaica Handbook provides the most comprehensive coverage of Jamaica.

Since 1988, Rum and Reggae's Caribbean has become a virtual bible for baby-boomers and adventurous vacationers in the islands. If you're the type of traveler who doesn't want to feel like a typical tourist, or would prefer a more active sports-oriented vacation, or if you're in search of secluded, cerebral or hip spots, then give this book a try.

Perhaps more than other destinations, choosing the right resort in the Caribbean can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your vacation. To help you make the right choice, 100 Best Resorts of the Caribbean, Best Places to Stay in the Caribbean and Fodor's Caribbean each offer an excellent selection of descriptive reviews on the best accommodations in the Caribbean for all budgets.

If you're planning a Caribbean cruise, pick up a copy of Caribbean Ports of Call by Kay Showker. This invaluable, one-of-a-kind guide to the Caribbean is written specifically for the cruise passenger. You'll get plenty of practical advice on how to prepare for your cruise and what to expect.

With a loyal following of travelers who help keep their guides up-to-date with hundreds of letters to the editor, Footprint Handbooks reprints excerpts of these throughout the guide. An excellent pick from their lineup is the Caribbean Islands Handbook. The only downside to this guide is that it is crammed with information written in an report style in very small print which makes it difficult to read.

In addition, Cancun & Cozumel Alive is an extremely useful reference written by veteran travelers Bruce and Jane Conord.

Our top pick for a Costa Rica guidebook goes to Costa Rica Handbook which is ideal for the adventure-seeking independent traveler who's young at heart. If you want to go beyond being a superficial tourist and truly experience the "Ticos" and their culture, this guidebook is for you. Special attention is also given to the natural history of the area, eco-tourism opportunities and outdoor activities.

Lonely Planet's Costa Rica is packed full of practical tips and advice for the independent traveler. This series of guidebooks is updated every two years by experienced travelers with an indepth knowledge of the destination and the culture of its people.

The Rough Guide to Costa Rica is an interesting alternative. These candid, practical, comprehensive and opinionated guides are written for independent-minded and adventurous travelers. Don't let their moniker fool you -- these guides are not just for the low-budget traveler.

For armchair background reading try Costa Rica: Insight Compact Guide. Insight Guides are the perfect books for pre-trip planning and post-trip reminiscing, and they make excellent companion guides.

New Key to Costa Rica is dedicated to the preservation of Central America's rare and endangered species, architecture and archaeology. The guide includes a "Green-Rating Survey" that acknowledges those hotels making significant efforts toward ecotourism.

Any hardcore Disney veteran will tell you...the key to a hassle-free, enjoyable Disney vacation is to plan, plan and then plan some more. A guidebook is essential, more than one would be better! Here are our top picks for Disney travel guidebooks for the independent traveler.

An absolute "must have" guidebook, especially for first-time visitors, Birnbaum's Official Guide to Walt Disney World offers what most other guidebooks do not -- Disney trivia, details of attractions, and general descriptions of all things Disney -- all with Disney's stamp of approval!

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and its sister publication The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, include comprehensive, up-to-date information about all the major and minor parks, as well as lodging, dining and touring suggestions. The strength of these best-selling guides is they are written completely independent of Walt Disney.

Hidden Walt Disney World, Orlando and Beyond has covers Disney well, and includes a plethora of theme parks in the area. An added bonus: there is a section called "Games to Play While You're Waiting in Line," sure to elicit a laugh.

Passporter Walt Disney World Resort 2005 is not your average guide to Earth's most famed theme park. It provides the essentials for getting around the parks -- ratings for the attractions, a restaurant guide, maps, your best bet for transportation, and current prices -- but unlike other guides, the Passporter is also a planner, organizer and journal.

Walt Disney World Without Kids focuses on adult fun, entertainment and comfort. It's well-organized format features full and half-day itineraries that you can mix or match to create your own, personalized vacation. Included are the tips and tricks you find in most guidebooks, but you'll also find excellent descriptions of WDW's resorts, nightclubs, amenities and facilities.

Cadogan Guides have an outstanding reputation among discerning American travelers for their exceptional quality of writing. Rich in local history, culture, legends and traditions, these guides will give you a better understanding of Ireland and its people. All Cadogan Guides authors are natives of or have lived in the countries they write about, and give informed recommendations of interesting places to stay and dine as well as information about practical travel matters. For those of you that are "shopaholics", you might pick up a copy of Cadogan Guides' London Markets.

A good choice for England travelers is Lonely Planet's Britain because it provides ample background coverage of the history, culture and politics of the country, as well as detailed information and reviews of hotels, restaurants and places to visit. Also available from Lonely Planet is Europe on a Shoestring which includes budget travel information in Great Britain and England.

One of our favorite authors, Rick Steves, also has a guidebook that covers England, Rick Steves' Great Britain 2005. If you like Rick Steves' "Europe Through the Back Door" philosophy, you'll love this selection from his series.

The Rough Guide to England 6 is another candid, practical, comprehensive and opinionated guide for independent-minded and adventurous travelers. You'll find hotel and restaurant listings in all price ranges and great information on cultural entertainment and night life, plus all the practical travel details you'll need. Also included is good advice for women, family, gay and disabled travelers.

Everyone knows some of the best places to stay in England are inns & B&B's. To help you find the best England has to offer, pick up Karen Brown's England, Wales, and Scotland Charming Hotels and Itineraries which provides detailed descriptions, maps and suggested itineraries to help you plan a wonderful vacation wandering through beautiful countryside.

Great Britain Eyewitness Travel Guide is one of a highly visual travel guidebook that makes liberal use of color photographs and superb three-dimensional maps. The 3-D and aerial-view maps are by far Eyewitness Guides' biggest strength and much of each guide is organized geographically around these maps. Also available is a London Eyewitness Travel Guide.


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