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Guidebook Guide

HAWAII
Our top pick for Hawaii guidebooks goes to the five Hawaii Moon Handbooks which are 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 Hawaiian people and culture, these guidebooks are for you. Special attention is also given to the natural history of an area and outdoor activities. Updated every two years, you'll find these Hawaii titles available: Big Island of Hawaii Handbook, Honolulu Waikiki Handbook, and Kauai Handbook.

Another favorite is Lonely Planet Hawaii. This guide provides ample background coverage of the history, culture and politics of Hawaii, as well as detailed information and reviews of hotels, restaurants and places to visit.

Hidden Hawaii takes a "slightly different approach" often sought after by the adventurous traveler. These guides go beyond what's traditionally offered to include out-of-the-way spots generally known ONLY to locals.

Rough Guide to Hawaii 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.

If you're an armchair traveler or looking for a Hawaii guidebook focusing on history, cultural and beautiful photos rather than hotel and sightseeing info, try Insight Compact Guide Hawaii, Oahu/Honolulu.

Cheap Eats Guides are a great collection of detailed reviews of moderately-priced hotels and restaurants. Cheap Eats in Hawaii makes it easy to find a place that you'll be happy with and fits your budget.

The Best Places to Stay series, which has recently been revised and updated, does an excellent job of reviewing the best "unique and distinctive accommodations" for all price ranges. Best Places to Stay in Hawaii can make all the difference in how much you enjoy a trip, particularly if time is short and you're looking for a relaxing, hassle-free getaway.

There's something for everyone -- nature lovers, museum hounds, social butterflies and historical buffs -- in Globe Pequot's Fun With the Family series. Their Fun With the Family in Hawaii guide will give you hundreds of ideas for fun day trips with the whole family.

HONG KONG
Moon Handbooks are 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 a new culture, the Hong Kong Handbook guidebook is for you.

If you're traveling to Hong Kong and you are only going to buy one guidebook, buy Hong Kong Macau and Canton. Packed full of practical tips for the independent traveler, these guidebooks are updated every two years by experienced travelers with an indepth knowledge of the destination.

An entry from Insight Guides is your best choice for armchair background reading on a particular destination. Try the Hong Kong Insight Guide, which is the perfect book for pre-trip planning and post-trip reminiscing. It will help minimize complications for a smooth-sailing vacation

The Rough Guide to Hong Kong is also 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.

IRELAND
These two British guidebooks, Cadogan Guides: Ireland and Cadogan Guides: Southwest Ireland have an outstanding reputation among discerning American travelers for their exceptional quality of writing and information. 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 they give informed recommendations of interesting places to stay and dine, as well as information about practical travel matters.

Another good choice for Ireland travelers is Lonely Planet Ireland which 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 an excellent Dublin City Guide.

Every once in a while you come across a guidebook that gives you the feeling you've just visited its subject. Ireland: The Complete Guide and Road Atlas is one of those books. Practically every page has a gorgeous, color photograph -- one more beautiful than the next. So sit back and enjoy the trip!

Rough Guide to Ireland is a candid, practical, comprehensive and opinionated guide for independent-minded and adventurous travelers. Don't let the moniker fool you -- this guide is not just for the low-budget traveler. 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.

One of favorite authors, Rick Steves, also has a new guidebook that covers Ireland, Rick Steves' Ireland. If you like Rick Steves' "Europe Through the Back Door" philosophy, you'll love this addition to his series.

If you're ripe for an adventure, but strapped for cash - then Let's Go: Ireland is for you! It covers the travel basics -- where to eat, sleep and how to get around, plus each guide is full of off-beat things to do for little or no money. Written in a fresh, independent, personal, opinionated and irreverent style by Harvard students, you'll find brutally honest suggestions about what's worth seeing, because they "know what it's like to trudge miles to some 'great' spot...only to find a tacky tourist trap." Let's Go: Ireland, like the rest of the series, has more budget listings than any other guide to Ireland. It's written primarily by and for students, and perfect for penny-pinchers.

Ireland Eyewitness Travel Guide is well-organized and makes an excellent companion for wandering explorations of Ireland. 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.

Everyone knows the best places to stay in Ireland are inns & B&B's. To help you find the best ones Ireland has to offer, pick up a copy of Karen Brown's Ireland: Charming Inns and Itineraries, which provides detailed descriptions, maps and suggested itineraries which will help you plan a wonderful vacation wandering through beautiful countryside unknown to many tourists.

For the armchair traveler, try Ireland: Insight Guide.

ITALY
Italy, a country rich with centuries of art, architecture and fascinating history is a favorite vacation spot for romantic couples, solo travelers and backpackers alike. But before you hop a plane, with visions of winding canals and ancient ruins, pick up a guidebook to accompany you on your journey.

Cadogan Guides: Rome Venice & Florence is an excellent British book that is aimed at the slightly more discerning traveler who's interested in dining and staying in unique and interesting places. Rich in local history, culture, legends and traditions, the Cadogan Guide to the Italy is exceptionally written and gives you a better understanding of Europe's culture and its people.

Lonely Planet has plenty of travel tips for the independent traveler, and is a great all-in-one reference to Italy. It covers the history and interesting facts about the country, as well as listing hotels, restaurants and places to visit. Lonely Planet Italy is a great choice if you're only going to buy one guidebook.

With a wide selection of European titles, Rough Guides provide suggestions for all budgets, great information on cultural entertainment and night life, plus all the practical travel details you'll need. Rough Guides also have good advice for women, family, gay and disabled travelers.

Rough Guide to Italy is a good alternative for those of you who want something a little more upscale than the Let's Go series, which is an excellent choice for backpackers and college students. Let's Go: Italy is perfect for those touring Europe on a tight budget.

Insight Guides are one of your best choices for armchair background reading on a particular destination. 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. Insight Guides publishes Italy: Insight Guide, which is a great read if you're preparing for your trip, or just want to find out more about this fascinating country.

What is a journey to Italy without experiencing the food? Cheap Eats in Italy will help you find the best eats around, without breaking your budget! All of the guidebooks we mention will give you suggestions on the best places to dine. Choosing the right hotel can make or break your vacation. Pick up a copy of any of the following guides, depending on the type of accommodations you're looking for, to help you decide:

Karen Brown's Italy: Charming Bed and Breakfasts
Hello Italy: An Insider's Guide to Italian Hotels
Cheap Sleeps in Italy

MEXICO
If you are looking for a guide to help you plan, or accompany you on your trip to Mexico, we offer up these recommendations:

Lonely Planet Mexico is packed full of practical tips for the independent budget traveler, these guidebooks are updated every two years by experienced travelers with an in depth knowledge of the destination. Good for travelers looking to venture off the beaten path.

The Rough Guide Mexico 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.

Frommer's 2006 Cancun, Cozumel and the Yucatan has 350 pages of hotel reviews, maps and photos, and tips for enjoying the festive nightlife and local color of Mexico. Fodor's 2006 Cancun, Cozumel, Yucatan Peninsula are both excellent, thorough Mexican guides.

The People's Guide to Mexico: Wherever You Go, There You Are! takes a different approach. Rather than recommending the best of everything in Mexico, it aims to teach you how to locate these things yourself, and you'll find tips on acclimating to the Mexican culture and people.

For armchair background reading tryInsight Guide Mexico and Insight Pocket Guide Mexico City . 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.

The Moon Handbook Baja: Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas is packed with every type of travel resource for those planning a trip to this popular travel destination. Visiting Cancun? Try the Cancun Map & Guide, which contains great maps plus you'll also find information on tours, taxis, safety, ATMs and more.

If you are planning a drive through Mexico, pick up a copy of the Rand McNally 2004 Road Atlas Deluxe: United States, Canada, Mexico.

NEW ENGLAND
If you're headed to New England and want to see what this beautiful region has to offer, pick up a good guidebook. A favorite of ours is Lonely Planet's New England. This guide provides ample background coverage of the area's history and its culture, as well as detailed information and reviews of hotels, restaurants and must-see sites.

Hidden Boston & Cape Cod takes that "slightly different approach" often sought after by the adventurous traveler. These guides go beyond what's traditionally offered in encyclopedia-style books to include out-of-the-way spots generally known ONLY to locals.

If you're an armchair traveler or looking for a New England guidebook focusing on history, culture and beautiful photos rather than hotel and sightseeing info, Insight Guides are a great choice and there are plenty of titles to choose from. One of our favorites is Insight's Boston.

Michelin Green Guide New England is strictly for seeing the sights -- for which these books are unbeatable. Detailed maps, floor plans, excellent itineraries and walking tours are included. All the sights are rated with stars so you know what you "must see" and what else to do if time permits. Each guide is also packed with comprehensive historical and architectural descriptions of every sight. Michelin Green Guides are slim and lightweight making them easy to carry around with you while sightseeing.

The Best Places to Stay series, which has recently been completely revised and updated, does an excellent job of selecting and reviewing the best "unique and distinctive accommodations" in all price ranges. Best Places to Stay in New England can make all the difference in how much you enjoy a trip, particularly if time is short and you're looking for a relaxing, hassle-free, enjoyable getaway.

NEW ORLEANS
If you're headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, or any other time of the year for that matter, and want to see what really has folks returning year after year, pick up a good guidebook.

A top pick for New Orleans guidebooks is The Insider's Guide to New Orleans. Throughout The Insider's Guide you'll find interesting tales of local history that give you the flavor of this special place and the background necessary to better understand and appreciate New Orleans as it is today.

If you're an armchair traveler or looking for a New Orleans guidebook focusing on history and culture rather than just hotel and sightseeing information, New Orleans: Insight Guides is an excellent choice! Full of beautiful photos, you'll really get a feel for what the city and its people is all about.

Another great option is Fodor's New Orleans. This Gold Guide is updated each year. And don't forget to pick up a copy of that old standby Zagat New Orleans Restaurant Survey to help you select that special place for dinner in the French Quarter, or perhaps a riverside take-out joint!

NEW ZEALAND
If you're traveling to Asia, the South Pacific, or an exotic destination in any part of the world, and you are only going to buy one guidebook, buy a Lonely Planet guide. New Zealand will cover all the essentials, as well as some lesser-known facts about Australia's beautiful neighbor.

The Rough Guide to New Zealand is an interesting alternative. These candid, practical, comprehensive guides are written for independent-minded, adventurous travelers. Don't let their moniker fool you -- these guides are not just for the low-budget traveler. Rough Guides also have good advice for women, family, gay and disabled travelers.

For rail aficionados, Bradt publishes: Australia and New Zealand by Rail. Covering the unusual and less-traveled-to locations of the world, these thoroughly researched and useful guides are for adventurous travelers! Focusing on three major areas -- country guides, hiking and trekking guides, and rail guides -- these organized guidebooks reflect unique and enjoyable ways to explore some of the world's most interesting cultures and natural wonders.

Insight Guides, your best choice for armchair background reading on a particular destination, publish Insight New Zealand, which is perfect for pre-trip planning and post-trip reminiscing. They also make excellent companion guides for learning about the sites you are visiting. We would not recommend them, however, as practical reference guides for selecting hotels and restaurants while you're traveling.

And finally, you should take a look at the New Zealand Handbook, published by Moon. Moon Handbooks are 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 a new culture, these guidebooks are for you.

SAN DIEGO
If you're headed to San Diego and want to see what really has those swallows returning to Capistrano year after year, pick up a good guidebook.

A top pick for San Diego guidebooks is The Insider's Guide to San Diego. Throughout The Insider's Guide you'll find interesting tales of local history that give you the flavor of this special place and the background necessary to better understand and appreciate San Diego as it is today.

Hidden Southern California takes that "slightly different approach" often sought after by the adventurous traveler. These guides go beyond what's traditionally offered in encyclopedia-style books to include out-of-the-way spots generally known ONLY to locals.

If you're an armchair traveler or looking for a San Diego guidebook focusing on history, culture and beautiful photos rather than hotel and sightseeing info, Southern California: Insight Guide is an excellent choice!

Don't forget to pick up a copy of that old standby Zagat San Diego Restaurant Survey to help you select that special place for dinner by the ocean, or perhaps a seaside take-out joint!

Finally, Quick Escapes in San Diego will help you find everything you need to know for a memorable weekend trip to San Diego, including recommended restaurants, lodging, directions, suggested activities and special events.

SAN FRANCISCO
If you're headed to San Francisco and want to see what this beautiful city has to offer, pick up a good guidebook! A favorite of ours for San Francisco is Lonely Planet's City Guide San Francisco. This guide provides ample background coverage of the city and its culture, as well as detailed information and reviews of hotels, restaurants and places to visit.

Hidden San Francisco and Northern California takes that "slightly different approach" often sought after by the adventurous traveler. These guides go beyond what's traditionally offered in encyclopedia-style books to include out-of-the-way spots generally known ONLY to locals.

Rough Guide to San Francisco is another candid, practical, comprehensive guide for adventurous travelers. You'll find hotel and restaurant listings in all price ranges and great information on cultural entertainment and nightlife, plus practical travel details. Also included is advice for women, family, gay and disabled travelers.

Looking for the ultimate romantic escape in San Francisco? Pick up a copy of Romantic Days and Nights in San Francisco. You'll find 30 detailed, memorable getaways to appeal to lovers of every taste, mood or budget.

Longing for a San Francisco day trip? Maybe a weekend jaunt? Leave the planning to Quick Escapes, and you can relax and enjoy yourself on a weekend to remember. Each Quick Escape guide includes complete itineraries for more than 30 great day trips/weekend getaways just a short drive from San Francisco.

While not a traditional guidebook, Travelers' Tales San Francisco makes an excellent companion book to take with you on your trip or to read beforehand in anticipation. Travelers' Tales is also a good choice if you are traveling as part of a pre-packaged tour and you want to get a feel for the city and don't need practical details such as lists of hotels and restaurants.

SOLO TRAVEL
Many people relish the thought of taking a journey alone, but are concerned about the potential downside. Will I get homesick? Will I be able to protect myself? There are so many reasons to take a solo trek, and some would argue that they far outweigh the potential risks. There are several travel guides are geared toward the independent traveler. Here are a few we recommend:

Traveling Solo delineates over 200 travel options available to single travelers of all interests. The book includes a wide range of sections for various vacations and specifications as to the common age range of participants.

Travel Alone & Love It is written by a former travel agent, and includes how to pack, areas to avoid and key ways to overcome the fears associated with flying solo. It's great for first-time solo travelers and gives a variety of general travel information, such as how to avoid jet lag and even advice on where to go!

Safety and Security for Women Who Travel (Travelers' Tales Guides)

The Best Travelers' Tales 2004: True Stories from Around the World is a solo guide with plenty of tips on avoiding trouble when traveling alone, and what to do if you find it. This guide provides the nuts and bolts of safe solo treks. Rather than trip ideas and other general tips, the focus here is on security.

A Journey of One's Own: Uncommon Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler This guide takes a whimsical approach to the concept of solo travel, and is a wonderful resource for women. Written in a laid-back, honest manner, it takes you through the pros and cons of traveling alone, while stopping to address the bigger picture. Traveling alone, the author advises, is a state of mind above all else.

One of our old favorites is still A Foxy Old Woman's Guide to Traveling Alone: Around Town and Around the World, which gives solo travelers a wide range of travel tips, suggestions and caveats. Also try Cruising Solo: The Single Traveler's Guide to Adventure on the High Seas.

SWITZERLAND
A good choice for Switzerland travelers is Lonely Planet Switzerland, which 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 Switzerland.

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

If you're ripe for adventure, but strapped for cash, Let's Go: Austria and Switzerland is for you! Like the rest of the Let's Go Guidebooks, it has more budget listings than any other guide to Switzerland. It's written primarily by and for students and is perfect for penny-pinchers.

Some of the best places to stay in Switzerland are inns & B&B's, and Karen Brown's Switzerland: Charming Inns and Itineraries helps you find the best ones. Detailed descriptions, maps and suggested itineraries help you plan a wonderful vacation wandering through beautiful countryside.

Michelin Green Guide Switzerland is strictly for seeing the sights -- for which this book is unbeatable. Detailed maps, floor plans, excellent itineraries and walking tours are included. All the sights are rated with stars so you know what you "must see" and what else to do if time permits. Each guide is also packed with comprehensive historical and architectural descriptions of every sight. Michelin Green Guides are slim and lightweight, making them easy to carry around with you while sightseeing.

Walking Easy in the Swiss and Austrian Alps in the Easy Walking Guide series is geared towards recreational walkers of all ages and aimed at those travelers seeking a health-related, soft adventure vacation! Beginning with some hints on becoming an "easy walker," along with traditional travel tips for the destination you've chosen.

For the armchair traveler, try Switzerland: Insight Guides. Insight Guides are the perfect books for pre-trip planning and post-trip reminiscing.

WASHINGTON D.C.
Whether you're headed to the Washington Memorial, the Smithsonian or the White House, there is no shortage of things to see in D.C. If you're an armchair traveler or looking for a Washington D.C. guidebook focusing on history, cultural and beautiful photos rather than hotel and sightseeing info, Washington D.C.: Insight Guides is an excellent choice!

Michelin Green Guide Washington D.C.. is strictly for seeing the sights -- for which it is unbeatable. This well-designed guide includes numerous detailed maps and floor plans and suggests excellent itineraries and walking tours. Clear directions and travel times are given to reach each attraction.

Lonely Planet Guides provide 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. Check out Lonely Planet Washington D.C.

Quick Escapes from Washington D.C.. is another good option. Each Quick Escape guide includes complete itineraries for more than 20 weekend getaways just a short drive from home. You'll find everything you need to know for a memorable weekend, including recommended restaurants, lodging, directions and suggested activities.

Depending on your itinerary and budget, you may also want to try The Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C.. or The Rough Guide to Washington D.C., great for low budget or adventurous travelers.

Washington D.C. - The Guide to Our Nation's Capital comes complete with full-color photographs and a rundown of the newest and most popular historical attractions, such as World War II Memorial and the new Smithsonian Native American Museum. It also comes with information on planning group tours and a map of the Metro system.

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