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Guidebooks: my travel buddies

Lonely Planet guidebooks on a shelf (courtesy jasonnolanplymouth at flickr's Creative Commons.)Sainted Husband and I did some of the usual weekend yard work, but we also decided to get into the garage and bring in the last book boxes from our Summer 2006 move to Texas from Florida.

What the heck’s in those slightly misshapen boxes?

The answer is that I knew we needed to buy more bookshelves, but I didn’t quite realize just how much we needed more bookshelves! Still, if I’m going to have anything piled up around the house that doesn’t bother me, it is books. Neatly arranged and stacked up against the walls is better than hidden in boxes in the garage.

The travel guidebooks, however, are another matter.

Those babies get bookshelf space right away, no matter what. I was able to open up a little territory on my “guidebook shelf” when I discovered that I have two copies of Road Trip USA and two of Roadfood, but it was a squeeze to pack in everything from around the globe.

I am absurdly pleased to have Suzy Gershman’s guidebooks for shopping in London & Paris next to “TimeOut Tokyo” next to Lonely Planet’s “Louisiana and the Deep South” (an invaluable reference a few years back, during our Great American South Road Trip.)

All but the most recent of these are out of date; in fact, parts of every guidebook are out of date as soon as it’s printed. That’s why the best travel research is a mix of thoroughly reading a good guidebook, coupled with some Internet work for the latest info and different opinions. You can save weight by tearing out only the guidebook chapters that you need, or downloading just your specific requirements. When they depart a destination, many travelers then leave their books in their hotel lobby or other public spot like a library, so someone else can use them.

When I leave a place, I usually keep the guidebook as a memento. Sure, if I ever return to Bali I’ll pick up the latest Lonely Planet guide (plus peruse the BootsnAll Bali Blog) but I still like my own old copy of “Bali and Lombok” sitting on the shelf.

It keeps Maastricht, Hong Kong and Florida company — they’re like a bunch of old, experienced, crumple-paged wanderers hanging out together, swapping tall tales about who used the worst squat toilet or found the best seafood restaurant.

What a nice way to spend a Sunday evening; returning old guidebook friends from Garage Exile to the Travel Guidebook Shelf of Good Memories.

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, travel guidebook