WRITTEN BY JOE JOHNSON
1. Lonely Planet
The Lonely Planet began life in 1972, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler and is now the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The Lonely Planet has around 500 titles and is published in eight languages. Far from being just a book publisher, Lonely Planet now dabble in television programmes, websites, print magazines, and mobile apps. The headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia, and there are also offices in London and Oakland.
In its early years, the Lonely Planet guides had a ‘hippie’ vibe, and were aimed mainly at young backpackers travelling on a budget. The first book was aimed at Aussies and taking the hippie trail across the Middle-East and Asia into Europe, nowadays the series has a wider appeal and is popular with older, more well-off travellers.
Fodor’s is one of the oldest and most well established entries on this list. Established by Eugene Fodor in 1936, the books are celebrated for its tendency to go beyond the norm and comment on things like tipping culture and local customs.
3. National Geographic Traveller
The National Geographic is perhaps one of the most authoritative and respected global brands when it comes to travel. National Geographic are perhaps best known for their monthly magazine, so it’s no surprise they branched out into the travel guide market.
4. Bill Bryson
It’s not just fact-based travel guides that can be useful in getting the feel for a place. Bryson’s personal accounts of his many travels such as Notes From a Small Island and A Walk in the Woods also prove to be fantastic, whimsical guides while also being great stories.
5. Trip Advisor
Print-based media is in decline, and with sites like Trip Advisor, it’s no wonder. The site is an aggregated collection of user generated reviews of destinations, hotels and attractions, perfect for when you need a larger sample of independent reviews from a range of people.
6. Rough Guides
Like Lonely Planet, Rough Guides started life aimed mainly at backpackers on a budget. ‘The Rough Guide to Greece’ was the first in the series, published in 1982. It has over time however it has branched out to focus on all types of travel, with much of the content being available online too.
7. Michelin Guides
Michelin are arguably most famous for making car tyres, but they also produce excellent guides on hotels and restaurants. Using the famous ‘star’ system as an indicator of quality, the guides focus on the best establishments at a given destination rather than sight-seeing or cultural attractions.
WikiTravel is, just as it sounds, Wikipedia for travel; a huge online encyclopaedia focused on global destinations and how to get there. Country specific pages include practical information such as how to get a visa and the different methods of travel.
9. Let’s Go
Unlike some entries on this list which focused initially on backpackers and diversified for more expensive tastes, Let’s Go remains very much geared towards students and backpackers with Longines. Guides on motorcycle road trips and Europe on ‘$5 per day’ define the ‘Let’s Go’ ethos.
10. Mr & Mrs Smith
Mr & Mrs Smith are relative newcomers to the travel guide world; founded in 2003 by James Lohan and Tamara Herber-Percy, the brand concentrates on boutique hotels for couples all over the world. The award-winning online directory is also complimented by five books to date, with contributing reviewers including celebrities such as Stella McCartney and Dita von Teese.
Joe is a travel writer who regularly uses on and offline travel guides to inform his choices. His next adventure will be his Greece holidays, he read up on villas in Greece using his Lonely Planet guide! You can follow Joe on Twitter @joe__johnson__