Whether you know exactly where you want to go or have no idea, the books recommended on this page are perfect for planning your trip and can save you a lot of time when on the ground. They are also a perfect source of inspiration and encouragement to get on the road. Not all the information will be useful, but a lot of it will, especially the maps and routes.
Learn more about the various different publishers of guidebooks: their strengths, weaknesses and general background.
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Newly updated fifth edition, this is an excellent title if you have no idea where to go. Lots of excellent suggested routes with estimated travel times, so you don't bite off more than you can chew. Covers the whole world, lots of good basic intro information a perfect place to start.
Fifth Edition - Published: (February, 2013)
Great intro and easy to read, completely ignores Burma (on ethical grounds). Still a favourite. Much more down to earth and readable than the Lonely planet version, but with less detail and no colour maps. Strongly recommend this book. It's very useful to plan a trip according to particular interests.
Third Edition - Published: (February, 2010)
This is (as with all these planning guides) pretty good if you have no idea which part of the continent to visit. It gives you a brief overview of each country and important places to visit in each country. However, it does not give you details like the culture, transport, eating, etc. Once you finalise where to go, you will need to buy a separate guide book that give you these fine details.
Third Edition - Published: (February, 2010)
Second Edition - Published: (February, 2011)
A book kind of like this site, but based on Europe. Essential planning advice.
Eighth Edition - Published: (February, 2010)
The Read This First titles have now been discontinued
by Lonely Planet, but since they are good planning sources with great overview
maps and suggested routes, they have been kept on the site. They can still
be found new and used if you look hard enough. Amazon often has copies for
Need only some parts? - Download Chapters (Lonely Planet)
Okay there is a tonne of fluff in true LP style and every picture looks perfect, but you get an overview of every country in the world stylishly present. This user-friendly A-Z gives a flavour of each country in the world, including a map, travel highlights, info on where to go and how to get around, as well as some quirkier details to bring each place to life. You'll find yourself thumbing through the book randomly, captivated by the images and wanting to learn more about the country to which they belong. It's also an excellent source of planning material, not so much for the details of assembling an itinerary but more for exploring proximity. Maps of the countries show their neighbours which can encourage a side trip as time allows. More of a 'dream book', inspiration guide - than an actual travel guide.
A very comprehensive and styles guide to planning and preparation for extended travel or GAP year. We love the layout, overview and details. The pictures are also great, the problem is it can be too formal at times and does not relax you into travel on one side, whilst glossing over many other grittier facts of travel in a tourist brochure manner in other ways.
Out of print and harder to find, but cheap second-hand copies float around Amazon. The bible of Asia overland travel. SE Asia sections now out of date (see update below), but rest still very good for off-the beaten track travel. Lots of hand drawn maps makes planning and finding real gems simplicity itself. Get this book even if seemingly completely out-of-date for some countries!
Out of print and harder to find, but cheap second-hand copies float around Amazon. An update of the above focusing on South East Asia. Many simple hand-drawn maps give you a snap shot view of highlights, travel times, transport options and hidden gems that Lonely Planeters will never find.
By the author of the popular Nomadic Matt site, the book like the site is both gimmicky and easy to read / useful. The major issue is it is aimed mostly at Americans. With extended details on how to earn points to get cheap flights (which in reality not actually add up). This does however have plenty of essentials like the basics of saving, budgeting, and planning. Much of the other information you will find on this site, but it is well presented and a nice (American centric) guide.
Aimed at long term travel. This is a fairly old title now and you will probably have to get just on kindle. Anyone who has ever thought about travelling, this book will make you go! Anyone who has ever been travelling, this book will make you want to go again and anyone who is travelling whilst reading this, this book will make you that bit more adventurous when ordering food in a cafe where a squat toilet is another eating area! It's definitely a case of if he can do it then so can I!
A quick and useful read for any traveller, covering the seemingly endless number of ways con artists have conceived to separate tourists from their money. The author - who has helped with this site - outlines the scams in detail and gives some useful tips on how to counter them (or avoid them all together).
Yearly directory aimed at 'Gapper' and students taking a year out with focus on main destinations, voluntary opportunities and working whist away. Since 2014, new editions are Kindle only.
Good motivator, neat layout with small chapters, same author as the virgin travellers guide.
This is not a book to look for practical tips and actual addresses and phone numbers of employers, but for a more generalised perspective of working around the world. Griffith focuses on subjects and situations that require common sense and courage- these come from within you. The rest of it, whether working in olive groves in Greece or picking strawberries in Denmark, depends completely on luck and your own flexibility/perseverance. In reality finding work abroad comes from learning some of the language, changing jobs often and having the emergency financial means to escape bad situations if they arise. In summary this book does not provide masses of specific contact details, but gives you inspiration and a good overview of where to go, what to do and where to start. The Council on International Educational Exchange's Work, Study, and Travel Abroad: The Whole World Handbook is another good tool for finding work, both paid and volunteer. CIEE also publishes Volunteer! The Comprehensive Guide to Voluntary Service in the U.S. and Abroad.
This book is the perfect accompaniment to basic knowledge. The book is well structured, well indexed and well written to it's easy to look things up quickly in the field. There are also masses of fantastic photographs that illustrate every technique and learning point. If you know what an aperture is and have a basic understanding of how that affects the light hitting the film/pixels in your camera then this book is highly recommended.
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"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."