Thursday, May 6, 2010

Books to help you plan your next getaway

I don't know about you, but I find myself daydreaming about my next vacation a lot these beautiful spring days.

If I had $30 to spend on one of the travel guides listed below (reviewed by The Associated Press), I’d go for Frommer’s Italy or Ireland day by day. It would help to have travel plans to Italy or Ireland first. Well, I certainly have the plans … (wishes, dreams, desires).

Frommer’s books, in my opinion, always offer a pretty accurate and helpful take on local cuisine, local spots worth seeing, and hotels, and they all have a helpful pullout map. (I’ve used the guides for San Francisco, Boston and Montreal).

The new "500 Adrenaline Adventures" sounds pretty cool, too (and a bargain at only $20). Lonely Planet’s books are fun as well.

You could probably save yourself a few bucks (to add to the travel kitty) by checking these out from your local library, borrowing from friends or hitting up the local used bookstore.

New travel guides, from Lonely Planet to luxury

By Beth J. Harpaz
AP Travel Editor

NEW YORK — Spring is the time when many travelers plan their biggest vacations of the year: Leisurely road trips, family getaways with kids out of school, travel abroad during the peak summer season. Here are some of the new guidebook releases from this season to inspire you and help plan your itineraries. They include titles from Lonely Planet, Frommer's, DK Eyewitness, a luxury hotel group, and Budget Travel.

LONELY PLANET'S DISCOVER SERIES: Once upon a time, the stereotypical Lonely Planet reader was an adventurous young backpacker on a budget, ready to rough it and explore. But today Lonely Planet fans include older travelers, travelers who do not mind spending more for comfort, and travelers looking for advice about basics and must-sees, not just offbeat adventures.

To cater to this audience, Lonely Planet has launched a new series called "Discover," with thick $25 paperback books just released on Australia, France, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain and Thailand. The books are ideal for planning one- to two-week trips.

"Discover Europe" will be added to the series Monday.

The full-color books include maps, best-of lists, recommendations for a variety of budgets, tips from locals on visiting major attractions and suggested itineraries organized by region, theme and length of trip. One especially nice touch: "If You Like" features direct readers to less well-known attractions by comparing them to better-known places. For example, the Venice section of the Italy guide says that "If you like the masterpieces of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, we think you'll like these other modern art gems," and it goes on to list Ca' Pesaro and Museo della Fondazione Querini Stampalia.

FROMMER'S DAY BY DAY GUIDES: Frommer's "Day by Day" city guides have been among the brand's best-selling books for years. This year, Frommer's launched full-size "Day by Day" guides to countries, states and other large regions. The full-color books are itinerary-based, include more than 100 maps and a pocket with a large pullout map, and are filled with photos.
"Frommer's Italy Day by Day," ''Frommer's Ireland Day by Day" and "Frommer's Hawaii Day by Day" are available now, while Costa Rica and Spain are due out in October.

The guides, all under $30, include easy-to-use features like what to see if you have a day, three days or a week, and "best-of" lists for lodging, dining and shopping. The Ireland guide, for example, includes a list of favorite moments (taking afternoon tea at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, visiting the Giant's Causeway to north, and seeing the murals of the Belfast peace wall), along with a list of favorite small towns (Carlingford, Inistioge, Kinsale, Kenmare, Dingle).
Also new from Frommer's is "500 Adrenaline Adventures," providing inspiration for daredevils, geeks and other travelers with a taste for unusual, wacky and heart-racing experiences. Among the ideas listed in the $20 paperback: ziplining, wildlife encounters, extreme eating contests, like the famous Coney Island hot dog competition, and the annual Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Race in England.

DK EYEWITNESS TRAVEL'S BACK ROADS: Road trips are a beloved way to explore America, but DK Eyewitness Travel has launched a new series this spring to inspire road trips in Europe. The "Back Roads" series includes guides to France, Italy, Britain, Ireland and Spain. Each $25 paperback describes two dozen "leisurely drives" designed to take anywhere from a day to a week.

Tours outlined in the France book, for example, include the Alsace wine route, Obernai to Eguisheim; the Champagne route, Reims to Montagne de Reims; Normandy, from Giverny to Varengeville-sur-Mer; and the Pyrenees, from Collioure to St-Jean-de-Luz in the Basque country.

Other features include mapped itineraries with highlights, detours and activities; "where the locals go" listings of small hotels and restaurants with regional cuisine; a pullout country map; zip codes to make it easy to coordinate the text with a GPS; and practical information on driving conditions, road signs and parking.

LUXURY COLLECTION DESTINATION GUIDES: This set of six paperbacks from The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, a group of more than 70 hotels and resorts in 30 countries, includes guides to India, Italy, the United States, Spain, Argentina and Greece. The slim paperbacks do not offer the detailed content of traditional travel guides but do have lush photographs, inspirational quotes and a few pages of highlights listing select museums, cultural institutions, shops and restaurants in each destination.

Each guide also includes commentary from celebrity chefs, with Mario Batali providing his thoughts on Italy, including a recipe for tortelloni with sage butter and his recommendations for favorite restaurants: Cibreo and Teatro del Sale in Florence; Al Covo, Da Fiore and Lina d'Ombra in Venice, and Ristorante Matricianella, Roscioli, Antico Forno and Checchino in Rome.
The set of six, packaged in a beautiful oversized box, costs $140. The books will be available in Luxury Collection guest rooms, in Assouline Boutiques in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, and online at and other retailers.

THE SMART FAMILY'S PASSPORT: This book from Budget Travel, $14.95, is subtitled "350 Money, Time & Sanity Saving tips." Among the suggestions: Bring powdered iced-tea or fruit-punch packets to theme parks and add them to cups of water to save money on expensive drinks; find out if a membership to your local museum has reciprocal privileges at other institutions where you can get in free when you travel; and make your own picture dictionary. That way, if you do not know a foreign word for bathroom or taxi, you can get help from a local wherever you are just by pulling up the picture of the object on your phone or camera.

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