The Destination

There are some pretty universal water cooler topics that make the world go round, no matter how obnoxious your coworker, buddy’s girlfriend, or in-laws may be. Reality television. The weather. And travel. Although some people aren’t so keen on the world of travel, or hearing about it, the vast majority are, especially if you’re someone who goes on interesting trips – like say, a four-month trek through Asia, a snorkelling trip in the Galapagos, or a safari in Africa. Chances are if you know someone well enough to make small talk, you know them well enough to know what trips they’re planning in the upcoming year, and therefore, what travel books you can purchase them as an easy, thoughtful gift.

There are many travel book companies out there, Frommer’s being one of the most well-known. They offer quite possibly the largest range of books, including ‘complete guides’ to cities, states, countries, and regions. Beyond that you can also pick up books on road trips, trips with kids, cruises, free & dirt cheap, and special travel aids like phrase books to help when you’re in a foreign country.

They also have a slightly more coffee table-esque series called ‘500 Places’ that is customized to different interests – if you know a foodie or a wino, try the ‘500 Places For Food & Wine Lovers’. Or grab a book from the ‘Born To Shop’ series to treat the fashionista in your life to a detailed guide of the ins and outs of shopping in Milan, New York, or Hong Kong.

Another major player in the travel book market is Lonely Planet. Like Frommer’s, they offer you country, multi-country, and city guides – but they also offer different variations in terms of how in-depth you want to get with a place. If your friend is moving to Argentina, you’ll probably want the ‘Region Guide’, an in-depth dictionary-sized look at the country and surrounding nations, or the ‘Country Guide’ for a close-up of a specific spot. Alternatively if your friend just wants to hit the highlights of London or have a purse-friendly copy on hand, go for the lightweight ‘Discover’ or ‘Encounter’ versions.

Lonely Planet also has something they call ‘Trips Guides’, offering dozens of trip ideas depending on what region of the US of A you’d like to explore (as Canadians, it’s pretty much a rite of passage to do a few American road trips in your life). I myself am coveting the New England trips one, as I really have no clue what I’d like to see in Vermont…I’m hoping the book could point me in the right direction!

Regardless of what company you go with, head down to your local bookstore and peruse the shelves for the ultimate guides to any destination. Your friend will thank you for the overall practicality of the thing, and it might even translate into getting a treasure from their travels abroad – in exchange for your attentiveness as they show you the 423 photos they took!

One final note – travel guidebooks are equally helpful for someone who is moving. I’m not saying buy your friend that’s moving to Toronto a Toronto guidebook (although not a terrible idea – the only irrelevant part will be the hotels), but maybe a guide to Montreal, the Great Lakes region, or some nearby States that have some appeal.

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