Did you take the guidebooks with you?

If so, how many? I know this is a silly question, but I have 7 and I'm trying to choose which to take. Just curious about what others have done. Did you rip pages out or copy pages? I'd rather not do that, but it would be lighter. I leave later this week, and apparently I'm at that point where I'm over-analyzing everything.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24193 posts

Jessica, I usually take one or two Guidebooks for the areas that I'll be spending the most time in, supplemented by a few E-books on my iPhone and Netbook (for quick reference while out touring). However, I try to keep "hard copy" books to a minimum as I'd rather not haul them all over Europe on my back if I may only need them occasionally for reference. I have somewhat of an aversion to destroying perfectly good Guidebooks, and so far I've resisted the temptation to cut pages out. However, my Italy book has been "self destructing" on it's own, so I may try that technique this year, taking only the sections that I'll need. Cheers!

Posted by Karen
800 posts

Not a silly question! I love to buy the DK books when planning a trip because of all the pretty pictures but they are very heavy so I never actually take them with me. I like the Rick Steves guides but often I am only seeing a portion of "France" so I tear out the pages I don't need. We downloaded some onto a Kindle for our last trip and I had a hard time using it as we toured about. It was good to look things up back at the hotel but not the same as having a guide book with you to do a walking tour. Tear your book apart - the next time you go back you'll want an updated book!

Posted by Jessica
Oklahoma, Oklahoma, USA
34 posts

This was very helpful. Thank you! I've decided to take some pictures with my Ipad of a few pages of a couple of books, thanks to Jo's suggestion, and only bring 2 books with me. Eileen, you're right, "I should bring this just in case" has entered my mind 100 times this week. I guess I can always look things up online if I'm missing any info, or ask someone. Thanks again, everyone.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2030 posts

Such a tough question. I'm a guidebook junky, but I try to only take one physical guidebook with me - or sometimes I just take my kindle, although guidebooks on kindle is less than ideal in terms of flipping around, I appreciate saving the weight/space. I've ripped out pages before, but it's tough to do 'neatly'. I have a small moleskin notebook and if I have time before a trip I will write the addresses and info for attractions, restaurants, etc that various guidebooks have highlighted that sound good to me. (I also do this with apps on my smartphone in europe, but people coming from the states rarely have the option of affordable data with smartphones abroad, so moleskin it is!)

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1280 posts

Since we only get to cross the pond every second or third year, we spend a lot of time researching each trip and I buy several guidebooks which I often read instead of novels, highlighting all the interesting bits. When it's finally time to travel, I pack the travel guide that seems most useful - usually Rough Guide or Lonely Planet - then rip out the relevant sections of most of the other guidebooks, take those sections with us, and discard the sections as soon as I have completed the journal notes for that day....We have many bookshelves of "keeper" books, but the guidebooks are more like magazines or newspapers, not particularly useful after their "pull date.".....Last trip i put a couple of guidebooks on my kindle, but found that was not a convenient way to use travel guides - I want to be able to flip through them quickly.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2661 posts

I just got back from Italy. I had torn out sections of the RS guidebook. It was actually pretty easy to do, just break the back on the book, then they are stitched together so you can pull out what you need and paperclip them together. You can also go to Kinkos and they will cut off the back for you. What I didn't do, which I will next time, is to take the index as well! The sections worked well as I was going to 5 specific places and could just pull out those sections. If I were going to a place for a 2nd or 3rd visit, my strategy might be different to allow for more flexibility.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5691 posts

I just take photos of the pages I want with my i-pad. That way you don't have to rip them out, you only take the pages you need or maybe even just the paragraph that is important. Saves tons of space and weight.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1759 posts

We use Rough Guides for western Europe and Britain. Lonely Planet and Bradt worked best for us in Ukraine and a few other eastern European countries. We bought a Steves guide to Istanbul but didn't take it along. The ultimate guide for any one country is Philippines Travel Guide by Jens Peters. We should be so lucky as to have the equivalent for the rest of the world.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1841 posts

I'm a book junkie when I travel and when I'm home, but I try to take just one guidebook on trips. I went to Paris for a week with my sister last fall, and then she returned home and I went on to London for a week by myself. I took the RS Paris book so we could refer to it in the hotel. For the London portion of my trip, I brought notes I made about museums and other sights instead of bringing the whole book. Internet access really makes a difference in terms of how easy it is to look up transit info, museum info, restaurants, etc. I save all my guidebooks, even if they're years out of date. They're physical reminders of when I took certain trips, and I like looking at them on my bookshelf.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

Think long and hard about if you need to bring any guidebooks. If you only want the museum hours, take or copy only that page. If you want the Louvre museum tour, take only that part. Are your hotels already booked? Then you don't need hotel recommendations; if something dire happens to your reserved hotel, you can probably find another one just fine without carrying your book along for an unlikely just in case scenario. You don't need to carry Florence airport-to-Florence town center directions if you'll be arriving to Florence by train. If something bizarre happens and you DO need to arrive to Florence by airplane, you'll get to the city center just fine by asking for help. I've ripped pages out for years; just paper clip them together, then stick them back inside your guidebook when you get home. I don't want to lug 2 lbs of book around for 2-3 weeks from a $12 book; I'd rather replace the book once I returned home if a 'whole book' was important to me. Watch out for those 'just in case' urges! They prey upon travelers immediately before their trips ;-) Instead, focus on getting plenty of rest (because you have a l-o-n-g flight ahead of you), and simply look forward to enjoying the fruits of your months of planning! Relax! Have a fantastic trip!!!

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

You can also use an app called Genius scan to take pictures and make them into one .pdf. It exists for the iPhone so I assume it does for the iPad too... but my iPad is old and has no camera, so I am not sure.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2317 posts

I go to Europe every summer for a month for the last 10 years (soon to be 11) and during that time we take a RS tour - about to start on #11. We take the whole RS Guide Book for the area of our tour and not often a second one if we are spending time in a completely different area. We pack and travel light and the weight of the guide book does not preclude taking anything else. Time and again we have referred to his guide books for additional information that we did not know about before we left home. I see in the mailings from the RS Tour Desk related to our upcoming tour of Adriatic that they suggest we bring our entire guide book because we will be using it along with the guide on that tour. We also save one copy of each guide book, some of which are not RS, for our library so I would hate to rip one up.

Posted by Richard
Lafayette, LA, USA
164 posts

Good question. I will tear out sections of the RS guides that I need because I depend on them more than other guides for current information such as hours of operation, museum closures, and so forth; because they are not hard cover; and because they do not contain photographs and are not visually attractive. I will then bring one travel book for any city or country where I will be spending an extensive period of time. For example, next year I am hoping to take a Baltic cruise with the possibility of extra time in Berlin. I likely will take the chapters out of the RS books on Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin and Tallinn; one book on St. Petersburg; one book on Germany; and notes I have made.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14158 posts

I read my guidebooks before I go, save any important information on my netbook, then leave the guidebook at home.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5072 posts

Hi, I usually bring a copy from the Let's Go series, most likely Let's Go Paris. If I bring another guide, it's from Rough Guide. Two books max, it's enough.

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
961 posts

I carefully cut out the pages I need and keep them in a plastic sleeve while travelling. When I get home, I put them back in the book. Alternatively, if it's somewhere I know I'll only visit once, I take the book and leave it there when I leave, so someone else can benefit from it.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
398 posts

We spend about five weeks two times a year in Europe combining tours with personal travel. We always take RS guidebooks, but I first take them to a FEDEX Office and have them cut the spine off. I take the book home and remove all of the unnecessary pages and return it to FEDEX to be spiral bound. As we travel, I tear pages out, put some things in my journal and toss the rest. I come home with no book. When we go on tours, we get two copies of the books, so there's a new one waiting for me at home.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
398 posts

Sorry, I should have mentioned that this only costs $2-$3 to have the spine cut off and the spiral binding put on.

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1280 posts

Here's a no-cost way to do what Nancy suggests: bend the book covers completely back on themselves (in other words, the front cover is touching the back cover.) Repeat a few times if necessary, until you break the spine. If the book is glue bound, you should be able to slowly pull apart the sections. If it is sewn, you may need to use an exacto-knife. Pull out the unwanted pages, fasten the remainder together with a binder clip, then discard as you go.

Posted by ir Kent 2
Kingston, ON, Canada
97 posts

I use an iPad edition. I read and highlight all relevant information. Usually don't have any problem finding the information on the move. Just my 5 cents. ;-)

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2396 posts

I take a lot of content on my tablet/notebook. Apps are awesome for that. Since I've got one, I no longer carry any printed guidebook, they are relics of the past.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8196 posts

To keep things light, I take pieces of one or two guidebooks. I typically cut through the spine with a sharp knife on a cutting board, put a staple or paper clip in one corner, and put the section in a zip-lock bag. As I finish with a section during my trip I discard the section I'll no longer use and recycle the zip-lock bag. I don't worry about saving the book; like any periodical, it's out of date the next time you would use it.

Posted by Debbie
West Islip, New York, USA
26 posts

Check the RS website under travel accessories- there is a new product called -guide book binder. I saw someone with it in Spain last month. It allows you to take out the pages from RS books and put them in a plastic covered binder with a spine that just slides on. I thought it was a great idea. You can change your pages based on where you are. Will be getting this for my next trip! Only $2.99.

Posted by Becky
Woodinville, WA
83 posts

We were in Europe for three weeks in May, and we had the same dilemma. We did a lot of research before we left (i.e., easily 25 books on France, Rome, Florence, Italy, Switzerland, etc.), and it was very hard to decide what to bring or not. We ended up bringing Rick Steves' pocket Paris and Rome (they are great--small and light and packed with information!), and we got the Ipad mini version or RS Italy, and we brought RS Switzerland. We also brought a small guide on family travel in Rome and Paris (wish we hadn't--they weren't helpful!). I didn't like the e-book as well, but it was good to have the information. We didn't rip up the books either, but that could be a very effective option. I like the Lonely Planet Guides, DK Guides, and the Family Guides for Italy and France (if you are a family), but the guides we used the most were the RS Guides. You could create your own mini-book of pages very easily. Good luck!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6567 posts

I keep all my guide books whole. My friends do to and we often lend to each other. They really don't go out of date very quickly. Most sites have been around for a really long time, after all :-) I always check websites for opening hours and fees. I don't generally use the guide books for restaurants or hotels. If there's something that sounds good, I'll check it out on the internet. I make lots of notes on Word docs while I'm planning and will print those out and take them with me. I make a chart (I love Excel) with all the opening times, prices, etc., for each attraction that I am interested in. Then I'll photocopy a few pages from books for specific sites or walking tours. I keep a separate plastic sheet protector for each place, including hotel reservations, tickets, maps, and discard as I go along. I will take one (well, sometimes two) guide books with me if I'm going to spend a lot of time in one place and there are several walking tours or other descriptions that I think will be very useful. It's usually a DK book, since they are heavy on sightseeing and very light on other stuff. RS books aren't sold here, so I haven't used them much. I just got his book on Istanbul for my (hopefully, if all hell doesn't break loose) trip there in October. Half the book is walking tours, so I plan to take it with me and carry it around every day.

Posted by Denise
San Antonio, TX
111 posts

I take one or parts of one RS guidebook. My downfall is that I buy guide books THERE and have to lug them back. Each time I tell myself I will not do it again, each time I do it anyway.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

My downfall is that I buy guide books THERE and have to lug them back. Each time I tell myself I will not do it again, each time I do it anyway. I know that feeling so well. I finally broke the habit, but I went through withdrawal symptoms and I still occasionally backslide. Recovery is ongoing and I have to constantly talk myself down. Many tines I have queued at a bookshop cash register, then retreated and put the book back on the shelf when I reminded myself that I still had 10+ days left in my trip and did I really want to be lugging that extra weight around.