A short history of travel guidebooks and why they matter more than ever

As independent travel publishers everywhere struggle in the face of covid-19, decorated adventurer and bradt guides founder hilary bradt reflects on the travel guide genre — and what you can do to help it survive..

a solo hiker follows the Inca Trail leading to the ruined citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru.

Bradt Guides launched in the mid-1970s with Backpacking Along Ancient Ways in Peru and Bolivia,  a title based on Hilary's and her then-husband's intrepid travels in Latin America .  Since then, Bradt Guides have independently published hundreds of guidebooks, often giving much-needed coverage to undertouristed regions. Here, a solo hiker follows the Inca Trail leading to the ruined citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru.

The days when we could travel anywhere we wanted, almost at whim, seem like a distant and beautiful memory. Now even a few miles from our home feels like a foreign country. So, for now, the written word has become our virtual reality and has the power to transport us to those places we know we’ll journey to once this crisis is over.

I’d like to share the story of the early days of adventure travel publishing, how Bradt Guides came to be established, and how our approach to travel has shaped a generation of explorers — and how, without your continued support, this global crisis might see this work come to an end. 

It was the 1970s, and George — my then-husband — and I were looking for a publisher for the next edition of our little guide, Backpacking Along Ancient Ways in Peru and Bolivia . We met with the man who was then the leading travel publisher in Britain.

“No, this isn’t for us; it’s too specialised,” he told us. Our description of five hiking trails with off-the-beaten-track recommendations and thoughtful asides on local customs weren’t the sort of things he was interested in. “But I would publish a more mainstream guide to Peru if you’ll write it.”

Hilary Bradt

Hilary Bradt founded Bradt Guides in 1974 with her then-husband, George. Half a century on, the company is one of the country's leading independent travel publishers. 

“But we can’t afford to go back there again,” I replied.

His attitude was cavalier: “That’s all right,” he said. “Just get some brochures from the tourist office and use those.”

And that’s why I ended up becoming a publisher myself. Guidebook writing is serious stuff, and good authors have an obsession with portraying the country they love with passion, accuracy and individuality.

The 1970s was a wonderful time for travellers, with three long-enduring companies starting up. Tony and Maureen Wheeler produced 94 stapled pages of Across Asia on the Cheap in 1973, the same year Bill Dalton put together A traveller’s Notes: Indonesia to sell at a music festival. A year later, George and I sat in our hammocks on a river barge in Bolivia to write up our long-distance hikes in the region, including a walk along an old Inca Trail into Machu Picchu.

We all had one aim: to share our travel discoveries with like-minded young people. We settled in our respective parts of the world — the Wheelers in Melbourne, Bill in California, and George and me in England — and started three successful publishing companies: Lonely Planet, Moon and Bradt, respectively. No financing, no business plan — just an intimate knowledge of our subject and the market. And it worked. Our inexpensive guides were bought by budget travellers relishing the new-found freedom of easy travel and lightweight equipment, with the early editions selling enough copies to fund the next book.  

“By buying a guidebook now, when you have ample time to digest it, you’ll be able to plan your next trip knowing you’ve done your bit for the people in those countries that depend on you.”

Lonely Planet, Moon and Bradt are still around nearly 50 years later. Bradt — still owned by its founder — is suddenly facing extinction as a small independent company. We’d survived ‘the death of the guidebook’ predicted by doom-mongers at the dawn of the digital age and were flying high, still following our original ethos of publishing the sort of books that make a real difference, not just to the traveller but to the country described. (As I step back from the day-to-day running of the company, this is the legacy I’m most proud of.) But this pandemic and the ensuing downturn in the purchasing of travel guides looks to threaten what we’ve built, with far-reaching implications. 

Throughout the decades, we’ve largely focused on unique destinations: places that aren’t covered by other publishers, countries with dodgy politics but wonderful wildlife or scenery, and war-torn nations that need the self-esteem a good guidebook brings. Rwanda is a good example: the president himself congratulated the authors on their role in bringing his country back to prosperity following the genocide.

Small local businesses that rely on guidebooks to tell visitors that they exist would suffer if these sources of information disappear. But that’s not all; we detail charities that welcome tourist visits (and, of course, donations). A children’s centre in Namibia is a case in point. I recently received an email from the its (now former) director, MaryBeth Gallagher, which read:

“I cannot tell you how many visitors and donations we receive because of your guidebook! And it’s been 10 years since you visited us!”

Because it’s the destinations, as well as you travellers, who dream of the holidays you’ll enjoy when this is all over. By buying a guidebook now, when you have ample time to digest it, you’ll be able to plan your next trip knowing you’ve done your bit for the people in those countries that depend on you.

Bradt Guides is offering a minimum of 50% off all books, e-books and gift vouchers on its website. To claim your discount, visit bradtguides.com/shop and enter code DREAM50 at checkout.

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definition of travel guides

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For Travel Writers with an Independent Spirit

Types of Travel Guide #1: The Destination Travel Guide

types of Travel Guide No1 Destination How to Write and Self-Publish a Travel Guide Jay Artale

All about The Destination Travel Guide

How to Write and Self Publish a Travel Guide Grid 4 books

Destination guides should inspire your reader. If they have already booked their tickets, your Destination Guide should give them peace of mind they’ve chosen the right location.

Definition of a Destination Travel Guide

Destination guides are the most popular type of travel guidebook, and there are different ways to approach them. They tend to be more fact-oriented than narrative, and although most are written in the first person, the majority of the content positions the writer as the neutral observer rather than an active participant.

Bear in mind though, your destination guide can’t just be facts and figures. It also needs to include a human perspective so that your readers have something to connect with. It may be something as simple as giving them the confidence to explore the area for themselves.

Whether your travel guide covers a city (London, Paris, Munich, etc.), a country (Mexico, Brazil, Australia, etc.), or a specific geographic region (Europe, South America, etc.), it needs to be clear to your reader. They need to know what they’re getting when they buy your book, which means you need to be clear about your intent.

A destination travel guide tends to be more fact-oriented than narrative. Although some of it may be written in the first person, the majority of the content positions the writer as the neutral observer rather than an active participant.

How to Write a Travel Guide: Destination Guide by Jay Artale

Bear in mind though, that your destination guide can’t just be facts and figures. It also needs to include a human perspective so that you readers have something to connect with. It may be something as simple as giving them the confidence to explore the area for themselves. We’ll cover how to evoke an emotional response in your audience in a later article.

Destination Guide Focus

Whether your travel guide is going to cover a country, city or specific geographic area, it needs to be clear to your reader. They need to know what they’re getting when they buy your book. So in turn, that means you need to be clear about your intent.

Here’s some examples of some destination guide titles:

  • Sightseeing Tour of London
  • A Weekend in Venice
  • Eat, Sleep & Play in Europe
  • Top 10 cities in France

Each of these destination guides has a scope that implies the content, but there’s still questions about the level of detail they contain.

For examples – in the Sightseeing Tour of London – there are so many sights to see in England’s capital city that you may decide you only want to focus on historical sites or royal sites to narrow the focus. Or you could expand the focus of your book by including places to eat and drink nearby.

When you write your own Destination Travel Guide “what to leave out” is actually more difficult than deciding what to include.

Scope of your Destination Guide

The geographic area you plan on covering can help to define how much detail you go into. Obviously, if you choose a town or small destination you can go into a lot more detail. If you choose a larger destination you won’t be able to include every single snippet of information. If you try, you will end up with a draft the size of War and Peace.

Destination Travel Guide Examples

Take a look at these Lonely Planet Destination Guide  examples below which includes country guides, a city guide, and a combination country guide. Lonely Planet guide books are packed with information. They include a little bit of everything and cover each topic you would expect in a destination guide, but don’t cover all of them in-depth. They’ve found a happy medium between too-much and not enough.

How to Write a Destination Travel Guide by Jay Artale

London Villages: Explore the City’s Best Local Neighbourhoods was written by Zena Alkayat and Jenny Seddon and offers an intimate view of the UK’s capital city, highlighting the small, locally-known enclaves of independent shops, cafés and public spaces that give the capital its inimitable character.

  • London Villages: Explore the City’s Best Local Neighbourhoods

Rick Steves’ Pocket Venice is a compact 280-page book that includes Rick’s advice for prioritizing your time, whether you’re spending 1 or 7 days in the city. It has everything a busy traveler needs, including a neighborhood overview, city walks, tours, sights, handy food and accommodations charts, and an appendix packed with information on trip planning and practicalities.

  • Rick Steves’ Pocket Venice

Europe by Eurail 2017: Touring Europe by Train written by Laverne Ferguson-Kosinski is a comprehensive guide that provides the latest information on fares, schedules, and pass options, as well as detailed information on more than one hundred specific rail excursions. It also includes sample rail-tour itineraries combining several base cities and day excursions into fifteen-day rail-tour packages complete with hotel recommendations and sightseeing options.

  • Europe by Eurail 2017: Touring Europe by Train

South-East Asia Travel Guide Package: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia Travel Guides is a box set of guides written by Hoang Pham. He provides an introduction to each of these neighboring countries and explains how they are different from each other, and what cultural traditions overlap. It includes eating, getting around, what to do, and bucket list items.

  • South-East Asia Travel Guide Package: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia Travel Guides

Each of these destination guides has a scope that implies the content. When writing a destination travel guide, what to leave out is more difficult than deciding what to include. The geographic area you plan on covering can help to define how much detail you include. Obviously, if you choose a town or small destination, you can go into a lot more detail.

If you choose a larger destination, you won’t be able to list every single snippet of information. If you try, you will end up with a draft the size of War and Peace.

Considerations when planning your travel guide

When you plan your destination guide, you should consider the following:

  • Should I cover a little bit of everything ?
  • Should I narrow down my focus to a specific topic ?
  • Should I combine these two approaches ? (e.g. focus on a few things in detail and cover the rest more broadly)

If you plan on writing an all-inclusive destination guide, consider the length and attention span of your reader. Do you really want to include everything, in minute detail?

If the answer is a resounding “yes” – you could opt to break your destination guide into multiple segments and write a series of books instead.

Destination guides can include full details about accommodation, restaurants, transportation, and sightseeing activities. They can also feature historical, cultural or general travel tips. This reference-type information is valuable when making travel arrangements as well as while you are on a trip.

Destination guides should inspire your reader. If they’ve already booked their tickets, your destination guide could confirm they’ve chosen the right destination. Examples of destination guides are Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Frommer’s and Insight Guides.

Important last note, the information in your destination travel guide must be updated regularly to keep it current.

Want to learn about the other types of travel guides ? Here’s the full list of this article series:

  • Type of Travel Guide #1: Destination Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #2: Side Trip Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #3: Journey Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #4: Special Interest Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #5: Event Specific Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #6: Expat Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #7: Culinary Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #8: Advice Travel Guide
  • Type of Travel Guide #9: Reporting Travel Guide  ** coming soon

In addition to these articles, I also wrote the following articles about writing a Local Travel Guide (which is a sub-genre of special interest travel guides):

  • Think Local, Share Global: Writing a Local Travel Guide Pt.1
  • Think Local, Share Global: Local Travel Guides Pt.2

Read more articles in my How to Write a Travel Guide Series

I’m putting the finishing touches on my  How to Write and Self-Publish a Travel Guide Series , which details a step by step approach for writing and producing your own travel guide. It’s part of a four-part series aimed at helping travel bloggers achieve passive income based on their passions and existing content.

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Each month I host a monthly free prize draw and give away a travel writing e-book to the lucky winner. Sign up to join my mailing list to participate.

If you’re a travel blogger who wants to turn their travel blog into an ebook or paperback destination guide, leave me a comment below.

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Author: Jay Artale

5 thoughts on “ types of travel guide #1: the destination travel guide ”.

I’m sure this post gets lots of visits because this has to be the most popular type of travel guide to write. To be honest, I thought it was the only type of guide, so gonna read your other posts in this series to find out more about the other.

This is an interesting article which really helped me. I was struggling to start my travel guide for couple of month and finally got an idea. Thank you very much for the tips.

These have got to be the most popular types of guides to write. but the competition is fierce so the quality has to be high.

Thanks for sharing the information about Ingram Spark. I’ve heard of Lulu before but not explore Ingram.

As far as I can tell, Lulu is great if you want to print spiral bound books, but Ingram has such a wide distribution spread that it makes it a good option.

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I abandoned my corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer, and now run Birds of a Feather Press to help other writers become authors. I also write about my travels on my personal blog Roving Jay: Nomadic Adventures in Wonderland – without the rose-tinted glasses

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What Does a Tour Guide Do?

How do you make your travels more memorable? Let's talk about tour guides, the unsung heroes of every great trip.

A tour guide makes up 85% of what travelers think about a tour. So, if you're running a travel business and want to improve customer satisfaction, start by hiring and/or training great tour guides.

In this guide, we'll explore what makes a great tour guide. We'll look at the skills they should have, like sharing knowledge, ensuring safety, respecting local cultures, and caring for the environment.

How important are tour guides?

Travel guides are the heartbeat of the industry. They turn simple trips into unforgettable experiences by blending stories, culture, and adventure.

These guides do more than just show the way. Whether it's leading a tour through ancient ruins, leading a wildlife safari, or guiding you through a city, they connect people with the world.

So what do they do? We've got 10 key things tourist guides should practice and be trained in.  

What does a tour guide do?

1. provides information.

what a tour guide do, storytelling skill

A tour guide's superpower is sharing fascinating information. They don't just show places; they bring them to life with stories about history, culture, and more.

Imagine exploring an ancient site while your guide unveils its secrets, from architectural marvels to dramatic historical tales.

  • Why It Matters: This storytelling turns a regular trip into an unforgettable journey. It's the difference between just looking at old stones and feeling the pulse of history beneath your feet. Tourists carry these stories home, making their experience richer and more meaningful.
  • The Risk of Falling Short: A guide who can't weave these tales leaves travelers with just snapshots, not stories. It turns an adventure into just another walk, leading to disappointment and forgettable trips. For a travel business, this means unhappy customers and a reputation that takes a nosedive.

2. Guarantees guest safety

safety gears, hiking tours

At the core of a tour guide's responsibilities is ensuring the safety and well-being of guests. This includes sticking to safety protocols, guiding guests during activities, and handling emergencies effectively.

Take a wilderness hike, for example. A skilled guide not only checks that everyone has the right gear but also clearly explains safety rules. If a hiker twists an ankle on a tricky trail, a guide's quick response is crucial.

  • Why Safety is Key: Safety is the foundation of a successful tour. A guide's ability to manage risks and respond to emergencies not only protects the guests but also builds trust. This trust is essential for an enjoyable and worry-free experience.
  • The Consequences of Neglect: Ignoring safety can lead to serious consequences. A lapse in safety measures might result in accidents or emergencies, tarnishing the tour experience and the reputation of the travel business. In the world of travel, a safe journey is as important as an enjoyable one.

3. Manages itinerary

itinerary management, calendar

A tour guide's ability to organize and execute a tour itinerary is vital. This involves scheduling activities, coordinating transport, and managing time effectively to guarantee a seamless experience.

Consider a multi-day city tour. Here, the guide carefully plans each day, arranging museum visits, landmark tours, and dining experiences, all while balancing the group's time to maximize their enjoyment.

  • Why it matters: Efficient itinerary management is the backbone of a smooth tour. It ensures that every experience is woven seamlessly into the journey, giving guests a well-rounded and hassle-free experience.
  • The impact of poor management: If a guide mismanages the itinerary, the tour can turn chaotic, leading to missed opportunities and dissatisfaction. Timely and organized execution is key to keeping the tour on track and ensuring that every moment counts for the guests.

4. Knows how to engage guests

good customer engagement skills

A tour guide's skill at engaging with guests, answering their questions, and offering enlightening insights plays a big role in enhancing the tour experience.

Imagine a wildlife safari where the guide doesn't just point out animals but passionately describes their habits and habitats. They encourage questions, sparking a deeper connection between the tourists and the wildlife around them.

  • Why engagement matters: Effective engagement transforms a standard tour into an interactive journey. It's not just about seeing; it's about understanding and connecting. When a guide is interactive, it elevates the tourists' enjoyment and enriches their learning.
  • The downside of disengagement: A guide who lacks this ability may leave guests feeling disconnected and uninvolved. Engagement is key to keeping the experience lively, educational, and memorable. Without it, even the most exotic tour can feel flat and unimpressive.

5. Speaks local

local language, foreign guests

A tour guide's proficiency in the local language, coupled with their ability to translate or interpret for non-native speakers, is crucial for a smooth tour experience.

For instance, in a foreign country, a skilled guide not only fluently translates the tour explanations but also bridges the gap in conversations between tourists and locals. This ensures clear and effective communication throughout the journey.

  • Why language skills are vital: Being fluent in the local language is more than just about communication; it's about connection. It helps in accurately conveying the essence of culture and history, and in facilitating meaningful interactions with locals.
  • The impact of language barriers: Without strong language skills, misunderstandings can occur, potentially leading to a less fulfilling experience for the tourists. A guide's ability to speak the local language fluently is key to a seamless and enriching travel experience.

6. Excels at tour planning and logistics

logistics and tour planning skills

A tour guide's role in overseeing and executing the logistical aspects of a tour is crucial. This includes arranging accommodations, meals, permits, and tickets, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Take a cruise excursion as an example. Here, the guide handles all the details, from coordinating transport from the ship to securing attraction tickets. He also organizes a picnic lunch for the group.

  • Why it matters: Efficient planning ensures that every aspect of the tour is hassle-free for guests. It's about providing a seamless experience where tourists can focus on enjoying their adventure, not worrying about the details.
  • The consequences of poor planning: Poor planning can lead to logistical mishaps, inconvenience, and frustration. A tour guide's skill in managing these details is essential for a successful and enjoyable tour, enhancing the overall travel experience.

7. Respects cultural aspects & beliefs

definition of travel guides

Tour guides' ability to promote cultural respect and sensitivity among tourists is pivotal. It involves ensuring tourists appreciate and follow local customs and traditions.

For example, on a cultural heritage tour, the guide might encourage visitors to remove their shoes before entering a sacred temple. This reinforces the importance of respecting local practices.

  • Why it matters: Respecting cultural norms is the key to an immersive and respectful travel experience. It helps tourists connect more deeply with the places they visit and fosters mutual understanding between different cultures.
  • The impact of cultural insensitivity: Lack of cultural respect can lead to uncomfortable situations and offend local communities. A guide's role in educating and guiding tourists about these aspects is critical for maintaining harmony and enhancing the overall quality of the tour.

8. Promotes sustainability

sustainability in tours

A tour guide's commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices is crucial. This includes educating tourists on proper waste disposal and minimizing their impact on the natural environment.  

Consider a nature hike: a knowledgeable guide leads the way and teaches the group about preserving the ecosystem. They emphasize the importance of leaving no trace, like avoiding littering, to protect the environment.

  • Why sustainability matters: Encouraging sustainability is vital for protecting the places we love to visit. It ensures that these destinations remain pristine and enjoyable for future generations. Responsible practices reflect a commitment to the environment and local communities.
  • The risks of ignoring sustainability: Neglecting sustainable practices can lead to environmental degradation, disrupting natural balance and diminishing tourist destinations. A guide's role in promoting sustainability is key to maintaining our natural and cultural treasures.

9. Handles the unexpected with ease

good tour guide in emergency situations, weather changes

Tour guides' ability to handle unexpected challenges, like weather disruptions or participant concerns, is critical.

Imagine a sudden rainstorm hitting during an outdoor activity. An adept guide doesn't just find shelter; they swiftly rearrange the schedule to adapt to the new conditions, ensuring the tour continues smoothly.

  • Why it matters: The unexpected is part of travel, and a guide's readiness to tackle these surprises head-on can make or break the tour experience. Their quick thinking and problem-solving skills keep the adventure on track, providing peace of mind for tourists.
  • The impact of unpreparedness: If a guide cannot manage unforeseen events effectively, it can lead to disarray and disappointment. Being equipped to handle the unexpected is essential for maintaining the flow and enjoyment of the tour, no matter what comes your way.

10. Good record-keeper

record keeping

Tour guides' skill in maintaining accurate records of tour-related information, including attendance, expenses, and incidents, is vital. Utilizing an online booking system enhances this process significantly, offering ease and precision in record-keeping.

Consider a guided photography tour. With an online system, the guide can efficiently log participant details, track locations visited, and note special photographic moments. This streamlines organization and provides participants with a detailed account of their experience.

  • Why it matters: Online booking systems bring efficiency and accuracy to record-keeping. They simplify data management, making it easier to track and update tour details, leading to better planning and execution. For guests, these records can become cherished summaries of their journey.
  • The downside of manual record-keeping: Relying solely on manual methods can lead to errors and oversights, potentially affecting the tour’s smooth operation and perceived professionalism.

An online system mitigates these risks, ensuring records are up-to-date and easily accessible. This digital approach is a significant advantage for both tour guides and operators in delivering a high-quality travel experience.

To sum up, tour guides are much more than just travel facilitators; they are the architects of unforgettable experiences. Their expertise in delivering engaging information, prioritizing safety, seamlessly managing itineraries, and promoting cultural sensitivity transforms a mere trip into an enriching journey.

In recognizing the invaluable role of tour guides, we see them as essential guides to the world's marvels. They bring depth, safety, and insight to every adventure. They are the bridge connecting curious travelers to the wonders around them, making each journey not just a visit, but a story worth telling.

As we applaud these unsung heroes of travel, we understand that their skills and passion truly open the doors to the world's treasures for us all.

FAQ Section

What are the duties of a tourist guide.

Tourist guides provide guidance and extensive knowledge of local history, attractions, and archaeological sites while entertaining their visitors. They ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations, manage the itinerary, and provide assistance in emergencies. Tour guides educate and interact with clients, making each destination more interesting and engaging.  

What do tour guides do daily in their tour guide jobs?

Tour guides conduct walking tours and guided tours, often in art galleries, historical sites, or remote locations. They research and plan each tour, ensuring they have extensive knowledge to share.  

Tour guides work confidently with clients, answer questions, and provide engaging and educational experiences. They also coordinate with tour companies and ensure safety practices are upheld.

Is tour guiding a hard career?

Tour guiding as a career can be demanding but also rewarding. It requires confidence in public speaking, proficiency in the English language, and the ability to teach and entertain in an interesting manner.

Tour guides must be adaptable to handle various sites and situations, from busy city tours to remote locations. It's a job that involves constant learning and interaction, making it a good fit for those who enjoy teaching and exploring.

How much does a tour guide make per tour in tour guide jobs?

Tour guide jobs earn vary. Tour guides work for tour companies or as freelancers and are often paid per tour, with rates depending on the tour's length, destination, and the guide's experience.  

Guides may also receive tips from clients for providing excellent service. Additionally, online resources and tour operator platforms can offer avenues for tour guides to find more clients and establish a stable income. Research and understanding of the local market are key to estimating potential earnings in this career.

What qualifications or training are typically required to become a tour guide?

Qualifications and training requirements can vary by location and the type of tours offered. Tour guides may benefit from formal education in tourism or related fields, as well as relevant certifications or licenses.

Training often includes developing communication skills, knowledge of the tour's subject matter, and practical guidance on leading tours.

How do tour guides handle unexpected challenges or emergencies during a tour?

Tour guides are trained to handle a variety of situations, including emergencies. They may have contingency plans in place, such as knowing the nearest medical facilities or alternate routes in case of road closures.

Communication with tour participants and swift, calm decision-making are essential skills for addressing unexpected challenges.

What's the role of a tour guide in promoting sustainable and responsible tourism?

Tour guides play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism by educating tourists about respecting local cultures, wildlife, and natural environments. They encourage responsible behavior, such as minimizing waste and supporting local communities.

Guides also ensure that tour groups follow designated paths and adhere to any specific rules or regulations at destinations of environmental or cultural significance.

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definition of travel guides


How To Write A Travel Guide

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How to write a travel guide: ’48 Hours in’

This article is a step-by-step guide showing you how to write a travel guide for the 48 Hours in series of travel guides.

I am subdiving this writing guide into three chapters that cover (i) the aspiration of a 48 Hour guide, (ii) its structure and (iii) its content

Chapter #1: 48 Hours guides are authentic

Each episode of  the 48 Hours in series wants to introduce one city to the single male traveler from the point of view of a local. Just think about what kind of advice and tips you would give to a single male friend who is coming to your city for the very first time and you have all you need in order to write a good guide.

For the 48 hours in guides it is the local’s perspective that makes them so interesting. The episodes are no tourist brochures that tell you what sights are a “must”. If you do a Google search for “what to do in Paris” you will come across millions of articles telling you that you should visit Eiffel Tower and the Louvre — nice, but who really wants to read that?

In a 48 hour in guide local tells things how they are, mentioning the good and the bad.

If you were writing about a city where most hotels/apartments have bad service, but high prices then you should mention that (see my article on Kiev hotels ). And if you were writing about a city that, in your opinion, is nicer, cleaner and more lively than any other city in the country then you should mention that as well.

Here’s an example of authentic writing:

In the 48 hour guide to Wroclaw Poland I had to find a hotel in the middle of the night when almost all hotels were booked.

What I did was walk to the main railway station and enter the first hotel I saw in the hope they had a spare room. As the hotel was across the railway station where drunks were bumbling around I didnt expect much. To my surprise the hotel was not only cheap, but also newly refurbished. It could easily pass as a 4-star hotel in Munich or London and cost just 44€ for the night.

I added a nice picture of the hotel room and then put the mini-anecote into the guide. Here is what it looks like:

How to write a travel guide - screenshot 1

Screenshot taken from https://euromentravel.com/48-hours-in/48-hours-wroclaw-poland

People liked it. Why did they? Because it is authentic. The main thing is to give the reader little insights that stem from your own personal experience . This makes it so much easier for the reader to relate to what you are saying.

Chapter #2: The structure of the guide

All guides follow a simple 3-step structure. Each step is about a specific topic. These are:

  • Flights/driving/buses
  • The city & places to stay
  • Activities.

Let’s start with the first topic titled “How to get there”:

“How to get there” – The most common way to reach your city?

“the city of [name] [country]” – brief outline of the city and hotels & apartments, “what to do” – b est daytime actitives & nightlife venues.

This is the most creative part. Think of your male friend coming to town and tell him about the ins and outs of your city: What is interesting to do during the day time?

This is not so much about sightseeing, but more about the lesser known spots in your city.For example, the guide to Varna Bulgaria tells you everything about the number one daytime activity in Varna, the beaches. But it also tells you about everything Varna’s Retro Museum with Soviet memorabilia that is not located in oldtown Varna, but somewhat hidden inside a shopping mall.

Chapter #3: The content of the guides

Now that we know the structure all we need to do is fill it with information. Here are some guidelines to what information the three chapters should contain:

How to get there

Here, you need to do some research by looking up prices on the websites of airlines, bus services etc.:

  • Name 3-5 airlines that offer cheap flights to your city and link their names to their websites.
  • Name 1-3 bus services that offer cheap rides to your city and link their names to their websites (if applicable).

How to write a travel guide - screenshot 2

Screenshot taken from: https://euromentravel.com/48-hours-in/48-hours-jakarta-indonesia/

Note that you do not need to put any screenshots of city maps/special offers/nice apartments/great hotels into your guide. I will do that for you. However, what you need to do is tell me where these special offers can be found so I can implement them.

The City of [XYZ]

  • What is traffic in the city like? Is there good public transport? What is a good part of the city to stay in?
  • How much is a taxi ride from A to B? There is a local smartphone app that everybody uses to order taxis? There is? Great, mention it and write about it!
  • Write about some good offers that you see on apartment sites like Airbnb.com or booking.com and name 3-5 good hotels . Link their websites to their names.
  • Look up the prices for a night in a hotel room/apartment and add the price after the hotel’s name Another very important factor is communication:
  • What does a local SIM card cost?
  • With a local SIM card: What’s the average price level for calls/texts/internet?
  • Write a continuous text that describes your experience with about 3 daytime activities. This can be anything from spending a day at the beach to the picturesque old town or the area with the best local food.
  • In your text, add 5-8 links to the names of popular daytime locations.
  • Have a look at the other 48 hours in guides for inspiration.
  • Write a continuous text that describes your experience with about 3 nightlife venues.
  • Again, have a look at the other 48 hours in guides for inspiration.

And last but not least:

  • Send in 10 high quality pictures of your city that you took yourself. If you can then send in more than 10. Actually, send in as many high quality pictures as you can! Choosing the cream of the crop from a large pool is always nicer.

In total, your 48 Hour guide will now have 1200-1600 words and is ready for editing.

Do not forget to give me your Twitter, Instagram and a short bio if you like and then allow me some time to do the editing. And before you know it your travel guide will go live on euromentravel.com.

This short synopsis on how to write a travel guide for the ’48 hours in’ series should cover most of your questions. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate do contact us via the form below.

See you around and happy traveling!

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What Is A Travel Guide Book

  • October 4, 2023
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What Is A Travel Guide Book

What Is A Travel Guide Book?

When embarking on a journey, especially to a new and unfamiliar destination, having a trusty travel companion can make all the difference. This is where travel guide books come into play. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of travel guide books, exploring what they are, their significance in modern travel, and how they can enhance your adventures.

Understanding the Basics

What exactly is a travel guide book.

At its core, a travel guide book is a comprehensive written resource that provides essential information about a particular destination. These books offer insights into the history, culture, attractions, and practicalities of the place you plan to visit. Travel guide books serve as invaluable tools for both novice and seasoned travelers, offering a wealth of knowledge to help you make the most of your journey.

The Role of Travel Guide Books 

Enhancing your travel experience.

One of the primary roles of a travel guide book is to enhance your travel experience. These books provide in-depth information about your destination, helping you discover hidden gems, must-see landmarks, and local customs. They can also offer valuable tips on how to save money, stay safe, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Planning and Preparation

Another crucial aspect of travel guide books is their role in trip planning and preparation. They assist in creating itineraries, choosing accommodations, and selecting restaurants. With their practical advice and recommendations, you can plan a trip that suits your preferences and interests.

definition of travel guides

Types of Travel Guide Books

Print vs. digital .

In the digital age, travel guide books have evolved to encompass various formats. Traditional printed guidebooks are still popular, offering a tangible resource that you can carry with you. On the other hand, digital guidebooks and travel apps provide instant access to information on your smartphone or tablet, making them convenient for on-the-go travelers.

Specialized vs. General 

Travel guide books also come in specialized and general categories. Specialized guides focus on specific niches, such as culinary experiences, adventure travel, or cultural exploration. General guides cover a broader range of topics and are suitable for travelers with diverse interests.

How to Choose the Right Travel Guide Book 

Researching your destination .

Before selecting a travel guide book, it’s crucial to research your destination. Consider your interests, budget, and the type of experience you want to have. Look for guidebooks that align with your preferences and provide comprehensive information about your chosen location.

Reading Reviews and Recommendations 

Reading reviews and seeking recommendations from fellow travelers can be a helpful way to choose the right travel guide book. Online forums, travel blogs, and social media platforms are excellent sources of advice and insights from those who have explored your destination.

Travel guide books remain invaluable companions for travelers worldwide. Whether you prefer the feel of a physical book in your hands or the convenience of a digital guide, these resources are designed to enrich your journeys. By understanding what travel guide books are and how to choose the right one, you can embark on your adventures fully prepared and informed.

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The Benefits of Travel Guides

By: Author Valerie Forgeard

Posted on Published: June 26, 2023  - Last updated: July 1, 2023

Categories Travel

When planning a vacation , there are many things to consider. One of the most important aspects of any trip is deciding what to do and see. A travel guide can be an invaluable resource in this process. Travel guides provide information on everything from attractions and restaurants to nightlife and shopping. They can help you make the most of your time away and ensure you experience all your destination offers. This blog post will discuss the benefits of using travel guides when planning a vacation. We’ll also provide tips on choosing the best guide for your needs.

Why Use a Travel Guide

Travel guides like the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide help you decide the best time to travel, which places are worth your time and money, and what activities and attractions are available. They also provide background information about the place or culture you will visit.

A Travel Guide Will Help You Decide When Is the Best Time to Travel

When is the best time to travel?

When is the best time to travel? Well, it depends. In some cases, the answer is simple. If you want to visit a place where sunshine and warm weather are guaranteed, you should travel during the summer. You should visit during the festive season to experience the best of a country’s culture. But what if you are not sure when to go on your trip? What if you are not interested in festivals or the weather?

That’s where a travel guide comes in handy! A good travel guide will give you all sorts of information about different cities around the world and what makes each city unique

It Gives You Insight Into the Places You Should Visit

Whether visiting a city for the first time or an old hand, a travel guide can help you find the best places. It gives you insights into the best places to visit in any destination, from hotels and restaurants to stores and attractions.

A good guidebook will help you decide where to go and what to do there and give you an overview of local laws and customs so you know what is expected of visitors. For example, suppose you’re visiting a Maori in New Zealand. In that case, you may want to ask if there are restrictions on taking pictures or if credit cards are accepted everywhere in South America. You could also ask if tipping is necessary for all of North America.

A Good Guidebook Will Help You Decide Which Activities and Attractions Are Worth Your Time and Money

A good guide will help you decide which activities and attractions are worth your time and money. It gives you insights into places of interest and recommendations on where to stay.

It can also save you a lot of time by not having to do extensive research before your trip. With a good book, all your questions will be answered in one place, so you do not have to spend hours searching for answers on websites or forums.

It Provides Information About the Place and the Culture

To get the most out of your travel experience, it is important to understand the culture of the place you visit. A good travel guide will help you learn about the customs and traditions of a country or region and understand better the cultural differences visitors experience. He or she will also give you information about etiquette and social situations that may occur during your stay.

For example, is it customary to greet each other with a handshake or bow? Do people resent you if you greet them in the wrong way? Do they prefer small talk at meals, or do they want to eat in silence?

It Gives Recommendations for Accommodation

In a travel guide, you will always find recommendations on where to stay, from luxury hotels to Airbnb to camping if you’re on a walking tour or traveling by car. The recommendations are based on the authors’ research and their experience in the region of your travel destination. If you are looking for a cheap place with good WiFi, a guide will tell you where to find that.

You’ll Get Information About Great Restaurants and Cafes and Even Where They Are Located

You can get information about the best restaurants, cafes, street food, and even where they are located. This means you do not have to spend time walking around on Trip Advisor or around the city to find out where the good restaurants are. You’ll know exactly where to go when you are hungry and where you can get good food any time of the day or night.

You can also find out about different parts of the city. So if you want to eat something specifically for dinner, there is probably a place nearby that will suit your needs. Since these guidebooks are often updated from time to time by their authors, who have traveled extensively in the region in question, they offer not only up-to-date information but also unique insights into local customs and traditions that may be completely absent from other sources!

A Travel Guide Can Help You Find the Best Places to Go and the Best Stores to Visit

When you are traveling, you may want to go shopping. Some people like to store souvenirs when they go on vacation. Others like to buy gifts for family members or friends back home. If this is what will make your trip memorable, then you must have a list of things that need to be purchased before you leave.

It can be difficult to buy things while traveling if you do not know where to go and what items are available there. You do not want to waste time driving around town trying to find something that may not be available in the area you are staying in during your vacation!

A good guidebook will help you find the best places to store, such as markets, malls, and the best shopping areas, with a great selection of souvenirs and gifts for everyone back home!

A Good Travel Guide Will Give You Tips on How to Stay Safe

When traveling to a foreign country, you should first learn how to stay safe. Travel guides do not take you around a city or country. Instead, they tell you how to stay safe while you are on your own. However, they will still give you tips on how to stay safe. Here are some examples of advice you might find in your guidebook:

If someone tries to rob or attack you, give them what they want – it’s not worth risking your life over something material! And if the attacker already has a weapon (e.g., a knife), fight back only if necessary – there’s no point in hurting yourself any more than necessary!

Children should never be left unattended for fear of being kidnapped or otherwise harmed.

Do not go into dark alleys or other secluded areas alone. It is much safer to stay in well-lit areas with many people.

Why Choose a Tour Guide

When planning your next trip, remember that a great tour guide can be invaluable.

A good tour guide will show you where and what to do during your visit. He or she will help you avoid getting lost and ensure that you make the most of your time in the region.

A good tour guide will also give you information about the places they show you and give you an insider’s perspective on the history or culture of the place.

For example, if you visit Rome for the first time, a tour guide can tell you stories about how the ancient Romans lived and what they ate. With this knowledge, you can better understand why each place is important today.

A Great Tour Guide Also Makes It Easier for You to Interact With Locals

He can help you meet people and make friends if you are traveling alone. He can give you tips on where to stay and eat and even help you avoid scams that tourists might otherwise get ripped off with. They can also give you an insight into the local culture that is not possible for most tourists who only visit a place once or twice in a lifetime.

Having a Good Tour Guide Allows You to Ask Questions

As a traveler, you will probably have a lot of questions. You can ask to your tourist guide. Here are just a few examples:

A tour guide can also answer any questions about local transportation, including busses, trains, cabs, and more.

You Do Not Have to Worry About Getting Lost or Missing Anything Important

If you are worried about traveling alone, a tour guide is probably the best way to ensure you do not get stranded.

If you are traveling with friends or family, you can hire a tour guide to ensure everyone stays together and no one gets lost or separated from the tour group. However, remember that it is not a tour guide’s job to watch over unsupervised children; that is your sole responsibility.

You Save Yourself the Trouble of Organizing Private Transportation

If you have a full-time tour guide, transportation will likely be arranged by the tour operator as part of the package you book. This means you do not have to worry about your transportation and can focus on the fun parts of your vacation.

This can be especially useful if you have limited mobility or difficulty with language barriers. Also, if you are traveling with children or elderly relatives, it is often easier to have someone else drive, so they do not get tired or frustrated as quickly when trying to find their way around new places.

They Give the Latest Advice on Safety Precautions

Tour guides are well-informed about what is happening in the area and are trained to keep their tour members safe. Tour guides are well-informed about what is happening in the area; if crime has increased recently, they probably know about it.

In most Western countries, tour guides often must take a first aid course to know what to do in an emergency.

Do not be afraid to ask questions! If you have safety concerns, you can talk to your tour guide before or during your trip.

They Have a Wealth of Knowledge

The best tour guides will ensure you see all the major sights and attractions on your trip. This way, you will not miss any must-see sights while visiting a tourist destination. It is also a good idea to choose an experienced tour guide because they know the best places to visit and how long it will take you to see these attractions.

Group tour guides are known for helping tourists in popular areas, but they also know things you would not find in guidebooks. They have a wealth of knowledge about the places they take visitors to and can share that knowledge with their clients. This can be invaluable for those looking for something new and different.

They Can Help You Better Understand the Local Culture

When traveling to a new country, it’s always good to have someone who can help you better understand the local culture. Many people travel to learn about other cultures. Group tour guides are experts in their field and know everything about their country or city. They also have a lot of stories to tell.

If you want to learn all the local customs, traditions and culture, you should hire a tour guide to help you. You will be able to see things you would not have seen if you were traveling alone or with other people who do not know much about the place they are traveling.

A Travel Guide Book vs. A Tour Guide

If a guidebook is a book that tells you what to do and where to go, then a travel guidebook is a book that helps you figure out where to go and what to do.

A tour guide has everything planned out for you. At the same time, a travel guidebook does not tell you where, when, or what, but it gives tips on how to get around, what transportation is available, what other activities are available nearby, and so on.

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Definition of tour guide

Examples of tour guide in a sentence.

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Home / Are Guidebooks Worth It? Why I Still Use Them

Are Guidebooks Worth It? Why I Still Use Them

definition of travel guides

In this ever-increasing digital age, are guidebooks still worth buying? When you can research online, information is literally at your fingertips for free. When travel planning there are endless travel blogs and review sites to get information from. So why bother with guidebooks? Personally, I do still use guidebooks when I travel and I think you should too. Keep reading to find out why.

Why I Still Use Guidebooks

For me, guidebooks are still a vital part of my travel planning, such as my Mexico trip planning . Don’t get me wrong, I do also check out other travel blogs and review sites, but I definitely don’t discount them because they’re not digital.

Here are some of the reasons I still use guidebooks:

A Wide Scope

As guidebooks are produced using a number of researches, they have a wide scope. They list varying accommodation, restaurants and tours, all at different price ranges.

I find that many blogs that rank for destinations tell you very much the same thing (though this is not true for all bloggers). I have seriously been through the top ranking blogs when researching and found them to give exactly the same information of what to see in a city. It’s like they all followed each other and did exactly the same trip.

Another limitation with blogs is that they may (not all do this) only recommend accommodation, tours etc that they can earn an affiliate commission with. Personally, I am happy to send you off to sites that I earn no commission from if I have done a tour with them, but I will also check if I can send you via Get Your Guide first. If I can’t I won’t neglect writing about the company or place, though this is not true for all bloggers and so limits their recommendations.

Guidebooks, on the other hand, are put together after months, even years, of research, by several people, not just the one trip, and so have a lot more to them. In fact, I have done a couple of trips and not had a chance to get a guidebook, and will honestly say that I felt that I missed things.

Physical Book

Personally, I love a physical book. And when I’m travel planning it makes it so much more exciting to hold the book and smell the paper. Or is that just me?

Being physical also makes them so much more personal. When you use a guidebook to plan you can scribble on them, fold pages, circle places. This turns it into a very personal souvenir at the end of your trip.


Guidebooks Themselves Make Great Souvenirs

PDF Versions

Many guidebook brands have jumped on the digital bandwagon, which makes using them much easier. For many, if you buy a guide book, you can also download a PDF version of the book. So you literally get the best of both worlds!

This also means that if you decide not to carry a physical book with you on your trip, you still have access. And even better, you don’t even need wifi to access it.

So Much More In One Place

Guidebooks give you so much more when planning a trip. Blogs will give you a good overview, but guide books go into language, history, food and culture in much more depth. And it’s all in one place. You don’t have to save a load of links or different sites, instead, everything is in one place.

Having that extra bit of information can really help out in a place. For example, it was only because of a guidebook that I learnt about Osterias in Italy. In all my other research when looking for places to go at night it was all bars and restaurants, nowhere else mentioned Osetrias, which are a huge part of Italian culture.

Italian Osteria

I Wouldn’t Have Learnt About Osterias If It Weren’t For Guidebooks

The Cons Of Using Guidebooks

I admit, there are arguments against using guidebooks. They do come with cons, just like everything else. Here are some negatives:

Heavy To Carry

If you’re trying to travel light, or are doing a multi-city trip, the thought of lugging around a guidebook might not appeal to you. And I completely understand. They take up room in your backpack and are pretty heavy.

However, as previously mentioned, many brands now come with a free PDF version when you buy the physical book. Many brands also allow you to simply buy PDF chapters. So you can easily put this worry aside.

Out Of Date

One common complaint about guidebooks is that they are often out of date by the time they are published. And I will admit, this tends to be true.

However, they are meant to be a guide , so they won’t be perfect. I accept this limitation and always take any prices with a pinch of salt. To me, the prices aren’t a majorly important part of my planning. Also, guidebooks will have the website and phone number of places listed, so you can easily check for updated prices.

Not Great On A Tour

If you are on an organised tour, guidebooks can give you a bit of extra information, but overall they’re not great on trips like this. Tour guides will give you information and even if you have free time they’ll give you ideas of what to do. In these situations, there isn’t much point of a travel guide book, but there’s also not much point in doing too much research anyway.

It Goes To Some Companies’ Heads

Not the guidebooks fault, but something I have noticed on my travels, being in a guidebook can cause companies to take advantage. You can expect prices to rise a little over time, but some places seem to see that they are in a guidebook and decide that they can add a premium. So you go to a place and expect a nice little place, with decent prices and something special about it, only to find that it is now ten times the price and the staff (and owners) no longer care.

The Best Travel Guide Books

For me, there is only one guidebook brand that I use. And that is Rough Guides. I find that people either like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides , and I am all for Rough Guides.

I Still Use Guidebooks

My Guidebook Collection Is Purely Rough Guides

I started using Rough Guides when I was planing my first Gap Year . And since then I always pick one up when planning a trip (apart from the odd short break where I haven’t had the chance). This is true even when I go back to a place! A Rough Guide is top of my list for planning a trip. Here are some reasons why I love this guidebook brand:

Logical Layout

I like things to make sense. Whether this is a museum layout or a guidebook. And for me, Rough Guides make sense in their layout. It starts with the basics, such as how to get there, culture, food etc. Then the first area that it focuses on is the capital city and surrounding area.

Once the capital is finished, the guidebook starts in an area and makes its way around the area in a logical manner. It then goes around the country in a logical order, going from one area to a neighbouring area.

Travel Times

For all journeys in the Rough Guides, they give travel times. This is really useful when planning. And it’s not just an average time, they give the range. So if you can catch a fast train or slow train, you know the difference of times.

Aimed At All Budgets

Rough Guides have a wide range of activities, accommodation and restaurants in them. It’s not just luxury and not just budget. So you can get a real idea of how much you will spend on a trip. It also doesn’t restrict you to your usual budget, so if you want to treat yourself one night, you have an idea of where you can go that is a little higher budget. Or if you’ve overspent, you can look at lower budget cafes to save a bit more.

Detailed Maps

If there’s one thing a guidebook needs its decent maps. And Rough Guides have good, detailed maps.

Rough Guide Maps

A Detailed Map Of Edinburgh In A Rough Guide

Rough Guides have maps of each area (and the whole country). Each city and many larger towns have a detailed map too. These maps have tourist attractions, accommodation and restaurants marked on it. For big cities, such as capital cities, popular areas also have their own maps too. Metro and underground lines are also included and may have their own image, which helps you to make sense of these networks.

Tone Of Voice

What really draws me to the Rough Guides is the tone of voice. It’s extremely casual and friendly. What’s more, it’s honest. Very honest. Which I think is very important. Just because something is a popular tourist attraction Rough Guides won’t sing its praises unless it is deserved.

An example of this is Juliet’s House in Verona. Juliets’ Balcony is extremely popular and many people will go in the museum too. But the Rough Guide describes the museum as a “reek of desperation”. And to be fair, what can a museum of a fictional character have in it?

Basic Information

The basic information you get in Rough Guides is in-depth and extremely useful in the original planning phase.

Basic information of the country gives you an idea of transport around a country, what festivals there are, the food you can expect (and whether certain diets may encounter difficulties), and what accommodation is like. The guide book also covers essentials, such as whether the tap water is safe to drink. I didn’t find this information easily anywhere else, so I was very thankful that it was in the Rough Guide.

Special Picks

These guidebooks also point out extra special things in a country and area. The start of the book has things not to miss and the start of each area also has a selection of what’s not to miss. These can be events, museums, natural places, food or something cultural. I always check these out and go to them if I have time. There have been times when I’ve thought these picks weren’t really for me, but I have been wowed.

For instance, in the Mexico Rough Guide, in Mexico City, they state that Palacio de Bella Artes is not to miss. I am not a huge art gallery fan in general, but decide to have a look. And this art gallery is definitely one not to be missed.

There are also stars next to certain restaurants, cafes and accommodation. This shows that they are an author pick. These picks tend to have something extra special about them. An example of this is Osteria La Mandorla in Verona. Going to this osteria was like going back in time!

Free E-Book

When you buy a Rough Guide you also get access to a free E-book of the same guidebook. This is really useful for short trips as it means you don’t have to take a heavy guidebook with you. Being able to have the book on your phone is a great help for short trips.

If I’ve convinced you that Rough Guides are the guidebook to go for, buy yours here to plan your next trip.

Finding A Guidebook

In California I Didn’t Have A Guidebook, So I Found One In A Library

So is it still worth using guide books in this digital age? For me, it is a yes. I still use guidebooks and can’t see a time where I won’t. Having a guidebook at home for a starting point of research I find really useful. Especially having not only information about tourist attractions and lesser-known destinations in one place but also important information about the culture and country as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, blogs and review sites are useful, but I think that guidebooks still have a place in travel planning.

Do you still use guidebooks? Are you a Lonely Planet, Rough Guide or another brand fan? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

definition of travel guides

Great information. Lucky me I ran across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

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Glad you found my blog useful 🙂

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Thanks for this great article. I am in the beginning stages of writing a local city guide for Vancouver Washington and truthfully I hadn’t even heard of “Rough Guides” before so now I will definitely check them out even though they cover whole countries versus a city.

Loved your q & a format. Answered some questions I was specifically looking for which I guess is why your post came up first in my search.

Hi Patty, thanks for your kind words! So glad you found my post helpful 🙂 I think you can get some Rough Guides that just cover a city, but I think it’s mainly capital cities like London. Good luck with your city guide!

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What does a tour guide do?

Would you make a good tour guide? Take our career test and find your match with over 800 careers.

What is a Tour Guide?

A tour guide provides assistance, information, and guidance to individuals or groups of tourists during their travels. Their primary role is to enhance the travel experience by sharing knowledge and insights about the destinations, attractions, and cultural aspects of the places being visited. Tour guides are well-versed in the history, geography, culture, and traditions of the locations they cover, and they use their expertise to educate and entertain the tourists.

Tour guides are responsible for organizing and leading tours, ensuring that the itinerary is followed, and the group stays on schedule. They may work in various settings, including cities, historical sites, natural landscapes, or cultural landmarks. During tours, guides provide commentary, answer questions, and engage with the tourists, creating an interactive and immersive experience. They may also assist with logistical matters, such as arranging transportation, coordinating entry to attractions, and recommending places to eat or shop.

What does a Tour Guide do?

An animated tour guide giving a group of visitors information about the area they are in.

Tour guides bring destinations to life by providing valuable expertise and insights. While guidebooks and online resources can offer information, tour guides offer a unique and personalized experience that cannot be replicated.

Duties and Responsibilities Tour guides have a range of duties and responsibilities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for tourists. Some of the key responsibilities include:

  • Planning and organizing: Tour guides research and plan tour itineraries, considering factors such as the duration of the tour, the interests of the group, and the availability of attractions. They arrange transportation, accommodation, meals, and any necessary permits or tickets, ensuring that everything is well-coordinated.
  • Providing information and commentary: A primary role of tour guides is to offer informative and engaging commentary about the destinations being visited. They share historical facts, cultural insights, and interesting anecdotes to educate and entertain tourists. Guides should have a deep understanding of the locations, including their history, architecture, local customs, and traditions.
  • Leading tours and managing groups: Tour guides are responsible for leading the group throughout the tour. They ensure that the group stays together, follows the itinerary, and adheres to any safety guidelines. Guides should have good organizational and leadership skills to manage groups of varying sizes and diverse backgrounds.
  • Assisting with logistics: Tour guides handle practical aspects of the tour, such as coordinating transportation between sites, arranging entry to attractions, and managing timing to optimize the itinerary. They provide directions, answer questions, and offer recommendations for meals, shopping, and other activities.
  • Ensuring safety and security: Guides prioritize the safety and security of the tourists. They inform the group about potential risks or hazards, and they take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or incidents. In emergency situations, guides should be prepared to provide assistance and follow appropriate protocols.
  • Interacting and engaging with tourists: Tour guides create a welcoming and interactive environment for tourists. They foster a positive and friendly atmosphere, encourage questions, and actively engage with the group. Guides should be approachable and adaptable, catering to the needs and interests of the tourists.
  • Resolving issues and addressing concerns: Tour guides act as a point of contact for tourists, addressing any concerns or issues that may arise during the tour. They handle complaints, resolve conflicts, and provide assistance or alternative solutions when needed.
  • Promoting responsible and sustainable tourism: Guides play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism practices. They educate tourists about local customs and cultural sensitivities, encourage respectful behavior towards local communities and the environment, and advocate for sustainable travel practices.

Types of Tour Guides There are various types of tour guides, each specializing in different areas and catering to specific types of tours. Here are some common types of tour guides and a brief description of what they do:

  • City Tour Guides: City tour guides specialize in providing tours within a specific city or urban area. They are well-versed in the history, architecture, landmarks, and culture of the city. Their role is to guide tourists through popular attractions, historical sites, and local neighborhoods, offering insights and commentary along the way.
  • Cultural Tour Guides: Cultural tour guides focus on highlighting the cultural aspects of a destination. They provide in-depth knowledge about local traditions, customs, festivals, and arts. These guides may accompany tourists to museums, art galleries, cultural events, or religious sites, helping them understand and appreciate the cultural significance of these places.
  • Ecotourism Guides : Ecotourism guides are responsible for designing and planning itineraries that are environmentally and culturally responsible, researching the destination, developing educational materials, preparing necessary equipment, and coordinating logistics such as transportation, accommodation, and meals.
  • Adventure Tour Guides: Adventure tour guides lead tours focused on outdoor activities and adventure sports such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or skiing. They possess skills and knowledge in the specific activities offered, ensuring the safety of participants while providing guidance and instruction. Adventure guides may take tourists to remote and challenging locations, coordinating logistics and providing a thrilling experience.
  • Historical Tour Guides: Historical tour guides specialize in providing detailed insights into the history of a destination. They are knowledgeable about specific historical periods, events, and significant landmarks. These guides often work in historical sites, monuments, or archaeological sites, sharing historical context and stories that bring the past to life for tourists.
  • Specialized Tour Guides: Specialized tour guides cater to niche interests or specific types of tours. Examples include food tour guides who focus on culinary experiences, wine tour guides who provide expertise on vineyards and wine tasting, or art tour guides who lead tours in museums and art galleries, offering interpretations of artworks.

Are you suited to be a tour guide?

Tour guides have distinct personalities . They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if tour guide is one of your top career matches.

What is the workplace of a Tour Guide like?

The workplace of a tour guide can be quite diverse and dynamic, offering a mix of indoor and outdoor environments. One aspect of their workplace involves cultural and urban settings. City tour guides, for instance, operate within bustling cities, leading tourists through streets, squares, and iconic landmarks. They may work in vibrant neighborhoods, historic districts, or cosmopolitan areas, immersing tourists in the local culture and urban atmosphere. These guides navigate through crowded streets, interact with locals, and provide insights into the city's history, architecture, and vibrant lifestyle. They may also lead tours in museums, art galleries, or cultural centers, where they can showcase the city's artistic and cultural offerings.

Another significant aspect of a tour guide's workplace is outdoor settings. Nature and wildlife tour guides find themselves working in breathtaking natural landscapes, such as forests, mountains, or coastal areas. These guides lead groups on hikes, nature walks, or wildlife safaris, sharing their knowledge about the local flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Their workplace is characterized by stunning scenery, serene environments, and opportunities for visitors to connect with nature. Adventure tour guides also operate in outdoor settings, taking tourists on thrilling activities like rafting, rock climbing, or skiing. They work in adventurous and often remote locations, ensuring the safety of participants while providing an adrenaline-pumping experience.

Additionally, the workplace of a tour guide can extend to various modes of transportation. They may lead tours on buses, boats, trains, or even walking tours, utilizing different forms of transportation to explore diverse attractions and destinations. This allows guides to provide a comprehensive experience, showcasing various facets of a region while offering comfort and convenience to tourists.

Tour Guides are also known as: Tourist Guide

Kirtey Verma | 25 March 2020

10 of the best guidebook series to help plan your dream trip.

Start dreaming of your next adventure, with the help of the experts, insiders and locals who create the the world's best guidebooks. There's one for every destination, interest and type of traveller...

1. DK Eyewitness

(DK Eyewitness)

(DK Eyewitness)

Who:  Succinct but expert advice, beautifully detailed illustrations that transport you right into city streets and historic buildings,  detailed maps and interesting facts – is there really any wonder why DK's Eyewitness guides impress us so much? 

It's safe to say that you hold them in high regard yourselves, as DK topped the list of best guidebooks at the 2020 Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards .

DK has been going strong since 1993, taking us to more than 200 destinations in this time. Their real standout feature is the brand's compelling use of inspirational visuals and illustrations.

Incredibly user-friendly, the photo-packed books paint a clear picture of exactly what you can expect on your travels.

What to read: Check out the latest updates to DK's collection here   – the new 2020 editions offer fresh insights into popular cities across the world, including  Paris  and New York City .

See the city of love in a new light with hand-drawn illustrations showing the interiors of its most iconic sights, from the  Notre-Dame to the Panthéon, and a calendar of exciting events happening throughout the year.

2. Lonely Planet

(©Lonely Planet 2020)

(©Lonely Planet 2020)

Who: Lonely Planet's travel guides narrowly missed out on the top spot in the 2020 Reader Travel Awards, but they're popular for a reason.

The brand's origins are certainly romantic, too, having been founded by married couple Maureen and Tony Wheeler after their epic overland expedition from London to Australia in the early 70s.

While Lonely Planet's first offering was, of course, the stapled 94-page booklet  Across Asia on the Cheap in 1973,   the brand has come a long way since then. 

With more than 100 million guidebooks printed, the books are t horough, informative and packed with ideas for responsible travel escapes.

What to read:  Pick up a copy of the best-selling   The Travel Book  (2006) – a visual bible on every UN-approved country in the world – or look out for their most up-to-date guides here .

We also suggest updating your bookshelf with Lonely Planet's new edition of the Poland guide, which includes insider tips on everywhere from  Warsaw to the Carpathian Mountains. 


Who: Another perennial favourite, Bradt guides are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to independent travel guides.

Founded by Hilary Bradt in 1974, the pioneering brand is one of your favourites, having taken the top spot  at the Reader Travel Awards many times in recent years.

Delving deep beneath the surface, Bradt's guides are always packed with high quality content , while advocating for sustainable and slow travel. Best known for covering off the beaten track destinations, they are also loved for their guides to the UK. 

What to read: If you're looking for a new insight into Africa, take a look at the recently published guides on Gabon   and Zimbabwe .

After the significant political upheaval of recent years, Zimbabwe is an excellent guide for travellers wanting to dip their toes into the country's attractions, covering everywhere from Victoria Falls to the Zambezi River. 

For more off-the-beaten-track destinations, dive into Bradt's online shop  here  – there's currently 50% off for shoppers who use the code DREAM50. What are you waiting for? 

4. Rough Guides

Rough Guides (APA Publications)

Rough Guides (APA Publications)

Who? If you're looking for an easy way into a destination, Rough Guides ticks all the boxes.

Famous for its 'tell it like it is' approach to places, the guidebook series initially provided founder Mark Ellingham a way out of getting a 'real job' – but now offer thousands of readers practical and hands-on advice on more than 120 countries across the world, as well as being strong on cultural insights..

What to read? Fans of Japan should look out for the  Rough Guide to Tokyo  (out on 1 April 2020) which promises comprehensive coverage on everything from the dizzying neon lights of Shinjuku to sushi and sake.

Or you can look out for new releases on Rough Guides' online shop here . 

5. Insight Guides

Insight Guides (APA Publications)

Insight Guides (APA Publications)

Who:  Insight have been in the business for more than 45 years, so it's safe to say that these guides know what they're talking about.

Detailed maps, accurate information and beautiful photography combine within to connect readers to places through their history and culture. 

What to read: Look out for one of Insight's latest offerings – Insight Guides Pakistan – to uncover the country's turbulent past and present, and  encounter its people and politics from an interesting new perspective. 

You'll find more books online here . 

6. Time Out

(Time Out)

Who:  Time Out's city guides have long been a trusty travel companion for those of us seeking the freshest take on a city – especially in Europe – but we nearly lost them for good back in 2016.

Now those dark days are over, they're back and better than ever, proving that we still want to discover the latest trends on art, culture, design, food and hotels. 

What to read: Delve into the latest guides online here – there's some excellent European coverage, including Time Out: Amsterdam , the brand's most recent offering, highlighting all that's afloat in the city of canals. 

Detailed street maps will help you find your way when your phone battery dies, leading you to best  museums, restaurants, bars and coffee shops to recharge in the city.

7. Footprint



Who:  Travelling to Latin America? Footprint Guides are your best bet, having specialised in all things under the South American sun for nearly 100 years.

That's not to say they don't specialise in other parts of the world, though – their shelves include books on the Caribbean and South Asia, only written by expert authors who have lived in that region and can truly capture its essence.

Perfect for travellers who want an intimate insight into a country. 

What to read: Footprint's iconic  South American Handbook is your new best friend for any adventure to the continent, with advice on everything from swinging from the treetops in epic rainforests to dancing in Andean villages and exploring the plains of Patagonia.  

First published in 1924, it's now in its 94th edition, so you're sure to find the answer to any of your burning questions. If you've already crossed that continent, you can explore Footprint's latest releases online here . 

8. Blue Guides

Blue Guides on a bookshelf (Blue Guides)

Blue Guides on a bookshelf (Blue Guides)

Who:  With more than a century of history to back them up, Blue Guides are the go-to guides for cultural capers.

From art to architecture and archaeology, these guides aim to inform travellers unsure about where to go next or who want to know more about the museum they're visiting with a series of award-winning maps, diagrams and photographs at your disposal – a great source of knowledge for any trip you're planning. 

What to read:  Don't worry if you can't get to Rome at the moment – you can still plan your next trip to the Eternal City with the help of  Blue Guide: Rome ,  the brand's latest updated guide.

New mentions are  the ruins of Ostia, the port of ancient Rome, as well as information on Tivoli and its famous gardens, but you can also look out for other guides online here .

We also recommend  Travels in Transylvania: The Greater Târnava Valley  – a fascinating insight into Romania's great green heart beyond the blood-sucking stereotypes. 

9. Cicerone

(Cicerone Guides)

(Cicerone Guides)

Who: Wild walking adventures across the globe have been Cicerone's USP for more than half a century.

If you want to know where to walk, trek, climb, mountaineer or cycle, these guides s panning the UK and Europe are are really the ones to watch out for with clear maps and directions paving the way for an epic hike.

Is it time to dust off those hiking boots yet? 

What to read:  Cicerone celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, marking the occasion with Cicerone: Celebrating Fifty Years of Adventure .

Featuring  50 inspirational tales and trails, the book collates the memories of Cicerone's seasoned writers who have weathered all storms on their adventures, with laugh-out-loud moments and jaw-dropping accomplishments in the mix.

To see Cicerone's latest guides, check their online shop here .

10. Marco Polo

(Marco Polo)

(Marco Polo)

Who: Want to be more like Marco Polo? The pioneering 13th-century Venetian explorer has inspired many adventurers – Columbus, for one – as well as these handy little guides.  

As well as revealing the best things you can do for free, Marco Polo guides are fully equipped for the digital age – download the Touring App and you can freely access detailed  routes and maps on your smartphone.

No internet? No problem – you can access them offline, too, so you won't get an expensive phone bill, either. They really are your best friend when travelling on a shoestring budget. 

What to read: From Marrakech to Mallorca, there's lots of sunny destinations to look out for this year, but if you're dreaming of beaches, forests and mountains in the USA, check out the recently released  California Marco Polo Travel Guide .

Want an Australian adventure, instead? We all do – especially when there's tropical climes, island paradises and epic road trips to be had. Check out the latest info for a trip down under in the   Australia Marco Polo Travel Guide or see what else the brand has to offer here .

More essential travel reading:

Wanderlust 's 77 ultimate travel experiences bookazine is here, the best travel books of 2020 (so far), our favourite travellers share the books that inspired them, related articles, looking for inspiration.

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definition of travel guides

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Example sentences travel guide

By the end of 2006, she realised that her book and fledgeling travel guide business needed her full attention, so she left her job.
I may - do - disagree with that, but let's hear it for any travel guide prepared to put an opinion bluntly on the line.
I can research hotels around the world without ever buying a travel guide , find out what other guests thought of them and book them instantly.
As well as acting as a travel guide , this covers all nature, you'll find plenty of food for thought here.
Oh, and lifeguards, and any sort of travel guide .

Definition of 'guide' guide

IPA Pronunciation Guide

Definition of 'travel' travel


Related word partners travel guide

Browse alphabetically travel guide.

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to assist (a person) to travel through, or reach a destination in, an unfamiliar area, as by accompanying or giving directions to the person: He guided us through the forest.

to accompany (a sightseer) to show points of interest and to explain their meaning or significance.

to force (a person, object, or animal) to move in a certain path.

to supply (a person) with advice or counsel, as in practical or spiritual affairs.

to supervise (someone's actions or affairs) in an advisory capacity.

a person who guides, especially one hired to guide travelers, tourists, hunters, etc.

a mark, tab, or the like, to catch the eye and thus provide quick reference.

a guidebook .

a book, pamphlet, etc., giving information, instructions, or advice; handbook: an investment guide.

a guidepost .

a device that regulates or directs progressive motion or action: a sewing-machine guide.

a spirit believed to direct the utterances of a medium.

Military . a member of a group marching in formation who sets the pattern of movement or alignment for the rest.

Origin of guide

Other words for guide, opposites for guide, other words from guide.

  • guid·a·ble, adjective
  • guideless, adjective
  • guider, noun
  • guid·ing·ly, adverb
  • non·guid·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·guide, verb (used with object), pre·guid·ed, pre·guid·ing.
  • re·guide, verb (used with object), re·guid·ed, re·guid·ing.
  • un·guid·a·ble, adjective

Words Nearby guide

  • guide center
  • guided imagery

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use guide in a sentence

Download this guide to explore all the winners of the 2020 Digiday Media Awards Europe.

Looking through this public art guide , I noticed a number of artworks placed in police stations throughout the city.

Gear Patrol, which bills itself as the definitive buying guide for men, is taking similar steps to increase engagement on its social media channels, primarily on Instagram, in order to introduce audiences to products that it covers on its website.

Readers were particularly drawn to deep-dives, explainers and guides around streaming platforms’ catalogs of older shows, Hill said.

The made-for-Amazon brand is using most of the tools and techniques of a best in class ad campaign strategy to have, and can serve as a guide if brands don’t know where to start.

I've seen video of that satirical guide to SXSW in 1998 where you asked a bunch of bands odd questions.

If history is a guide , Huckabee will need to resonate with more than just the faithful if he is to win.

Objectively, they are not just riding with the tide, but helping to guide its very direction.

Add to that the DISH Anywhere app, and you have instant access to the program guide and the ability to record shows on the go.

In “Cartoons and Cereal,” he sings, “Reminisce when I had the morning appetite/ Apple Jacks, had nothing that I hit the TV guide .”

This, of course, I always gave to the guide to use in sending the letter when he got to the trading-post.

He said something laughingly to the head guide to the effect that climbing was good sport and a fine test for the nerves.

To guide his mind into the channel of the printed exposition, he calls into play the Directory power of the attention.

Taking half a dozen men with him, and compelling the woman to act as guide , he went to the tomb in the dark.

Men of science strove to read the riddle of life; to guide and to succour their fellow creatures.

British Dictionary definitions for guide (1 of 2)

/ ( ɡaɪd ) /

to lead the way for (a person)

to control the movement or course of (an animal, vehicle, etc) by physical action; steer

to supervise or instruct (a person)

(tr) to direct the affairs of (a person, company, nation, etc) : he guided the country through the war

(tr) to advise or influence (a person) in his standards or opinions : let truth guide you always

a person, animal, or thing that guides

( as modifier ) : a guide dog

a person, usually paid, who conducts tour expeditions, etc

a model or criterion, as in moral standards or accuracy

See guidebook

a book that instructs or explains the fundamentals of a subject or skill : a guide to better living

any device that directs the motion of a tool or machine part

a mark, sign, etc, that points the way

( in combination ) : guidepost

spiritualism a spirit believed to influence a medium so as to direct what he utters and convey messages through him

navy a ship in a formation used as a reference for manoeuvres, esp with relation to maintaining the correct formation and disposition

military a soldier stationed to one side of a column or line to regulate alignment, show the way, etc

Derived forms of guide

  • guidable , adjective
  • guideless , adjective
  • guider , noun
  • guiding , adjective , noun

British Dictionary definitions for Guide (2 of 2)

(sometimes not capital) a member of an organization for girls equivalent to the Scouts : US equivalent: Girl Scout

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Human Geography

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The library collection has a limited number of current travel guides. There are older editions located on Baker Level A or B . You can do a subject search for " guidebooks " to see how many different ones we have.

  • guidebooks This search will show all of our guidebooks.
  • boston mass guidebooks A search example for finding a guidebook for a specific location.

Journal articles & titles

Articles and other writings about Tourism can be found in many publications. Our collection includes several journals and trade magazines which look at Tourism. Below is a short list of some of the journal titles we have in our Library's collection.   Or you can use the search box at the top of the page.

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A short definition of Travel & Tourism

A term to cover travel to places away from one’s home environment undertaken principally for leisure but also for business. Tourist activities generally involve spending money in a new location and do not involve remuneration from within the place or country visited. Definitions of tourism by international organizations such as the World Tourist Organization recognize anyone who spends at least one night but no longer than one year somewhere other than their country of residence as a tourist. Tourism is often distinguished from recreation because it takes place further from the home and is more commercialized. It overlaps with leisure , but includes business travel. In The Tourist Gaze (1991) John Urry argued persuasively that the core feature of tourism was the desire to gaze upon what was different or unusual. Much of tourism can be understood in terms of the arrangements of places and landscapes to be viewed, and the cultivation of techniques of viewing and circulating images, e.g. photography, video, postcards, etc. But tourist activities do more than please the sense of sight, and often involve multiple embodied experiences, e.g. kayaking, dining, and sunbathing. Tourism is a form of and has its origins in travel, but a distinction is often made between the two; travel is described as a more specialized, niche, or selective activity, while tourism is associated with organized popular or mass activities. In part, the difference is one of marketing or discourse.
Although tourism now includes an increasingly diverse range of activities, perhaps too many for convenient classification, it is often described as the world’s largest industry. The World Travel and Tourist Council estimates that tourism accounts for 11 per cent of world GDP and 8 per cent of all waged work (200 million employees). But tourism as it is now understood is a relatively recent phenomenon. Most historical accounts trace its origins to the Grand Tour, undertaken by elite young European men between the 17th and 19th centuries. They would travel within Europe to see and learn about cultural matters, notably the fruits of the Renaissance and Greek and Roman classical civilizations. Health spas, seaside towns, and mountain resorts also became fixtures for the wealthy traveller. The 19th century saw the development of journeys to wild places inspired by romantic ideas or picturesque or sublime landscapes: England’s Lake District was a leading attraction ( see wilderness ). The spread of road and rail travel in the 19th century allowed the urban working classes to enjoy annual trips to seaside resorts such as Long Island, New York, ushering in the first organized tourist industry. But it was not until the combination of greater affluence, more leisure time, and air travel after the Second World War that modern mass tourism took off. Until the late 20th century, however, it remained open largely to Westerners, and Europe itself accounted for the majority of international tourist journeys. The globalization of tourism in the past two or so decades has involved almost every country becoming both an origin and destination of tourist travel to some degree. Close to a billion international tourist visits are now made annually, with China established in the top five for destinations and origins, alongside the USA and European countries. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Dubai also count among the top tourist urban destinations.
The geographical interest in tourism has developed strongly since the 1980s, although there are studies dating back to the 1930s. It draws upon the same range of methods and perspectives as the rest of human geography , although there are important overlaps with environmental geography (for example, in coastal and marine environment management) and a strong element of applied geography . Given that tourism hinges precisely on the differences between one place and another, it is intrinsically geographical. The main areas of research are on factors of supply and demand, but also on social, economic, and environmental impact ( see resort life-cycle model ). There are separate studies of urban and rural tourism, as well as a concern for regional differences (Hudman and Jackson 2003). The different forms of tourism and their related bodily and sensuous experiences—heritage visits, ecotourism , package holidays, adventure travel, and backpacking among them—are also well studied. In unpacking the experiences of tours, however, it becomes apparent how many of its core characteristics—difference, exoticism, cosmopolitanism , leisureliness—are increasingly found more widely and even close to home. The interests of tourist studies in mobility , pleasure, and difference are, in this regard, central to much of current human geography.

Rogers, A., Castree, N., & Kitchin, R. (2013). " Tourism ." In  A Dictionary of Human Geography . Oxford University Press. Retrieved 9 Feb. 2022

In the Library's Collections

Tourism as a subject search brings up many results. Below are a few of the narrower, more specific subject headings.

     General books on Travel and Tourism are located in the call number range G 149 through G 180 on Baker Level A . Books on specific tourism spots or tourist trade in specific countries are located with books about that country. The online catalog is your best guide for finding these items.

  • heritage tourism
  • sex tourism
  • culture and tourism
  • agritourism
  • [insert name of country] description and travel To find travelogues or other travel writings, do a subject search for the country name followed by "description and travel."
  • jamaica description and travel An example for the subject heading described above.
  • maine description and travel Another example.
  • anthropology AND tourism This is a keyword search on the online catalog.

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  • Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024 3:04 PM
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  • Other collocations with guide

Overview of Travel Insurance Coverage

What does travel insurance cover, what does credit card travel insurance cover, what travel insurance coverage do you need to pay more for, choosing the right travel insurance, what does travel insurance cover frequently asked questions, understanding what travel insurance covers.

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  • Travel insurance is intended to cover risks and financial losses associated with traveling.
  • Coverage can include trip cancellation, baggage protection, medical care, and emergency evacuation.
  • When filing a claim, be specific and comprehensive in your documentation to ease the process.

Whether it's a trip across the world or a trip across the state, having travel insurance provides major relief if things go awry. Flight delays, lost baggage, illness, injuries, and other unforeseen events can disrupt even the best-laid plans. With a major disruption comes the potential for unanticipated expenses.

Travel insurance and the coverage it offers can help keep you protected and save you money in the long run.

Travel insurance policies protect travelers from financial losses should something go wrong during their trip. You can customize which coverages you want to include, and there are several to choose from.

"Common types of coverage include trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage protection, coverage for medical care if you get sick or hurt during your trip, and emergency medical evacuation," says Angela Borden, a travel insurance expert and product strategist for travel insurance company Seven Corners.

Travel insurance plans offer nonrefundable payments and other trip-related expenses. While monetary compensation is a primary benefit, there is another valuable perk of travel insurance. It can provide peace of mind.

Your specific travel insurance plan (and its terms and conditions) will determine the minutia and specifics of what is covered. As with most other forms of insurance, a general rule of thumb is the more you spend, the better your coverage.

"Travel insurance can be confusing, so it's best to research a reputable company that specializes in travel insurance and has a long history of successfully helping travelers all over the world," says Borden.

Trip cancellation and interruptions

A travel insurance policy can reimburse you for a prepaid, nonrefundable trip if it is canceled for a covered event, such as a natural disaster or a global pandemic.

Trip interruption insurance covers you if you're already on your trip and you get sick, there's a natural disaster, or something else happens. Make sure to check with your travel insurance providers to discuss any inclusions, coverage, and more.

Travel delays and missed connections

Travel delay insurance coverage provides reimbursement for any expenses you incur when you experience a delay in transit over a minimum time. Reimbursements can include hotels, airfare, food, and other related expenses.

Medical emergencies and evacuations

Typically, US healthcare plans are not accepted in other countries. So travel insurance with medical coverage can be particularly beneficial when you are abroad. Medical coverage can also help with locating doctors and healthcare facilities.

Medical transportation coverage will also pay for emergency evacuation expenses such as airlifts and medically-equipped flights back to the US. Out of pocket, these expenses can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Certain plans may even transport you to a hospital of choice for care.

Travel insurance generally does not include coverage for pre-existing conditions. That said, you can obtain a pre-existing condition waiver, which we will talk about later.  

Baggage and personal belongings

Most airlines will reimburse travelers for lost or destroyed baggage, but be prepared for limitations. Travel insurance plans will typically cover stolen items, such as those stolen out of a hotel room. This may not include expensive jewelry, antiques, or heirloom items. Typically, airlines have a few days to recover your bag.

In the meantime, you can make a claim to pay for items like certain toiletries and other items you need to pick up. If your bag is truly lost or you don't get it for an extended period, you can file a true lost baggage claim.

A major perk on several travel credit cards is embedded credit card travel insurance . Typically, you will need to use the specific card for the transaction (at least with partial payment) for travel coverage to kick in.

Each card has specific rules on what exactly is covered. But one of the industry leaders is the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Here's a snapshot of what is covered with this specific card:

  • Baggage delay: up to $100 reimbursed per day for up to five days if a passenger carrier delays your baggage by more than six hours.
  • Lost and damaged baggage: up to $3,000 per passenger per trip, but only up to $500 per passenger for jewelry and watches and up to $500 per passenger for cameras and other electronic equipment.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: up to $500 per ticket if you're delayed more than six hours or require an overnight stay.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection: up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses.
  • Medical evacuation benefit: up to $100,000 for necessary emergency evacuation and transportation when on a trip of five to 60 days and traveling more than 100 miles from home.
  • Travel accident insurance: accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $100,000 (up to $1,000,000 for common carrier travel).
  • Emergency medical and dental benefits: up to $2,500 for medical expenses (subject to a $50 deductible) when on a trip arranged by a travel agency and traveling more than 100 miles from home.
  • Rental car coverage: primary coverage for damages caused by theft or collision up to $75,000 on rentals of 31 days or fewer

More protections are included with cards with an annual fee, but there are exceptions. The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex, for instance, includes up to $1,500 per person (and up to $6,000 per trip) in trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.

However, there are some differences between credit card travel coverage and obtaining coverage from a third party.

"Credit card coverage does not typically provide travel medical benefits," Borden says. "For protection if you get sick or hurt while traveling, you'll want a travel insurance plan with medical coverage."

Whether you get your travel insurance in a standalone policy or through a credit card, it's important to review your plan details carefully. In either case, there may be exclusions and other requirements such as deadlines when filing a claim, Borden notes.

Knowing what travel insurance doesn't cover is as important as knowing what it does cover.

"Travelers should understand that travel insurance benefits come into play only if a covered reason occurs," Borden says. Most standard travel insurance plans won't reimburse you for the following:

Cancel for any reason (CFAR)

Cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance covers a trip cancellation for any reason, not just a covered event. your standard benefits won't kick in unless it's a covered event. For instance, you'll be reimbursed simply for changing your mind about taking a trip.

That said, CFAR travel insurance is not without its downsides. For one, it's more expensive than traditional insurance, and most CFAR policies will only reimburse you for a percentage of your travel expenses. Additionally, CFAR policies aren't available for annual travel insurance . 

You can find our guide on the best CFAR travel insurance here.

Foreseen weather events

Sudden storms or unforeseen weather events are typically covered by standard travel insurance plans. There are exceptions to be aware of. For example, an anticipated and named hurricane will not be covered.

Medical tourism

If you're going to travel internationally for a medical procedure or doctor's visit, your travel insurance plan will not cover the procedure itself. Most medical travel plans also won't cover you if something goes wrong with your procedure.

Pre-existing conditions and pregnancy

Those with specific pre-existing conditions, such as someone with diabetes and needing more insulin, will not be covered by most plans. In addition, pregnancy-related expenses will likely not be covered under most plans.

That said, you can obtain a pre-existing condition waiver for stable conditions. In order to obtain a wavier, you will need to purchase travel insurance within a certain time frame from when you booked your trip, usually two to three weeks, depending on your policy.

Extreme sports and activities

Accidents occurring while participating in extreme sports like skydiving and paragliding will typically not be covered under most plans. However, many plans offer the ability to upgrade to a higher-priced version with extended coverage.

Navigating claims and assistance

When a trip goes awry, the first thing you should do is document everything and be as specific as possible with documentation. This will make the claims process easier, as you can substantiate and quantify your financial losses due to the delay.

For example, your flight home has been delayed long enough to be covered under your policy, you'll want to keep any receipts from purchases made while waiting. For instances where your luggage is lost, you will need to file a report with local authorities and document all the items you packed.

Cancellation protection also requires meticulous attention to detail. If you're too sick to fly, you may need to see a doctor to prove your eligibility. If an airline cancels a flight, you'll also need to document any refunds you received as travel insurance isn't going to reimburse you for money you've already gotten back. 

Part of the benefit of CFAR insurance is the reduced paperwork necessary to file a claim. You'll still need to document your nonrefundable losses, but you won't have to substantiate why you're canceling a trip.

Each plan should be personalized to meet the insured party's needs. Some travelers prefer to stick to the bare minimum (flight cancellation benefits through the airline). Others want a comprehensive plan with every coverage possible. Before you buy anything, set your destination. Are there any travel restrictions or changes pending? Does your destination country require emergency or other medical coverage?

If the destination airport is known for lost or delayed luggage, travelers should keep important items in carry-ons. Lost or delayed luggage coverage protects insured parties in the event of a significant delay or total loss.

Second, check current credit card travel benefits to avoid redundancies. Savvy travelers don't need to pay for the same coverage twice.

Finally, consider your individual needs. Do you have a chronic medical condition, or do you feel safe with emergency-only medical coverage? Keep in mind, this does not include coverage for cosmetic surgery or other medical tourism. Do you have a budget limit for travel insurance? Asking and answering these important questions will help every traveler find the right product.

Most travel insurance plans are simple, and Business Insider's guide to the best travel insurance companies outlines our top picks. Remember, read your policy and its specifics closely to ensure it includes the items you need coverage for.

No one likes to dwell on how a trip might not go as planned before even leaving. However, at its core, travel insurance provides peace of mind as you go about your trip. While the upfront cost may seem significant, when you compare it to the potential expenses of a canceled flight, emergency evacuation, or a hefty medical bill, it's a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Coverage for pandemics vary from policy to policy. Some travel insurance companies have specific provisions for pandemic-related cancellations, while others may exclude them entirely.

Sports injuries are often covered under travel insurance, but high-risk or adventure sports might require additional coverage or a special policy.

Travel advisories have different effects on your travel insurance depending on your policy. Traveling to a country already under travel advisory may invalidate your coverage, but if you're already traveling when a travel advisory is announced, you may be covered.

Travel insurance usually covers the cost of emergency medical evacuations to the nearest suitable medical facility, and sometimes back to your home country, if necessary.

Many travel insurance policies provide coverage for the cost of replacing lost or stolen passports during a trip.

definition of travel guides

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Read our editorial standards .

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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