Books come in all shapes and sizes, in all genres and for all purposes. There is nothing quite like a travel guide though to get you in the holiday mood. The internet is my friend when it comes to information gathering but there is something spine-tinglingly good about holding a physical copy of a travel guide. They make me feel equipped for adventure regardless of my destination. Highlighter at the ready I slowly devour each page looking for nuggets of gold to underline and emphasize.

I like ‘local’ books. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing amiss with the big boys. The likes of ‘Lonely Planet’ and ‘Rough Guide’ certainly have a place and their research is solid. I, however, like to support smaller ventures. Books with quirky facts and tips that offer an alternate flavour excite me. Below is my top 5 for 2017 (so far). They are books I’ve travelled with and enjoyed. It is by no means a definitive list – Lord knows I have not read or travelled enough to make it so. My aim is to get you to think the next time you go and search for a travel guide. I want you to dive beyond the first five pages offered up when you type in your travel destination. You’ll be surprised by what’s out there.

I can attest to having read all of the books below and found them informative, funny (in places) and well worth the investment. A test of a good travel guide for me is one that returns from vacation full of pink highlighted sections – there is something deeply satisfying about getting to work with a highlighter! So without further ado……

  1. Brit Guide to Orlando – This book is updated yearly and was the first book I ever used, I haven’t looked back since. There is almost too much information and for first timers it may seem overwhelming. Arm yourself with a highlighter (pink preferably) and you won’t go far wrong. Reliable and informative this guide is full of top tips and insider info. I have returned to Florida many times over the years and always go armed with this book, there are always new nuggets to be found. If Orlando floats your boat then this is the one! It is quite a weighty book but it does cover pretty much everything!

2. Cruise Control – Top Tips for First Time Cruisers – A nifty little book chock full of top tips to help you enjoy your cruise experience. As a first timer, I found this book really informative and funny. It doesn’t tell you what cruise to go on or where to travel to but it is helpful when it comes to making the most of your cruise. I would argue that even veteran cruisers would be able to gather some useful insights. It is a small book so fits perfectly into your handbag!

3. Secret Beaches South West – As someone who lives in the South West of England this book was a revelation. A great easy to read guide, which showcases some truly beautiful and captivating beaches. I am slowly visiting as many of these beaches as I can and they are exactly as the book suggests – secret! You could build your holiday around visiting this wonderful selection.

4. Sweden:101 Coolest Things to Do in Sweden – This is exactly up my street. Just like the cruise book  it is full of interesting bits and bobs. OK so the formatting and spelling leave a bit to be desired but I quite like the ‘less than perfect’ feel of it. It is full of cool things to do and they are not activities I’ve seen featured in other guides.

5. Venice & Verona for the Shameless Hedonist – Venice is one of my favourite cities, which is why a large chunk of my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties is set there. This is one of the best guides I have come across. It has the benefit of including 6 walking tours too. This book has the feel of being written by someone who loves Italy as much as I do. It is good for foodies, wine lovers and shoppers alike!

So there you have it fellow travel enthusiasts my down and dirty guide to guides. All of these books are worth you taking a cheeky peak… Hopefully, your feet are well and truly itching…

I’d love to know what guides you’ve found useful? Please comment below.

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