Choosing the best guide book depends on a person's specific travel needs as well as the offerings of various companies. It is important to have a guide that is as specific to your travels as possible, although when taking rare or unusual trips this may not be possible. Ideally, a guide book should also fit your style of travel and interests. Other considerations to take into account might include the date of publication, the reputation of the company, and the cost of the book. When possible, multiple guide books should be consulted for the most comprehensive experience.
The first and most important thing to consider when choosing a guide book is whether the book appropriately addresses the area to which you will be traveling. A book about China, for example, is excellent for people who are considering travel to multiple destinations in China, but this type of book will likely not be appropriate for a person traveling only to Shanghai. When traveling to a specific city, it is best to try and find a guide for that city rather than the country as a whole, because a city guide will be more detailed.
It is also a good idea to make sure that the guide fits with your travel style. This might include considerations relating to budgets, the number of people traveling, and even age. Different guides focus on different groups, but these groups are not defined precisely. It is sometimes helpful to inquire among friends about which books have been most helpful.
Looking at travel books that are popular is one way to narrow down guide book choices. In this case, the most popular books are often the best because they contain the most information. On the other hand, lesser-known guide books may be better in some areas, particularly those that are rarely tourist destinations.
A guide book should include a number of important features. Maps, travel information, and important sites are all essential in most cases. Additional features, such as attractive illustrations or online support, can be considered optional. Some newer guide books are purely electronic.
Choosing a guide book requires some degree of understanding of your own travel habits. Understanding what interests you about the area can help identify appropriate guides, although this is not always successful. Many people find that the same brand or author provides a consistent experience even in vastly different locations, which can be either good or bad depending on your perspective. The best way to choose a guide book is trial and error, as different books will lead to different experiences.