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Tim Leffel

Professional Travel Expert

How to Travel: Best Travel Books

Sure, it’s easy to find some book about 100 or 500 or 1,000 places you have to see in order to make your life complete, but most of us don’t have that kind of time or money. We need to know how to make the most of one or two trips a year, whether they are one state away or halfway around the world.

I’m an author with several travel books on the shelves (“Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune” and “The World’s Cheapest Destinations”), plus I’m co-author of “Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America.” So I often get asked about which books I would recommend for travelers. The following titles all meet an essential need by providing the advice and knowledge to make every trip more fun, more interesting, and less stressful — no matter where you happen to be heading. Most will probably save you a wad of cash as well, so you can come back home without being broke.

Be an expert on how to travel with help from our experts. We recommend the best travel books that make the most money sense and the most fun for the best ways to travel on a budget without stress of returning broke.

Best Travel Planning Books by Tim Leffel

The Best You Can Get

  • The Complete Travel Detective Bible

    Tim says: Author Peter Greenberg is the Today Show travel editor, a popular radio host, and a syndicated columnist. He is an outspoken critic of deceptive travel industry practices, rip-offs, and substandard service. This book provides in-depth explanations of how things really work in the travel business and how you can navigate the system. It provides advice on the best ways to avoid flying delays and discomfort, how to get the best deals on hotel rooms, and how to generally get the best value for your dollar with the least amount of hassle.

    • By Peter Greenberg
    • Publisher: Rodale Books
  • The Smart Traveler’s Passport

    Tim says: Subtitled “399 Tips from Seasoned Travelers,” this small paperback is a compendium of the best bits of advice from readers of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine. Some of the tips are dead obvious, but others are unique solutions that will make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” From packing light to getting through security quickly to how to find the best street food around the world, this book is bound to provide plenty of nuggets of wisdom you can use.

    • By Erik Torkells and the readers of Budget Travel magazine
    • Publisher: Quirk Books
  • Where to Go When

    Tim says: This is a coffee table book and planning guide in one. While those with a vested interest in booking your trip may tell you “any time of year is nice,” almost any location has periods to avoid and periods where everything lines up perfectly: weather, festivals, and activities. This book is divided by month, with each month of the year featuring eleven destinations in depth and nineteen more in passing. Lush photographs will make you want to pack your bags right now, while the accompanying text will ensure you arrive at the right time — not during a monsoon, a hurricane, or a boarded-up off season.

    • By Joseph Rosendo and others
    • Publisher: DK Travel Eyewitness Guides
  • How to Travel Practically Anywhere

    Tim says: Covering everything from doctors abroad to how to get the most out of a cruise, this title is one of the most comprehensive guides out there for covering every aspect of travel. It will turn almost any novice into a seasoned traveler who knows the ropes. The author is a well-traveled New York Times contributor and she presents a large breadth of information with a good dollop of humor and flair. This is a good book to read while at home and a good one to keep by the computer desk — for researching the next trip online and buying the right guidebooks before you depart.

    • By Susan Stellin
    • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children

    Tim says: This is by far the best book available for new parents who still want to travel. Most books about traveling with kids don’t go very far beyond the author’s own experiences and they concentrate mainly on popular destinations like Orlando and Hawaii. This title, however, is filled with advice and stories from parents of small children, many of them on a budget that is nothing like that of the frolicking Four Seasons guests you see in most glossy travel magazines. It effectively covers all the bases without being overwhelming, with sample packing lists, regional oddities to be aware of, and advice on different modes of transportation. It also covers the time spent preparing for a trip and adjusting to a return after an extensive period away from home.

    • By Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco
    • Publisher: Rough Guides

You will be happy with any of these

  • World Party: The Rough Guide to the World’s Best Festivals

    Tim says: If you like to get out and mix it up with boisterous locals when you travel, this book will tell you what’s happening when around the world. This entertaining and lavishly photographed book provides a fun round-up of the best festivals and annual parties across the globe. Organized by geographic region, it describes music festivals, religious festivals, historic festivals, and more, all accompanied by photographs of the action. There is a surprising amount of depth to the descriptions, along with info on the more unsavory aspects you may encounter. Wherever you’re going there’s probably a festival happening some time of year. This book will guide your way.

    • By various authors
    • Publisher: Rough Guides
  • The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World

    Tim says: If you are captivated by great travel images and would like to make your own mind up about what you have to see before you die, you can’t do better than this stunning coffee table book covering every single country on Earth. The book weighs over four pounds and is roughly the size of a sheath of copy paper, but oh what photographs! Each country gets a two-page spread and there are over 1,200 images pulled from the cream of the Lonely Planet guidebook vaults. The text in each spread is an amuse bouche rather than a main course, but that’s the whole idea. You see enough to make you think, “I want to go there!” After that you can dive into more focused guidebooks for that country or region.

    • By various authors
    • Publisher: Lonely Planet
  • Vagabonding

    Tim says: Subtitled “An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel,” this has become the definitive reference and inspiration for those not afraid to be carried away by wanderlust. If you do have the time to do more than jet off to a sequestered resort for a week, Vagabonding will convince you to find more meaningful reasons to travel. Appropriately, it mixes sage advice with plenty of philosophy, including quotes from great thinkers and other authors. It is both useful and inspiring but be warned: after reading the whole thing, you may have trouble concentrating on the routine nine to five from here on out.

    • By Rolf Potts
    • Publisher: Villard Books

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Choose how to travel advice that combines your favorite destinations and a budget you can manage. With these best travel books, you're sure to find the best way to travel without stressing out. Our travel planning books recommendations for how to travel give you tips on the essentials of a fun trip anywhere in the world.