The Gift of the Guide
I wanted to mention the guidebooks that we’ve been using for this trip. There are so many out there to choose from, and if I had any more room in my pack I would probably shove in a few more since I am a book freak, but I’ve reached my max weight limit for now.
I bought Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring and my friend CJ bought the Let’s Go Europe guide and we each carry one and compare notes and suggestions on food/accommodations/sights as we go. It is useful to do this when traveling with more than one person. If we had a third person we would probably have a Rough Guides with us as well.
We don’t, however, lug the entire big books with us in our daypacks. They actually stay buried in our big backpacks and we rip out the pages of the countries and cities we need as we go. This makes navigating tourist sites and busy intersections a lot easier, and does wonders for the lower back.
Before the trip I read Rick Steve’s Travel Handbook, and just last week in Amsterdam I bought his Guide to Eastern Europe to supplement what Let’s Go and Lonely Planet already provide. His book has helped us here in Warsaw tremendously, so I am sure that it is worth the added weight as we move through Krakow, Prague, Budapest and beyond into Slovenia and Croatia.
Finally, a word about phrasebooks. I used Lonely Planet’s European one, and again, I ripped pages out for the different languages and kept them handy in my pocket as we went. But it does not cover Central and Eastern European countries, you need a seperate phrasebook for that, but we are going to wing it without buying it. The Rick Steves book has some cheat sheet pages with the basics that we are going to try and get by with.