How to save money on travel books

A good guidebook can be the difference between an extremely frustrating trip, and a very simple one.  I’ve had poor guidebooks that have left me tons of unanswered questions, terrible maps, inaccurate pricing information and wrong train timetables.

Looking for a good guidebook with the information you need can be a challenge.  Sometimes it involves getting five books before deciding on one to bring with you that will actually be a help.

Since you need good guidebooks, you will have to spend money on them.  However, I’ve purchased a lot of travel books that aren’t good and I end up not using them.  Here are a couple ways I’ve found to reduce my travel book costs.

Library Travel Books

Since I work in a library, I’m obviously going to tell you that using libraries to get travel books is a great idea.  I always check out the book prior to purchasing and I find the one I like the best, then I go on Amazon and purchase it.

Not only do libraries have travel books available for checkout, but they also have a lot of travel eBooks.  If you were planning on taking your tablet or iPad with you, you can check out the travel eBook and not even have to pack the book with you.

You can also download audio guides for free on a number of sites.  (Rick Steves, for example.)  Free Audiobooks lists a number of books as well.


Did you know that a lot of libraries have used book sales?  These used book sales include last year’s travel book editions since the library will have purchased the most up-to-date guide.  Some of the guides don’t change a whole lot in a year, and you may be able to purchase a travel guide for $1.  I wouldn’t recommend getting any guides that are two or more years old.  Those have way too much out-of-date pricing information.

Library Book Sale

You can use Book Sale Finder to find the nearest used book location to you.  When you click on your state and local city, you can see which libraries have book sales, their hours and their prices.  In Columbus, a lot of the used book sales sell books for $.50 and $1.  A $.50 for a year-old guidebook is a great deal.

It’s also fun to collect guidebooks for places you want to go, and cut out sections of them and clip them together.   Then when you’re ready to start planning, you already have some good information with you.

For guides in the states, I recommend going the state’s office of tourism website and signing up to receive a free guide.  Almost all states have guides they’re willing to mail to you for free in hopes that you’ll come to visit.

Hotel organizes the free guides by state and all you have to do is enter your name and address and get your free guide in the mail.

I love a good travel book, and I loathe a bad one.  Use some of these tips to avoid wasting money on the bad ones.

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