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Books about travel, travel guides & phrasebooks

Books about travel

Country Travel guides / Language phrase books:  Listed according to country or subject, here are some guidebooks and phrasebooks that are available on, some of which I have on my bookshelf and use regularly, and others that I wish I'd had on the trip.

CDs DVDS too: Where appropriate, I've included links to movies and CDs and language tapes. The links open a new, specific page on (which usually has a larger inventory and wider selection of goods than do other Amazon online shops) where you can get more information.

Guide book / Phrase Book: Guide books are great for travel planning, to learn more about a place before you finalize your itinerary. If a guide book is light enough to take with me, it goes along on the trip. If language is likely to be an issue, then take along a phrase book. Once you have it, you'll use it time and again, or loan it to friends and family.

TIP And here's a handy tool for rounding up your Amazon order for the free shipping minimum (US only): : Enter the amount that you need to  qualify for free shipping and it will list all the items for that price.

KINDLE READERS : Some travelers find that Kindle readers are a huge help on the road. I haven't made the leap as yet, but I am keeping an open mind. I travel fairly light, so anything I bring with me on a trip has to pull its own weight.

UPDATE: I was gifted a Kindle for Christmas, but as yet, I haven't travelled abroad with it.

See details for Kindle Wireless Reading Device USA Canada and check that you have the most up-to-date version before you leave home.

Language Phrasebooks and Dictionaries

You might never need to pull the phrasebook out of your pocket, but there are times it will be a lifesaver, and you will be thrilled to have it. The cost is minimal, the potential benefits great.

Amharic (Ethiopia) :: Amharic Phrasebook

Chinese (Cantonese - Hong Kong):: Cantonese Phrasebook

Chinese (Mandarin Beijing) :: Mandarin Phrasebook

Creole (Haiti) :: Haitian Creole Dictionary Phrasebook (new) and Creole Made Easy , plus a work book and ppronunciation guide.

Portuguese ( Portugal, Brazil) :: Portuguese Phrasebook

Spanish: Depends on what country/ies:

Sinhala (Sri Lanka) :: Sinhala Phrasebook

Thai (Thailand) :: Thai Phrasebook

Recommended Travel Books and Guidebooks


For travel guides, try Lonely Planet Argentina , Insight Guide, Frommer's Argentina and Chile I see there's a new Fodor's Argentina . And I wish I'd had my copy of Food and Drink in Argentina before I traveled. Geared to tourists and residents; will fit into a purse or pocket.

Australia and Pacific

Find current Australia travel guides (I hang on to my old copy, though it's out of date now). One of the best and funniest books about Australia is In a Sunburned Country. I really enjoyed Canadian author Charles Montgomery's The Last Heathen. Good, too, is Happy Isles of Oceania about Paul Theroux's paddles around the Pacific.


Wild Borneo: The Wildlife and Scenery of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan .

Borneo (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)


There are a number of Canada travel guides, many according to region or interest.

Start with this travel guides page.


Lonely Planet Chile and Easter Island is the travel guide I took with me. There's a new edition as of October 2012.. You might enjoy Daughter of Fortune (Allende), about a Chilean woman coming to California (historical).


Eyewitness China Guide and Lonely Planet China are two travel guides. Look, too, for city guides. I found I learned a lot about China's history from Imperial Woman, Pearl S. Buck's masterpiece. Also good for more recent history is Wild Swans Three Daughters of China. Train travel in China is best told in Riding the Iron Rooster. A good movie about south China set in the late 1930s (see on Amazon) The Children of Huang Shi.


The Bradt Travel Guide is the newest. I used Insight East Africa Wildlife and the 2003 version of Lonely Planet Ethiopia and Eritrea (2006). Notes From the Hyena's Belly (Tales of An Ethiopian Boyhood) and Dark Star Safari are both good resources for understanding the culture. Those of you interested in international aid issues may already be familiar with Lords of Povertyand The Road To Hell. Both should be required reading for anyone considering donating to major charities or studying foreign aid policy.


I used an older edition of the Lonely Planet Dominican Republic and Haiti. There are a number of good books about Haiti, but some can be hard to get through. For insight, try The Uses of Haiti. A readable account of Paul Farmer's work in Haiti is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. The Serpent and The Rainbow, by Wade Davis, which is nothing like the movie based on it. is a really interesting read. Highly recommended even if you never go to Haiti is Canadian Elizabeth Abbott's book Sugar: A Bittersweet History about the devastating impact of sugar and its production on Haiti and the Western world. Though an academic, Abbott is most readable writer (Amazon has a few copies available; if you can't get your own copy, try your local library).

Sri Lanka

When I traveled to Sri Lanka, there were no guides available. Now, there's Rough Guide Sri Lanka. For background reading, I liked Anil's Ghost. Both Oprah and I, and several million others, enjoyed A Fine Balance; set in India, the culture is similar.

Books about travel : These are the books I read again and again, and soon become my favorites. Every year or so, I re-read one of them, usually a Bryson or a Theroux, and discover something new and fresh. If you're a traveler, then no doubt some of these travel books are already on your book shelf.

The Worst Journey in the World I cannot praise this book enough, and I was delighted when I was able to get my own copy now that it has been reprinted. The author was not a writer, and this is the only book he ever produced.

The world is the poorer for that. Had someone other than Paul Theroux told me I'd treasure a book about Antarctic exploration, I'd not have believed it. National Geographic calls it the number one adventure tale of all time. Do yourself a favour, and buy this book. You'll read it again and again, and loan it to friends and family.

For Amazon Canada see this page - but be aware product choice is not as large and varied as Amazon Com

For those outside North America, or for all orders worldwide, check availability of the recommended books on travel here (free shipping most countries, no account required):