Why read an old-fashioned travel book? When doing a deep dive into travel plans, the rich histories, back stories, natural attractions and basic geography do not change.

On the road again with travel books

Whether stuck at home or planning a trip, old-fashioned guides are still must-reads

By Laura MarranKENOSHA.COM

After two decades in journalism, Marran earned her Master’s degree in Exceptional Education from UW-Milwaukee and has served as a special education teacher with Kenosha Unified School District since 2006. A Marquette University School of Journalism alum, Marran has lived in Kenosha since 1987.

As summer vacation time approaches, travelers in 2021 are likely to hop on the information superhighway to find facts about any destination. So who needs those old-fashioned, seemingly outdated travel books, anyway?

We do.

Even though their printed and bound pages can’t be updated, traditional travel guides remain the gold standard. The information contained in the trusted travel guides didn’t come from Wikipedia, the content isn’t tied to sponsorship, and the publications have been professionally edited and fact-checked. Information goes through a painstaking process rarely found on blogs or social media posts.

For rapidly changing elements of travel such as business hours or COVID safety measures, venue websites are the most up-to-date source. But when doing a deep dive into travel plans, the rich histories, back stories, natural attractions and basic geography do not change.

“Travel guides seem to be having a renaissance as cookbooks did,” said Sam Jacquest, owner of Blue House Books in Kenosha. “While people will still jump online to grab a quick recipe, to many, cooking is a form of art and eating is an activity to be indulged, and people want a physical book as part of the experience. Same with travel; we may jump on our GPS to get from A to B, but when it comes to travel as a hobby or leisure activity, people appreciate having a physical book as another way to enjoy the experience.”

The Kenosha Public Library carries a large selection of the newest travel guides from traditional sources such as Frommer’s, Fodors, and DK Eyewitness. Hundreds of destinations from Texas to Turkey are available in 2021 editions.

Also available at the library are road maps, including a terrific educational resource for the younger passengers on a long excursion, “Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas: Maps, Games, Activities and More for Hours of Backseat Fun” by Crispin Boyer (National Geographic Society).

Some trusted authors and publishers of travel books have mastered hybrid print and online success. The Lonely Planet franchise attracts top-notch writers vying for the chance to write for the popular publication. Rick Steves’ exhaustive knowledge and approachable manner gives him a trustworthy reputation that has stood the test of time, a quality that travel website writers and bloggers haven’t yet earned. The latest in Steves’ incredibly extensive catalog is “The Best of Europe,” published in April 2021.

Also worthwhile are books compiling travel destinations. Some have a bucket-list feel, such as the just-published “Moon Baseball Road Trips: The Complete Guide to All the Ballparks, with Beer, Bites, and Sights Nearby” by Tim Malcolm and Lonely Planet’s “Ultimate Travel List 2” published in late 2020.

 Jacquest said she still gets requests for this type of traditional travel book including “The Open Road: 50 Road Trips in the USA” by Jessica Dunham.

Fiction lends itself to travel as well. Entire tours are based around literary locales. For example, extensive trips to Rome, India and Bali are designed to trace the path of “Eat Pray Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert. Frommer’s describes a DaVinci Code tour that takes fans of the controversial Dan Brown novel to Paris to visit the Louvre and the sites of other key scenes.

“Travel guides seem to be having a renaissance as cookbooks did.”

Sam Jacquest, Blue House Books owner

For those who don’t want to shell out $5,000-$10,000 for these high-end literary trips to Europe, a beautiful, travel-themed coffee table books can take readers around the world for a fraction of the cost.

Jacquest said these gift travel books featuring beautiful photography and quality design such as the classic Atlas Obscura are popular with local customers. Another stunning example of a coffee table book that doubles as a travel guide, and maybe even a work of art is “National Geographic National Parks Atlas.”

Planning a Kenosha staycation? Our city earns a mention in several travel guides including Frommers, thanks to our state Welcome Centers, Velodrome, and of course the Mars Cheese Castle.

No pop-up ads, no notifications, no cookies, no clickbait. Perhaps the best start to a relaxing vacation is to plan unplugged.