Other useful publications

When travelling, there are several books that would be helpful in your day-to-day activities. Just remember before you start purchasing books to bring along, they are something that you are going to have to carry wherever you go and they will take up valuable space in your backpack. They can also be heavy, so choose carefully.

Maps: Maps are the key to getting around in a new area. The maps that are included in the guidebook tend to show only the main streets and half the street names. They are frustrating due to that fact. Free maps of cities are easy to come by at the local tourist agency, hostel/hotel, bus/train station, or Internet café. It is a lot easier to carry around a map of the local area than your bulky guidebook, with an abridged and poorly labelled map.

Language books: Although English is widely spoken in many parts of the world do not assume that everyone speaks it. When travelling to a new country that speaks a different language, it is handy to know some basic phrases. If the locals see that you are trying to speak their language, they usually make an extra effort to help you.

The words that are essential to learn are: “”hello”, “goodbye”, “thank you”, “yes”, “no”, “sorry”, and “welcome”. Knowing the words such as “man”, “woman” and “toilet” are also handy. Most guidebooks have their own small “commonly used words” guide in the back.

Language books are nice, but not essential. If you are going to be spending some time in an area and immerse yourself in the culture, I would recommend one. A small compact pocket version is quite versatile and easy to carry around. Go to your local book store and pick out something that would be practical to use. A language phrase book would most likely be more useful than a language translation dictionary. The phrase book has complete sentences that are designed to be used by travellers, while a dictionary contains translations of words.

Reading Material: If you are ever bored, need to relax and unwind in one spot, or are on a long-haul journey, it is nice to have a small paperback book to read. You only need one and can trade it with other packers when you are done. Limit yourself to focus on one book at a time, to save yourself from carrying around a library in your pack.