Thrift Store Finds: Travel Guidebooks

I love guidebooks. Even though they’re out of date as soon as they’re printed, include expensive hotels and restaurants I would never frequent, and all their information is available online for free, I love them. When I was a kid, I would check guidebooks out of the library on a weekly basis to imagine all the places that I would travel someday.

For me, there is nothing like flipping through the pictures of parks, castles, and museums, reading little historical facts, poring over maps and imagining myself walking down the streets of a city I’ve never seen. The physical book makes it feel way more exciting than clicking through a dozen websites, even if it is less accurate.

Luckily, I’ve found that I don’t need a lot of money to get my guidebook fix. They turn up at thrift stores all the time, often in perfect condition, because people buy them for one trip, and then donate them afterwards. Today I bought seven travel books for $14, some that have probably never been read!

Top L-R: Langenscheidt's Self Guided Italy; Eyewitness Travel's Berlin; Lonely Planet's Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest Bottom L-R: Lonely Planet's Austria; Mona Winks: Self Guided Tours of Europe's Top Museums; Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Boston and Castles of Germany

Top L-R: Langenscheidt’s Self Guided Italy; Eyewitness Travel’s Berlin; Lonely Planet’s Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest
Bottom L-R: Lonely Planet’s Austria; Mona Winks: Self Guided Tours of Europe’s Top Museums; Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to Boston and Castles of Germany

I also really like vintage travel books, because they are such an interesting way to look at history. Castles of Germany was published in 1967 and includes West Germany and Salzburg. I just finished reading a previous thrift store find, A Young Look at Europe, from 1971, that included dire predictions that Germany would never be reunited and European travel would collapse if a central currency were not employed by all European nations.

Side story: When I purchased A Young Look at Europe, the cashier looked at the cover, frowning. “Europe,” she said, shaking her head, “bad things happen there.” I offered a non-committal, “Hmm.”

“Yep, like the Spanish Inquisition. That was real bad.”

Rough times.

So, whether you’re about to travel somewhere, or just want to dream for a while, I say get ye to a thrift store and see what gems you can dig up!


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