Wow! This is a great book for travel dreamers or doers.  Subtitled A Rough Guide to Travel Adventures by Greg Witt, Ultimate Adventures showcases all sorts of exotic locations — some places I’ve never even heard of, but now can’t wait to see.  And though there are many adventures which are geared more to the adrenaline junkie, there are still plenty of “soft” experiences for the more conservative traveler.  For instance, I know I’ll never ever attempt a 51-day ski trip to the South Pole or ice diving in Russia’s White Sea.  But maybe I could handle hiking New Zealand’s Milford Trek, as I’ve had friends who’ve successfully completed it.

One handy feature is a 5-star rating system covering 4 elements: physical, psychological, skill level and wow! factor.  This is designed to help the reader decide if this trip is a good match for their abilities.  For example, climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro is ranked high (4) for the physical endurance required, only a 2 for the skill level needed (it’s basic hiking, not technical rock climbing) but it scores a 5 for Wow factor.

It’s well-organized (by continents); the photos are breathtaking and the descriptions should inspire even the stodgiest couch potato.  As a librarian, I don’t need to buy many books, but I do plan to purchase this one!

What is it about Americans and cars? Maybe it’s the sheer size of our country, or our heritage from our pioneer ancestors who were forever exploring the open road, but most of us have a real attachment to our cars. While plane travel and gas prices have made some difference in vacation plans, the tradition of seeing the country from the road remains strong. Start planning your next road trip with these two new books.

Drives of a Lifetime from National Geographic. This coffee-table-worthy book covers 500 trips world-wide, from spectacular scenery to sophisticated cities. Divided by types of trips (including mountains, sea, rivers, villages, urban, historic and gourmet) you’ll find the famous (the Grand Canyon, Mt Fuji, the Cotswolds of England) to the less traveled (the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, Cuban byways or the Okavango Delta in Botswana) Scattered throughout are quick “top ten” drives by subject (Wilderness Drives, Untamed Roads, African River Drives, Music Drives, Spectacular Bridges) and several “ultimate road trips” with more detail (Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Arches and Canyons of Utah, Sunset Boulevard in California) As you would expect from National Geographic, the photographs are outstanding.

USA’s Best Trips from Lonely Planet. No photos but lots more detail, this title concentrates on just the US with 99 itineraries with something for everyone including lists by theme (city, historic, culinary, etc) Most range in length from 2 to 5 days and are arranged geographically so it’d be easy to string two or more together. Some of the most fun are the longer, iconic cross-country trips – Route 66, Massachusetts to Miami, the Lincoln Highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great River Road, the Great Divide (Rocky Mountains) and the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll never be short of ideas for the your next great American road trip.

If you like to travel, you’ll love this book!  In creating this little treasure of a book, Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences, author Chris Santella  interviewed travel experts with first-hand knowledge of the destinations  described.  The photographs alone are enough to make one drool — the stunning full-page color vistas really seem to capture the essence of each location– and make one dream of someday seeing them in person.

Included are some places I’ve always wanted to go to (such as Machu Picchu in Peru); others I’ve never even considered (Mongolia or Cappadocai) and some, such as Provence by Bike, that I just might have to investigate.  One drawback — these are not cheap trips — they are first class, often even using private jets to conveniently transport guests get from point A to point B, so for most of us, they really are once in a lifetime trips, if ever.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to drool and dream!

At last! Summer is here! Time to get up off that couch and see something of the world. And what better part of the world to explore than our own beloved USA? There’s no shortage of exciting and interesting places to visit and lucky us, many of the most beautiful, most historic, most fragile have been set aside and protected, for us and for future generations – the National Parks.

National Geographic’s Complete National Parks of the United States is a great place to start if you’re not sure where you want to go. In fact, it might make you to realize you’d like to go everywhere, the pictures are so enticing and beautiful. The descriptions of each park are short and to the point – you will want to do more research if you are planning a major stay – but this gives you the highlights and must-sees. It’s also useful to show you places you might want to stop along the way – maybe schedule a stop at the lesser known Black Canyon of the Gunnison on your way to the Grand Canyon, or reroute to visit to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site when heading to the Everglades.  Website and contact information is included for each site.

Now there’s no excuse for not getting out and participating in the great American summer vacation (Chevrolet optional!)

submitted by Georgann

Aptly subtitled “the Ultimate Guidebook,” Hawaii: the Big Island Revealed was a great help to us on our recent trip to The Big Island. Authors Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman were terrific “tour guides.” The prose is well-written, humorous and thorough. I was so glad we took this book along!

It can be overwhelming to plan a trip to a far-away place, but the authors told us what to do and what to skip. All the recommendations they made were well worth following. And when we didn’t follow but struck out on our own, our results were less than stellar. I liked how they rated places to see with “Real Gem” or “Not to be Missed” icons.

The authors tell you where to turn by mile marker. I had no idea how extremely helpful that would be until we began driving and realized that there is very little signage along the roads. Businesses are not allowed signs in front, but only can put their names on the buildings themselves, so it is easy to drive right by and miss the place you were looking for. Also, even the highways signs were different, so the mile marker directions were important.

Our guidebook made it safely to The Big Island, was well used while there, and is back on the shelf at the library. If you are planning a trip, take this “Real Gem” along! Even if you aren’t going, it is a fun and interesting read!