Tips on where to go, when to go, accommodations and atmosphere are at your fingertips through a wealth of guidebooks. To assure a jell of varied opinions, a wise investment would be to choose several publications about the same destination.
Guides that offer lots of brilliant photos are helpful as long as the text is detailed in depth and the maps are not vague. Selected from 1985 reviews are books considered above average ("The Speedy Language Phrasebooks" reflect current prices; the others show costs at the time of original review).
It wasn't until the 1970s that scientists agreed that a person's normal body function was disrupted by jet lag. Air travelers can alleviate the pressures, time changes, diet, etc., with the advice of Charles F. Ehret and Lynne Waller Scanlon in "Overcoming Jet Lag" (Berkeley Trade Paperbacks: $4.95). Consider it a must for anyone flying nationally or internationally.
Baedeker's Guides has three new editions: "Rhine," "Loire" and "Tuscany." They follow the previously successful format that includes many color photos. Accommodations, etc., do not interrupt the informative text and localized four-color maps. Each book also includes a large, handsome fold-out map (Spectrum: $9.95 each).
Did you know that pictures of men's or women's shoes, not words, sometimes mark the toilets in Yugoslavia? This is just one of hundreds of facts contained in "Travel Key Europe" by Peter B. Manston. It's a detailed how-to-get-around the Continent and avoid some pitfalls, hazards or embarrassing situations (Travel Press: $9.95).
"The Palace Under the Alps" by William Bryson is subtitled to point out its inclusion of more than "200 other unusual and unspoiled and infrequently visited spots in 16 European countries." The latter best describes its contents. It includes past and present areas of beauty that are awesomely significant. There are enough listings of places to stay, eat, visit, etc., to save you looking too far. If you're into offbeat adventure, the $16.95 price is tolerable (Congdon & Weed).
The "Speedy Language Phrasebooks" are brief, small and thin but good reference for the traveler. They're available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Greek, including one in Spanish for medical personnel and one in Spanish-to-English. Students, teachers and employers should also find them useful and a bargain for $2.50 each at bookstores or direct from Baja Books, Box 229, Woodland Hills, Calif. 91365, phone (818) 347-2896. You get a vinyl protective case free if you order four or more.
From the many B&B; guides, here's a few more publications that may include accommodations overlooked by others. An excellent buy is "Europe's Wonderful Little Hotels & Inns" edited by Hilary Rubinstein (Congdon & Weed: $16.95). "The Best Bed and Breakfast in the World" by Sigourney Welles and Jill Darby is above average in covering those in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (East Woods: $10.95).
For an inside look at the cruise ships that carry millions of passengers wanting to pursue a languid life, try "Liners to the Sun" by John Maxtone-Graham. It offers a worthwhile, perceptive, authentic revelation including the mystique of shipboard travel. The book is certain to please those who have been or are planning to go on a cruise (Macmillan: $29.95).
Consider the "1985 Michelin--Main Cities Europe" guide ($13.95) an invaluable resource for travelers planning a trip to the Continent. Hotels and restaurants in 53 major cities and 15 countries are reviewed in detail. The 411-page guide is compact, lightweight and easy to stash in your kit bag. Another Michelin guide worth its $15.95 tag is "France--1985."
The text is plain and the cover uninviting but the advice and common-sense tips in "Vagabond Globetrotting--state of the art" are informative and concise. Where some guidebooks devote a page or two, author M. L. Endicott expands upon necessary basics needed when traveling almost anywhere. If your bookseller is out of stock, send $8.95 to Enchiridion International, P.O. Box 2589, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723.
A good example of a well-detailed and worthwhile guidebook is the 1986 edition of "The South American Handbook." It is filled with extraordinary information that includes the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, 32 countries and 1,800 cities (Rand McNally: $25.95).
The individual personality and charm of 30 select establishments are captured with 120 beautiful color photos by Rubin Morrison in "The Historic Country Hotels of England" by Wendy Hiller. The architecture, ambiance and food appear to be among the finest of this type that England has to offer (Holt, Rinehart & Winston: $19.95).
If your time is limited, "Europe in 22 Days--a Step-by-Step Guide and Travel Itinerary" by Rick Steves effectively demonstrates how to make the most of it. He outlines a see-a-lot route starting south from Amsterdam to Rome, then north to Paris via a different route. It's not an all-hustle trip because if the schedule is somewhat adhered to, it can be pleasantly accomplished. The essential information includes maps, train schedules, bistros, small hotels, etc. (John Muir: $4.95).
John W. McDermott's "How to Get Lost and Found in Japan" is presented as a personal account of his length-of-Japan travels. Sharing his sometimes down-to-earth dissertation of his experiences might prove enlightening (Orafa-Honolulu: $9.95).
"A Guide to World Fairs and Festivals" by Frances Shemanski would be helpful for planning a vacation timed to include a celebration or two on the way. Buffalo Days, Singapore Arts Festival, Cat Parade, Bach Festival, LeMans Race are only a few of almost limitless ones to enjoy (Greenwood Press: $29.95).