The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 25, 2008

Book review: Going somewhere? Consult the 'Complete Travel Detective'

Spring has finally sprung, and summer will be here before you know it. So, thoughts will soon turn to vacations, and we can help!

The Joplin Public Library has a fairly extensive travel collection, including Fodor’s, Eyewitness, Rick Steves’, Mobil, Let’s Go, Compass American, Frommer’s, Passport to History, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and Traveller’s History series guides, some more complete than others. We have travel information on everything from Branson to Disney World to Beijing, both books and videos.

One of our latest travel books is “The Complete Travel Detective Bible: The Consummate Insider Tells You What You Need to Know in an Increasingly Complex World,” by Peter Greenberg, the travel editor for the “Today Show.”

There’s a lot of stuff here that anyone who has ever traveled would (or at least should) know, but there is also a lot of less obvious information to make your travels more fun and less hassle. It may date the book in the near future, but there are a lot of Web sites mentioned, including sites that give you maps of airport terminals, where to track real-time status of flights as well as pricing sites for all kinds of travel and lodging that I’d certainly never heard of (above and beyond Expedia, Travelocity, etc.), seating charts and seat space (how much room you get) for various planes, and lots of other fairly obscure but useful information. If you’re interested in cruises, there are Web sites to help you figure out which cruise line suits you best; if you’re interested in lifestyle travel (seniors, families, gay/lesbian, solo, etc.), there are chapters for each with many online resources.

Even for readers who are not Net-savvy, there’s a lot of great information about all of the aforementioned subjects as well as passports and visas, traveling with pets, health and safety (particularly for air travel and cruises), a revealing look at air miles programs, helpful information about car rentals and other options for ground transportation, including trains. There is everything you could want to know about insurance, ranging from trip insurance to what to know about your own health/car/homeowners etc. insurance as it applies to travel. Plan to keep in touch while you’re gone? Everything you could want to know about cell phones around the world — all here.

Want to stay in a treehouse? A cave? Mick Jagger’s Caribbean island retreat? A lighthouse? Check out the chapter on hotels for those options along with other extreme lodgings as well as the more standard offerings. Of course, there’s information on how to get the best rates and what to watch out for in hotels as well, such as “brochure language” for which a tongue-in-cheek cheat sheet is included. For example, “Gourmet (adj): of or relating to a connoisseur of food and drink. Translation: a restaurant that is not a chain, a diner, or a fast food outlet, but has a liquor license.”

The last few chapters concentrate on different travel focuses, from camping and RV-ing to hiking and biking and ecotourism and culinary travel. Chapters on volunteer travel, including Habitat for Humanity and a plethora of lesser known opportunities, and educational/participatory travel from fantasy camps to agricultural or archeological opportunities may open your mind to options you never even knew existed. There’s even a chapter on medical tourism, whether you’re interested in lower cost cosmetic surgery or a hip replacement!

All in all, a very informative book with lots of helpful information, both within the book itself and on the Web sites suggested. I would recommend this book to anyone from first-time travelers to those with lots of mileage under their belts. Even if you don’t actually plan to go anywhere, exotic or otherwise, you can travel in the comfort of your favorite chair with any of the books and videos available at the Joplin Public Library.

Linda Cannon is the collection development librarian at Joplin Public Library.