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"You cannot open a book without learning something." Confucius
I like to read books about traveling, about the people and the country of the respective travel destination during my travels next to the guidebooks. The books of the German book series Gebrauchsanweisung are often my first contact with a country.
I like to use the English-language travel guide Lonely Planet. In my opinion this travel guide is the best guide, when you want to know, where you can eat, sleep and how to get from A to B.
For city trips I like to use the German Baedeker travel guide, because in a city it doesn't matter that all the sites are listed alphabetically. The descriptions of the sights are detailed and informative. The proposed tours are a great way to get to know a city.
For extensive information about the sights, the architecture and the history of a travel destination I like to use the German Dumont Kunstreiseführer.