April 2016 book reviews

Once a month, I put together the books I’ve read into a single review post. Alternatively, see plenty of previous book reviews over here, or see how I rate books.

Also, a quick disclaimer: review copies were provided or downloaded for free, and links may be affiliate links. These reviews cover the version of the book I received, not necessarily the version that’s currently available. A newer or updated version may have become available – check for yourself using the links below.

The Essential Guide to Driving Abroad

The Essential Guide to Driving Abroad – Laura and Lance Longwell

Although less than 50 pages long, the Longwells have put together a succinct guide to getting around the world via rental car. From getting an IDP (International Driving Permit) to considerations when renting a car, there’s a number of things to think about even if you’ve played this game before.

Covering the alphabet soup of insurance policies, some real-world details not commonly talked online, and a specific section on driving in countries around the world, there’s plenty of stuff here I didn’t know about. Two countries in Europe, for example, have rules that say If you wear glasses, you must carry an extra pair in your car.

While it could easily be twice as long and still not cover everything, there’s plenty here to give you a great introduction and answer plenty of specific questions. The appendix on road signs is a worthy addition to an excellent book. It won’t replace more specific research for a given country or teach you the rules of the road, but then again that’s not the goal of it. If you’re planning on driving with a rental car, it’s a worthy read.

Recommended.

Get on Amazon.

Travel Hacking Canadians

Travel Hacking for Canadians – Steven Zussino

Most travel hacking books are squarely aimed at Americans. It kinda makes sense, since that’s where the most deals and offers come from. Steven’s free guide aims squarely at traveling Canadians (most deals require either residency or citizenship). 

Section 1 (Air) is a great primer on some of the most common frequent-flier-mile programs in the country. The book does a very good job explaining the ins and outs of each program, though it goes without saying to confirm the details on the airline’s website as well. You’ll likely discover one or more specific programs work well for you, so focus on those as you read on. 

I didn’t realize you could earn miles when buying / selling a home (not that it’s a first consideration, of course, but if it happens to work out, it’s worthy of claiming!) With chapters on earning and redeeming miles, there’s plenty to take in.

Section 2 (Accommodation) has some good primer-type info on Priceline and Hotwire – along with a couple of other websites that aim to pull back the curtain on the mysterious hotels you’re about to bid on. Along with some hotel hacks and details about those ‘low-price guarantees’ you’ve almost certainly heard about, there’s an entire chapter on hotel loyalty programs.

Sections 3 (Transportation) and 4 (Cruises) are much shorter, but there’s some good info here about rental cars and really enjoying the amenities on cruises cheaper. I had no idea Cruise Ship Lecturer was a thing – and that 2-3 presentations a week on destinations or ‘enrichment’ is your free or heavily-discounted ticket on board.

In general, Canadian Travel Hacking goes from fairly basic primer-type knowledge to some detailed knowledge only found deep in travel hacking forums or the like. It’s surprisingly comprehensive, and it’s detailed reading – breeze through to get a sense of where everything is, then refer to the specific relevant parts.

The book is completely free (not even an e-mail address is needed) and is also available as a very long web page. It may not be for long, however, and while written for Canadians, it’s a great read for any traveler.

Highly recommended, if you’re Canadian.

Download or read for free here.

Travel Writing 2.0

Travel Writing 2.0 – Tim Leffel

To most serious travel bloggers, Tim Leffel’s name is a household one. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s the guy behind The World’s Cheapest Destinations and the editor of Perceptive Travel.

The first edition came out in 2010, and has been significantly expanded and updated since then. This volume is the 2nd edition of his signature book, and comes complete with quotes from over 100 travel writers and bloggers (myself included, proudly). It’s a book about what’s working in the here and now, not what used to be.

The focus is, and should be, on experimenting, on developing multiple income streams, and on going your own way instead of looking for a hack or shortcut. Tim is virtually unparalleled at giving you the real scoop, and has for years been in a position to see what’s happening to the travel media industry from a unique perch.

If you’re serious about blogging as a profession, it’s important to know who to read. This is a book I’ll be referring to over and over again throughout my blogging career, and should be considered one of the most important books to read for travel bloggers in 2016.

Highly recommended. 

Get on Amazon, or via the author’s website.

NomadGuides Chiang Mai – Mike Hughes

NomadGuides-Chiang-Mai-cover-page

Don’t let the plan cover deceive you. With nearly 400 pages of ultra-detailed information to Thailand’s second city and access to perhaps the most detailed maps ever produced for Chiang Mai, there’s a lot to take in here.

This is not the sort of book you can breeze through in one sitting, and is probably best thought of as an encyclopedia to all things about life in Chiang Mai or getting started in Chiang Mai. Using the search function in your PDF readers will save you plenty of time here.

While I’ll give full credit to the writer’s attention to detail, long sentences and paragraphs make it difficult to read and follow at times. The level of detail may be overwhelming for first-time digital nomads, and is easily the most exhaustive book on living in Chiang Mai I’ve ever seen.

Recommended.

Purchase the PDF here.

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