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Essential Travel Items and Books for European Vacations

Gifts for Yourself or Other Travelers

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This European travel gift guide offers selected gift suggestions for the European traveler and items you'll want yourself if you're planning a European vacation.

1. European Travel Books

Here are our top guidebooks and European travel guides. These specially selected guides will help you plan your trip, find places to stay and eat, and make your European trip more enjoyable. We have general Europe guidebooks and specialty interest books for those who want to ride the train, drive, walk, or bicycle. There are guide books for individual Western European countries, too. These books make great gifts for the European traveler.

2. European Travelogues

Enjoy a tour of Western Europe without leaving home. These travelogues and travel books take the reader on adventures in many European countries. For people thinking of a trip to Europe, wishing they were there, or who just enjoy being an armchair traveler, there is sure to be a book here.

3. European Wall Maps

In my office there's a big wall map showing western Europe. It's big enough to plan a trip to major European centers. I always have a map nearby. A wall map will allow you to daydream your European vacation without unfolding anything. These laminated maps are inexpensive gifts for the traveler.

4. Top Carry-On Bags

Here we present some of the best carry on bags that can be carried on an overseas airline flight. Be aware that the maximum size of carry on baggage varies by carrier -- check first! Luggage makes a great gift for the first time or frequent traveler.

5. Italy Guide Books and Travelogues

Italy is one of Europe's most popular travel countries. Here are the top Italy travel guidebooks, travelogues, and books about Italy. Books about Italy make good gifts for the armchair traveler or anyone planning to visit Italy.

6. Provence Books by Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle's books bring Provence to life. These are great gifts for the Francophile.

7. Top Travel Accessories

There are many travel accessories made to assist the traveler in enjoying a more comfortable and secure trip. Here are some essentials for your trip or gifts for travelers.

8. Ultra Compact Digital Travel Cameras

Ultra compact digital cameras weigh in at less than 5 ounces--but pack a punch with high resolution picture output. We've selected some tiny cameras you won't mind carrying around on your vacation. Some of our top picks have special features you'll want to check out--wireless printing and downloading, anti-shake technology, and weather proofing. Take a look at the top ultra-compact digital cameras for travel.

9. Compact Digital Travel Cameras

Here are my top pics for compact cameras you can slip in a pocket. Don't travel without your camera just because it's heavy and bulky. Try one of these compact digital travel cameras, selected for the best image quality for their size.

10. Digital SLR Travel Cameras

For a camera that takes great pictures but doesn't fit in a pocket, a digital SLR is best. Its flexibility includes: interchangeable lenses, a bigger sensor for lower noise at higher ISO speeds so you can shoot under dark conditions, and anti-shake technology that lets you shoot under almost total darkness, for those inside cathedral pictures. Here are my recommendations for cameras and lenses specially suited to travel photography.

11. Hard Camera and Computer Cases

Hard cases protect delicate electronics in the passenger compartment or in the baggage hold of the plane if security regulations dictate. Here are cases to protect equipment from moisture, shock, and other environmental hazards, as well as keeping it locked for safety.

12. Menu Translation and Food Guides

There are two types of menu translation books here, the Marling Menu Master Series, which starts with typical menu items in the native language sorted by course, and tells you what they are in English. They are thin, easy to take to dinner, and include a lot of translations. The World Food Series from Lonely Planet are more detailed books about the history, regional cuisine, food customs and wine. They're handy to bring shopping with you. The dictionary isn't as complete as Marling, however.

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