Toolie Travel Blog

A million-mile flyer talks about the life of a business traveler.

Newsletter: The Wonders of Reliable Travel Sources

As I was preparing this month's newsletter, I came upon a news story that said that Arthur Frommer had purchased back from Google the rights to the name of his original travel guide series for an undisclosed sum. I have to say I was thrilled to hear the news because Frommer's Guide to Paris was one of my first travel guide purchases when Microsoft asked me to travel on their behalf. I came to rely on Frommer's Guides in the early days of my business travel.

It was 1996; I was asked to present at the US-based TechEd in Los Angeles. I had moved away from LA just 3 years earlier, and with the new Convention Center wing being finished, I was looking forward to seeing it. Then the news came: I had also been selected to speak at the European TechEd in Nice in the south of France. I was beside myself with joy! I arranged to take a week's vacation right after TechEd Europe finished, and then I took a 6-week crash course in French for tourists at the local community college. My plan was to spend that vacation week in Paris for the first time ever, and I intended to use that year of French from grad school plus the crash course to my best advantage.

I bought my ticket to fly in and out of Paris; I looked up the Eurail Pass and figured out how to get from Paris to Nice and back. In 1996, the Internet was just an interesting experiment in online commerce. Finding this information was done by reading books, not by searching with Google, which didn't even exist then (it was incorporated 2 years later). And thus, Arthur Frommer became my new best friend. His plain- looking but information-packed travel guides led me to some of my best finds in Paris.

The first, most important and still-used hotel "find" was the Hôtel Brittanique. Located in the very center of Paris and just a half-block from the Metro stop that has 6 lines running through it, the Hôtel Brittanique became a haven for me. The staff spoke English well, and Americans and UK residents were welcomed with open arms. The rooms are tiny and the elevator even smaller, but after a long day of concentrating on French grammar, it was a relief to be able to lapse into English for the night. I stayed at that hotel multiple times over the years, and its central location was and still is a godsend.

Next, I found out about the Carte Musée, a multi-museum pass that got me into most of the places I wanted to visit anyway. And then there was the Carte Visite, a weekly pass for the Paris Metro. Now I had a place to stay, places to go, and a way to get there, all from Frommer's guide.

Finally, Frommer's pointed me towards Rail Europe, the organization that issues Eurail passes. I used one of the passes to get me to Nice from Paris and back again. So from that one source, I became a business traveler who was comfortable moving around a foreign location. Frommer's gave me the confidence to take on another 31 regions and countries during the height of my business travel days. So thank you Arthur Frommer! Keep up the good work.

Got a favorite travel guide series that you use? Leave your comments below!
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