Posted:Soon I am to be embarking on my second, somewhat more extensive round of travelling, and I'm just starting on the planning. Whilst I wish I could just wing it and go without any preconceptions and find my own way, there's a little voice inside my head screaming at me "you need some security, go and BUY SOME BLOODY TRAVEL GUIDES!!!"
What series would people recommend? Ones that you've actually used, please, rather than ones you're planning to use. I got thoroughly sick of Lonely Planet last time, Let's Go were only a little better. My options seem to be:
Lonely Planet : think way too much of themselves, unfortunately everyone that buys them seems to agree. Usually quite condescending, shepherd people around and what is it with their obsession with temples/pagodas/monasteries (select as appropriate to the dominant faith of the country in which you are travelling)???? Is it really necessary to list all the religious buildings in every area, if even the author doesn't think they're worth visiting???? LP IS NOT THE [censored] BIBLE!!!!!!!
Let's Go: Less popular, so less omnipresent, so less infuriating. A little bit opinionated ("you must stay here! It's the best place in the world, ever!"), but normally a reasonable guide.
Rough Guide: I've never used, but had a flick through one or two. Seemed quite good, if not as well presented as those previously mentioned. Didn't seem to be aimed so much at the budget traveller.
Footprint: Never really looked at one, but I'm getting more and more recommendations for them. Seem very in depth, authors suppposedly know what they're talking about.
At the moment, Footprint guides seem to be the way forward.
So what can you all recommend? Bearing in mind, I do see these books as more of a suggestion on how you might like to spend your time, rather than a bible, "you MUST go here, you MUST see this" affair. I like to make my own mind up about where to go rather than having someones opinion thrust in my face.
Cheers for any help.
If you're not confused, you're not thinking about things hard enough.
Posted:I used the lonely planet books when I was travelling. I didn't bother reading more than a few pages properly, but they have a really good list of phone numbers for accomodation most of the time. That's about the only use I got out of them, but it was incredably handy.
But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.
Posted:It all depends on where you're going and for how long. Is packing a travel guide(s) worth the space and weight?
If you're on any sort of tourist trail, like most travellers, then travel guides are really easy to borrow from other travellers or guesthouses saving you the hassle of carrying one around. A lot of the info in those books, like train schedules may be a little old but at least books like Lonely Planet point you in the right direction for things like cheap hotels, kinda like taxi drivers, tourist info centers, and other travellers do.
Expats are another great source of on the road info.
The day they put couches in bookstores was the day I went into one and read every guidebook on Thailand and ended up buying nothing 'cause I remembered how little I actually used these things on previous trips.
Posted:I'd say it depends a lot on where you are going and what type of travel guide you purchase. For instance, a broad guide for all of Europe will not have the smaller stuff listed in it and will highlight the major cities of each country and not much else.
That being said, I was happy with Let's Go for Italy as well as South Africa and surrounding areas. One thing you should take note of is how frequently they are updated. For instance, my Let's Go one had some info on Mozambique which was fairly up to date. Vanize had borrowed a Lonely Planet guide to Mozambique that was horribly out of date, but it came in very handy for the maps that were in it.
I also am fond of the restaurants that Let's Go gives thumbs up to. I've eaten in several in several different countries, and have always found them wonderful and better than the average place I'd just stroll into on my own. Of course, I'm not the type of traveler that hangs out in the dorm areas of most hostels, so I may have gotten good info from them as well had I bothered to ask.
Posted:I'd agree that it totally depends on where you're travelling.
In developed countries like Australia and NZ you really won't need a travel guide - travelling in those countries is like paint by numbers, everything is very clear for you when you arrive (if you really need to reference something, you can always borrow someone elses - cuts down on carrying loads of heavy books in your backpack)
Less developed countries, it's good to have one as touristy information generally isn't as easy to come by.
Like Spritie said, it's usually possible to borrow one from someone else, or exchange with other travellers.
But Footprint, or at a push, Rough Guide, would be the better ones, in my opinion
Carpal \'Tunnel Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Total posts: 3638
Posted:I don't like Rough Guides
I travelled with maps, then you get to plan an interesting-looking route and find out what's on the way later
Contrary to most of you (it seems) I found LP a very useful source of basic information, especially for contact no's and maps. Take everything you read with a pinch of salt, always visit the local info centres (especially in developed places as they will have noticeboards and free leaflets etc.....) and ask locals where to walk and what to see. You'll get less of the 'temple, temple, monestary, mosque, church, temple' and more 'ooo what a pretty view!'
Listen to fellow travellers but again, be aware - what appeals to some may apall others!
Posted:I hate lonely planet with a vengence after getting severely lost in Croatia, while relying on one of their "maps". Map had a T-junction. I was looking at a roundabout with 5 exits. A roundabout will big trees on it. That must have been there a while Always found LP maps to be more of an artisic impression than a factual account. Also the New Zealand one tells you NOTHING about walking tracks, as a way of forcing you to buy their seperate tramping guide. It's just that kind of attitude that p#$%*s me off about guides. Or the "buy our map guide" kind of rubbish.
For what it's worth i like Let's Go. I've used these all around Europe and New Zealand. They don't tend to woffle, so the books are light to carry, they're generally accurate and tend to suit my (very low) budget. i've been using my NZ and Fiji one now for six months, and it's been great.
Rough Guides are really good if you want in-depth history and culture etc bits, but they cater for a higher budget range, and thus tell you less about public transport from A to B, as they expect you to have your own car or hire car. The accomodation options listed tend to be more expensive too.
Never used a footprint guide, so can't help you there.