Information About Using Guidebooks
Every traveler goes and buys a guidebook before they go on a trip. It’s a ritual. Guidebooks are a good tool for research, budgeting, and local information. But if you are going to multiple countries, you are stuck buying many books or a sparse multi-country book that doesn’t give you a lot of information. The longer we travel, the less we find ourselves actually using guidebooks and getting more information from travelers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them.
Guidebooks make excellent guides. They provided useful information about a country’s history, culture, major attractions as well as providing practical information. But they are incomplete. For starters, no one ever uses all the information from them so we end up carrying dead weight with us. Moreover, they suffer from a lot of the problems print books suffer from these days.
But it is important to remember that guidebooks have two main problems:
- The information can be out of date. By the time the writer gets the reviews together, it gets edited, the book gets printed, and you buy it at the store, the information is probably least a year old. That’s not very helpful- a lot can happen in a year, especially in rapidly developing areas of the world where things change rapidly. This doesn’t mean the information or author is wrong- it usually means things just changed too quickly for the book to keep up. As a traveler, you need up to the minute information and no matter how fast they print the guidebooks, there is always a lag. This is the main problem wiki travel guides like travellerspoint’s try to address.
- Guidebooks can be pretty vague. Some books cover all of America, Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, East Asia- all the regions of the world. With so many places to cover, it’s hard to provide the depth of information travelers need. You won’t be able to put in all the hostels, attractions, history, cities and towns you can in a single country guidebook. You can only include so much information into those little paragraphs. Travelers don’t get the depth of information they need but no one really wants to carry a guidebook for every country they plan on visiting, especially if they are going to a lot. It’s a dilemma.
Everyone uses guidebooks differently. However, a common mistake travelers make is that they travel the “lonely planet” trail. They use their guidebooks as bibles and only go where it recommends them too. DO NOT USE GUIDEBOOKS AS YOUR ONLY SOURCE OF INFORMATION. Use it to supplement other information. Get off the beaten path and try different places. There are many alternatives to guidebooks. Use a guidebook but just don’t only use a guidebook.