My wife and I are travelling to multiple countries and are wondering what others do as far as guide books. We like having them to give us some ideas of where to start in a country and their info on Visas and border crossings is important to us to save time and often money. We don't however want the weight of four guide books (1 for each country) but worry that big all in guides won't have all that we need. What do you all think,
Thanks for your help,
lonley planet the bibel of travel
What countries are you going to?
Some guidebooks, like Lonely Planet, have books that cover a few countries in one. I have a Western Europe one that has really helped me.
I had the same problem when doing a big trip - I started buying them before I realised Id have to carry them! So I ended up with about 6 books.
You can get compact ones for large areas - i.e Argentina, Paraguay & Uruguay - although the details can be a little skimpy. Or South East Asia - covering Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philliphines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Again these are pretty skimpy in parts.
You could rip the pages out of the parts you dont need - i.e If your only visiting Western Australia, rip out the other 3/4 of the book. That can mess up your flexibiliy though - I did this in Kenya and ended up buying it again cause i changed my mind about where I wanted to visit once I was in the country.
Best thing to do I reckon is to buy them as you dispose of each one, so when you finish one country, lose one book and buy another. (Sometimes you can swap them with other travellers or hostels will buy them off you). Problem with this is that you cant really research the country until just before you arrive, and lonely planet and rough guides dont get cheaper in cheap countries - in fact Ireland and the UK and probably the cheapest places ive seen them.
- Go without a guidebook. I rarely carry one, except in really out of the way places. In anywhere vaguely on the track you will find lots of other travellers that you can borrow their books/have a read every now anad again if you need.
- Buy them on your way around. You can normally buy Eng language guide books in most majot cities/tourist destinations. Yes, they may actually be more expnesive than at home, but if the alternative is carry them for 8months for no reason, it might be worth it. Your choice.
- Buy/Swap them - lots of other travellers/hostels, and in some places there are thriving industries in swapping guide books etc. It relies a bit on luck - finding what you need, and being able to get rid of older versions - but is normally possible.
- Buy them at home, and work out strategic places where friends/Family can post them out to you on route to collect.
Also, DON'T buy Lonely Planet.
Most people treat them as teh bible, and best by a long way. Whether that is true or not is actually irrelevant. The point is that 95% of travellers with guide books seem to have LP's, which means you can always read a copy if you need to, in hostels or borrowing other travelelrs. If you get something different, you get a second point of view/perspective, with different ideas etc, and also often different "highlights" which if you visit get you off the LP circuit, so can be much quieter.
Why dont u also spend some time browsing through 'travel blogs' - both on this site and all over the net... I found blogs more useful, as u get a feel of what different people do, varied perspectives, and also many are kind enough to provide phone numbers and lesser found info.
I have been searching blogs for my recnet travels( however this was for within india till now!)
I have found that almost any city you go to that is somewhat larger and vaguely developed has a tourist office where you can go and get a tourist map and usually directions of a walking tour to see all the major, must-see tourist sites. And, they are almost always free!
For smaller towns, you can usually just walk around and be sure to see everything worth seeing.
Read them well before you go, and grab a notebook or travel diary to write all the important, can't-do-without info into. You'll condense the books down so much, but still have the info with you that's relevant. One notebook in your daypack (or maybe one in each of your daypacks??), will be so much easier to carry than 4 huge guidebooks