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Travel Forums General Talk Travel Books

1. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 12y

Am I the only person that think that travel books are generally a waste ot time?

They are okay for general background information on certain places ("while in Paris don't miss the Eiffel Tower"!), but the more specific they get, the more useless they are.

I thought this as I drove past many cheap hotels in Lyon, searching (ultimately in vain) for the hotel recommended by a travel book. What a waste of time! Restaurant and eating-out information is equally useless!

You can find your own accommodation and cheap eats without relying on an out of date book!

2. Posted by kody (Respected Member 234 posts) 12y

Hi James,

I bet you got some right point of it. Besides some travel guide books aren't cheap as well.
But afterall I have a few travel guide books. Why I purchase them then? Simple, b'coz before I get to go certain places,
it'll be nice for me to know the country and place of Interest first. In Paris definitely ppl won't get bored mentioning Don't miss the Eiffel Tower x3, but some travel reference books are good by introducing some outskirt area. Even some unknown towns or cities to explore at.

Secondly, I definitely don't have the sufficient fund to RTW,
so by picking up some books might bring me closer to the country I choose by knowing their culture, language, currency, and plc of interest. Such like, I haven't been to Fiji before,
what kind of place of interest in Fiji, name me one pls.
Something like that...By knowing countries around the globe,
at the end of the day, I'll get to summarize and pick the best out of the best place that I long awaited.
But with the helpful hands fmr all TP-members, it'll be much easier to get info.

Cheers,
Nick ;)

3. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 12y

I'm on the fence about travel guides. Before I go on a trip I think travel guides are a great starting point (knowing the basic sights in places is great if you don't know much about the area - ie: a small town in France you decide to explore), however I always do more research on the net just so I can make sure that the book hasn't missed anything.

During the trip, I think travel books are great to give you a rough idea where everything is in a city, and how to get there. I used it a lot while backpacking in Europe (it was great to read on looooong train rides). Usually their sights and resto recommendations are good if you want a quick bite and are in the area of one of the places the recommend.

Now on the minus side, the maps in the books are pretty bad - they outline the city well, but they're a little off in terms of how many streets are where and how long it will take to walk to places. The hostel recommendations weren't cool either (at least the ones we tried), but we found accomodations on the net or by word of mouth, so we didn't rely on that too much.

I just find the best way to find things is by asking others you meet along the way or discovering them yourself. If you're only going to one city, a book isn't really worth it (they're expensive!) And on longer trips, I still think books are quite handy despite their pitfalls!

Cheers,
Katie ;)

4. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y

Maybe this just shows my general lack of planning, but I like travel guides. I think this is basically because I have no idea what I am going to do when I am in the country, and if nothing else they give me an idea of what to see when I am some place and where to go next. "Ohhh, waterfalls. I should head there." I tend to pick places based more on feel than any specific knowledge of the place.

I agree about the hotel and food, you can always find a cheap hotel on your own, and the way restaurants come and go, by the time the author has written up 3 recommendations, two of them are probably already close. However, the good thing that the travel guides provide is an idea of what neighbourhoods to check out for lodging and eats.

On maps - in almost every place I have gone you can go to city hall or the tourist centre and pick up a decent enough map of the city. Easier to carry around than a copy of the Lonely Planet. I tend to figure out where things are using the travel book, and then mark them on my little tourist map.

So, I like travel guides.

5. Posted by nieck (Full Member 24 posts) 12y

hmm... when i went to rome 3 yrs. ago my mom gave me this book about rome. i never really read anything in it and still got to see lots of things. when i went to paris in june me and my friend took two books about paris along. we read some of the stuff in there, but the best places (i.e.: indian quarter) we discovered on our own. having made this experiences i must say: i don't like and i don't trust these tourist-sightseeing guides.

but the one thing i love is books where people write down there own experiences. the story of their trip, the feelings they had and the little things that they discovered while they were on the road/train/bus - whatever.
those books are really great and you can refine something out of it and use it for yourself. also they takes you thousands of miles away when you are riding the bus to work or hag out at your house on a rainy afternoon. great stuff.

greetz, nils

6. Posted by baztravel (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

I would not say that travel books are a waste of time, they are good to build up an anticipation of your holiday and give you a general idea about the city/country if you had known nothing about it previously though to follow them religiously would be foolish and boring anyway, it’s good to discover the city for yourself, the hotel recommendations are limited I agree with this but for most of us we can ignore all this and just go looking online for our accommodation anyway. I would however be reluctant to pay the expensive prices for them when really you can find all the info you need and a lot more of it on the internet in such great forums as here, so that’s why I get them for free from my library.:)

7. Posted by worldromer (Budding Member 3 posts) 12y

So take me out to the wood shed and shoot me! (American President: Michael Douglas to Annette Benning after overhearing her blasting him)

And yes I hope are the only person who thinks travel books are for the most part a waste. Where to begin....You should know that any travel book was written 'at least' one year prior to publication so why complain that hotel info etc. is not up to date. The internet has intervened to solve this problem.

Current info, often with testimonials over recent months, is just a finger stroke away. I read 15 reviews of the 2-Star Chaplain Rive Guache hotel and easily knew that 14 guests loved the place and the 15th said is smelled but "I'd still go back..." Ialso knew the 'current' staff was friendly, conversant in English and the water pressure was WOW!

Then there are the culture shock/enlightenment, nuts and bolts tips (anyone for a money saving Carte Orange in Paris) and safety convenience factors to global travel. Consider John Meader's Wordless Travel Book..you may laugh, howl and jump for joy at this mini marvel we've used with gleeful fun in China, Siberia and in Paris restaurants. Any one hunting for Jockey shorts in a Beijing's Luftansia department store! http://www.jmeader.com/travel/

As for the "shoot me" remark, I figured I'd traveled as long and hard as many travel book writers so I wrote my own 'global' bargain travel guide which was published and went to a second edition. Half my vacation guide covers comfort, safety, convenience and $$$ saving tips/advice and then nine global chapters chronicle our travels to such as Africa, China, Israel-Jordan-Egypt, Paris, London, New Zealand, generic Cruising, Moorea and Maui. It incudes personal tales and tips like an African photo safari on the 'cheap' plus the safari itself in depth vis a vis what does one experience, see and feel on the safari trail. Have you heard the one about the goat heads laid out on the beach for the giant man killer CROCS to pop in their jaws as you sit 50 feet away cringing in a state of fearful astonishment.

Consider that I usually select one of ten books on the shelf that will work for me knowing the 90% I rejected may likely work for someone else.

Rick Steve books have helped us immerse in various foreign cultures and quickly learn the lay of the land in foreign cities. Thanks Rick!

The Eiffel Tower is too easy a target. How about the little visited 18th century Parisian Parc Monceau with its French revolution history connection and magnificent nearby mansions. Or, Chopin's grave or the half millions skulls n' bones one may 'caress' in the catacombs! Or the Musee Grevin or biggest flea market in Paris and best street food markets.

How to find Shindler's grave in an unnamed cemetery outside Jerusalem's old wall? What do those hundreds of little stones on his grave MEAN?

Or the little known Moorea reef you can access at night from a ladder (rather than dark tricky beach entry) so you can view rather than STEP ON the poisenous Scorpian fish. Or, travel life exploring New Zealand in a Ford Transit campervan. And tips, from Maui's best hidden nude beach to its best "goat trail to get there" marine preserve?

Life's a mix and so are travel books and the things they can and can not do for each of us.

Sometimes a personal tale offers savvy 'take care' insight such my paragraph titled: STEVE'S BEGUILING GYPSY ENCOUNTER that goes something like..."... as the gypsy, with baby in her arms, approached I felt her hand in my front pocket. It took me fully 30 seconds to realize this was not a 'friendly' gesture." (Unsuccessful pick pocket attempt in Florence)

For any interested our Author's web site is: www.cheaptravel.net
That's me on a favorite CAMEL. Video clips are from the 3-month Around the World Film we produced for Excite@Home. (note: we make nothing from current sales as books are at the end of their shelf life - so not selling books)

Happy Travels to all!