I just posted about this in the TP Blog, but thought I'd try here as well to see what you all think.
What is the primary information you look for in a travel guide?
In the TP travel guide, this is something we've been in two minds about. In articles about places, I like to have background information about the country/city/town's history and geography up high, just after the introduction. Peter prefers to follow the introduction up with the See & Do type info.
So what about you? What's the first thing you look for?
Hello Dr Pepper
In the TP travel guide I just read whatever information is available for the place I am about to go to.
I rely on the Lonely Planet or one of the other popular guides to do my main travel research.
When I am considering where to go, I generally check the Lonely Planet first for safety issues, then for how much it would cost to travel in that place. After that I read about the culture, history etc and browse the internet for photos of the place.
It is probably too much to ask, but it would be ideal if the TP travel guide would replace my need to buy a Lonely Planet book for safety, accomodation, transport and costs information. It would be nice to be able to pick and choose some information for a specific trip, then put it in a file and print to take with me while travelling or to access on the internet while travelling.
Great idea Mel ... I too would love to be able to do this, put your shoosen info into a file to print when needed!
I look for the little "out-of-the-way" things to scout out and visit. An example or two would be the Catholic Church in San Francisco, Panama which is adorned with a mix of pagan and Christian symbols throughout. It's a small church but one of great significance to San Francisco. Sadly, it was closed the day we were there, but they were just starting it's renovation as the church was in a state of disrepair and the village was looking forward to tourism dollars to help their economy. The second is a local swimming "hole" along the river in Santa Fe, Panama. The road to the river was not for the faint of heart but well worth the effort. We did find both gems in the Lonely Planet Guide but I typically do a search for the "obscure" or "off the beaten path" things the guides don't cover. If I'm going to do a driving trip somewhere in the U.S., I check Roadside America for things like the Wigwam Village Motel #6 (consisting of wigwams) in Holbrook, Arizona or Sever's Corn Maze in Shakopee, Minnesota.
I don't think the guide should be overloaded with such items, but I do believe enough TPers have found their own little gems (not listed in the guides) and those could bring a few extra sparks to the guide that aren't located easily anywhere else. I just contributed a piece in the wiki about the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina. It's not accessible via public transportation but considering how many members plan driving trips across the U.S., it's a fun stop. (We spent a whole afternoon "panning for riches".) Who knows - someone may find a gem stone large enough to fund their next adventure. It could happen... And really, who doesn't want to visit the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin...
I did a search on LP's site for the Emerald Hollow Mine and I did not see it listed. I don't know if they have listed it in one of their hard copy guides.
I want mine to be super simple. That's why I like the DK books--clean, full of pics, short entries, well-defined sections, and a little run downs on food, culture, history, accommodation, customs, and practical info. The only downfall is that it's a little on the heavy side to carry.
I always get a bit flummoxed when I first arrive or when I feel a little lost--so I haven't the mindset to sit and read through paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff. I want the guidebook equivalent of "Look for this here". Nice pic, directions in bold, check the map and voila!
When I want to read I take along a book!
I agree with Tway.
I like the Lonely planet Country profile sections just because they are fast and easy, and to the point. Scant on info though.
I would like an online travel guide to be a little user interactive. As in simple + drop downs to expand headers. As is Accommodation + next to a town, and a must do + etc
I also agree with the comment on print ability. Printing sections like you want like on travelfish is a great option.
I agreed with Isadora and also like to look for out of the way things that you might not find in Lonely Planet. I am a HUGE fan of Lonely Planet Guides but at times find that a lot of the info is out of date (more so in recent years) so like to see up to date experiences from other travellers (rather than travel writers).
Thats why i love TP forums and blogs!
dr pepper, in response to the quandry about background vs see & do... i thinks its important to have both.
I think it would be a real shame not to have info about a places history and background in a prominent place after the intro if we are considering visiting a place, followed by the see & do stuff at the bottom.