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Tosses and Turns: Why Guidebooks Are Lost on Me


Welcome to Tosses and Turns, where I rant-chant about whatever reading-related issue that has been keeping me up at night.

This time, I want to talk about travel guidebooks, which couldn’t be more fitting since this month’s theme is Adventures. I’ve also just returned from a trip abroad, where I noticed other travelers (mostly Westerners) leafing through their guidebooks.

bookbed tosses and turns travel books

Image from Cool Hunting

Let me tell you upfront that I don’t use guidebooks. I owned one about Taiwan and a couple of tiny Lonely Planet books on Hongkong, China and Japan. I bought the first one after my trip (don’t know why I did that; probably just the book hoarder in me) and I got the latter ones for free at a book event.

Cutting the story short, I have never bought a guidebook prior to a trip. Here’s why:

1. They are expensive.

Don’t think that in the bajillion bookstore trips I’ve had, I’ve never gone to the travel section and stared longingly at those plastic-covered (code for DON’T OPEN!) guides, because I have. I’ve even picked out which ones would look great on my shelves. But whenever I flip the book and check out the price tag, my dream bubble bursts.

2. They have #TMI.

And with too much (untailored) information comes too much responsibility. And power. That’s just too much for me to handle. Seriously. Too much.

3. They become outdated too quickly.

With the fast-paced exchange of information in the world today, some of the content in guidebooks tend to be obsolete, even fresh off the press. It’s not their fault; it’s just the nature of print. I mean, do people still order encyclopedia books today?

4. They are too heavy.

Glossy covers and sometimes even glossier pages? Sorry, you’re not coming with me.

5. They just “hang out” after.

It’s sad but true: They will probably just sit around, gathering dust on my shelves.

I love the printed word, believe me, but these cons outweigh the pros. I would rather turn to the Internet—and I most certainly do that—and read travel blogs and other websites with user-generated content, like TripAdvisor. The information these websites provide are more accessible, more comprehensive, more candid and most of all, more personal.

Do you use travel guidebooks? Are they actually helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below! ☁

Read more Tosses and Turns here.
No Comments
  • shing liganor (@abitshing)
    Posted at 02:26h, 07 May Reply

    Haven’t really traveled outside the country yet, but I do have a travel guidebook about Japan and it’s been collecting dust since high school :)) Sure it’s nice to flip over it once in a while but given that I do get to travel, that book’s just too big and heavy to tot around~

    • kb (@heykebe)
      Posted at 14:57h, 08 May Reply

      Hi Shing! You know it!! But hold on to that Japan guidebook… will come in useful when you finally get there! 🙂

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