by KB Meniado
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, as I’ve just returned from a trip abroad, where I noticed some other travelers leafing through their guidebooks.
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.
3. They get outdated pretty quickly.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.
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 but these cons outweigh the pros. I prefer the Internet nowadays—travel blogs and other websites with user-generated content. 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! ☁