As I begin planning our travelling adventures of Winter 2017 I’m left asking the question… Are Lonely Planet guides worth it? A quick search on the Internet and I find many asking the same question with no answer. Which can only mean one thing… It’s time to investigate…
Lonely Planet Guides were started by Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 1973. The first guidebook ‘Across Asia on the Cheap’ advised travellers on how to do an overland journey from Europe to Australia. Over 40 years later and Lonely Planet is the largest guidebook publisher in the world. With more than 120 million books printed in more than 11 different languages.
When you look at planning an adventure where do you start? Do you know where you want to go? What you want to see? What about everything in between? Whilst for many previous trips I’ve managed to find information from the internet this year I literally have no idea where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. It’s both an exciting but confusing place to be in… ‘I want to see the world’ but where on earth do I start.
Lonely Planet guides such as Best in Travel 2017 are a great way of finding ‘what’s hot right now’ sometimes giving you destinations you could have otherwise never imagined.
If you know where you want to go, then you may have some ideas as to the places you want to see.
Who influences you on everything else? The things you do on the other days of your trip?
Travel Bloggers: Travel Blogging has come along way over the past decade. With more coverage than ever before, I often look for personalised recommendations from the travel bloggers I follow online.
However, sometimes they’ve never been somewhere I’m planning on going…
Friends & Family: This can be so hit and miss. Sometimes you can thank your family for a hotel, restaurant or activity that completely made the holiday. Other times, this can be quite the opposite.
Either way make sure the travelling personality of the person(s) you’re taking recommendations from aligns with your own. Lonely Planet: Often the most comprehensive you can often find something that will suit your personality for this trip.
When you’ve decided on where you want to go and what you want to do, you’ll often start extended research. For this I use the reviews of TripAdvisor. I often find these the most independent, but it’s always worth taking them with a pinch of salt.
Overexposure from popular guides such as Lonely Planet can cause the establishments standards to suffer. If the establishment knows they are having someone from Lonely Planet visiting they can pull out all the stops to create the most fantastic atmosphere. Which can be simply impossible to repeat for everyone.
The Mobile Age
Back in 1973 when Lonely Planet first started there was no such thing as mobile data, no Google Maps, no iPhone and no TripAdvisor. This meant that you were limited as to how you would be able to source information about a particular destination whilst on the road. Over more than forty years our technology has advanced tremendously. However, many countries still have limited mobile data, websites still have downtime and can leave us stranded.
So whilst many of us would turn to our mobile phones for just about anything that may not be the answer. Having a copy of Lonely Planet means you can access the information without the internet.
Conclusion… Are Lonely Planet Guides Worth It?
In my opinion, both yes and no. What I’ve found from my research is that Lonely Planet guides are comprehensive.
They cover the most dynamic range of destinations and include a wealth of information. They are a great source of inspiration for your trip whether you know the destination or do not. However they can easily become bias and outdated which is why I feel that it’s always important to conduct further research rather than simply doing something ‘because Lonely Planet recommended it’ in the planning stage use the internet to find reviews either from travel bloggers or through Trip Advisor.
Finally, on the road… We are often bound by our mobile data and phone batteries that can often become unavailable. So depending on your trip, and level of confidence you simply need to decide are lonely planet guides worth it?