who needs a guidebook?

Discuss volunteering opportunities or how you can help to ensure that tourism in developing countries remains a positive experience for everyone.

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If it's too easy, you're probably missing out on something.

Postby myrti » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:24 pm

Hi Verena...

Do you inform yourself before going on holidays?
I always start learning a few words of the language before I go. However, I try (!) to resist reading much more as I find I enjoy the holiday more if I haven't had too much time to over-analyse the snippets of information I have without seeing the reality.

The exceptions to this are situations where I need practical information before I leave home; the most recent example being - how much do I need to cover up (and therefore what do I need to pack) if I'm going to a country with a mostly muslim population?

I always read about customs, etc before the plane lands to avoid those embarassing/disrespectful faux-pas and so I know more of what to expect. We all have cringe-worthy stories of seeing other travellers doing something they shouldn't because they haven't read that chapter of their Lonely Planet.

The history section doesn't normally get more than a skim read until I encounter a long train journey, but then I probably wouldn't choose to travel to a place I knew absolutely nothing about.

Are you using guidebooks for the information you need?
I certainly use them for practical information. I'm not about "need" in this context (ie culture). Do I really "need" to know what the education system is like in a country I'm visiting for a week, or even a month? Probably not. However, I think it's to both the tourist's and the locals' advantage that I know the basics, and that more knowledge leads to a more enjoyable experience. I prefer to know why people are all suddenly standing up or what those white boxes drawn on a wall are, rather than feeling outside of the culture I'm visiting, but my whole trip wouldn't be ruined by these little mysteries.

In addition to guidebooks, if possible, I like to read a book set in the country I'm visiting whilst I'm there to give me another perspective / insight into the culture.

However, I think the best source of information has to be someone who actually lives locally. Of course, if you don't have a local guide you have to meet someone, not offend them, and engage them in conversation using your in-depth knowledge about the local education system first... (I'm joking about that last part.)

Can the guidebook make the travel experience easier for the tourists?
Certainly from a practical perspective (maps, train times...). With regards to culture, etc I think this depends on how you travel & your level of engagement with the local population.

If you're a backpacker, yes, certainly. Even though a book may not cover every single aspect, I think most of the people you encounter whilst abroad will have met foreign tourists before and will not expect you to know about every obscure local custom. The fact that you know the basics and have made an effort may open otherwise closed doors.

At the other end of the scale, if you're travelling with a bland tour operator who buses you about with a tour guide of your own nationality, only lets you off to take photos and puts you up in 5* resorts where local people fear to tread, a guidebook probably won't make much of an impact. If it's too easy, you're probably missing out on something.

This turned out to be a rather long post. Hope it was useful...
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Postby thetravelingbee » Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:53 pm

Do you inform yourself before going on holidays? Why yes/not?
I typically do most of my research in trying to decide where to go first - this is what helps me select my next location. There's only been one trip I've taken that I didn't research prior to going and this was only because I went for a specific activity (sailing) and didn't care so much about where I was doing it, but that is definitely not my MO.

Are you using guidebooks for the information you need? Why?
Yes and no. Depends on the location - sometimes the guidebooks are helpful in research, and other times I find they're more helpful when I'm actually IN a location as a reference.

Can the guidebook make the travel experience easier for the tourists? Why?
You bet! If they're well-written (which most of the more well known ones are - e.g. Fodors, Lonely Planet, Let's Go, etc.) they can really help you better understand the country, cultures, and what's available to see and do. Some can even take you off-the-beaten-track a bit and help you explore where the "locals" hang which provides an even better taste of the country. This is typically what I look for in a guidebook as I'm not so interested in being a "tourist" but rather a "traveler".
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Postby SamMax » Sun Jan 06, 2008 6:37 pm

Do you inform yourself before going on holidays? Why yes/not?
Absolutely - I love to google. I look up currency exchange, weather, and general information for the country information sites. Visa info etc


Are you using guidebooks for the information you need? Why?
Rick Steve's guidebooks are excellent - very useful. I feel you need to be organized inorder to make the most of your journey - And I like to get everything in that I can.

Can the guidebook make the travel experience easier for the tourists? Why?

I use the guidebook to build an itinerary but I also feel travel forums help as well. I think local guides are wonderful but the books usually have more information and I like to know information about where I am traveling before I get there - that way I dont miss anything.
Places I've Travelled:
Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Mexico, Canada and all over USA
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Re: who needs a guidebook?

Postby nox » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:20 pm

I always use a guidebook. It gives the info on when you should go for good weather. Information about the customs etc. before you get there. Places to stay at reasonable rates. Lets you know how to get from the airport to your first destination the easiest/cheapest. How to get the best deal without offending anyone. It tells you what you should be paying for a cab ride .vs what they will try and get out of you. If you should negotiate for things. How easy it will be to get currency at the airport.

Then when you get there, the maps are very valuable. It give you ideas for what to see and where to eat. Usually has phrases to help communicate. The most popular scams to look out for.

I really wouldn't go anywhere without one. Lonely Planet is by far the best one I have seen.
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