Replies: 15 - Last Post: Dec 7, 2012 2:12 PM Last Post By: northword
Dec 5, 2012 6:34 AM
GuidebooksMaybe not the best place to post this, but I found this article on the usefulness of guidebooks interesting . I agree with much of what is said and rarely use a guidebook.
Dec 5, 2012 7:04 AM
1Good article Robert and reinforces what I always say about guidebooks - they are just that and no more - a guide.
The article makes good points that, 1) guidebooks are biased by the authors' likes and dislikes, 2) they are at least a year out of date by the time they are published and usually more, 3) they cannot possibly be encyclopeidic sources for all ameneties available at any given location.
Some folks use guidebooks more as a traveller's bible and are upset when they find the recommended restaurant has closed or the cost of their budget hotel room is higher than quoted in the guidebook. But, a good guidebook can point you to the general areas of interest while providing you some background on the places you visit. For this purpose I like LP's guidebooks.
We may occassionally book a hotel out of the LP guidebook for one night if we are arriving late at a destination, but normally we just use it to locate ourselves in the area we want to be and then do some footwork to find the place we want to stay or eat. So far this has always worked and we have always found many more (and better) places than listed in any guidebook.
Dec 5, 2012 7:40 AM
2I would agree that a Guidebook is just that, a guide.
Use it for sightseeing information or points of interest which rarely or may never change.
Using one for transportation, hotels, restaurants and/or prices is not what I use one for. Those change too frequently to be of any use!
As was also pointed out that it depends on the writers biases too, but that goes for written or web-form guides
For instance, in the small town where I am for the winter there are three restaurants and one in the neighboring town where I can get mulcajete (Lava bowl soup).
I have my favorite, others have their favorite restaurant. Which is better? Of course the one I like. LOL!
Dec 5, 2012 7:53 AM
3I've been looking at the most recent LP Mexico guide and one thing that is driving me crazy in their "recommended" hotels section is that half the time the prices are in Mexican pesos, and the others are listed in US dollars. Absolutely no consistency which leads me to believe that much is just reprinted from one edition to another, without editing, and probably without additional reviewing of the places in question.
Dec 5, 2012 8:05 AM
Dec 5, 2012 2:28 PM
5I agree with Aloysius. My favorite part of the trip, until I start traveling, is the planning stage. That's when I pour-over Lonely Planet Mexico. Guidebooks are a great way to plan in advance different adventures. With guidebooks, I can plot possible day-trips or week-end trips, to extend traveling experiences. I can get an idea of the hotels available in the different areas and line-up some restaurants to check-out. Google is also utilized, but not always easy on the road. Maps and locator tabs are extremely useful in the guidebooks.
Dec 5, 2012 4:58 PM
6I never go to Mexico without my LP guide. I confess though that it is a mixed bag.
At Pochutla I shared a cab down to Puerto Angel with a slightly mad fellow Canadian who was almost 80. On the way down he asked where I was going to stay and so I pulled out my handy LP and Gundi y Tomas leapt off the page. It is not for everyone but paradise for superannuated hippies. I was quite happy there and went back again years later and hope to do so again in the near future. Without LP I would not have known about this place.
Guidebooks can make you stupid, supressing adventurousness. I once took a bus down to Izucar de Matamoros from Puebla hoping to find some ceramics. I didn't find any so I took a bus back which stopped in at Atlixco. I decided to jump off and so discovered a most interesting town rarely listed in guidebooks. It is like Cholula with a church on a height overlooking the imposing Popo. It was market day and was lousy with day trippers from Puebla but not a gringo or LPer in sight.
Dec 6, 2012 12:27 AM
7A useless article with stupid pretentious naming, a death of guidebooks, really? Guidebooks are limited by size and time it takes to go to print, wow, thank you captain obvious for amazing insight.
I think #1 found in the article something that is actually not there, something CascadeBob always knew - and I agree - that for many travelers guidebook is exactly that, a guidebook, a starting point (though for many first-timers with limited time, it is much more than just starting point but that's details, I guess.) Article's author, Mr. Leocha, however, does not actually state that. On the contrary, he states that guidebooks used to be all great and true -- in the old times, when author himself was in guidebook business. Old writers were unbribable, books researched and complete and full of history and sights info, and the trees were taller, grass was greener. Now that Mr. Leocha moved to web-based business, old way of printed guidebooks is all of a sudden conveniently turns unprofessional and filled with flaws. So now Mr. Leocha is out there in the blogosphere filling it with ideas, one innocent article at a time, that using printed books for practical info is outdated, turning readers towards the idea that all they need is better to get from the web. Good businessman he is, smart approaches he takes.
I bought my first Rough to Mexico in 2002 and it still served me well in 2009. If it did not fell apart, I would still use it. Never had no problems with hotels and restaurants it listed.
Though LP does warn readers that info gets outdated, the major issue with places it promotes is that they are getting way too popular way too quickly.
The point that hotels and restaurants suggestions made in the guidebooks are biased to the authors's preferences is weird. At least, those choices are consistent and you get to know what to expect quickly. If you are using a guidebook of certain publisher on a trip after a trip after a trip, this means the choices of writers employed by this series/publisher make sense to you. Way better than trip adviser or such when you got to make your decisions based on reviews from random people who you may have nothing in common and have a complete difference in what you are looking for in hotels, etc.
The point that info is not well researched and contributors are not honest/professional in their choices, makes me believe that Mr Leocha never read LP or Rough. Exceptions happen, sure, but, I do think that he is basing his article - if he is actually basing it on anything - on some other guide books.
As for guidebooks that are dedicated solely to sights and culture and history, Blue Guides was one such amazing series and it went out of business for practical reasons. Still, LP, as well as many other guidebooks, provide huge deal of historic and cultural info as well as tons of references for additional reading.
Bottom line: I do not say, naturally, guide books are flawless. But there are great guidebooks and everyone can easily find one that woks best for him or her. The issue that we see here at TT is that a lot of people do not read them at all coming up with tons of questions answers for which are easily found in print.
Edited by: alterigor
Dec 6, 2012 12:40 AM
8#3, I noticed that too in several editions. I believe this has had to do with BBC attempts to shift focus, at least somewhat, towards more mainstream and business travelers. It caused some sort of dual personality in some editions that still mostly targeted back-packers independent travelers but had "our choice" hotels and restaurants picks selected for travelers with quite different budget. Many of the hotels they picked were in top category and a number of those places actually lst their prices in American dollars (so the peso equivalent will vary depending on exchange rate fluctuation)
Dec 6, 2012 7:04 AM
9Bottom line: I do not say, naturally, guide books are flawless. But there are great guidebooks and everyone can easily find one that woks best for him or her. The issue that we see here at TT is that a lot of people do not read them at all coming up with tons of questions answers for which are easily found in print. (@7)
Amen! to that.
My first introduction to guidebooks, guides, was when I started traveling extensively outside of the USA in the 1970s - to China, the USSR. Nagel Guides were the 'gold standard,' then and a serioius traveler didn't leave home without one. A couple of years ago I purchased a used copy of a 1968 Nagel Guide to Mexico. It's a fascinating read. I also have a 1955 guide to Acapulco, by Esteban A. de Varona. They're cultural/lifestyle guides and you didn't find hotel/restaurant information in them.
Dec 6, 2012 7:22 AM
10¨I think #1 found in the article something that is actually not there¨
Actually, No. 7 has no idea what I thought. I rarely use guidebooks due to my personal preferences. If others find them useful, I understand that. But I still thought the article made some good points.
And while I said I dont use guidebooks, I have often used the Michelin guides for information on sites I am visiting. I have found them excellent. But mostly, I dont use guidebooks for hotel or restaurant recommendations.
Everyone has their own take on guidebooks, as on most every subject. No right or wrong, my opinion.
Dec 6, 2012 7:25 AM
Dec 6, 2012 8:18 AM
Dec 7, 2012 12:31 PM
13Couldn't help but weigh in on this one...I agree with dmhaun that guidebooks are best for early preparation, and getting a general feel for a new country and starting with a rough idea of prioritization. If you've never been to, say, Indonesia, reading a guide book on the country (and ignoring the info on hotels and restaurants) will give you a good head start on deciding where to go and what to expect.
There's a positive aspect to so many travelers using guidebooks (like LP): most people stay in the hotels and eat at the restaurants recommended. Many of them are indeed well worth it of course, but If you go to one of the hotels and then look around the immediate area for something else you'll usually get a great deal and be in a place with far fewer people! So the guidebooks can act as a sort of mosquito repellent, keeping most people away from most of the other places!
Dec 7, 2012 1:42 PM
14An LP country guidebook helps me with when to go, where to go, a rough idea of costs, how to get there, how to get around, great maps, money matters, safety concerns, laws & regulations, immigration & custom matters, holidays & festivals, cultural information, and all sorts of other useful information. Makes no sense to me to go to a country where I've never been before, and don't speak the language, and not read up ahead of time. How does one even ask the room price, or know the value of the local currency when they learn the price, or anything else?
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