Don’t Let Your Guidebook Ruin Your Travels

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

reading guidebook in street

If guidebooks had their own Facebook page, I’d be a fan. My shelves are a miniature library of guidebooks and language references. I’m a geek when it comes to knowing about where I’m headed (though my last post we found out I can surely improve) and I’ve thanked them for the bits of info helping me out along the way. In fact, I feel its being a responsible traveler to do the necessary research before leaving home.

In this article, Steve Bramucci gives his take on why guidebooks can, and often do, ruin people’s travels. To sum it up, he believes people lean on them far too much, blindly ticking off “must see” places because the “all knowing” guidebook said so. In doing so, one misses the essence of what traveling is all about; the intangibles that happen along the way, like getting lost, finding an out-of-the-way café no one knows about, or entire neighborhoods for that matter (like when I spent an entire afternoon lost in an intimate Beijing hutong neighborhood).

Although I take guides with me while on the road, I treat them much less like a Bible, and more like a suggested outline that I pick and choose from as I go about my day. We all know they get dated, perhaps even biased, but the information you gain from them, and the direction offered, can foster a far better travel experience.  

Although, what works for one person, may not for another. Enjoy your travels!

*Photo by horaceko

By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at (@ExpedJon)

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