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October 28, 2003

But that wasn't in the guide book...

Drooling over the travel section of your local bookstore or library doesn't actually get us any closer to our dream destination, but it at least offers us an outlet for our energy. In fact, for many people this armchair travelling is good enough. They'll never actually step foot on that tropical beach, but reading about it makes them feel better.

A guide book can be extremely helpful to long-distance traveller. From maps and train schedules to suggestions for accomodations and restaurants to tips on bargaining and not ordering fried dog with beetles, a guide book can at least dull a little of the culture shock you're bound to encounter.

Although many diehard travellers eschew such frivolities of travel guides, instead preferring to tackle world solo for the "true" experience, there's nothing wrong from taking advantage of others' tips. That said, it's always important to remember that a guide book is simply that -- a guide. It's not the Bible and if you choose a restaurant not recommended you won't be poisoned (in fact, you might stumble across an uncrowded gem.)

Here are a few of the big names in guide books (and a few lesser known guides.) It's always helpful to compare. Just because one is great for Thailand, doesn't mean its great for Tanzania.

Lonely Planet is definitely the reigning king of guide books for the backpacker set. Because of this, there is often a lot of backlash against them and you'll find many travellers who look down on those clutching tightly their guide to Thailand to their chest as they walk the streets of Bangkok. Their website has several useful features such as a country guide that gives a basic guide to how much you can expect to spend and their Postcards section full of traveller tips, although often out of date. Their Thorntree allows you to post questions to other travellers, but getting a helpful answer is a roll of the dice.

Rough Guides is probably a distant second to Lonely Planet for budget travel guides. Their books tend to have a little more style, but less nuts and bolts information. In an unusual act of kindness, the entirety of some of their guidebooks are available for free reading on their website.

Moon Guides is the preferred choice of some backpackers. Their guide to Thailand is a popular alternative to Lonely Planet. There's nothing particularly useful about the website other than a listing of what guides they have available.

Footprint Travel Guides have a steady following, particularly for South American destinations. Unfortunately, there isn't much to the website other than a way to purchase their products.

Fodor's isn't particularly popular with the backpacker crowd, but its an option.

Frommer's is another series of books not really geared toward the budget crowd, but its not a bad option either, especially if you're thinking more of cheap hotels rather than hostel beds. Their site is pretty complete with a lot of destination information particularly for the States. Still, it was much easier to get excited about their famous "Europe from $70 a Day" when it was $5 a day...

Posted by kobb on October 28, 2003 02:22 AM
Category: Helpful Links

Nice one Shawn...welcome to travelblogging and thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Sean on October 28, 2003 07:56 AM

Thanks Sean,

I didn't really expect to see any comments yet since I don't think there is any link on the website yet. I figured I'd get a few posts going and then post something in the forum.

I know this one is pretty basic for most of our readers, but I thought I'd start simple.

Posted by: skobb on October 29, 2003 12:20 AM

Hey skobb

The link to your blog is very much there, it is

There is a separate link that we can click on at the bottom of every discussion forum. Looking forward to some interesting travel tales

Posted by: Dusty on November 1, 2003 09:37 PM


You are doing's just nice to have a lead up to the trip.

talk soon

Posted by: Sean on November 3, 2003 09:32 AM
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