Travel Guides in the Internet age

Are Travel Guidebooks Still Relevant?

By Sheila Howlett-Soltysiak

In the age of technology, are travel guidebooks still helpful for us? Do they have a place in vacation planning?

Guidebooks can be used ahead of time to research the popular or ‘can’t miss’ sights, and to learn about local tips, tricks or caveats.

The benefit of guidebooks is they are professionally written and edited. Some publishers use professional travel writers and others use local writers. They are considered trustworthy sources of information.

What can you expect from travel guidebooks? Here are some of the most popular.

DK Eyewitness – Full colour guides with beautiful photos for over 200 destinations, they are famous for their tagline “The guides that show you what others only tell you”.  Great if you like maps, floor plans and cutaways.

Rick Steves – These guidebooks are available for European destinations only. There are also Rick Steves videos showcasing dozens of destinations which can help provide a visual in your planning process. Great for those on a budget or who want to steer away from restaurant & hotel chains.

Fodors – They’ve been publishing travel guides since 1936 and are considered the gold standard by some. There are more than 300 guides covering basically the entire world. Each guide includes some great info on understanding local culture.

Lonely Planet – Lots & lots of detail, great for planners, and more than 500 titles available.  Their guides are typically several hundred pages and jam packed with information. They also have a range of Pocket guides, generally for cities or small regional areas.

Frommer’s — A guidebook series developed in 1957, Frommer’s offers opinions on what not to miss and what you can skip. The guides are generally filled with a lot of useful information and are available in four travel book series: full-color, comprehensive Complete Guides, portable EasyGuides, itinerary-driven, Day by Day guides, and pocket-sized, photo-laden ShortCut Guides.

Typically, guidebooks are updated every 2 years or so. This is where the internet can be helpful – to check on up-to-date details such as entry hours, admission fees, unexpected closures, special exhibits, and even to make an admissions reservation, as is beneficial for some extremely popular sites.

Almost all guidebooks are available in both print and e-book version, meaning whether you prefer to carry a book along on your holiday, or to access guidance from your phone or tablet, there will be a travel guidebook that meets your needs. And we will be travelling again someday soon!

Bon Voyage!