Guidebooks, along with cookbooks, are my chosen souvenir for every big trip I take. Even when the guidebook becomes out-of-date, I like to have a keepsake to remind me of the place and the time I went on each adventure.
M. reminds me that if we stick entirely to the guidebook we’ll just end up taking the same path as every other Lonely Planet-buying tourist, and he’s right. But when it comes to getting the lay of the land and finding some good spots, it’s helpful to have a guidebook along.
Flipping through the Lonely Planet before we go also helps me to get excited about an upcoming trip and to start getting prepared for the places I really want to see (and eat at), especially for trips where we don’t have as much time as we’d like.
Once I’ve narrowed down the whole book to my chosen spots, I’ve taken to going online to check other reviews and websites that can give a second opinion or provide more detail on the restaurant, shop, or activity.
Another reason this is a good idea if you have the time and inclination?
Places close for business!
It might sound unlikely, but this has happened to me on just about every trip I’ve taken. I started to write this post, in fact, because I was preparing a post on places to go in Hong Kong and found that one of the farthest restaurants from our hostel, but one we’d both wanted to experience because they made their own bread, had closed down. We wouldn’t have found this out otherwise until we’d trekked all the way out there.
Even in the time it takes a company to get a guidebook published, things can change and a store or restaurant can close or move. Doing a bit of online research on your most coveted locations will save you time and disappointment just in case and leave you more time to check out the places you want to see that are actually still around for you to experience.