Five Reasons to Bring a Travel Guidebook

Lonely Planet Collection 
Yes, travel light, keep books to a minimum, but take a reliable current paperback guidebook.

#1. Use the Guidebook to Plan.  Prior to departure, discover vital facts about health, currency, transportation, weather, culture and history long before you take flight.  Either plan your trip in great detail or roughly, whichever you prefer, but have some idea of your agenda. If you only have one day in Istanbul, and want to see the amazing Archaeology Museums, the guidebook will inform that the Museums are closed on Mondays.  The internet is fine for looking up one thing at a time, but a guidebook provides everything you need to plan – quickly and reliably. 

#2. Travel Wisely and Well.  Well- researched guidebooks suggest the best sites, walk you through museums, take you on historic street walks and recommend good restaurants and lodgings.  They provide advice for gay travelers, and make recommendations for parents travelling with kids. It isn't possible to ‘see’ everything, so a good guidebook lists the sites not to miss and helps identify those that may not interest you. In essence, they help you to use your limited time wisely.

Getting our bearings in Rome with guidebook
 #3. Ease of Use.  Guidebooks are still better 'on the street’ than e-books or IPADs.  E-books are hard to flip through or find info in and although the technology may improve, many still can’t be read in sunshine.  For now, the paper guidebook is easier to read when on your daily travels.  With detailed maps for walking, a paper book still seems friendlier to use as you wander. A paper book can be quickly opened and read in a more comfortable stance. Make notes in it, place stars beside favorite restaurants, jot down transportation details. The book allows you to flip to everything you need.
   
#4. Generally Reliable (but not always). A guidebook might not be perfectly up to date, especially regarding restaurants.  Is the establishment still open, has fame ruined the ambiance or  raised the prices?  Check on the internet (Trip Advisor is OK) for current views, but use the guidebook to get you there.  We find that guidebook recommendations for restaurants tend to have good quality of food, but we don’t limit ourselves to just guidebook recommendations, or just Trip Advisor. For lodging, a guidebook shows you exactly where the accommodation is in relation to other sites. Location is important for exploration on foot. Guidebook recommendations for lodging do not and can not list all the great places to stay, but generally, you will not get stuck with unacceptable accommodation with a guidebook recommendation. We don’t rely solely on guidebook advice for lodgings, but we often  stay in the inviting, smaller hotels they recommend. The best get booked early.

#5. Trip Memento.  After your  trip, the books make a handsome display on your bookshelf. You have, for your everyday viewing, visual reminders of your trips at your fingertips.  Your own notations serve as advice for others, and for yourself should you return. What was that restaurant we loved; the name of that fabulous museum?

A Recommendation: Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet books are generally thorough and well organized, not perfect, but invaluable, even so.  We use others, too, but rely on Lonely Planet.  Buy the lightest book that suites the trip. Don’t buy the thick book for India if you are just going to go to Rajasthan. Many good guidebooks come as e-books too.  If you find that e-books suit you well, use one, but whatever choice you make, a good guidebook will enhance your journey.