Are travel guide books worth it?

Travel guide books

such as Lonely Planet have been around for years, and despite the rise of the internet, they continue to be fairly popular for independent travellers. But are they worth having and using, versus the blogs and other resources available on the internet helping you to organise travel?

Did you ever ask yourself that question

How come guidebooks give so many detailed options of a whole country and then most people end up going to the same Top 10 places?
So why not just get these Top 10 from blogs, then visit them, and then – maybe – use a guidebook, if there is more time. You can even easily get the off the beaten path Top 10 destinations per country nowadays as well. Not even for that a guidebook is still necessary.

Before I go on I’d like to add, that your comment on this topic would be highly appreciated! Maybe I’m all wrong? Tell me!

One of the advantages of travel guides is their portability and reliability. While wireless continues to encompass more of our world, there are still places where you can’t get reception. A Lonely Planet guide has never had an issue locating a network – it’s always ready.
That being said, you can always print out a travel blog article on paper or into a PDF (e.g. on Don’t worry Just travel a printer symbol is provided with every article) if you feel you may want the information, but are worried about being able to connect to the internet.
The negative aspect of this is that guidebooks can be awfully bulky and heavy – for that reason they are sometimes referred to as bricks. Hence you won’t want to carry them everywhere with you, and they may end up taking up space in your baggage you’d rather have for extra socks or souvenirs.

Are travel guide books worth it? This article delivers you the criteria to judge that issue. Maybe on your next trip you won't take a brick with you?
Do guidebooks make you yawn?
Picture copyright by tambako

Guidebooks can sometimes go too in-depth, trying to cover everything the country has to offer within its pages. This can cause information overload, making decisions difficult and leaving the reader confused at times. A travel blog will often be a bit more focused in terms of the audience – find a travel blog that speaks to you, with a writer who seems to have similar tastes, and you’ll find they have sifted and sorted through possibilities already, and can provide recommendations.
While a travel guide book can provide recommendations on places as well, these opinions are set in stone, and often a bit dated. A blog or review site can update as a destination does, helping to indicate ownership changes, openings, closings, and changes in quality instantly. A Lonely Planet travel guide from years ago – sometimes even a current one – may have hotels that have closed or restaurants that may have changed chefs and seen their quality suffer.
Often, you can also book a room or reservation straight from these review sites and blogs – something you have no chance of doing with a book, where you may have to track down a phone number or just hop on the internet in the end anyways. There are well known online resources for this nowadays, e.g. Hostelworld to book cheap hostels and hotels, to book hotels and Tripadvisor to get an opinion of a local restaurant. Hostelworld and – as a plus – have the advantage of offering reviews of people, that recently stayed in that facility.

One nice thing about guide books is that they are easy to use – everything is indexed, and follows a format that generally makes sense. Blogs can sometimes be poorly indexed and difficult to map out. Finding the information you are looking for can be difficult, and you may need to wander through various pages before finding what you want. That being said, a well-indexed blog will actually be easier to navigate than a thick travel guide.
Probably the greatest weakness of a travel guide book versus a blog is interaction. A guide book is just that, a book that sits on your shelf. A travel blog offers interaction – you can talk to the blogger or other visitors to find answers, opinions, even possible travel companions or folks to meet up with. You can contribute your own information as well after your trip, helping fellow travellers in the future.

Travel guides still have their place in the inventory of world travellers, and can still be handy. However, blogs and other online resources have become the go-to sources for information when you are headed abroad. Using a mix of the two will provide you with a great cross-section of information, however, even established travel guides such as Lonely Planet and Frommer’s are beginning to skew more towards an online presence. All of this makes it clear that blogs and online resources are the future for travel information, and that travel guide books may no longer be worth buying.

What is your opinion on this topic? Do you have a question or something to add? Please write a comment (even if it is your first one!).






4 responses to “Are travel guide books worth it?”

  1. Exactly!

    Just recent experience in Beijing: a 2016 Lonely Planet China in French and a 2017 Lonely Planet in English. First restaurant didn’t exist any longer. Second info was also outdated. The problem is: This can also happen online.
    To find useful, up-to-date info can be a real challenge!

    1. Hello Philipp,
      Nice to have a comment from you.
      One trick is to adjust the Google settings to only show articles published within the last year. But even then there might be outdated information in a recently updated article. But it helps to increase the chances. 🙂

  2. Abi

    I don’t bother with guide books these days. Instead I print what I need from the internet and make my own travel guide from a notebook. Asides from being cheaper it also makes you look less like a tourist!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Abi!
      So you don’t want to walk around or sit in a café being recognized with your LP? Understandable! 🙂