Travel Guides

There's a Lonely Planet Travel Guide sale on Hautelook and it's got me thinking about the necessity of the travel guide. In the past, I've bought (Lonely Planet) travel guides for Barcelona, Madrid, and Amsterdam, the biggest driving factor of the purchases being that they were on sale. Barcelona and Amsterdam turned out to be rather helpful, as each was a destination on multiple-city holidays and I didn't feel overwhelmed having to do lots of research beforehand. Madrid was a short holiday (3.5 days) so I got the guide to supplement my internet research to make sure we'd accomplish as much as possible.

I think travel guides are great for last minute preparation, since not everyone has the time or patience to scour for information. And if you're going to purchase one, I highly recommend the travel-sized Lonely Planet series (even though they lost a little credibility with me after they mistakenly labeled London's Tower Bridge as London Bridge, major faux-pas). Guides also great because they're lend-able/borrow-able and you can read them on the plane ride or during layovers to keep yourself occupied. But the downside is that the information can become outdated and it's likely to contain much more information than you need, making it bulky and cumbersome to carry around.

In general though, because I have OCD, I prefer to make my own travel guide. I have a Moleskine journal (much less gaudy than a commercialized guide book) that I use to create the perfect guide specific to my trip . I'll put in maps of my lodging location, weather typical for the time of year, recommended dishes and restaurants, the best sights, etc. I think it's great to try and make some draft itineraries and preemptive restaurant choices based on the location of the hotel. Sometimes if I find out a restaurant is really popular, I'll reserve it in advance, before I even get on the airplane. I'll also paste in copies of all confirmations for all bookings I make, whether it's flights, hotel, ground transportation, tickets for a show, that way, if I'm unable to access my email, I have hard copies. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with your holiday destination and get pumped for the trip. I always pick up a free map once I arrive, most of the time at the airport and if there isn't one available there, the hotel always has something.