Travel guides: inspiring or tourist traps?

Travel guides still worth buying!

With applications as Foursquare and other location based mobile apps that share tips on food, shops and other places, you might think travel guides had their best time. Know you have access to real time references right where you are. I use my Foursquare partly as my travel guide and to keep track of where I’ve been. But I also get a lot inspiration out of paper travel guides and online travel blogs. You just have to find the right guide that fits your travel behavior and what you like to see.

Lonely Planet: the most famous travel guide in the world

There are hundreds of different travel guides, but the one most used all over the world is still the Lonely Planet. I like Lonely Planet for countries, as there is a lot information about culture, history and habits. The tips are very touristic and general though. I’ve experienced that most of the bars and restaurants in a Lonely Planet are tourist traps, no locals around and higher prices. Therefore I try other travel guides for cities when I’m going on a city trip.

Personal and alternative guides

My personal favorites are personal guides, like the Nectar & Pulse city guides. They choose for local soul mates, using different types and there’s always a type you can identify yourself with. There’s for example fashion blogger Victoria, musician Kristofer Hedlund and power woman Sandra, you choose the person that fits you and create your personal travel guide that way. Also the look and feel of the travel guide is very stylish and unique, when you hold it in your hands you don’t look like a lost tourist.

Another one I like are the LeCool city guides. Filled with art and alternative places you really have to search for. And while you search for that one place, you discover the city best. You see the different parts, the local people and how the city was build.

Here are some other original travel guides I like: Wallpaper, 100% (-destination-, from a Dutch publisher) and my most recent discovery: WhaiWhai, with a game you can play at your destination, to get the most out of your stay and discovery. Most of them also have mobile applications, with full guides or parts you can access when you’re at your destination, as an extra dimension.

Online travel guides and apps

Unlike was one of the first travel guides only for mobile. I like the look and they make use of user generated content, therefore it’s always updated with the most recent hot spots you have to visit. There’s Spotted by Locals, with tips from locals on how you can discover your destination by acting like a local. Besides Foursquare I also use Whatser to find new places worth visiting (and sharing). Some places are sponsored and offer you cool deals.

My favorite travel guides: Nectar & Pulse, Lonely Planet, Where, LeCool, Wallpaper, Alain de Botton, How to be an explore of the world

My Lonely Planet collection

Sabine de Witte