My latest purchase was Discover Caribbean Islands, for my recent move to the Dominican Republic.
The ‘Discover’ series of guidebooks offer a great overview of the country(s), they have more pictures than the standard LP’s and they offer fantastic recommended itineraries.
Everyone has differing opinions on whether or not you should bother buying a guidebook. So I figured I would give you my opinion.
I’m discussing Lonely Planet mostly because they are what I personally buy.
I vote yes – buy the guidebook BUT it’s not the only thing you should use.
Let me explain.
I find that no matter where in the world you go, there is loads of research to be done about your destination, so many different websites to view and so many personal opinions to factor in. A guidebook, such as Lonely Planet, have sent someone out to that place and/or found a local to do the research and gather all the information for you. The information has been checked and double checked for accuracy and relevance; so why ignore this wealth of knowledge.
I find having an LP with me just makes it handy to look up bits and pieces of information, get some history about a place and general information. They offer fantastic suggestions for things to see, places to stay and places to eat. I like having it as a starting point, but also for looking up things as I go and for getting ideas.
Specific to the LP, I like the look of them, the way the information is organised and the comprehensive information provided.
I find though, if you use it as a bible and just stick to the information in the guidebook, you limit your experiences. Use it as a fantastic reference and great starting point, but be open to other people’s suggestions, take on board their experiences and at the end of the day make up your own mind about what to see and do.
The other thing I would like to mention is the practicality aspect – they are bulky and weigh a tonne! If you are going to one place for a short time, then maybe that isn’t such a problem. But since I am packing for a 10 month+ adventure, the idea of multiple guidebooks in my small pack is just ridiculous. So while I love all the beautiful LP’s on my bookshelf, I have now switched to only buying eBooks. (Recently there was a deal where all eBooks were $10 each and I went nuts!!)
When you purchase the LP eBook you get access to the .mobi, .epub AND .pdf versions. So I put the .mobi files on my kindle and the .epub on my iPhone and have a backup .pdf on my laptop. This means I can cart around loads of guidebooks for all my different destinations and not worry about the bulk and weight of actual books. That’s a win-win in my opinion!
As a side note, since this morning I am a Lonely Planet Affiliate. This means if you buy an LP via a link I have shared, then I receive a small commission, which helps me continue travelling. BUT be aware, that I would not advertise something unless I personally use it, and I have been using LP’s as my guidebook of choice for at least 15 years.