Thursday, July 10, 2008

And sealing my less-than-love for Lonely Planet: An official store

About 15 years ago, I adored Lonely Planet books. You could almost say I worshipped them. I still remember the first one I bought: it was for New Zealand, and I bought it with some money my grandmother gave me for Christmas or a birthday, and I know it was in 1993. (Curiously, I've still never made it to New Zealand, but that's another story).

Then I travelled half the world on Lonely Planets - I certainly devoured them in Japan and south-east Asia, and was glued to my Trans-Siberian Lonely Planet across Russia and then to Eastern Europe down through the Baltics. Somewhere around there my enthusiasm started to wane, around about the time that all that luxury accommodation started getting listed. And when the Wheelers and co sold to the BBC, I figured that Lonely Planet wasn't my style anymore.

And now there is going to be a Lonely Planet store. Due to open as part of Sydney's international terminal redevelopment sometime in 2009, it all sounds sweet'n'lovely, with tonnes of guide books, phrase books, and "high-quality travel accessories and gift items". Woo-hoo. A decade ago I would have been excited about this but it just seems another nail in the coffin to me - my backpacking, budget-end, down-to-earth travel co has turned into Disneyland.


  1. Who do you vouch for as an alternative? Rough Guide? Footprint? The latter is def my favorite of these, as the books cater for people who don't need handholding across the Globe.

  2. Geir, that's a good and legitimate question, but I don't have an answer. I had a brief flirtation with Bradt (useful for off-the-beaten track destinations) but otherwise, I now travel guidebook-less. I guess since I'm not travelling so frenetically and constantly now I have much more time to browse the internet to get info before I travel, and the rest I just make up as I go along.

  3. Have you read the travel book Smile when you're lying? Funny read but the author says the same thing too. As does the guy who wrote travel writers go to hell.

    I agree with you. LP isnt for budget travelers anymore. Moreover, most of there info is crap. Its out dated and unreliable.

    I like Rough guides more since i only ever use guides as a way to read up on where I am going.

  4. Hmmm, interesting as I've always been loyal to LP guides. I suspect it's because I've gotten used to the format and couldn't be bothered re-familiarizing myself with something different.

    However, my trust in the LP waned as I travelled through Vietnam last year, and treked an hour to find a recommended restaurant, only to find that it isn't there anymore...along with a few others too.

    The nail in the coffin came when my boyfriend and his friends couldn't find a particular hostel through their LP, but managed to find it through someone else's Rough Guides....both were the latest editions published that year.

  5. LP guides have become the worst of all, for various reasons. Apart from Thomas Kohnstamm's revelations, just the fact that so many people consider them like a bible means that the little jewel, off-the-beaten-track spot, ceases to be so the moment in on the LP.

    Internet, with travel blogs and websites like Wikitravel, Tripadvisor, etc. is definitely more reliable (and updated). So carry a small laptop instead of a pile of travelguides. But hey, thats's the Flashpacker point of view :)

    PS: Loved your Flashpacing post on Vagabondish, quoted and linked as well on my blog!

  6. I think the best of the lot is now the Rough Guides. For some places, the Moon Guides seem OK too (did a good trip thru the Rockies with one of these). Not many others that I have found to be all that good. LP has waned badly, I assume for the reasons you've stated, though I still like their maps and more general sections on history, culture and the like


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