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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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  #1  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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To read, or not to read? that is the question!

We've got a 9 month overland trip coming up across Africa, we've done a fair amount of research, but I was wondering what people's views of guide books are. We've got a 4x4 rather than a bike, so weight and space isn't so much of an issue, but when you're doing 20+ countries you don't want to be carrying a mobile library with you!

Do people take books? Take some books? Do all their research and make all their decisions before hand? Just speak to other people to talk about what's hot and what's not?

Just interested in other people's suggestions and tips.

Cheers,
Will
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  #2  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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I'm for the books.

You don't have to go where they say, indeed one can use them to positively avoid places, but you would kick yourself if you found out later you passed by something awesome. Helps plan a route too.

I don't see any advantage in buying all 20 and then carrying them in your car, you may as well read them all for free in the library before you leave (they won't update as you travel!).

I've always tried to get hold of the next country's book where I am, usually left by other people travelling in the opposite direction. I tend to never find the country book I am in, always the ones adjacent...
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Old 18 Nov 2008
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.... always, always consider the source .....

Another trick is

Last edited by mollydog; 26 Mar 2009 at 20:19.
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  #4  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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Cheers for the feedback. I think I'm going for the the buy books for countries that I'm worried about approach, and hope we can find books for the rest on route.

Not sure how many travellers we're going to run into coming up the west coast though, it's not exactly the tourist trail.

As far as the French goes, mine is a little rusty, but the lady friend aint too bad.

Thanks again.
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  #5  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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You can get books that cover the entire continent.
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  #6  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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many books (some guidebooks as well) are available in e-format. maybe using your laptop, or a dedicated reader would make sense here.
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  #7  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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Take the books - or at least the info that they contain. I spent years pre Lonely Planet etc touring and missing the best bits. You don't have to use them if you get a better offer but they're there as a back up.
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  #8  
Old 20 Nov 2008
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All of lonely planets guide books, are now available as .pdf files so you could bring a laptop with all the books on it and you all have to buy the chapters that interests you.
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  #9  
Old 20 Nov 2008
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I'd take the books, and if you're thinking of cost at all I'd consider secondhand, often they're a hell of a lot cheaper and the sights don't tend to move. You can always go to the library too.

That said I carried my Lonely Planet Australia all round the country and hardly looked at it. I did find it made a great filler for the rust hole in the boot of my Holden though.
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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Looked at the lonely planet pdfs, they cost a fortune! £55 for one book! I can buy the book and a scanner from Amazon for less.

I think if we were just doing a couple of countries, then we'd get a couple of books and take them. As things are, I think we should hope we find other travellers who want to swap on route. We might take books for places like the Congo as we're unlikely to find others heading up from there who happen to have a book to give away.

Might just scan in some useful sections of other books and store them in the laptop.
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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books!

Take the books! And if you're traveling with two, preferably more than one on the same region, so you both have something read/plan/discover.
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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We buy the books use then to plan and decided what to hit .. then we photo copy the chapters that we need and only bring them. However I love this pick and mix thing (lonely planet pdf thing). I dont think £1-3 a chapter is that bad it saves trees and can be down loaded 5 times. I would say from now on we will do the E-planets! There are always chapters in the books that dont get read and this way your are getting the book you want/ need..

on the bike side of things... pdfs dont weigh anything!! extra bonus.. you can carry as many as you want..

Also the unscrupulous types might even start sharing pdfs.. like with their other HUBB friends... Not that i would ever suggest such a thing... that would be just be bad... : laugh: but once you have an electronic copy if is very hard if not impossible to protect from sharing it or even knowing how many copies you have on placed many of your friends computers..ahhh for back up purposes only (OF COURSE!).. muhahaaaaaa











sorry it has been a long day... my mind has gone a bit wonky...
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  #13  
Old 29 Nov 2008
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Research.....

Will

do your research first - know the countries you are visiting, start your research on the web, ask questions and advice, recommendations on forums etc. Look at the relevant books, if you feel that you cant do without try to get a recentish 2nd hand copy, you can always up date from the new copy.
Look at different makes - Lonely Planet/RoughGuide - when in Africa one of the reporters when taken on a tour of the local bars and brothels coz that is what he wanted and got the people who were looking after him a good write up! Another was so pampered and no-one would tell her anything she didn't want to hear coz they were terrified of the consequenses.

In my opinion it should be done like a mystery shop and not inform the place/people up front so they can put on heirs and graces - it is then totally and utterly false. So IMHO most of the better known brand books are not worth taking unless you need some extra toliet paper!!
I prefer the Rough over LP but Trailblazer seem better and some of the German travel books are fantastic but....- personal pref, remember each is different.

Get advice from: recommendations from the places you stay, other travellers, etc. Keep notes on each place country that you can refer back to, also if someone you know has friends or relies that you can stay with, use for contacts or just in an emergency then TAKE them.
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Old 30 Nov 2008
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Opinions

Hi, one word of warning. Try to be open minded and form your own opinions. Beware of self fulfilling prophecies. For instance, years ago I read all four pages of " Dangers and risks" in a country's guide. I then had a nerve wracked but uneventful trip. On my return I saw another guide that only gave a few lines of the same subject for the same country. I felt a bit foolish and hard done by. Linzi.
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  #15  
Old 2 Dec 2008
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Having been thoroughly p******d off by LP's West Africa copy (& I can tell you very honestly that I know the next edition won't be much better!) & the fact you have a laptop I would take the bear minimum in books. Log yourself onto here & other travel forums & get up to date info & recommendations of places to stay (with the correct prices etc!)

I've also got a lot of information on the road from a) other travellers and b) locals who are obviously a mine of information & have contacts when you get there!!!

I am leaving again in under 2 weeks (by air/foot) & won't be taking a book!

Kira
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