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  #1  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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Lonely Planet Guide books

Though I use LP books alot. i only use them in a very loose sense, reading through the country info about banks currency, shop times etc. ocassionally looking for some idea's of things to do and see ( often this is done in the book shop at lunch time I don't march around with my nose stuck in the book following the legion of travel sheep. As i think this spoils part of the "essence of travel" for me anyway. removing the random element which mkes travel so brillant.

and here's another reason why......


Lonely Planet writer says he made up part of books Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:29pm EDT
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An author for the Lonely Planet travel guidebook series has claimed that he plagiarized and made up large sections of his books, an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday.
Author Thomas Kohnstamm told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper he had worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including their titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, South America, Venezuela and Chile.
The Lonely Planet guidebooks sell more than six million copies a year.
The Sunday Telegraph said Kohnstamm also claims in his new book "Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?" that he accepted free travel, contravening company policy.
He said in one case he had not even visited the country he wrote about.
"They didn't pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern at the Colombian consulate," the newspaper quoted Kohnstamm as saying.
Lonely Planet said it had reviewed Kohnstamm's guidebooks but had not found any inaccuracies in them, the Sunday Telegraph said.
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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Arrow

That's pretty funny - the LP to Iran reads like someone did something on the same lines.

Talking to hoteliers in Guatemala I found similar things about the guide book author. The local guide book contact - the source for all detail to the region - was the owner of four hostels and various tourist initiatives. Guess which author got to eat and stay for free? Guess whose hotels were recommended in first, second, third and fourth places?

LP is a victim of its own popularity. There's a story about a street in Thailand where every hotel has the same name, after the original that was recommended in the LP. A whole street of Golden Palace hotels.

Information in Guide Books is invariably several years old (add together the time of research, writing, publishing, sitting on shelf). Once name-checked owners can confidently let standards fall. Trade is guaranteed, while they put their energies into something better.

In general I found it was best to head for the newest budget place in town - they are keen for your trade, they are pricing low, the plumbing hasn't failed yet, and the first enthusiastic flush of enterprise is still in bloom.

All that said, I found the Rough Guide to Pakistan absolutely brilliant. Mostly it depends on the author, rather than the brand.

Simon
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Last edited by Simon Kennedy; 13 Apr 2008 at 12:15.
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  #3  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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I've stopped buying Lovely Planet guidebooks after finding several innacuracies in several books. I also find the writing irritatingly smug and self congratulatory. I mean, those little biogs at the start...shudder.

Matt
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Old 13 Apr 2008
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LP or FP

In my backpacking days in South America I travelled with a friend, he was carrying the LP of SA and I was carrying the Footprint. After a week or so we put away the LP because it was rubbish compared to the Footprint! Incomplete, incorrect, to heavy and of poor quality and there were too many " its dangerous, its ugly, its not worth going, don't go there, etc". We even met a couple of girls who were so fed up with the wrong info of the LP, that they were sending hate mails to them. Yes they are truly a victim of their own success and now seem to market the fat bellied American with striped trousers i.s.o. the adventurous young traveller.

Ever since I only buy the LP's if there's really nothing else available.

Cheers,

Noel
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  #5  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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I used them for a long while. But as I travelled to more and more places I became annoyed at the inaccuracies. As new editions came out and I went back to a lot of the same countries I noticed that there seemed very little changes, a lot of whichever new edition seemed to be just cut and pasted from the previous one or two.

There also got to be more and more top end stuff mentioned that I couldn't afford (hotels, restaurants), even though the book stated it was "good value for money". Not for me it wasn't, too bloody expensive.

I also went off a lot of the style of writing and opinions, I thought it was me changing, obviously not.
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  #6  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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A German biker named Stefan who I met in Sulawesi put it this way: "Things change, but the Lonely Liar doesn't"
All the bad places I went to in SEA was recommended in Lonely Planet and the great places was rarely mentioned.
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  #7  
Old 13 Apr 2008
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LP sells there books by the tone, made for the genral public who wont go more than mile from there resort unless its on tour bus on there week stay. They pay authors to do wright ups on there trip because LP likes the way they wright not on the trip or facts.

LP once was written by a few travelers who really did camp and stay at the nasty little hotels and hostels while they backpack RTW. They were books made for the broke collage kids seeing the world now there made for the same people but there not broke or kids. LP never did wright ups on 5 star hotels now they stay in them more than not.

Riding and camping around the USA I used LP and Moon there books are good for pointing out the most obvious places and most of the towns. Dont use them to find a place to eat or stay. There info is out dated and wrong I used it once to find a camp ground said it was grate place, it was not its in a swamp they allow horses. A smelly swamp filled with RVs the size of my house, generators running, mozys, biting flies, screaming "rich" kids and there even less well behaved drunk parents. I left stayed a little campground on the beach.

Some are giving LP a brake by saying its from there success. I dont they are rakeing in cash for crap work been doing it for some time. LP is from Australia so it gose to reason there for the fat bellied Australia. LP was a grate idea gust like many others chased the cash. A money makeing publisher Lonely Planet | Travel guides, advice, tips and information

All that being said I have lots of LP and Moon books there a source of information that is foolish to ignore not the trusted or useful books once thought. More of an overview or a vacation review. That and I get them for $2 used .
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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Wow! A damning thread

I have never even opened the cover of a LP, preferring my own judgement based on reading a map, miscellaneous books from the library (occasionally), the internet and personal recommendations made to me.
In the latter I would include recommendations made on this website, until proven conclusively to be in error (everything changes with time).

And to think that the BBC bought LP a few months ago: for all that tour guide TV stuff I guess, or could it be because they are making money via the LP books?
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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He said in one case he had not even visited the country he wrote about.
"They didn't pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern at the Colombian consulate," the newspaper quoted Kohnstamm as saying.

I actually went to Colombia with this Lonely Planet and only just realised now how useless the bloody thing probably was. Just as well I didn't take it too seriously. Cheeky as hell that is.
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  #10  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
... preferring my own judgement based on reading a map, miscellaneous books from the library (occasionally), the internet and personal recommendations made to me.
In the latter I would include recommendations made on this website, until proven conclusively to be in error (everything changes with time).
This is what I do these days, it's a far better way of getting the required info. A bit of googling is a good thing too!

Matt
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  #11  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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Well they would say that wouldn't they?

What do you know, the BBC leaps in for the defence:-

BBC NEWS | Americas | Lonely Planet rebuts 'fake' claim
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  #12  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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Lonely Planet is 75% owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. Sounds like a good reason why they would jump in to defend Lonely Planet's case I would think.
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  #13  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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I personally find guidebooks quite useful. Of course some are better than others but I like city and area maps and background information they provide. Probably never used "where to eat" section, though.

Some 5 years ago I found Rough Guide to be generally more user friendly alternative but have aquired some latest Lonely Planet books and seems LP is also progressed. Better maps and paper is now thinner, making books smaller/lighter.
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  #14  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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let LP steer the sheep away.....

As i said in my original post - i find the country info very handy especially in the planning stages. And to have such a large amount of this general information in one place is a bit hard to ignore. The fact that LP doesn't have every good thing to see and do in a country /city is a great thing ( and something LP claim to do on purpose) If you have all the travel sheep traipsing through those fantastic places you've discovered by following your nose or accidentally found.... that would be terrible and no-doubt destroy a large part of what makes those places so great.

And as far as BBC defending LP.... BBC themselves have proven to be less than truthful (and been caught out in the act)

And a big thing to keep in mind is that they are written with a heavy amount of personal experiences and opinions - which of course will vary wildly.

They serve their purpose, and used wisely are helpful. Let the masses follow the main road and let the intrepid discover the unspoilt!
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Old 15 Apr 2008
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My experience is people who carry Lonely Planets are as good as people on a package tour. But they are less able to admit it.

They go the same hotels, same restaurants, see the same sights, take the same buses and bump into the same lonely planet wielding crowd at the next town or on the tour bus that they convince themselves they took "independently".

Then the hotels and hostels that are listed in the LP are full of "local day tours" cause all their customers are the LP tour crowd.

Without a doubt, part of the rise of Adventure Motorcycling over the last 10 years is precisely a backlash at the package tourisation of 21st century backpacking. And the rise of this tourised backpacking is directly a result of the popularisation of Lonely Planet.

The reality is the LP wielders are on a package tour, they just cant see it.

Thats why we do it on bikes. So we can go where we want, when we want. Without having to sit on a stinky 14 hr bus ride with a pain-in-the-@ss college kid from California telling you how cool he is cause he KNOWS Bolivia ... cause he was there 2 weeks ago.

I strongly discourage the use of LP as I feel it completely takes away from both the sense of adventure and the reliance on your wits. Further it minimises your interaction with the locals. That for me is a major element of the whole travel experience. Locals will always help you find a bed / post office / internet if you need it. And the more you immerse yourself with the locals, the more you get out of your travels. Ergo, the less you get out of it if you are packing a LP guide.
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