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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #16  
Old 12 Apr 2011
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" they are poorly researched" .

Compared to what?
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  #17  
Old 12 Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
I use them.
Before I enter a country I check the highlights and mark some of them on my map. I also like to get some knowledge about the history and people of the countries I visit. The city-maps can be useful.

Some parts, like addresses places to sleep etc get outdated but (for me) the most important facts are usually more static.

I've got very limited experience of using any guide books. We took Africa on a shoestring with us on our Cape Town trip - older version of the one above supposedly updated in 1990 and used by us in 1991/2 but it was woefully inadequate. We lost all faith in it by the time we got to Cairo but dug it out again when we were trying to find cheap digs in Windhoek - and it was useless there too.

As we do now in Europe, I would have thought most travellers take a robust laptop which would allow you to forward book hotels etc and download relevant parts of current LP guides if you want to stay with all the other LP travellers (handy sometimes). I appreciate that hotel booking sites for outer Mongolia are hard to come by but then that's why you are there!

The biggest surprise for me about travelling in Africa was how different it was from the impression I had from reading guide books before we went. Most guide books get their potted histories from other books so now I try to read the other books before I go somewhere for the first time.
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  #18  
Old 12 Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by uganduro View Post
" they are poorly researched" .

Compared to what?
Does it need a comparison ?

I guess I could compare it to how it describes itself. Eg. The LP Cuba Book on my desk now.

"An UNPARALLELED guide"

"Loaded with detailed maps. More than any other guide of the island"
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  #19  
Old 12 Apr 2011
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My humble opinion

LP = shite. I believe many of the authors haven't been to the places they expose opinions about. As a rule of thumb if you assume the opposite view to the author on a hotel/hostel it is quite accurate. Ideal volume/weight to put under side stand of fat BMW when stuck in the mud on the Moyale/Isiolo road.

Footprint = quite good, at least in Ethiopia and South America. They also mention where bike parking is possible. Also the bus timings and distances were v useful. 200km and 12 hours = bad road, 500km and 5 hours on the bus = good road.

Rough Guide = really hard to follow unless you travel the same route in the same direction as the author.

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C
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  #20  
Old 12 Apr 2011
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  #21  
Old 13 Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
Does it need a comparison ?

I guess I could compare it to how it describes itself. Eg. The LP Cuba Book on my desk now.

"An UNPARALLELED guide"

"Loaded with detailed maps. More than any other guide of the island"
I'd like to know what kind of information you consider "well" researched.
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  #22  
Old 13 Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by uganduro View Post
I'd like to know what kind of information you consider "well" researched.
My gripe is the information which is NOT well researched...

Accurate addresses of Embassies with maps to go with them..

Hostels and hotels which had closed down two years before the publish date of the book.

Prices of hostels and hotels which is very important when travelling with a strict budget and also out of date. I used to show the people working in the hostel the LP prices. And they would chuckle and say "Yeah, that was the price years ago".

Eg. In mozambique down the east coast. After riding 30 miles of terrible road to reach a "tranquil yet lively shoreline village with a modern camp site and budget hotel" I actually found the place was a derelict building site where the only hotel still standing was £65 a night affair.... The manager said it had all shut down years before.

There are some VERY obvious occasions in these books that no one had ever been there or researched it at all..
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  #23  
Old 13 Apr 2011
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I've still got a bit of a soft spot for both Rough Guides and Lonely Planet even though I agree with Chris that these days you're often better off assuming the opposite of what they say. The reason is I remember what travel was like before they were available. I picked up a copy of the original 1982 Rough Guide to Greece in my local Oxfam bookshop recently and what I wouldn't have given for that during my 3-4 trips round Greece in the 70's. A copy of Robert Graves's "The Greek Myths" and a page torn from a school atlas (what we actually used on the first trip) wasn't much of a substitute.

During the 90's TRG and LP were just about universal but I noticed that because of that they'd started distorting their own market. Hoteliers were desperate to get into them as it obviously brought loads of custom. How many times have I heard a hotel owner say to me "you like? you tell Lonely Planet". How would you go about getting your establishment into them if you were a hotel owner - sex, drugs, rock n roll ?

I wouldn't leave home without them up until about 2005 but recently haven't bothered as it's easier to get up to date info on the internet. Times move on. I'm not even sure my son know they exist. He certainly didn't take any guide books for a 6 month trip round China in 09.
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  #24  
Old 16 Apr 2011
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I mentioned a couple of years back and its worth mentioning again ... if you are homesick for western company or you want to meet up with some young female western company while you are out in the middle of nowhere, then by all means go to a place mentioned in Lonely Planet.

Certainly showing up on your own bike where others arrive by rancid public bus scores a lot of points with the average female backpacker, and I know of a number of bike trips that have picked up an extra passenger after staying at Lonely Planet listed accommodation for a couple of days.

So social opportunities for meeting western company is certainly one valid reason to carry a guide book.
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  #25  
Old 16 Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
I mentioned a couple of years back and its worth mentioning again ... if you are homesick for western company or you want to meet up with some young female western company while you are out in the middle of nowhere, then by all means go to a place mentioned in Lonely Planet.

Certainly showing up on your own bike where others arrive by rancid public bus scores a lot of points with the average female backpacker, and I know of a number of bike trips that have picked up an extra passenger after staying at Lonely Planet listed accommodation for a couple of days.

So social opportunities for meeting western company is certainly one valid reason to carry a guide book.
I have to agree. Lonely Planet hot spots are definitely the place to meet the ladeeeeeez !!

Maybe that's the only reason I keep buying them !!
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  #26  
Old 13 May 2011
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A lot - but not all - of the books can be had on kindle, and you can keep a bunch on there without taking up a lot of packing space. And of course there is the internet.
Occasionally all the weight of this extra technology can keep a little weight down in books and repair manuals. And of course we can let everyoneknow where in the world we are.
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  #27  
Old 15 May 2011
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When you get to my age finding out where the local Gringo trail hotspots are is great for changing your paperbacks, sad really, but it comes to all those that have not been cut off in their prime so ride safe and start reading.
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  #28  
Old 15 May 2011
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Guide books.........

Agree with alot of what has been said before, it would seem that; the smaller company books are probably better - certainly more accurate, and actually researched in person, by the guides.

From my experience - although mostly a fair few years ago!

Footprint - the few that I have experienced have been pretty good

Bradt - good from my experience

Rough Guide - mixed opinion

LP - Would not bother with this again. Found several if not all the African based books I used/tried, inaccurate, out of date, completely rubbish and very biased towards companies/people/hostels/etc that sponsored them.
The Kenyan coverage was complete and utter nonsense, hopelessly inadequate, inaccurate and seemed to be based mostly on brothels and pick up joints.
I then had some direct experience of the LP Guides researcher in Namibia -had to be the most miserable freeloader I have ever had the misfortune to meet!
Expected everyone to run around and fawn over them. Get everything based around them, for them and bugger anyone else, and had to be the most miserable, boring, po faced shit I have met, no attempt to join in, cook or anything, apart from eat the food, drink the drink and do what they wanted when they wanted it!
In short I wouldn't wipe my ar%* with one!

Think thats it in a nutshell - just think its a shame that these books are what so many people rely upon.
So thank goodness for the internet, do your research, ask questions here in the Hubb or other appropriate forums, and if you can speak to travellers who have 'just' been there - peolpe travelling the opposite direction to yourself.

Happy travels and do the research
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Last edited by ChrisC; 15 May 2011 at 21:00. Reason: To be fair
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  #29  
Old 16 May 2011
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Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
Think thats it in a nutshell - just think its a shame that these books are what so many people rely upon.
So thank goodness for the internet, do your research, ask questions here in the Hubb or other appropriate forums, and if you can speak to travellers who have 'just' been there - peolpe travelling the opposite direction to yourself.

Happy travels and do the research
Thats exactly it in a nutshell!
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  #30  
Old 18 May 2011
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Have you all used wikitravel?

I used it last year in Argentina and Uruguay and found it pretty useful.
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