Travel guide buyers beware

I have had the argument over best travel guide book many times with people who are loyal “Lonely Planet” afficianados.  I have only twice had a normal Lonely Planet book and I hated them in both instances;  I am now quite loyal to the glossy and colorful DK Eyewitness guides.  I am nothing but bemused at the article on today’s BBC about a Lonely Planet writer who did all sorts of wild things while working as a travel writer including writing about places to which he had not been.  IMHO that’s easier with the Lonely Planet guides than with others since they’re so dry and dull.  But even more interesting is the note at the bottom of the page:

Lonely Planet is 75% owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC.

I had no idea about that one, shall have to investigate further.  Regardless, their little disclaimer aside, this is one of the most read articles on the BBC website today. 


5 responses to “Travel guide buyers beware

  1. I cry foul – you have not hated every Lonely Planet guide you’ve ever used. You raved about the cute pocket Dublin city guide with tear out map, remember?

    I got into the Lonely Planet when they were the only major guidebook to have a volume on Taiwan. It was great for students – lots of low-budget options, and often very funny writing (e.g. “in fact, the mongolian barbeque at this restaurant is so good it is hard to believe it is so bad in Mongolia.”) I’ve also used the Lonely Planet City Guides for Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore and found each one very helpful – for a guide that you use on the street, not one to get you planning your trip before you go, the Lonely Planet guides are great because they pack in information and don’t waste space (which just gets heavy) with lots of pictures. Maybe the Asia guides are just better than the Europe ones, though – with the recent exception of Dublin, I’ve never used them outside of Asia.

  2. Oh – sorry for the double comment, but I forgot a great point – Lonely Planet guides are disposable. I bought the massive China one for my year there, and every time I went someplace new, I used a razor blade to cut out the pages for that city. Then I’d staple them together and throw them in my pocket. No way would I do that with the pretty, glossy and more expensive DK guides. Those I still think are better for planning the trip at home, not actually being out on the road.

  3. I quite purposefully said “normal” lonely planet guides to avoid the issue with the Dublin city guide!

  4. I had London and Portugal guides before.

  5. Oh, I didn’t notice the “normal.” My books are a mix between country and city guides, but I agree that Dublin guide was special. But I followed the DK link and noticed the only Asia guide they have is for Hong Kong! I clearly won’t be switching over any time soon.

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