Travel Tips

Why I Still Use Guidebooks

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The photos in DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are gorgeous, but what may set them apart are the illustrations inside
The photos in DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are gorgeous, but what may set them apart are the illustrations inside

While my primary research tool for travel has switched from Post-it note marked pages in guidebooks to notes from TripAdvisor and colorful boards on Pinterest, my book cases are  lined with dog-eared guidebooks from recent travels. Here are a few  reasons I like guidebooks.

I’m not always connected to the Internet

While I do travel internationally a fair amount, it never seemed worth the cost to add one of those expensive data plans to my iPhone. Rather than be stuck mapless and clueless on where to get my next great meal (both anxiety-inducing conditions for me), I often carry ripped-out pages from guidebooks, or better yet, take photos with my iPhone. During my recent trip to Berlin, I found the new Fodor’s Berlin indispensable for its maps and restaurants suggestions while I was out exploring. And its small size made it easy to tuck into my bag.

• I love to look at beautiful photos and conduct research at my leisure

Yes, there are plenty of gorgeous photos on the Internet. But there is something about paging through a book while sitting on my front porch or best of all, during the flight to my destination. I had not been familiar with DK Eyewitness Travel Guides until I got one for Italy. It has more than 1500 photos, 48 maps, 322 illustrations and plenty of information. The color-coded  sections and extensive index are especially helpful, the latter an area I’ve found deficit in other guidebooks.

An illustration can depict some things a photo can't - for example, an inside look at Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
An illustration can depict some things a photo can’t – for example, an inside look at Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

• It’s more efficient for finding information

While that may sound counterintuitive — Google is my BFF — the problem with searching on the Internet is that I get so distracted. It can take me hours to book a single hotel stay because I get caught up in all the TripAdvisor reviews, which then reference restaurants that I have to view the menu of, and shops that I may want to visit. Which may remind me of something I need to buy to take on my trip. Next thing you know I’m bidding on a trench coat on eBay and don’t have a hotel room!

They make great presents

Guidebooks are always appreciated. Even people who don’t like to carry them on trips love to use them for research prior to their trip.

Reader Giveaway!

One lucky reader will win a four-pack of books on NYC, London, Ireland and Paris, valued at $100. Just comment below on which one is your dream destination and you are automatically entered the four-pack of guidebooks. Double your chances by also commenting at @GirlontheGo and include @dk_travel. (Sorry, limited to residents of US and Canada only.)

Photographs and text reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House from Italy. ©2014 by DK. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  1. Since I’m lucky enough to live in NYC and since I have to choose among the other three, I’d have to go with London as my dream destination of the moment—it’s a city that’s both close to my heart and a wellspring of research information for a Shakespeare project I’m working on! I’m with you on hard-copy guidebooks; we tried taking a digital guidebook to Barcelona, but found it frustratingly un-flip-through-able. I love DK books, especially their impeccable cross-sections. So gorgeously produced.

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