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To some people, the travel guidebook is an indispensable resource that is followed to a T. For others, it is something that must be avoided at all costs. A guidebook does all the travel homework for you, and summarises the best bits. In doing so, the critics of guidebooks would say, it may be leaving out the very things you would be interested in.
All guidebooks are written for a specific market, and with the myriad of possible things a visitor to a place could do, it must reduce these down to fit in the book. Therefore, you need to find a guidebook that tends to suggest things that you are interested in, and at the same time you need to take off your blinkers and be open to other opportunities outside of the guidebooks recommendations.
Hotels and restaurants recommended by popular guidebooks tend tend to be busier, and may also be complacent now that they have a steady stream of visitors thanks to the book. Those that have missed the recommendation may be working harder to be recognised next time, then on the other hand there may be a good reason that they have been left out. That's part of the adventure for some.
Our approach is to read as much as we can prior to travelling, which may include more than one guidebook, speak to as many other travellers about their experiences, and to visit the tourist office at the first opportunity. From these resources, we then create our own list of things to do and places to visit.
See also the Travel Guidebook Store.
Coming soon: for each country: link to guidebook page, add books to country menus (image then link to specific country guidebook page).
related pages: The Travel Almanac Magazine