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  • 6 Post By bchaplin
  • 5 Post By Frank II
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  • 2 Post By carl0
  • 1 Post By jmoz
  • 4 Post By Badger
  • 2 Post By autolycus

Thread: Guidebook hackery

  1. #1
    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    Guidebook hackery

    In a previous post there was a short back-and-forth about guidebooks. Some people don't use them. I find them essential in preparing for a trip though -- even deciding where to go. I thought I'd point out Snarky Nomad's interesting post about how to cut up a guidebook into smaller, more portable chapters.

    For those who prefer digital guides, I also wanted to mention that the Rough Guides offer a better ebook deal if you buy directly from their site, rather than Amazon. For the same price, you get three versions (MOBI, ePub and PDF), all DRM-free. I found the PDF version the most easy to read, because it looks exactly like the paper book.

    On last year's trip to the Middle East, my numerous guidebooks were indispensable in figuring out which cities to hit, how to get around, which border crossing to use, and what to be careful of. On the other hand, I preferred tripadvisor for finding accommodations, and this year am using airbnb. Guidebooks maps CAN sometimes be useful, but so is Google Maps, and particularly Pocket Earth, which is great for offline navigation.
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    Please bring back the Portable Culture patch!

  2. #2
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    Just remember....most print guidebooks were written 6 to 9 months before they were published. It's a good idea to double check any important information with the appropriate websites. That's usually kept up to date.
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  3. #3
    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Just remember....most print guidebooks were written 6 to 9 months before they were published. It's a good idea to double check any important information with the appropriate websites. That's usually kept up to date.
    Good point. Yes, and the other drawback is that they tend to be re-issued every three years or so, so sometimes the info is quite old. Another reason to buy the $10-$12 digital version rather than $25-30 paper one. Even a three-year old guidebook is often accurate as to general culture and places to visit. They provide websites through which to double-check museum hours and train schedules, and of course anyone with any sense will independently verify visa/entry requirements. I've also never used a guide to find a place to eat --- usually I just look around, or ask a local. If I have internet I may check Yelp. But then I'm not a foodie.
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    Please bring back the Portable Culture patch!

  4. #4
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    Guidebooks for getting around and things to do are essential. For food recommendations, I've found often they stink. Any opinion of the rough guides food choices? (Travel for me is mostly about the food.) :-)

  5. #5
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    For food, Yelp and TripAdvisor are sometimes good in bigger cities, and I've had some occasional luck when options are limited with wikitravel. Actually, wikitravel is a potentially good recommendation in general, though (as with any publicly-editable wiki), use your common sense.

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl0 View Post
    Guidebooks for getting around and things to do are essential. For food recommendations, I've found often they stink. Any opinion of the rough guides food choices? (Travel for me is mostly about the food.) :-)
    Personally, I think Rough Guides give really crappy and/or inaccurate food recommendations. One of the best places to go prior to a trip is egullet.org. They have a very active forum with members from all over the world, have great suggestions, and are especially helpful if you have food restrictions due to allergies, religious prohibitions, etc.

    Chowhound is another good source of information but I prefer to just read rather than actually interact with its forum. I think the egullet folks are simply more down to earth and, while geeky about food and drinks, aren't hipstery and pretentious about it (I'm looking at you, Chowhound Los Angeles thread).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl0 View Post
    Guidebooks for getting around and things to do are essential. For food recommendations, I've found often they stink. Any opinion of the rough guides food choices? (Travel for me is mostly about the food.) :-)
    I have had great luck with food recommendations from Rick Steves. Aside from one recommendation that was out of date--ownership had changed a few months before I was there--the descriptions have been spot on, and I haven't been disappointed yet. In fact quite the opposite. We've had consistently good experiences relying on his books for food. His books are often pretty honest about listing places that aren't the best but that are convenient and/or suited for tight budgets. I find that approach to be helpful. Sometimes you need a place close by a major tourist site or train station, and he provides the best option he can for those situations, even if he acknowledges that the food itself will not be exceptional.

    The unfortunate thing, of course, is that he only does books on Europe. For the US I think the internet is so far ahead of what any guidebook can provide anyway. But for Asia, Africa, Pacific, etc., I'm not sure there's as good a solution.
    bchaplin and carl0 like this.

  8. #8
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    @Badger -- I've used chowhound before for recs, but not the other site, I'll check it out. Thanks!


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