Back in February 2014, I was excitedly preparing for my first trip to Australia. I was working there for a few weeks, followed by a trip to Hong Kong on my way home, and in anticipation, I bought a couple of guide books. Flipping through them at my desk, a colleague leant over, took a look at them and said, ‘Guide books? That’s very….analogue of you.’
In a world of Kindles and iPhones and Alexas, yeah, I guess it is. Why search through a book for an answer when I could Google it? There aren’t photos on every page like a blog post, and no links to click on if I want to book something. But there is something so wholesome, so exciting about reading a guide book. In your hands is physical proof of all the potential places you could soon be exploring; and it doesn’t need a marketing budget for you to find something – just a browse through a good old fashioned index.
So, why should you pick up a sturdy little guide book for your next trip? Well…
You won’t always have the internet abroad
‘But O2 have European roaming now!’ I hear you cry. Great, but that’s not going to help me in Japan, is it? It didn’t help me when I was in Leshan in China, with not only no signal, but no access to the internet AT ALL. Anywhere. So a guide book is my best friend, helping me find my way, reference where I need to be and, most importantly, where I started out. And with phone batteries being so dire now anyway, you might not even be able to reference your Google Maps screenshots.
You can customise your trip with them
Those who keep books pristine, look away now. Because I am here to tell you that a well-used guide book is not going to look brand new for long. I fold pages, I highlight where I want to go, I tear maps out to carry in my pocket. Guide books are wonderful for breaking down suburbs of big cities into identifiable chunks or pointing out somewhere close by that you didn’t realise was totally accessible.
Which means wherever you are, you can find something relevant
No need to worry about wading through millions of recommendations online; if you know you’re in Chinatown in Singapore and you want something to eat that the locals would approve of and that isn’t made of questionable meat, check yo guide book! Right there, across a couple of pages are some solid suggestions, ripe for the picking and fluster free. Easy peasy.
Pick how specific you want to be
I’ve got a selection of pocket guide books which are perfect for city breaks, and some bigger beasts for wider country exploring. When I did road trips in Ireland and South Africa, the country-wide versions were my bibles for itinerary planning; and the Eastern Europe one is basically my new tick list of where I want to book next time Ryanair have a sale.
You’re reminded of the awesome places you’ve been
My bedside table packed with guide books is one of my favourite parts of my bedroom. The books bring me inspiration for future trips (see Bucharest and New York tucked in there? That’s a sneak peek at what 2018 has in store!) and remind me of awesome places I’ve already been. Some are well-thumbed, like my Hong Kong one which has been with me for both trips and is coming with me again in two weeks time. Others, like Osaka, are patiently waiting to be taken on their first trip.
When we’re constantly offered so much choice when it comes to travel, sometimes I just want an answer. A guide book gives me honesty, reliability and the smell of fresh print that I love in my fiction collections too. Whether I’m wanderlusting on the tube into work, or on a flight somewhere new, it’s the potential adventure on every page that has me hooked on buying them.
PIN IT FOR LATER