For decades now, I’ve been a dedicated user of Lonely Planet guidebooks. But on the last 5 or 6 trips, I’ve found the formula tiresome and dispensable, so much so that I didn’t even bother looking at the LP books for my last trip.
Most irksome about the LP books these days (aside from the out-of-date details and haphazard maps) is their tone. Some of the books pull off a free-wheeling road-savvy elan with aplomb. Others just seem contrived and condescending, as if written by snotty trustafarians hipsters who show great disdain for anything that might be remotely touristy or cost more than a shoestring.
Give me a break. The fact of the matter is that if you travel anywhere you are a tourist. This is true even if you take a year off after completing your comp lit degree so that you can find yourself (usually at the bottom of a glass of absinthe). Because you foresake the comforts you normally enjoy in the name of an “authentic” travel experience, it doesn’t bring you closer to locals who have no choice in the matter; luxuries such as a hotel or clean water are completely out of reach of many, let alone airfare to travel to another country.
Besides, I have more money than time these days. Frankly, I need a guidebook with greater sophistication than where to get the cheapest breakfast.
More so, I suppose I’m not that interested in hanging out with a bunch of unwashed Lonely Planeteers on the LP-dictated circuit, ticking off the sights but not seeing anything at all, thinking they’re off the beaten path because their guidebook says they are.
Which brings me to my next post: Schmap!: dynamic travel guides. Too cool.