As you scroll through Instagram, look at pictures on your iPad or read something on your Kindle – do you ever get the overwhelming desire to hold something physical in your hands? A photograph, a book and sketch? Well I certainly do! My first real ‘exotic’ trip was to Egypt when I was 18, and then after University I went on a gap year travelling through Southeast Asia.
It was 2003, long before the days of iPhones and Snapchat, and you didn’t take a mobile phone with you. You might drop into an internet cafe once a month to let your Mum know you were alive and you certainly didn’t plan your trip by pinning must see Instagram spots! Instead, you looked at physical guide books, packed with all the information that you needed to go on your trip, booked a ticket and went on an adventure.
Despite the digital options available to us these days, I am not ready to let go of that way of travel yet and I still love planning my trip with a physical guide book, like my collection of DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I wanted to share 8 reasons why I love using a travel guide and you should too!
1) THEY MAKE ME FEEL NOSTALGIC, IN A GOOD WAY!
I miss the way that I used to travel. I have so many stories of things that we did when I was backpacking that we probably would not have done had we had easy access to the internet to solve a travel problem. When I first travelled, we looked at our physical guidebook, read the bus times and trusted it. When we arrived in a new destination, we read the reviews of all the hostels and then walked around and found them. At dinner time, we would check the guide to discover the recommended places to eat. And for activities, of course we planned almost everything based on what was listed as the top things to do in the city or town we were in. It was simple way to travel, less choices and more adventures!
A few things I did because a guide book told me to:
- Travelled about an hour across town in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to find what was detailed as the best banana cake in town. It was!
- Trusted that a bus would arrive mid way between Vientiane and Phonsavan, Laos at a specific time (in the middle of nowhere) and whilst waiting joined a local wedding in a random tiny village we got dropped off at. Surprisingly, the bus did come at the time the book said!
- Ate the best pizza in Florence, but had to wait a very long time to get my hands on it – because it truly was the best pizza and the place was packed.
2) YOU CAN FIND ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED IN ONE PLACE
Tired of scouring several websites, blogs and magazines to plan your trip? Yep, me too! Using a guide book gives you all the information that you need in one place. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides contain information to inspire whilst you are thinking about booking your trip, details such as best time to visit to plan your trip, in depth knowledge of the country and city to help you discover the very best it has to offer and finally all of the on the ground information you need to fully experience the destination. With the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides you will find maps, suggested itineraries, history, facts, best places to stay, eat and drink, top activities and so much more. Guaranteed you will only need one book to plan your itinerary, but if you need more of course they have you covered and have the official websites for their recommendations included in each book.
3) GET BITE SIZE PIECES OF INFORMATION ABOUT EACH PLACE
I like to research a place before I visit, but often I get overwhelmed by the information and history available. In a guide book, you get a few sentences introducing a town, what it’s famous for and the must do activities. In the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides throughout the books you get little snippets of history or facts that you might otherwise not discover. I really enjoy having smaller bits of key information instead of getting lost for 3 hours on Wikipedia somehow learning about the different grain techniques used to make bread. The guidebooks give you what you need so you can go on and enjoy your trip!
4) IT’S EASY TO PLAN YOUR TRIP AND HIGHLIGHT THINGS YOU WANT TO DO
Each DK Travel Guide contains perfectly laid out itineraries for the entire country, including must see stops and restaurants. With the amount of information on the Internet today it’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to cram too many stops or activities into a trip. Using the guidebook, you can lookup a great itinerary based on how much time you have to spend in the country. There’s also a year long calendar of events in each guide so you can plan for those unique seasonal experiences!
5) YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING ACCESS TO WIFI TO LOOK SOMETHING UP
Ever got lost in a city, pulled out your phone and realised you don’t have WiFi to quickly access a map or search for a nearby spot to have lunch? I am pretty sure the answer is yes. This has happened to me on countless occasions and frustratedly leads you to pick whatever place is closest and probably not the best to eat. Having a guide book eliminates this need for WiFi, and the side benefit is you will be able to fully immerse yourself in the destination that you are visiting by not checking your phone every 4 minutes.
6) YOU CAN WRITE NOTES IN THE BOOKS
I like to highlight the things I want to see, and write notes before, during and after a trip in the book. I make sure to fold down the pages of specific activities, sights or restaurants I want to go to and then I note them all down on the map. I am a big fan of creating my own walking tour in a city, by jotting down all the locations on the map and then planning an optimal route to see everything. This is much easier in a physical book, and really helps to feel like you are making memories about the destination you are in.
7) REAL EXPERTS HAVE WRITTEN THEM
Whilst blogs (like this one!) and online guides are a great way to plan your trip, they are typically from one person’s point of view. The blog author may have some great recommendations, but chances are they were only in that place for a few days and tried a handful of activities, restaurants and maybe just one hotel.
A DK Eyewitness Travel Guides gives you so much more than that. Each of the books is created by a full team of travel experts who have spent time in the country and have worked hard to curate the best travel tips and advice for the area. Carrying the book with you is like having your own personal tour guide wherever you go!
8) I HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK BACK AT LATER
I used to keep journals when I travelled and collected ticket stubs, postcards and other paper items to stick into the journal. I love to have something to look back at to remind me of a destination that I visited and what I saw when I was there. I no longer keep a journal, but I do keep all of my travel guides! They are great if I go back to the same destination or if someone asks me about a specific spot I visited or restaurant I loved, so I can quickly look back at the guide book and remind myself. Plus I like to have a collection of travel books on my bookshelf or to loan out to friends!
WHY DO I LOVE DK EYEWITNESS TRAVEL GUIDES SO MUCH?
I have given you my personal reasons for favouring using a traditional guide book, but why do I love the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides so much? Well, first of all they are from England and being British I do love to support some home grown companies! But seriously, I love these books for a few reasons. The Eyewitness Guides are packed with information, but also a manageable size, unlike some other guidebooks which are just too big to carry around with you for the day. Each city guide comes with a handy map at the back which you can pull out and mark up your walking route, which is especially great in cities. The guides are in colour, with photos and sketches. As an artist myself, I work visually and I like to easily be able to pick out my top things to do in a destination by seeing an inspiring photo in a book. Finally, I’ve found all the tips in the guides to be perfectly aligned with what I want to see and do, and there are recommendations for every type of traveller.
In today’s modern world it’s easy to get caught up in moving as fast as possible, but I can’t begin to tell you how nice it feels to slow down with a physical guide book and a good cup of tea while planning my next trip!
We hope that this article has inspired you buy some travel guides to plan your next vacation. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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