The Guidebook Conundrum (and book giveaway!)

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Imagine if, in your daily life, you could consult a guidebook for all the answers. What a relief, right?

But what if there were loads of different guidebooks out there, and you knew that using just one would limit the experiences you would have along the way?

So what about travel guidebooks, then? Why stick to just one? Even though travel isn’t daily life for everyone like it is for us, when traveling to new places, we still say that it is best to have several sources of information rather than sticking to one particular guide. But there are so many out there – you can’t possibly travel with them all. They’d weigh down your bag and, even if you have a Kindle to hold them digitally, there is such thing as too much information.

But we definitely do use guidebooks, because while we’re entirely in favor of wandering and leaving some things to serendipity, guidebooks create a framework of things to do and see in each place, fill in so many details and also, if any good at all, break down transportation to and from as well as within each destination.

After three years we have worn holes through several of our own guidebooks and browsed through countless more in hotel lobbies and bookstores around the world. What we have found is that it’s all about using the right combination of guides and while housesitting in Santiago, we discovered a new brand we had never used before. The homeowners had a copy of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Chile & Easter Island and we absolutely loved it. It became a constant companion during our seven weeks in the city, not just because the content was thorough and interesting, but mostly for the quality photographs and excellent maps that helped us to visualize things so well.

For example, Santiago has these famous pools, Piscina Antilen and Piscina Tupahua, but had we just read text, we would have had no interest in visiting thVerano del 2008, Piscina Antilen, Santiagoe public swimming pools. But the pictures in the Eyewitness guide showed us just how massive they are, surrounded by the forest with views over the entire city. The book had this great aerial map of downtown, cutaways and floor plans of major sights and a complete city metro system map of Santiago and the photographs plus tips and lists throughout the book seriously played a role in inspiring us to travel the thousands of kilometers down from Valparaiso to Punta Arenas.

The guide made such a positive impression that we’ve teamed up with Eyewitness Travel! This week we are giving away three sets of the three-book Eyewitness Travel Top 10 series, which includes TOP 10 Cancun & Yucatan, TOP 10 Puerto Rico, and Caribbean) to our newsletter subscribers. We’ve had a look at all three and they seem to be just as thorough as their Chile guidebook. We would have written the exact same Top 10 ‘Places To Get Away From It All’ list in the Cancun & the Yucatan book, so we know these are spot on.

IEyewitness travel guide book giveawayf you are already subscribed to our newsletter, all you have to do is reply to the easy question we ask in the newsletter that goes out on the 16th this month and your name will be entered into the drawing (U.S. and Canada residents only this time around, sorry!). As usual we’ll use to select three winners who will each receive the three-book series.

Not a newsletter subscriber? Just sign up here  or just below this article for your chance to win. In addition to the giveaway, this month’s newsletter will also have a great new travel tip we just discovered ourselves, we’ll share what we have been up to in the last month, reveal our next plans and much more!

We do not only use guidebooks, but they are a major part of how we inform ourselves about a place before and during our stay. If you do read our newsletter, you’ll know we are also huge fans of online guides and apps like foursquare, and, of course, other great quality travel blogs.

What guidebooks and apps do you use and recommend? Share them in the comments below…


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  1. Have you used the kindle version of the DK guidebooks? I use to buy DK in the past but have been buying Lonely Planets the past few years. I have recently bought the kindle version of Lonely Planet and hated it. I think I may just have to stick with paper but would like to know your experiences with other ebook travel guides?

    1. Hi Keith, we haven’t used the Kindle versions yet but they might be worth a try – I think they’d come across really well on a Kindle Fire. We tried LP on Kindle and found it really hard to go back and forth between places that were in different chapters. We haven’t tried any other e-travel guides yet, just because we haven’t found any that we liked. We’re still looking for the ‘perfect’ guidebook 😀

  2. I used to work in a travel book shop in London, and so was often dealing with travel guides and people wanting to buy them. Lonely Planet was, of course, the most popular and definitely the go-to guide for most people. I never really sold that many DK guides, as I think the shop owners considered them not to be “proper” guides; they don’t seem to give much detailed information, but as you point out, are much more visually rich than many other guides, making them good guides for the “dreaming” stage of travel planning. And that’s important too!

    1. Sam – which bookstore? Did you work at Stanford’s? That would have been my dream, when we still lived in London 🙂 I never thought I’d be attracted by guidebooks with pictures but the DK Eyewitness book literally opened our eyes to sights in Santiago / places in Chile that had not been on our list of things to see before we saw them in the guidebook. The Lonely Planet was pretty disappointing for Santiago, but the Eyewitness Guide had some great off-the-tourist-track suggestions. Definitely not the last DK Eyewitness we’ve used 🙂

      1. Yes, it was Stanfords! I was there for a whole year, working in the basement, and I hated it. Long story. Ask me about it in person!

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