Last Updated on August 27, 2020 by Bryony Clapperton
Travel guides or Travel blogs? A question that haunts me and something I ask so frequently. I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for a big fat 300 page Lonely Planet. In fact, I’ve never met one traveller who isn’t.
Whether you love Rough Guides or Footprints Travel Guides or like me, will always be a lover of Lonely Planet you just can’t beat getting lost in a a good travel guide book, but are they enough?
Are travel blogs the new travel guide book?
Are travel blogs more reliable than travel guide books?
I love Lonely Planet, I can’t help it. There’s nothing more satisfying than opening a big fat 500 pager packed with information on a new destination you’re planning a visit to.
Since starting my travel blog journey and getting closer to the travel blogger community I started to think about a few things. Are travel blogs better than travel guides?
Even before I was travelling I was reading travel blogs. I love photographs and feeling like I’m really in the moment. Travel guides are amazing when you’re sat on your sofa and you really want to learn some facts or swot up on what areas to stay or figure out where the South Terminal Bus Station is.
They are also amazing when you’re stuck without WiFi and need to find the name of a hostel, any hostel. Because you arrived in Costa Rica at 1.00am without pre-booking. But when it comes to raw and real advice and opinions travel guides only get you so far.
First of all they are travel guides are subjective and not in the same way travel blogs are. Of course, all opinions are subjective but travel guides are a censored kind of subjective.
Someone high up in production and branding at Lonely Planet gets to decide whether or not their writers can say something. Is it too taboo? Will it sound distasteful? Is it off brand?
But that’s not the main reason that travel blogs are the best travel guides. The main reason is to do with the life span of the information featured.
There’s no denying it all the information featured in any travel guide is well researched and each writer is extremely well informed there is a serious question surrounding the time line of a travel guide.
In fact its almost safe to say the information goes out of date before they are printed. Every day a travel guide book is being developed the information included gets older and possibly staler.
Often, by the time you splash out on your latest edition of your favourite travel guide it’s a year out of date even upon its release. This isn’t too much of a problem, but in the world of backpacking and travel things are changing constantly. Attraction prices, bus timetables, ferry routes etc. And when you are planning for a long term trip its those fine details that become really important to you.
We even found ourselves, on the rarest of occasions arriving at a hostel that no longer exists. This happened to us in Honduras. Twice. And this leads me on to why I love travel blogs. Nowadays the market is so big there are so many travel bloggers out there, there is fresh information being churned out every minute.
This is why I really love travel blogs as a source of information and not just because I write one myself. There is nothing as satisfying as an honest opinion on a regularly updated travel blog.
Real time, in the moment travel advice from someone who can say exactly how they felt about a destination. Thought provoking, question raising accounts from people who have had a particular experience weeks and days ago.
It doesn’t get any more real than an individuals emotion driven desire to write about ‘The best hostel in Bangkok’ or ‘The best TukTuk driver in all of India’.
Now to me, that is why travel blogs will always be greater than travel guides. But I guess that’s why the two differ and finding the perfect balance between your sources of information. Fact vs. Opinion, Travel Guide vs. Travel Blog is the right way to go about planning your travels in future.
It’s always a great feeling knowing that even when I’m not exploring someone else is and that feeling of living vicariously through someone else’s adventure experiences.
Nomadic Matt and Globetrottergirls prepared us for what to expect in Central America. I stumbled upon several other incredible travel blogs whilst looking for bus timetables and border crossing information leading up to our Latin America Trip.
There’s something exhilarating about reading the words of another and knowing you’ll be enjoying that same experience. It’s also amazing what you on travel blogs find when you’re not really looking for anything specific.
I guess my love of travel blogs is what initially made me want to start documenting my travels and blogging to begin with. I always liked the thought of a journal type travel blog that I can always go back to and read when I’m feeling nostalgic.
But I really love the idea that as a random behind a keyboard I could help or influence someone else’s travel plans and the real-time aspect of blogging always means there’s new and fresh insights available somewhere online.
It’s just an opinion and as I’ve said before most travel writing is, opinions are subjective but these are the reasons for me that travel blogs are the best travel guides.