My longterm readers all know I have a love-hate relationship with Lonely Planet. It’s the guidebook that best reflects my need for budget adventures, hostel stays and local transport. But to be honest, the more I get into blogging, the less I use guidebooks. I’ve found that a lot of the information is inaccurate and out of date, even in the new editions!
I know that the writers of Lonely Planet and other guidebooks are good people, and I’m sure they work really hard, but I can’t begin to tell you how many times Lonely Planet has screwed me over. Let’s talk about the time I was stranded in a middle-of-nowhere town in Chongqing trying to attempt an “easy day trip”, or that time I tried to hike 10 hours down Emei mountain in Sichuan not knowing the entire thing was one big flight of stairs. That post is titled “The Stairway to Hell” for a reason.
The more I travel, the more I use blogger advice to plan my trips. A few months ago I talked about how I use Pinterest to organize blog posts and do trip planning. I also follow a ton of bloggers on Bloglovin’, which is an amazing website that sends you a simple email every day with all of the new posts from the bloggers you follow. It’s fantastic because I never miss a post, and my inbox isn’t cluttered with emails from 50 different bloggers.
I love using blog posts to plan trips, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Having everything in one place can be very convenient. While I didn’t purchase a guidebook for Cambodia, I did break down and buy one for Taiwan. I know a few different bloggers based in Taiwan and I read all their posts, but without a guidebook I wouldn’t have known about Orchid Island or river tracing in Taroko Gorge. Also, looking at routes in a guidebook really helped me plan my circular trip around Taiwan.
So we’ve established that guidebooks can be helpful in conjunction with blog posts, but what if the two could come together?
When Chris from One Weird Globe announced he had guides for South Korea, Laos and Thailand, I jumped at the chance to check them out. Since I’m heading to Thailand in less than two weeks (?!) I requested to see his “7 Days in Central Thailand” and “3 Days in Chiang Mai” guides.
Check it out: 7 Days in Central Thailand
Check it out: 3 days in Chiang Mai
To be honest, I was expecting a very basic travel itinerary with some sights and routes, but what I got was a combined total of more than 80 pages of fantastic material on the main sights as well as places I had never even heard of! Who knew there was a hidden amulet market near the Grand Palace in Bangkok?
Reasons Why Blogger Guides Are Awesome:
1. They’re Cheaper
I was shocked by how much I got out of One Weird Globe’s guides for the price. 7 Days in Central Thailand is only $9.99 for a 57 page guidebook, and 3 Days in Chiang Mai is only $4.99! For comparison’s sake, Lonely planet publishes a Pocket Bangkok guide. Originally $13.99, it’s now on sale for $9.99. One Weird Globe also has a Bangkok City guide, which sells for $4.99. That’s half the price of Lonely Planet’s sale!
Check it out: 3 Days in Bangkok – a One Weird Globe itinerary
2. More User Friendly
Since One Weird Globe guides are designed as e-books, there are colors, photos and large text. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to see a photo of the destination next to all of the information. I don’t want to have to go and find wifi while I’m traveling just to be able to see what something looks like. I also really appreciated that the history and information behind each destination was all on one page, making it very easy to read. I can easily see myself taking a screenshot of the page before I head to a destination, or whipping out my kindle at a cafe.
3. Trustworthy and Accessible
When you buy a blogger’s guidebook you know you’re getting the same reliable information you do in every blog post. If a blogger is writing a guidebook, you can be sure he or she has posts on a lot of the locations featured, so that you can get more information about the places you’re visiting.
Most guidebooks are also unnecessarily long. My China Lonely Planet Guide is over 1,000 pages. It’s bigger than a dictionary! Honestly, I really can’t believe I used to travel with that in my backpack. It probably weighs 10 pounds. They also have a kindle version, but it must take forever to find anything on it. I’ve never sat down and read a whole guidebook before, but these guides were easy to read in an hour or so. Now I feel completely prepared to take on Thailand, and I’m not overwhelmed by a ridiculous amount of pages.
A Few things I loved about One Weird Globe Guides
I have to say, Chris is kind of a genius. He came up with so many amazing ideas for these guides that I never would have thought of myself.
1. A Link to Google Maps
Chris has GPS coordinates listed under all of the destinations in his guide. These GPS coordinates are hyperlinked to Google Maps so you can get directions from your location. How cool is that?! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been completely lost trying to find something out of a guidebook. This will be a lifesaver for me in Thailand.
The GPS is even better than just looking something up in Google Maps because it’s exact. No more wandering around on a corner, trying to figure out which building it is. I’ll know exactly where to find things by using GPS coordinates.
Chris even has a large google map towards the beginning of his guides, so that you can see where each location is on a city map. This is much more helpful than the hand-drawn city maps in most guidebooks because the street names are clear and everything is to scale. You can even click on the map and get directions that way as well. I’m actually obsessed.
2. Easy to use icons
I really enjoyed the icons One Weird Globe Guides use. Each destination displays a few icons so you know what you’ll be getting out of the site. Some icon examples are: child friendly, bring your camera, free, no English, easy to reach, and adults only. This is especially helpful for planning your day in advance.
3. Offbeat Destinations
Things may have been off the beaten track at one time, but large guidebooks tend to make their suggestions mainstream. Chris from One Weird Globe specializes in crazy sights and offbeat destinations. Don’t believe me? Just check out his blog. Where else will you find a guide telling you to visit an “Elephant Poo Paper Park”?
So far, Chris of One Weird Globe has written itineraries on South Korea, Laos and Thailand. He even has a full Thailand Travel Guide coming out this spring! If you’re interested in traveling to either of these countries, I definitely suggest you check out his site. I know I’ll be using his itineraries religiously for my upcoming Thailand trip. I’m pretty excited to impress my travel friends with my off the beaten path suggestions. Elephant Poo Paper Park anyone??!
Think these guides sound awesome? Buy them on Amazon!
7 Days in Central Thailand
3 days in Chiang Mai
Or check out the rest of his guides here.
Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of both “7 Days in Central Thailand” and “3 Days in Chiang Mai” in exchange for an honest review. These guides are awesome, buy them now. Also, some of the links above (aka the Amazon ones) are affiliate links. This means that if you buy the guides off my website I make a small commission.
29 comments on “Move Over Lonely Planet: I’m Switching to Blogger Travel Guides”
You’re speaking my language! I haven’t bought a guidebook in years, now that honest and comprehensive guides are available via bloggers.
I need to find more blogger guides, and maybe write a few of my own for China!
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I nominated you for The Liebster Award! Love your work, keep it up :) http://www.thetechgypsy.com/the-liebster-award/
Thanks so much Robyn! That really means a lot :D Not sure if I’ll do another Liebster post since I’ve already done two, but I’ll definitely give you a shoutout on social media!
I have found so many amazing places off the beaten track by using local blogger guides instead of guide books, you can also usually ask questions through email or twitter making it much more personal
I never thought about that Emma, that’s true! When the writer is a blogger you can always shoot them an email or a Facebook message if you have questions or want to give them feedback about your experience. It’s so much more personal!
I love reading other travel bloggers experiences. It’s a great way to really get under the skin of a destination – and yes, a lot cheaper – and usually more current
I agree, travel bloggers have so much more character than you typical guide and a lot of “current” editions are out of date before they even hit the stands!
I had no idea these even existed. I never use guide books as I find them to be less than accurate. I usually rely on bloggers that travel in a similar fashion to us in order to get what we find most accurate. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.
I agree, Lonely Planet has screwed me over more than a few times. I hope more bloggers start writing guides to go along with their blogs!
I agree with you about blogger guidebooks and Chris. Not sure all blogger guidebooks would be as reputable.
I agree, Chris has a great blog and is super reputable. I think whether or not I buy a guide would depend on how I felt about the blogger.
We’re looking at SE Asia and will keep Chris´ OWP in mind. Thanks for the confidence builder for sources like these.
I hope you have a great time in SE Asia! I really hope more bloggers start writing guides because I find them a lot better sources of information than traditional guides :)
Blogger guides and good online research from the thousands of travellers who’ve done it recently are invaluable. I’ve bought loads of guide books over the years but doubt I’ll be picking up another one.
Me too! I doubt I’ll purchase another Lonely Planet, but I’ll probably buy a guidebook from bloggers I like and respect.
I can definitely see how all of the above would be true! My first resource are blogger guides – wouldn’t even think to pick up a Lonely Planet guide these days :)
Yeah I hope more bloggers start writing guides. Maybe I should write a guide for China! hahaha
Note to self: start producing guidebooks! :) I will book mark this as a starting point. I agree – I usually trust what bloggers say about a location. I should know – I am one! :P
Haha that’s how I feel. Chris has inspired me to think about writing my own too! I know I can do a way better job on a China guidebook than Lonely Planet
I agree! While I do think large guidebooks have their benefits; I prefer to read what bloggers have to say about a location. I’ve found online research to be far more beneficial in my trip planning.
I definitely find it nice to have everything in one place, but guidebooks can be really inaccurate. Blogger guidebooks are great because they’re the best of both worlds!
I’ve been using bloggers’ posts and recommendations more and more. Now that I know guidebooks are available, I’m interested to see how comprehensive they are :)
I definitely liked Chris’ guides, but I haven’t checked out any other bloggers yet. I’d like to see if they’re all as good as One Weird Globe!
I’ve switched to blog posts only lately too. They are more pesonal and just work for me better.
Me too. That’s why I like blogger guides: function of a guidebook + personality and reliability of bloggers.
Oh I could never imagine bringing my Lonely Planet China guide with me! It would break my back. I will say though, that after scouring the internet looking for information on getting to Guide County in China (you can imagine how many websites there are for tour guides in China) I was surprised to find the information in Lonely Planet. Still though, I really only use it as a reference guide for things that I saw on blogs and so on.
I’ve found the China guide is a good reference point, but I get the logistics from blogs and my hostel. A lot of the information in the China guide is inaccurate which has caused me a lot of problems!