Message board versus guidebook

Mar 20th, 2007, 12:34 AM
  #1  
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Message board versus guidebook

I wonder sometimes about an aspect of travel advice, that people tend to put a good deal of trust in message boards. (I spend a lot of time on this board and a couple of others, and post quite a bit.) I know, one argument is that guidebooks come with a significant time lag. It could happen that a recommended place had a change of ownership or management, or a preciptious decline. But it seems to me the likelihood of that is less than the likeihood of surprise following the advice of a small number of travelers whose tastes you don't know. (Please, I'm not trying to offend anyone. I really do post, too.) Message board advice is wonderful and you learn things you never could learn from a book, but I'm unlikely to make a major travel decision without also going to the guidebooks - five or six of them, in fact. Do most of you also do that? Is the habit of opening a book fading away in the digital age? Is it too much trouble to look it up? Or is there something in human nature that craves information without an intermediary?
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Mar 20th, 2007, 12:41 AM
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Some people might say that those people who write guidebooks have "tastes" we might not agree with, either.

We have often seen people post here who feel they can "trust" some posters (but apparently not others).

I also use a combination of at least two different guidebooks along with information posted here.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 12:47 AM
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I agree Dukey. There are all kinds of guidebooks coming at travel with myriad of points of view. But in, say, 300 pages, it's pretty easy to figure out the taste of the writer/editor/publisher. If it doesn't "fit," I move on.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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I always use multiple sources - guide books, WEB sites, etc. But I do rely heavily on this forum's advice. But I usually try to find several different posters views - if 6 people say something is great and 1 says it's terrible, I go with the majority opinion. Also, I try to read other things the posters in question have said. Do they generally sound like someone who's advice I would follow. If they've been to places I have already been, I read their postings on that place to get a sense of them and their taste. Travel planning is a lot of work (but so worthwhile). For example, I'm pretty much a budget traveler - I rarely spend more than €100 for a hotel room. When I used to rely on guidebooks, some of the places I stayed weren't so great, now I use this board and TripAdvisor and I haven't been disappointed in a hotel choice in years.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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interesting question. I do agree with your point
>> But it seems to me the likelihood of that is less than the likeihood of surprise following the advice of a small number of travelers whose tastes you don't know.

Often, I don't agree with peoples opinions on this board. Travel is quite a personal thing. If you post a question or ask for advice then you take the risk if you follow that advice. After all as you say you have no idea whose answering your question! But if you hang around for long enough you can usually work out the character of prolific posters, which helps to knowing whether you agree with their tastes!

Myself, I love researching for trips and always take information from a variety of sources, including this board, at least 2 guidebooks, other internet sources such as Tripadvisor, other travel web sites etc. I think with a variety of information you can make the best decisions for yourself. And its all part of the fun of planning for a trip!
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Mar 20th, 2007, 12:50 AM
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Of course there is also the hybrid of book excerpts on line and there are a lot of sites that are full of good information (tourist boards, provincial government etc.) So online research can be a great source.

Personally I also enjoy reading guide books and like to take a "pocket" (or at least easy to carry) version when exploring. I also enjoy browsing my library of guide books as part of the reminiscing of great trips.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 01:02 AM
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It is always interesting when someone posts a trip report and the language they use when describing something/an accommodation/whatever that they have visited/used that WAS a "rave" here that has truned out to be less than expected.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 01:51 AM
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What I find more interesting is the attitude of some who post advice or suggestions here. They seem to believe that what pleases them would please another person, and virtually give instructions to do something. You even get phenomena such as people recommending A rather than B on the basis that they have liked A and never saw B.

Folks, if I ask for suggestions, that's what I want -- not instruction. It's my holiday, not yours.

That little grumble done, I acknowlege that the only trip for which I asked suggestions (Bordeaux) I did profit from responses here.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 02:05 AM
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I suspect it's easier for the "regulars", because we get to know each other's styles. How often do you click on the name of someone you don't "know" to see what they've said about other things?

But this board is best for the off piste stuff. The most interesting stuff I've had was on Lesvos where I couldn't get much out of the books and one guy, in particular was terrific.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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As I sit here, I am looking at the pile of about five guide books to Barcelona that I used for my trip last month, and I have to remember to bring them with me this evening when I will be seeing someone to whom I promised to lend them. I will miss them, even though the trip is over, and I am considering keeping one or two around for a while. She can't read them all at once anyway, and her trip isn't until the summer.

But there is nothing like the immediacy and interactivity of the message board. Clearly I am not going to have the same tastes as everyone else, but I can tell by reading trip reports what kinds of things people like and I can make my own decisions taking into account a broad range of ideas and tastes.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 03:48 AM
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I use guidebooks to get an overview of the city/town/country that I will be visiting, and I use the message board to cull information that I can't find in the books - such as, where do the ferries run between the towns on the Rhine, are there luggage lockers in train station X?, what's the temperature of beer in Germany?, what's the web link for rail line maps, etc... I look at the Fodor's board as a compliment to my travel planning. Peace, Robyn >-



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Mar 20th, 2007, 03:50 AM
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"compliment..." OOPS, I meant complement. >-
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Mar 20th, 2007, 04:02 AM
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Hi D,

>Is the habit of opening a book fading away in the digital age?<

Not completely.

Once upon a time, when Uncle Ira was very young, if one wanted to go to Europe one bought the appropriate Guidebook - Frommers for the budget traveler, Fodors for the more affluent, etc - spoke with one's trusted travel agent and friends who had made the journey before and hoped for the best.

It was usually only serendipitous that one found that exquisite little place that no one had mentioned.

Today, we can glean information from such a wide variety of sources that guide books are only the start.

For example: the Michelin Guide lists Linderhof as **. It tells me how nice it is, but not how to get there.

More importantly, it says nothing about whether the road is too steep and winding for someone with vertigo.

That information isn't in any guide book.

You have to ask the people who have been on that road.

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Mar 20th, 2007, 04:24 AM
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"More importantly, it says nothing about whether the road is too steep and winding for someone with vertigo."

Ira,

That's exactly the guidebook to Paris that Aralynn and I are talking about writing! (And I'll know whereof I write, because I'm becoming very familiar with vertigo.)
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Mar 20th, 2007, 04:38 AM
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Dave, after having read these boards for a couple of years and seeing a thread pop up every now and then about what guide books are best, my impression is that most of the regulars on Fodor's also use guide books. And most have their favorites that they turn to trip after trip.
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Mar 20th, 2007, 04:48 AM
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Each time I take a trip I start by going to a large bookshop and browsing all the guidebooks to the relevant place to see which best suits my interests. I will then buy that one and may also make notes from the others, e.g. on promising-sounding hotels/restaurants/sites. I'll often get a large scale map too, if available.

Only then will I turn to the web - checking reviews of possible hotels on Tripadvisor etc and noting tips from here.

Additionally during my regular browsing here I sometimes take note of a particular recommendation if it relates to a place I know I will visit/revisit. I guess that equates to my similar habit of tearing pieces out of newpapers and magazines on places I will visit.

I've just come back from a short trip to Berlin (our 2nd) and this time I took 2 guidebooks, a print out of Palenque's fantastically comprehensive Berlin journal... and a print-out of my trip report from last time, to remind me of the places I liked !
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Mar 20th, 2007, 04:49 AM
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Hi Dave,

Does that mean that your guide book will not recommend going to the top of the Arch or the Tower?
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Mar 20th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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Both. Because I'll be darned and ashamed if I would come on this board and say I'm going to Krakow. What should I do? What should I see. Where shall I stay and what restaurants are there.
I need to know something about the place. I enjoy the history of a place.
I read these posters' points of view refer to the books or go find other websites and make up my own mind.
I have guidebooks by my bed when I can't sleep but I can still dream...
Besides...I have lots of the guidebooks in "the loo" too <GRIN>
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Mar 20th, 2007, 06:22 AM
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My kind of vertigo can be enjoyed anywhere; it doesn't require heights. As for the guidebook, it will be for "veterans" with all kinds of complaints. Teasing, because we expect this to make us wealthy and would rather not be beaten to it!
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Mar 20th, 2007, 06:43 AM
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While I am devoted to the Fodor's forums, I rarely use them to plan trips (horrors!).

I think they can be too confusing and overwhelming to try to squeeze trip info from, because of all the opinions like Dave mentions.

I have asked a specific question and gotten the answer I needed, for sure.

But overall I have a trip in my mind that develops, without the aid of guidebooks or the internet either one
;-)suze
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