Tour Books - Frommers a waste of money

Jul 27th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Tour Books - Frommers a waste of money

I just wanted to share my disappointment with my chosen guide book for my 3-week trip in Greece. I brought along Frommer's and it led me astray in so, so many ways. Lacking detail, correct information or any real helpful tips, the book was essentially useless. I ended up leaving it in a hotel room because I was better off without it. We got stuck in Delphi because the book said there are several buses daily back & forth to Athens. This is simply not true - there are different buses on different days. It also led me wrong on restaurants, getting to certain islands, hotels (don't stay at Hotel Olga in Thessolonaki), museums -- you name it.

I picked up a Lonely Planet book that was marginally better. My advice is to not use Frommer's for a trip to Greece!
DenverDice is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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I'm with you, DenverDice...I also went to Greece with only a Frommer's book and it was the worst of all the books I bought for a long trip across Europe. I had some Rick Steves books for London, Paris and Rome, and a Fodor's guide for Italy, and found all of them to be fantastic. The Lonely Planet series is good for the younger traveler, but I also thought it was light on information, and the accuracy was a bit sketchy.

We're going back to Paris this fall, and I bought an updated version of Rick Steves Paris book, along with a Michelin Green Guide and a Fodor's book as well. I find that spending $50 or more on a $2,000 vacation is well worth the investment. Live & learn.

I hope your next experience is better.

Happy Travels,

jules4je7 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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Hi DD,

Did you also post this at Frommer's?

ira is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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I just read a review in some magazine (National Geographic Explorer, perhaps) that rated all of the "big" guide books. Fodors and Frommers both tied, and not at the top of the rankings either. Right now, I can't remember which book rated best. (And obviously it will vary depending on the region.)
JackOneill is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:44 AM
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This is interesting to me. I find that Frommer's does not do a particularly good job of covering an area in depth. I am a budget traveller and if I rely on only Fodor's or Frommer's lodging recommendations there are usually only 1, or perhaps 2, recommendations at the lower price range. I personally like Lonely Planet because they are thorough and cover all budget ranges for lodging. They also have great small maps of cities. I like Rick Steves, but he only covers the major cities and attractions so they aren't useful if you want to go off the beaten path. My 2 persoanl favorites if you can find them for the area you are visiting are the Cadogan guides and the Rough guides.
julies is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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That's interesting.

I actually find the Frommer's website better than Fodor's (in terms of travel information). I usually take a look there.

It's so easy these days to check opening times, transportation info, etc. these days that I'll usually do the research on the web before I leave for the places I think are very important (I don't rely on guide books in this regard).

I've not used Fodor's in a while. My default guide book series is the Time Out series.
111op is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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Not to suck up or anything.... but I rely on Fodor's plus usually 1 or 2 others - tear out the relevant pages from Fodor's, augment from the others.

One thing I wish they (Fodors) wouldn't do is make it so hard to link the name of an establishment with a map and a write-up. You'll find a map with several hotels keyed to a number -- e.g. #1 is the Excelsior, #2 is the Ritz, and so on. Below the map, however, they're listed alphabetically, and a few pages later, you'll find them listed with write-ups in order of swank-factor but no number keyed to the map. If you want to choose a neighborhood and find a hotel therein, it's a 3-step process, with very poor cross-keying.

Just MHO.
soccr is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 11:39 AM
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FYI - any decent computer mapping application allows you to type the name of a hotel or restaurant (or an address) and it will pinpoint it on your map. By setting a virtual "pushpin" there, you don't have to look it up again.

This capability for Microsoft Pocket Streets (program and maps) is available for free. See
Robespierre is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Maybe they are bad at Greece, but since you didn't think Lonely Planet was very good, either, maybe you are being a little unrealistic about guidebooks. They can't always be exactly accurate and up-to-date on things that may change a lot, like bus schedules, opening hours, etc.

I don't know--I've used a lot of different guidebooks so think I'm fairly familiar with a lot of them, and I think Frommers are among the best. I have never had a really bad Frommers guidebook, and found them very good for some of the things you dislike (shopping, restaurants, etc) in the Czech Republic, for example. I think their Paris book is pretty good too, as I recall. For Spain, I thought Fodors was a little better, from Frommers wasn't terrible.
Christina is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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I just had the same unfortunate experience with Frommers Italy 2005. Wrong addresses, incorrect information about sites, etc.

Never again!
sera is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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The 2005 guidebooks were in the stores around Thanksgiving 2004. To get the editing, printing and shipping done for a 11/04 delivery, probably no changes were made from about mid-September (and probably before then).

Books will never have the most current information in the age of the Internet. Also, mistakes are carried from one edition to another. Let the publisher know about the problem so they can make a correction for the next edition.

And make sure to stay here and let people know what you encountered on your trip.
ncgrrl is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 12:43 PM
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I don't think you'll ever get all travelers to agree on which guide book is best or worst for which country.
I've been disappointed myself in particular guidebooks for particular places from time to time (Eyewitness, for Florence, comes to mind) but I'll bet the one I don't like is the one that is someone else's favorite.

I have to say that for years now I don't rely on guidebooks for anything to do with schedules, whether that's transportation, days or hours that an attraction is open or closed, etc
Even the best guidebook is out of date if the schedule or policy changed yesterday, or if the restaurant closes tomorrow. I check websites before I go, and double-check important details once I arrive.
elaine is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 12:50 PM
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I think the fault lies with that particular author. Haven't had any problems with the Paris and Rome guides although they don't seem to review their recommendations on a periodic basis as they claim. But that could be said about other guidebooks as well.
francophile03 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 12:58 PM
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Believe it or not, not all guidebooks are updated every year. You'd think they would be, but that's not the case. Lonely Planet is not; Frommers evidently is not. Fodors and Rick Steves are. Check the copyright date if you're not sure.

Man, it really sucks when a $20 book can screw up your $4,000 vacation.
Edward2005 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Copyright date does not mean the book in thoroughly updated each year - to wit Let's Go series - publish every year but often with same sadly outdated info.
PalQ is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 01:11 PM
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For our recent trip to Portugal, we bought and used a Rough Guide book. We chose it over Fodor's, Frommers and others (we spent hours looking at all of them) because we thought it had more useful information for our needs, better maps, and was well -organized for easy use. For future trips, I would check it out for other countries as well.
Marianna is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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I began my overseas travel with Frommers $10 a Day books -- guess that dates me, huh?-- and they were great back then. When Arthur Frommer himself quit doing the research and turned it over to others, the guides went down the tube with out-of-date information on restaurants, schedules, etc. However, I still find his guide to be excellent in background information in the city/country that's being covered. Rick Steves is great on current prices and budget accommodations, but he doesn't cover every corner of a country -- only the sites he feels are good. I prefer to read Frommer's description of places and decide for myself where to go and what to do. In a nutshell, I use both guides for most European travel. For Croatia I used Lonely Planet which was on the low-budget side but had other useful information and maps.
crckwc is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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Another vote for Rough Guides - I use the Microsoft Reader version because I can search for any text without leafing through a book. Or jump from the table of contents to a chapter. Plus it weighs nothing and takes up zero space.
Robespierre is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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The discussion about the annual updating of travel books prompts me to share this story. In 1994, my husband and I honeymooned throughout England and Scotland. After a few days, we had packed away all but our Rick Steves guidebooks. We found great walks and hidden places and tips and just thought it was the greatest. I even took a goofy picture of my husband posing with the book at this ancient tiny church we found in the Cotswolds (courtesy of Rick). A few days later in Edinburgh, we walked into breakfast at the small B&B where we were staying (you-know-who recommended). The owner asked how we found her; we replied "Rick Steves' 2-22 days book"; and she said, "How would you like to have breakfast with the author?". She sat us at his table and we had a lovely conversation. He was very, very nice. He asked us about our trip so far, wrote down some restaurants we had liked in London, and signed our guidebook. He was on his annual tour of updating his book for the next year. And we made a great travel memory.
Biscotcha is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Oh, I could have told you that. I quit using Frommer's guide books long ago for the exact reasons you mentioned: unbelieveably sloppy editing, with incorrect addresses, or in one instance, TWO reviews of restaurants in one sector of a city that had long since been closed. Never again. That was quite a few years ago. But now, their website is quite good, and I've relied on it many times for good deals on bargain travel.

But back to the guidebooks- I expressed my displeasure over Frommer's books about a year ago to one of the former Frommer's editors of the China guidebook, who used to be a frequent contributor to the Fodor's Asia board (but no longer) Peter N-H-his guidebook was FILLED with out-dated information.

I hate to plug Fodor's, but their info. is generally quite accurate, particularly their restaurant reviews-if it weren't for Fodor's Japan (a particularly well-edited guidebook) I would never have found this out of the way restaurant outside Tokyo up in the national forest area that was just wonderful, among others.

However, I do love my Time Out Guides-just bought the brand spanking new Aug. 2005 edition of the Time Out Rome guidebook, in time for my trip to Roma in a few weeks, so will be perusing it avidly-you can't beat Time Out Guides for nightlife listings-really spot- on.
Spygirl is offline  

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