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What do people have against Lonely Planet guidebooks?

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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:24 AM
  #1
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What do people have against Lonely Planet guidebooks?

I've seen quite a number of posts here where people comment that this is the last guidebook on earth they'd purchase. Why? Is it because it is not upmarket enough? Or is it the tone? Do these people only visit places like Paris & Rome where there are a million other guidebooks available? (I'll admit that for those places I probably might not use LP either.)

I'm just curious becaue I have used this series a number of times and, for the most part, have been very pleased with it. This is especially true for those places where there are not a zillion other guidebooks. I like the city maps, the extensive background info on a country, the cultural clues etc. Probably my main complaint is that they never assume people might be travelling by rental car but that everyone is always using public transportation.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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I think it is a good idea to purchase more than one guide book - weak areas in one will be offset by the other etc. Personally, I have found Lonely Planet has been the best for logistical info and also the best for overall detail. I like them alot.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Oh in addition,

I am travelling by public transport and so for me logistical bus info and walking info and distances are an absolute must. I have the opposite compalint of julies and find other guide books assume you are renting a car - lol!

Cheers
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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I am curious about this myself. I am a young budget traveller, which I assume is not the norm here, but LP normally has the best and most maps. That alone is a reason I often rely on them. I at least use the maps to get near to restaurant areas, maybe not go to the exact restaurant they reccommend. Perhaps people hate them because they don't want to meet new college grads like me who also use them? I especially like their lamenated "city maps." I always just use it as a GUIDE not the authority on my vacation.

However, I have also used other guidebooks. I think you just get used to the style of writing of one book and then rely upon it.

Personally I find Rick Steve books even more prone to meeting people who only use the book (ie go to a restaurant and the only people there are Rick Steves readers). But whatever works I suppose is fine. These forums at least are much more informative than the LP forums (except for hostelling). And the people are less condescending.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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I think it depends on who you are asking. Go on over to the Lonely Planet website and you'll hear a different point of view.

I do think it depends on the destination as well. Lonely Planet for Mexico, Central America, etc. is extremely well respected. So maybe they do better with the less traveled more rustic places?


Funny you should mention Lonely Planet, just last night I pulled out their little French phrase book (to lend a friend) and was looking thru it again, it is near perfect imo!
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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I don't care for Lonely Planet, find them too limiting and too focused on the young, low-budget traveler. Nothing wrong with that, I'm just not the reader they're writing for. And lately I've been going mostly to places that are covered by the TimeOut series, which does a much better job, IMO, than LP.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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I like Rough Guides which have changed their format to include hotels and restaurants for all price categories. I also find the guides detailed with fairly good maps. I am using their Tuscany and Umbria guide for my upcoming trip and found it was one of the more detailed guides available. I will usually go the library as well and take out the Fodors, Frommers and Rick Steve's books and jot down any additional info missing from the book I bought.

I love the Lonely Planet shows and only wish I was able to travel the way they do...I am not really cut out for it anymore I'm afraid...too used to comfort.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 08:13 AM
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Different guides cater for different markets. Lonely Planet cover lots of practical details, like hotels, restaurants and public transport, so would be of limited use to somebody on an organised tour or somebody with a big budget - if you take taxis and stay in the most expensive hotels, you don't need that sort of guide book.
Myself, I prefer the Rough Guides which are similar, but provide more authoritative coverage of European countries, with good articles on the history and culture of countries.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 08:13 AM
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The way I use travel books has changed through the years. I used to buy them mostly for hotel and restaurant info. Now I get that from the internet - here, slowtrav.com, trip advisor, etc. I buy DK to find out that else there is to see other than the obvious, and I buy Rick Steves for his walking tours. I bought Lonely Planet for our trip to Costa Rica and hardly used it at all.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Julie, the only LP book I've used is Slovenia back in 2001. It was the only available guidebook I could find. The maps were great and the restaurant suggestions that I tried were excellent. The book gave very good ideas for hiking/adventure activities, and also explicit logistical (busses, trains, etc.) info. Definitely with you on the assumed public transportation vs. rental car issue, though.

But, I love to read almost all of the guidebook series. In general, the one I've found lacking is Rick Steves, which is not a bash on him overall - just not a big fan of how he limits his books to the few areas that he likes in a country while admittedly omitting the vast, vast majority of the country.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 08:43 AM
  #11
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I often use LP guidebooks (although I stop for a while if I start thinking of myself as a traveler and not a tourist). As people have noted, they are among the best on logistics. They are usually more detailed, too, with entries on obscure villages and remote sights. Their "top end" recommendations are usually middle-class safe.

As Suze noted, their guide to Mexico is first rate. I think they're at their best with out of the way places -- sometimes the only option anyway -- but I usually refer to them when planning a trip to Europe, too. They tend to by less "enraptured" than the mainstream. The walking guides are good but can be a little rigorous for us over-the-hill types.
 
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Apr 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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I agree. Years ago, they were the major guidebook to places in SE Asia and West Africa and I used them a lot. (Moon Handbooks were also popular, for Indonesia in particular) The first one, I think, was the guide to Southeast Asia that we called the "yellow bible." EVERYONE on the circuit in the early 80s carried that one and it was a small budget operation run by Tony Wheeler and his wife. As I got older (!!) I began to find that their recommendations were focused mostly on the low end for hotels and places to eat but for transport and general feel of a place, they remain excellent. I also think they are fun to read. Now there is so much info on the internet and there are other guides to those countries. I never use them for Europe but still take them along to more out of the way places. They were very good as an adjunct last year in Turkey. I also take them out of the library and look through them to get an idea of off-the-beaten-path places to put on my list for the future.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 09:14 AM
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I enjoy LP books but find they really suck for what i look for in a guidebook - any useful accommodations info - at least for budget travelers - very poor on. But a wealth of info for independent travelers on transportation, sights, etc.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 09:22 AM
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I have found when the location is off the beaten path, both the LP and Moon guides are more useful. I went to Bali in 1986, when it was not yet well recognized as a great vacation destination and LP had the most detailed, most accurate guide. Similarly their Turkey guide in 1992 was great. As earlier posters have noted, for South America destinations, the LP and Moon guides are really good.

I wonder if it is a volume game - when a location is not popular yet, then the mainstream books don't devote as much resources (money) to developing the book since it won't sell huge numbers of copies. Then once a location is popular (like Tuscany), the majors are willing to spend the funds to develop a detailed guide???
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Apr 28th, 2006, 09:26 AM
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I usually buy both LP and Rough Guide. I think LP is more immediately useful for independent travellers, but I much prefer the in-depth history and cultural stuff in RG, especially the history, books and music sections.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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This thread is very educational. I never bought LP books because from what I heard someone like me was not really their target audience. I come to this thread and hear about how good they are with maps and public transport issues. I will definitely look into them in the future, as I use public transportation in Europe instead of renting cars.

They say you learn something every day, and I did from this thread. Thanks for starting it julies, and thanks to other posters for their input.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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For PalQ (and anyone else). My experience in Europe is very limited, but I've found LP guidebooks to be helpful in the area in which you find them lacking--accomodations for budget travelers. Since I hope to return to Europe at some point, what do you recommend that is better specifically in the area of budget accomodations?
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Apr 28th, 2006, 11:01 AM
  #18
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PalQ I too am astounded that you think LP is limited in budget accomodation recommendations. I think they have a lot of low end recommendations. My quibble with LP's accomodation recommendations is that I tend to prefer more detailed descriptions than they sometimes give.
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Apr 28th, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Bill Bryson?
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Apr 28th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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I'm an older mid-budget traveller and I always read a Lonely Planet before I travel. They give such detailed infor on public transportation and little maps of the towns and location of the accommodations. I don't use them for accommodations. I read other travel books and look here on Fodor's. Before my move to the northwest this March, I got a Lonely Planet for the northwest. Now, I need to unpack my books to get to it.
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