I’m not a religious person, in fact, I quit the automatic-at-birth church membership they sign you up for in Sweden last year.
For me it is the same as with guide books – they’re comforting and it makes me feel slightly safer with one in my hand, but I never really read them.
It’s not the guidebooks themselves that are the problem for me, but the way some people read them – as if they were the bible.
Now I kind of like the bible as well, it shares some really amazing stuff for living a happy life, but just as with the Lonely Planet guides (and other guides), many people misread and/or read too far into it.
They’re there to share with you some guidelines to help you on your way, not for you to follow strictly from point A to point B.
We see people all around the world, sitting in cafes, walking down the street with their heads stuck so deep inside a Lonely Planet guide book, that they seem to forget to simply just look around at where they are and enjoy.
Guide books are there to give you hints, but it’s your task to make up your own way of doing it – there are no ‘must do’s', or ‘must-see’s’.
I especially remember this one man who counted with his fingers all the things he had managed to tick off the ‘must do in New-Zealand-list’ in less than 3 weeks:
“I did the dolphins, I’ve done the bungy jumping, I did the skydiving, I saw the glow worms, I saw the wales, I went to the Glacier etc etc…”
He never once mentioned HIS personal experience, and when I asked him he didn’t really have anything to say about it – for him it was all about the list.
If it’s a list of things you really want to do, rather than a list of things you feel that you must do because everyone says so, then go and enjoy yourself while ticking off your personal bucket list.
But if you’re running around stressing to see everything, I don’t think you’ll get the most out of your stay, even if you saw more things than me.
What’s the point of living a life if it’s already decided by somebody else how you should live it?
Same goes with guide books and travel: What’s the point of exploring if someone else halve already told you all about it and what to expect?
What adventure is worth doing when you already know what’s going to happen?
It’s like opening a christmas present you knew you would get. It’s still fun and nice, but not very exciting…
What I love about online travel guides and guides written by fellow bloggers is that they’re brief, straight to the point and only write about the most necessary information.
They give some examples of things to do, places to eat and stay, but only enough for you to go and explore a little yourself…
So, let yourself go, trust and have a little faith in YOURSELF, not in the book – who knows maybe you will have fun!
I love the way Paulo Coelho talks about this in his book ‘Warrior of the Light‘:
”One can often ruin a good pilgrimage by reading all the leaflets, books, guidelines on the internet, friends’ comments, and arrive at the place knowing everything one ought to be discovering for oneself, not allowing room for the most important element of any journey – the unexpected.”