What Lonely Planet Guide Books And The Bible Have In Common

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. What Lonely Planet Guide Books And The Bible Have In Common.

However, I’ve always enjoyed visiting churches, I feel that there is something special about them, something very comforting. I feel safe and calm when I’m sitting in a church.

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.

What Lonely Planet Guide Books And The Bible Have In Common

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.

So, what they both have in common, The Bible and Lonely Planet – is that they’re both guide books.

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.

Now just to make things clear, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with having bucket lists, in fact I love them!

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.”

(photo credits: sunshinecitysaviosebvanbest)

19 Responses to What Lonely Planet Guide Books And The Bible Have In Common

  1. Julia January 11, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    I don’t like travellers that follow the guide books to the letter. Like you said, they are great as a ‘guide’ and to offer some valuable information, but for me the most memorable parts of any trip are the ones that you never expected you would experience and that you never planned for. Also, it often tends to be the people that you meet or the food you eat whilst doing the things that the guidebook recommends that are more interesting than the sights/activities themselves.

    • Sofia January 11, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      Exactly, often it’s the surprises that gives that extra spark to the trip, and not the things you planned to do or have spent the last hour looking for and finally found.

  2. Michel Travel Notes™ January 11, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Something I’ve been preaching since I first travelled overland through Asia, back in 1988.

  3. Magda Biskup January 11, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I am sure that some people just would not travel if LP didn’t exist. The book gives them the confidence and assurance. If they don’t have it handy they panic and feel lost. I am always amazed when I see people with LP (or other guidebook) glued to their hand. I went to the Blue Mountains near Sydney two weeks ago and there is this 10-minute walk there that is basically a concrete path that you can’t get lost on even if you try. And I saw this couple with massive LP Australia opened on the Blue Mountains section in front of them as they walked the path. WTF??? The guidebooks are great as a reference point but they are not meant to be a step by step guide to the adventure. Of course this is just my point of view and others my disagree.

    • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 4:49 am #

      I know what you mean.
      I’m afraid that by having a guide book it’s easy to get too caught up with it, and while walking towards the Blue Mountains reading the book, you forget to appreciate the view around.

      Maybe a good combination would be to have a guide book for the tips and info, but leave it at the hostel when going out?

      I loved the Blue Mountains, such an amazing scenery!

  4. Adam@SitDownDisco January 11, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Interesting. I’ve seen similar problems as well, but I think it’s a two-edged sword. Some WANT to be told what the best things are to do and where the best places to stay are. Actually, I think that’s the case with most people I’ve encountered! They want the guide book to have all the answers, which of course it doesn’t. But the Lonely Planet could do a better job of telling readers which things really are worth seeing and which are not — same goes for accommodation.

    For a lot of other people, they like to use the guide book as a guide. And I’m kind of like that too, but I hate hate hate spending a day getting to a destination only to find that it has been written up in a glowing manner when it’s not worth the effort. 🙂

    • Sofia January 11, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      I agree, it’s a two edged sword, like you said.

      I really enjoy reading top lists and tips of places to go and things to see, but I think it’s too bad when people get fixated by what it says in the book, and read into the details too much.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Ryan - PauseTheMoment.com January 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    This is so true! Great analogy Sofia. There’s a reason why LP is called the “Travelers Bible”. It’s in the hands of 85% of every backpacker you see along the way. I picked one up for myself in the beginning of my trip only to realize how much I hate guide books half way through. At first I thought it would provide me with quality accommodation advice but that was far from true. Most hotels/guesthouses that are in LP no longer have to put in effort to keep their places clean, put new sheets on the bed, etc. Why? Because they have LP backing them and telling all travelers to come to “X” Hotel. Whatever you do, NEVER trust LP for accommodations. What LP can be helpful with is transportation advice. It’s usually spot on and they usually provide great information on how to get from one place to the next via different borders, etc. You’re right though, if you put 100% trust in your guidebook you’ll never be a confident traveler. Get rid of your guidebook and not only will it lighten up your load, but it will turn you into a more confident and responsible person.

    • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 4:53 am #

      Haha you’re SO right about the accommodations, just because they can put a sign up in front of their door saying “recommended by Lonely Planet”, they don’t need to worry about the service anymore!

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Ryan.

  6. Sarah Wu January 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    I totally agreed with you. I love gudiebooks too, but it has to be like what you want to explore and what you want to see. Not just following the top 10 cafe in blah blah city. You might missed out some other nice one along the way. Gudiebook is there to help you not must do.

    • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 4:57 am #

      I agree, finding your own little spot is often what makes the cafe experience special.

  7. Michael Figueiredo January 12, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    Very good points! I’d never really thought of it that way, but you’re totally right. So many people are so concerned with checking off boxes in their guide books that they don’t just sit back, relax, and enjoy what’s in front of them. (I’m even guilty of this sometimes when I spend too much time looking through my camera’s viewfinder and not my own eyes!)

    • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 5:00 am #

      Hi Michael,
      I can so relate to that, spending too much time looking through the camera lens rather than enjoying the view yourself.

      I’m guilty of that too, but I’m working on it! 😛

  8. Emily January 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    That’s a great analogy–I wouldn’t have thought of comparing the two, but it makes sense! I have found certain guidebooks to be incredibly helpful, but you’re right that they sometimes make us to reliant on the must-dos and less likely to go off and explore the things that aren’t written about. Sometimes you need to just wander and get lost. Though I somehow manage to get lost even with guidebooks and maps… 🙂

    • Anonymous January 15, 2011 at 5:02 am #

      Haha getting lost is not always fun when it happens, but it usually makes for a fun(ny) memory afterwards 😉

  9. Jeremy B January 14, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    I definitely get what you are saying here. I think guidebooks are awesome to get acquainted with the city you are visiting. However, if you never take your head out of the book, smell the air, observe the people, and experience the culture, then at the end of your trip, you can check items off a list but you didn’t really accomplish anything.

  10. Theodora January 16, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    I think there’s a great deal to be said for combining guide books and on the ground research. That means asking locals and travellers what’s to be seen, rather than checking items off the list. Some of my most rewarding travel experiences have been discovering things that the guide books don’t know about, though it tends to take longer. Also, you can always find cheap accommodation near a Lonely Planet top pick.

  11. enrolled agent cpe January 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    When I was planning my first trip it was guide books that I had on my mind. But I couldn’t agree more with the quote you shared from Warrior of the Light. You just need to go with the flow and expect the unexpected. That’s the only way you can fully experience and appreciate the beauty of what surrounds you.

  12. Traveller March 13, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    I am very lucky as I travel for business, though I treat it as a backpacking experience – you won’t meet me sipping G+T in the exec lounge! Often I know I will be returning to somewhere so I tend not to “do” the place, although I do read the guidebooks to see what is local. However, I rarely enjoy going to the big nearest attraction, the palace or temple, instead, the valuable memories come from the roadside restaurant, market or station. Following a guidebook will let you see with your own eyes what you read about on wikipedia, random travel will get you to the special places and, of course, smell the smells!
    Good example was the sunset at the end of the Cambodia video, that is the esssence of the journey.