For us, as for many other travelers, taking a travel guide book with us on trips is a thing of the past. We haven’t traveled with a proper guide book for years, the first reason is that they’re often really heavy, bulky and take up a lot of space in your bag.
Secondly, guide books give you so much information about each place, but for us MOST of that really isn’t needed.
I don’t want to know EVERYTHING about a place I’m visiting before I’ve even arrived – doesn’t that take away from the excitement?
Where is the fun in knowing everything before even arriving?!
Guidebooks are great tools to keep yourself updated about the places you’re visiting, and of course you want to know a little bit about the places and what attractions and sites you’ll find.
To get all that, you still don’t really need a proper paperback guide book. There are so many alternatives to these that will both save you money and back pain.
Here are a few ways to be able to travel without the guide book but still keep yourself updated with the right info:
Downloadable eBook Guides
These days traveling with a laptop is pretty much common place, and although it might seem like it adds on a lot more weight than a guide book does, you know you can store 500 of them and still keep the same weight (among all those other things you would use a laptop for).
When traveling, you won’t always have access to the internet to browse online, so guides you can download to your desktop and read whenever you want, are great.
You can get a whole guide for only a few bucks, and even the bigger guide book companies are starting to sell their guides in PDF format.
The Hostel and Local Tourist Center
Normally the owners at a hostel know everything there is to know about the city for a tourist, and can tell you what there is to see around the place, all from good eats to temples to clubs.
You can also take a visit to the information office, where they’ll be able to help you with all planning and information you need to know about the city – usually you’ll also get a free map which is very useful 😉
I don’t actually have a smartphone myself, but I have an iPod Touch and that works great.
What’s great about these apps is that you can bring them with you onto the street, and many of them don’t even need an internet connection to work.
Just search for guides or the places you’ll be going and see what you can find. Many country tourism authorities have created great free apps for cities and places, this is becoming more and more common place.
Just a click away, the internet is probably the easiest way to find out what you need about the city you’re visiting.
Websites like Travelfish are great for finding things to do, restaurants and places to stay – and finding out the truth about them by people who have actually been there.
There are also tons of travel blogs that have heaps of great guides and information about places.
Random Walks – Find Out Yourself.
Some days, it’s better to just take a look yourself on what there is to do and see around you. Take a walk down the street and you’ll most likely end up somewhere you haven’t been before, and see something new that you haven’t seen before, whether it’s a market, some shops, a river or a temple.
Sometimes the best attractions aren’t those mentioned in the guide books, but those experienced by a random moment on a random street in a random city – somewhere around the world.
How do you get around new cities? If you have any tips on places to get some good guides and information, we’d love to hear about it!
(photo credits: grandvelasrivieramaya)