Independent Travel – Do You Need a Guidebook

Yesterday I talked about independent travel and its advantages of it. But where do you start? Guide books? Internet? Today we really have information overload, the trick is finding the useful stuff.

First off ever since Thomas Cook put out his his first guidebook along with inventing the package tourism industry – based on trains in his day – guide books have created the tourist ghettos we love to hate these days. Lonely Planet says Koh Phi Phi is the most beautiful, undiscovered beach in all of Thailand – guess what – yup Koh Phi Phi is trashed with far too many visitors and little infra structure to support them (I mean rubbish collect and sewerage – not 5 star hotels).


Ko Phi Phi, Thailand Photo: Shadow or Light via


But guidebooks take a long time to get to market – probably nearly 2 years from research to publishing. And in that time a lot changes –  often its a matter of doing the opposite – Phi Phi is trashed – head on out – the locals have probably tied up as the tourists started staying away – now you have a nice place and fewer visitors!

I town is written up as not worth stopping at – stop there – you will probably be  surprised. Also recognize the writers bias – if the writer is obsessed with nature and hates cities -and you’re the opposite the guide is probably not going to help very much

Independent travel is about taking the best from guidebooks and overlooking the rest. Guidebooks are useful – for high level initial trip planning – but not for the details – for the stuff like where am I going to stay – well that is best made up on the spot when you can actually see the room you are considering renting!


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