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Old 04-16-2012, 04:40 PM
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and arriving to your destination with no plans I find is much more relaxing and fun. Why does every single restaurant you try in a new city have to be rated on Yelp or in some travel magazine or guide? Where is the sense of adventure? I can't stand traveling with people that have a set agenda X that has to be reached in Y amount of days in a new country. Nothing is fun about traveling at break neck speed so that you can get all of the items on an itinerary in before you have to leave. I'd much rather walk around and site see/people watch and wander into some hidden back alley pub that they've been serving beers at for 500 years than going from A to B to C in a foreign country staring at boring painting after painting, church after church, or main square after main square. How about wandering off of the beaten path?
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:56 PM
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
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If you just want to "go on the fly"....just heading out with no expectations is great...we've done it!

But, if you want to see and experience certain things in a certain place, a guidebook is a godsend! It's always nice to know SOMETHING about where you're going....and most folks don't know what to do if they don't do a tad of research! Unless you're extremely adventurous, you could end up missing something that your really would have enjoyed!

I don't advocate "going by the book", but a bit of research into your destination can enhance the whole experience!
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:59 PM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Well I don't feel the need to stick to what the brochure or guide book says - but I've found the trusty Lonely Planet has often been a life-saver, it just brings together all the info I need (restaurants, sights.etc) in one convenient place. The maps help too. After you're finished with them you can sell them, or just give them away.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:13 AM
Location: Beautiful Pennsylvania / Dull Germany
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I often use travel guide books before going to a place, to know about the history, sights, and of course to have a map and to plan a route. I do not use information on restaurants, as I prefer street food in most places around the world and just eat what looks great in my eyes.

How about wandering off of the beaten path?
How do you know where the beaten path is, without looking it up?
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:38 AM
Location: Earth
24,638 posts, read 21,410,495 times
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Originally Posted by Douglas Dakota View Post
I often use travel guide books before going to a place, to know about the history, sights, and of course to have a map and to plan a route. I do not use information on restaurants, as I prefer street food in most places around the world and just eat what looks great in my eyes.

How do you know where the beaten path is, without looking it up?

Guide books are invaluable; I live in Europe and travel most weekends.
Different books are great for different things.
I use Lonely Planet and Moon to find out about bus routes, history and basics; I love Eyewitness to get a feel for what is available, great photos and floorplans are a bonus.

My LPs get ripped apart for cities/countries.
If I'm interested in a specific museum or concert hall, of course I use my travel guides for hours of operation, etc.

There's a place for both types of travel.

Let's take the Loire Valley as an example. I could drive around for hours/days with no plans, but at €1.80/liter for petrol, what's the reasoning? I want to see the chateaux, not some backroad going no where.
I'm going to Paris (again) next weekend. I've been there several times, but will still carry my guide. It's filled with maps and metro guides, little out of the way museums that I adore.

I live near Prague, I frequently travel there with no tour book because I've been there at least 20 times. I still miss things that are of interest to me. When I search on the internet or read a book, there's always something else to learn and see.
Then again, how would I know about Kutna Hora, Cesky Krumlov/Budvar, the 3-Ts, Liberic or Olomouc if I didn't have a guide to refer to?

I traveled to Romania and Serbia last year.
Do you think I'd do that without research?

Do I walk around as well, certainly.
But I'm not interested in walking around bad parts of town or places that have nothing of interest when my time is limited.
When I want to do that, I move to a country.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:54 AM
Location: Oxford, England
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I'm afraid I would be lost without my trusted Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. I like to plan because with a limited amount of time I want to make the most of my trips. For me this means exploring Historical sites, finding out about Architecture, Art Galleries, Museums, where to go to the Opera, Concerts, which free paper to get for listings in big cities, opening hours etc... I would lose far too much precious time having to faff around looking for the tourist information kiosks ( which in my experience are usually useless anyway) and trying to find out stuff.

I also love to read about the history, culture and context of whichever country I go to and in some places the recommendations for restaurants have been invaluable ( like Istanbul where I would have ended up in McDonald's at the sheer frustration of being hassled by restaurant owners- if you harass me I won't come in and would rather fast basically, my Lonely Planet recommended some excellent places including one I would quite happily eat at on a very regular basis).

Of course Hubby and I also always make time to waste time and simply follow our noses and have a little spontaneous wandering but there is no way I am going to some places without seeing some of the Archaeological sites for example or Museums. I am a culture vulture and that I'm afraid has to be planned. A good guide also often takes you on the lesser travelled path and we have discovered little know little gems because of them.

I think a lot of people buy the guide but don't read it apart from the restaurant and bars places so a lot of recommended places like certain sites can be quite empty. And we always travel out of season of we can anyway. I don't do crowds if I can avoid it. Nothing is more likely to ruin a vacation than having to fight your way through a beautiful place.

I simply cannot imagine ever doing nothing on vacation or simply staring into space on a beach lounger. It would kill me.

We do home exchanges so we always get a much more "native" experience anyway and always discover places most people don't see but I need my fix of sites and museums, etc... If I haven't learnt anything I feel bereft when I leave a country. We always shop at local shops, eat at local restaurants and interact with the locals but a guide is still required for all the finer details of places to visit.

Research is paramount to good travelling for me. It builds a foundation for maximising enjoyment and making things a lot more pleasant and easy on the ground.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:57 AM
Location: on an island
13,361 posts, read 37,436,352 times
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As Chielgirl mentions, there are practical matters to consider, such as cost and convenience.

Depending on how many people are involved, it's fine to travel without a guidebook, let alone whole bunch of checklists. Last Christmas we traveled with both our sons as well as their girlfriends, during the holidays--you'd better believe we arranged lodging (and Christmas dinner) ahead of time. But we still were able to do some fun meandering.

To me one of the most fun aspects of travel is researching the possibilities, and the most relaxing approach is to have flexible plans. Some of the coolest stuff I've ever done came out of a guidebook, but that doesn't mean I obsessively, methodically follow a print-out. Once you're on the road, word of mouth can also lead to some amazing experiences. That's where the flexibility comes in handy.
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:20 AM
Location: Earth
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BWP and Moose, as always, you have it nailed.
We should travel together...

I love reading about places before I travel.
I've been reading my Scandanavian books and the ones for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I'll carry my Eastern Europe, Germany and Czech books with me. They're always in the car.
That's my big trip this year (well, there was the 4 weeks in Thailand and I didn't have a guide for that). I really should buy one, though. It's been a while.

I'm well read and have some ideas of what I'd like to do in each country, but am not tied into any one thing. If it's raining, I can do something else, but I'm aware of many of the options prior to taking my trip.
I'll be seeing a friend from another forum in Oslo for their National Day, so I'll have a great guide for the city - we've traveled before (in Luxembourg) and love museums and architecture.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:26 AM
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I'm a fan of the DK Eyewitness travel guides. My books become keepsakes after I get back home, I write notes in them, highlight things I want to see, etc..

I'm trying to imagne what someone who just dropped into my city would see/do/eat/stay vs. someone with a guidebook or a little googling.

It's kinda weird to me to recommnd (on a travel forum where people are seeking advice) that people just wing it...
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:16 AM
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If one wants to travel without referring to travel guides that is great. But some people refer to know in advance about what there is to do and see at their travel destination/s.
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