Look, I know this sounds a bit dramatic but I really do believe lonely planeteers have a lot to answer for. It is not the book itself that I actually hate, it is its constant misuse as a complete gospel for world travel that really pisses me off.
Lonely planet guides can be a great source of background information, getting your bearings on a place or finding out the basics. But why oh why do so many travellers use this as their total and complete inspiration and manual for world travel?
The other day a sweet (and somewhat ditzy) backpacker told me about a great ‘quiet and off-the-beaten-track’ place that has been quoted in the Lonely Planet. If ALL of the Lonely Planet readers are going to this place it is NOT off-the-beaten-track or quiet. The lonely planet neatly and concisely guides you along the well beaten track. Sometimes this is where you want to be but it is the disillusionment that this is the only path that angers me the most.
I have realised in attempting to contain my anger long enough to write this that it is actually the things that the lonely planet cannot tell you that is the problem, the things that you have to find for yourself. It is in the process of this search that you will stumble upon great things.
The feelings, the discoveries, the tastes and the sounds of a place are realised through experiences, not through reading and pre-planning them.
Travel resources have a place to provide information and ideas. But for God’s sake put the book away, just for a minute and enjoy an authentic experience!
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