A travel guidebook is a must-have commodity on any foreign excursion, or is it? What are some of the reasons why you should not trust everything you read in a travel guidebook?
Some Travel Writers Have Not Been There!
Readers often assume that the travel writers who have gushed for page after page about how wonderful Madagascar is to have spent a substantial amount of time living or travelling around the country sampling the local culture, cuisine and living as a local. But the truth of the matter is that many travel writers have not actually set foot inside the country they are writing about as “experts.”
Rather than actually spending any time in the travel destination, some writers rely on “desk updates” by using the phone, Internet, books or interviewing others who have been to the destination to gather their information for the travel guidebook, none of which is completely accurate or full-proof. Some publishers never actually ask writers to verify their information, but will accept it at face value.
Authentic “Insider” Tips Are Hard to Come by
If you are looking for unique insider tips on your destination, do not expect to always find what you are looking for inside your travel guidebook. Travel guidebooks are notorious for getting it wrong when it comes to cultural norms, the eating habits of locals and how locals behave. So-called “authentic” eating and watering holes are normally put into travel guidebooks that cater exclusively to tourists, rather than locals. Such establishments are usually much pricier than areas where locals gather to relax and eat.
Where Are All the Negative Reviews?
Look closely at travel guidebooks and one thing you will quickly notice is that it is difficult to find a negative review. A savvy traveller will want to know which establishments to avoid, how to blend in well and make the most of their trip. But instead of candid reviews, what you will find is information stating that all restaurants are “top notch”, every beach is “to die for” and the locals are “the friendliest people in the world.” But is this all really true?
Remember that writers are trying to sell books, which is why you will find nothing but the best of everything in a travel guidebook and reviews you read will all be pretty PC. A good rule of thumb is to research individual hotels, restaurants and other establishments that are not mentioned in travel guidebooks by going to TripAdvisor and other sites to look for reviews from people who have already frequented these establishments for an impartial review.
Travel guidebooks are not all bad, but they can be misleading if you accept everything you read at face value. Some travel writers have never actually been to the destination they have written about, which hardly makes them an “expert” to rely on for accurate information. It is also difficult to come by authentic “insider” tips in a travel guidebook until you have visited the destination and found out the truth for yourself. Finally, it is difficult to come across a negative review in a travel guidebook, as many writers are more concerned with selling books, than they are in providing accurate, impartial information.
Yahoo! Travel, 10 Things Travel Guidebooks Won’t Say, by Sarah Morgan.