Lonely Planet guidebooks have saved my life on several occasions. Whether I’m lost and need one of the handy maps they provide or I can’t find a hostel online that isn’t booked up, those books are my savior.
But what happens to those spots that are loved for their lack of popularity?
Whether it be a less known hostel with awesome hammocks or a waterfall to swim in that no one knows about. As soon as these hidden gems are published in one of the many guidebooks, they become a place that everyone visits; a tourist hot spot.
Recently in Liberia, Costa Rica I visited a few waterfalls. One of them was filled with tourists and the other three were empty. When I asked why the one waterfall was so busy, the guide replied, “This place used to be empty, maybe a few locals the odd time, but as soon as it was recommended by a guidebook, there’s always 20 tourists swimming in it ever day.”
What’s your opinion? We have to understand that the writers of these guidebooks have a job to do and that is to find the best places to see in a country. But is it enhancing or ruining our experiences?
I guess the next question is: are travel bloggers doing the same thing? I mean, we’d have to be pretty frickin’ popular to have the impact that a guidebook would, but still – we love to explore and blab, so…?
I guess it depends on your point of view… if you’re someone looking for tips on a sweet spot and don’t know where to start/don’t feel like going off the beaten path (which, let’s be honest, isn’t always a good idea for safety sake) then these revelations are a totally worth it. But if you’re one of those people who hate crowds, like your own secret oasis or hate to see something get cheapened or damaged due to a glut of commercialism, then yeah, it sucks.
But I mean, the world is a huge place and there are tons of things to see and it’s hard to know where to go – guidebooks help and to the same extent, travel blogs and other online forums do the same thing. Actually, be thankful that the one waterfall was full – probably kept most tourists distracted and away from your secret waterfalls lol
That’s very true! The same thing happened with a place near Blenhim, NZ where you could see the baby seals. I could hardly even get past all the families to get a picture… meh.
The last time I traveled with a guidebook was in Vietnam. I would find the hostel that was recommended and then choose the one right next to it which was just as nice and half the price.
HA! Amazing! I always find I like hostels better that aren’t in there. I’ve been to a lot of great hostels that are super busy but you can’t even find on hostelbookers or hostelworld either…
With so many options for travel information out there these days, I don’t think it’s necessarily guidebooks fault. For better or worse there will always be a tourist trail somewhere whether it’s due to or it’s one made by the local tourism business community because it it’s what they think travelers and tourists want to see. At this point, I don’t use guidebooks for finding a place to stay (but then again I don’t really stay in hostels). I hear what you’re trying to say, but I don’t think it’s the guidebooks fault completely.
Yea, that’s a really good point. There’s a hard in between
I think this depends on where you’re off to. I’ve tramped the banana pancake south east asian tour and you do get a bit sick and tired of the same recommendations.
I’m in Kurdistan at the moment with a crappy old ‘Turkey’ Lonely Planet I nicked from a hostel, absolute lifesaver! When you’re not sure whether you should feel bad about not speaking Turkish, Arabic or Kurdish, being able to look silly and point to a map in a book is priceless.
I’m changing tact on some tourist destinations though, they’re tourist destinations for a reason (be it historic, picturesque etc..) I’m finding the off the beaten track/not in the guidebook places aren’t there because.. well, because there are military tanks rolling around in the streets!