This blog post was updated on July 28, 2021.
Lugging around a 400-page guidebook on your travels is often more of a beast of burden than a useful travel tool. Guidebooks are frequently left behind in hotel rooms due to overweight bags and at times can leave us feeling misguided. Many are hit or miss depending on the author or the general layout of the book. If you want to lighten your load on your travels and yet still gain valuable information about where you are, try ditching the guidebook for these resources that don’t require lugging around 25 extra pounds in paper.
Tourist Offices: For some travelers, there is a stigma attached to tourist offices. Some believe them to be merely for the tourists. However tourist offices can be valuable places for information on what to see and do while in town. You might happen upon a brochure that leads you to a place that the guidebook doesn’t cover. The tourist office is loaded with such brochures, maps and even discounts on attractions that you might not know about otherwise.
Travel Review Websites: From restaurants to hotels, travel review websites can help shape your travels when you don’t have a guidebook. Sometimes guidebooks are written in just one voice, that of one writer. If you want to gather the majority of opinions about what you want to see or where you want to stay, you should always consult travel review websites.
Your Social Network: People love to talk about their travels and they love to tell you where to go that they have been. Your social network is the easiest way to reach out to these travel talkers when you are at your destination. Even if you aren’t tweeting your heart out on your travels, you can still do searches on sites like Twitter, Pinterest and StumbleUpon to find out things to see and do in your destination. In today’s world, you don’t need to call up all of your friends for travel advice. You can merely post a question on one of your social handles and watch the recommendations flood into your stream.
Tourism Apps: Most countries and cities have their own tourism apps. Rather than carrying around a guidebook all day, you can consult your current city or country’s tourism app. These are generally free to download, lending travelers plenty of information from restaurants to history all without forking over a dime.
Café and Hotel Owners: Many will tell you to ask locals where to go and what to see. However, sometimes it isn’t easy for the traveler to meet locals on a personal level. It is easy to meet café and hotel owners, as these are spaces the traveler finds daily. If you are unsure of how to proceed with your day, be spontaneous and follow the recommendations of a stranger. You never know where it might lead.
Travel Blogs: For the traveler looking to not bring their guidebook, another resource of information can come for the travel blog or blogger that they trust. I frequently follow advice and tips for travel bloggers that I know travel as I do. If you find a few travel blogs that you enjoy, they can help frame your trip into an excursion more catered to your tastes.
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