Sometimes, you have to spend money to save money. That’s definitely the case when you’re investing in a good guidebook.
As budget travelers, we try to cut corners wherever possible. But sometimes you need to spend money to save money and get the best value from our trip. The single best way to do that is to invest in a good guidebook – or several, if you’re planning a long, multi-country trip.
In the age of the internet, people are turning away from good old-fashioned books and turning to the web for valuable information. And you can find great travel information on the web. But unless you’ve got a lot of time, or have perfected the art of Google search, a guidebook that makes travel information readily accessible is definitely worth the investment. (That’s not to say you shouldn’t go online to supplement your guidebook’s information – you definitely should!)
A good guidebook provides a lot more information than you may realize. Yes, it will give you recommendations for where to sleep and eat, or the operating hours of top attractions. But a really good guidebook will go beyond that and help you understand the culture or cultures of your destination. It will tell you how to navigate essential cultural experiences, from tapas bars to tango milongas. It will tell you how to avoid the crowds, which sights aren’t worth the effort, and how to get from Point A to Point B – all of which save you time.
And time is money. Well, maybe not exactly, but if you consider your airplane ticket an investment in your travel experience, you’ll receive a greater payoff the more time you spend actually seeing and doing what you saved up your money to see and do.
My guidebooks are filled with dog ears, notes, and highlights; they’re used and abused for months before and then during my trip. I knew that walking up the Eiffel Tower would save me money and time in line, and that most of the Louvre was not worth the time. I also knew the best way to get from Rome to Siena, and whether I’d need reservations in advance. And I knew to savor and enjoy my dinner; this was Europe, after all. Loitering is encouraged.
So before you get too far into planning your next trip, take some time to research a good guidebook, and pick up the latest version. The time and money you’ll save with the advice you find between the covers will be well worth your investment.