Are Travel Guides Still Worth Reading?

These days, the internet is the primary source of travel because it’s the primary source of information about everything. If you’re planning a trip, you aren’t likely to go to a bookstore to buy a bulky travel guide and then sit with a pen and paper to write out a detailed itinerary.

You’re likely going to Google the most recommended destinations and then mark them on Google Maps.

In the digital age, with all the necessary information right at our fingertips for free, it’s hard to keep seeing the value of travel guides over travel bloggers, who can provide first-person information. 

Many travel guides in circulation were published years ago, so if that information is attested to repeatedly by different bloggers and kept up to date, many people turn to them instead.

At first glance, it seems like there’s nothing left for travel guides to do other than act as a placeholder on your shelf.

Yet, if we dig deeper, we’ll find that first glance is wrong. Travel guides are still seen as one of the best and most trustworthy sources of information, especially by people who like to travel a lot.

While the information they provide might not be as trendy or as eye-catching as the latest pics from a famous travel blogger, they have several advantages that many travelers prefer to rely on over what’s been published on the internet. 

Let’s discuss why.

1. Travel Guides Provide Unbiased Information

Travel bloggers don’t often have editors. Thus, the information they provide is heavily biased according to their tastes. 

Objectivity is hard to maintain when the only information source you have is your personal experience. A lot of what travel bloggers catch on camera and write about is informed by their values and preferences. 

Many upsides of a place you’re planning to visit they may skip simply because it is of no interest to them, while many downsides may be blown out of proportion or, on the contrary, trivialized.

On the other hand, travel guides are compiled by teams of professionals who are there to keep each other in check. So, while there’s always a place for human mistakes, travel guides are a much more reliable source of unbiased information. 

2. Travel Guides Provide Context and History

There’s no other way to put it: travel blogging is primarily based on visual materials. So, there’s a reason why most travel bloggers choose Instagram as their primary platform. Selling an idea of a trip to the audience is much easier when you’ve got colorful pics that catch all the best angles with doctored lighting.

  • And, frankly speaking, that’s not just the bloggers’ fault. They’re dependent on traffic, and they know that the traffic primarily comes with pretty pictures accompanied by easily digestible information. 
  • Severe and in-depth travel blogging is not unpopular, but there’s a limit to the information bloggers can provide. In the end, they know that most readers come to learn about personal experiences and tend to prioritize them when writing their text.
  • Travel guides don’t have the luxury of doctoring the information for the sole reason of increasing readership. While travel guides sometimes provide personal perspectives from the writer and beautiful pictures, they’re also obliged to provide information about the place they write about. As a result, they can’t skip doing the heavy lifting: researching and compiling in-depth background information about the place they’re writing about.

3. Travel Guides Don’t Publish the Same Information

Attracting readership comes with the pitfall of writing about the most famous destinations. As a result, travel bloggers who want to get more clicks must provide information about places already on people’s radars because those are the places people go looking for information on most often.

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Only bloggers with well-established platforms and large followings get the privilege of writing about obscure attractions and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Have you ever noticed how most online articles about places to visit in specific destinations keep repeating the same 5-10 famous sights? That’s the reason. They’re already famous, and they don’t require in-depth research.

On the other hand, travel guides need to be helpful to get potential readers. And the best tool in a travel guide’s arsenal to be helpful is to provide complete, in-depth information about the destination, information the potential reader cannot get on the website that ranks in the first few pages on Google.

The more unique, obscure information a travel guide provides, the greater its chances of increasing readership. People working as travel guides know this and act accordingly.

Head over to Natpacker’s blog for more great information on travel guides.


4. Travel Guides Aren’t Dependent on Environmental Conditions

If your travel itinerary is on your phone or, better yet, you only have online access, multiple scenarios could cut you off.

An off-path location could have no internet coverage, lousy weather could damage the connection, you might run out of data, or you might run out of battery life while traveling.

Travel guides aren’t dependent on your ability to utilize a device. If they’re somewhere in your pack, they provide access to the information you need 24/7. 

5. Travel Guides Are Easier to Read

A wily travel blogger knows that their success in the digital age depends on the mighty SEO. This entails determining what people Google the most and creating content around it, focusing on optimizing keyword quantity and placement.

Again, this is not their fault, as the game rules were established long ago. Thus, a cursed loop – either your content is built by obeying specific rules, or what you write won’t get seen in the first place.

Unfortunately, this often leads to highly visible content that is unnecessarily long, poorly edited and repeats the same information throughout the article (to appease the powerful ranking system).

Travel guides are not only written by people who don’t have to think about keywords while constructing their content, but they also go through several rounds of edits, which cut unnecessary fluff, to provide the readers with concise, easy-to-read text.

Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.


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