I’ve traveled a fair bit in my life and I have, in fact, lived on three continents. So I know a great travel guide when I see one. One of the best parts about travel guides is that they now have online counterparts, which means that if you left your Lonely Planet guide at home by accident, but if you have internet access, you can access the information that way. It’s definitely a far cry from gas station maps and word of mouth from my parents’ day.
So I was tickled the other day when I stumbled upon Chris Sherman’s article “The Thirteen Best Online Travel Guides” and in the spirit of summer vacations, I had to share his first 6 picks and their overviews with you.
1. Arrivalguides.com: is entirely web-based, and all of its guides are available as free PDF downloads. This website is available in either English or Swedish, but some of the individual destination cities have options to download their guides in different languages. Arrivalguides.com doesn’t have a mobile version, but does offer free downloads of its most popular guides in the iTunes app store.
2. Concierge.com: provides guides to more than 200 destinations through publisher Conde Nast, including content from the Conde Nast Traveller magazine. Exploring for destinations by interests and ideas turns up some offbeat travel suggestions that you might not find with other guides. Concierge.com doesn’t have a mobile site but does have a “postcard” app.
3. Fodor’s: offers interesting perspectives of destination because its guides are written by people who live in the location they write about. The guides on the website don’t seem as complete as the print guides, though there are about a dozen free downloadable guides available. Fodor’s has an extensive mobile website at m.fodors.com.
4. Frommers.com: from the company that published one of the first travel guides, Frommer’s now publishes over 300 guidebooks as well as the Frommers.com web site. Founder Arthur Frommer still actively blogs on the site, offering unique perspectives on the travel industry sharpened by decades of observation. Frommers doesn’t have a mobile version of its website, but has published a number of iPhone apps.
5. Let’s Go Travel Guides: publishes budget travel guides, written entirely by students for students. Let’s Go guides focus on off the beaten path locales that other guides tend to overlook. Its video gallery is a YouTube-like collection travel of videos—an interesting way to preview a destination. Let’s Go does not have a mobile site.
6. Lonely Planet: advocates “responsible travel” and is still a great “alternative voice” even though it is majority owned by the BBC. Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler pens an interesting blog with lots of perspective from many years of personal travel and editing guidebooks. Lonely Planet doesn’t have a mobile version of its website but has several iPhone, iPad and Nokia apps available.
It’s fun to see what we can find on the internet, but as people interested in web development, it is even more fun to see what can be developed. As Sherman points out, “Surprisingly, for sites that offer information about travel and moving around the world, many don’t have mobile versions of their websites, though some do have apps or iBook versions.” It will be interesting to see how that changes over the next few years.