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For What It's Worth

PHILIPPINES | Friday, 14 November 2014 | Views [341]

Travel staples

Travel staples

WHEN WE BEGAN OUR TRAVELS A COPY OF LONELY PLANET and a jar of peanut butter were all we needed to get around.  Not any more!  Well, peanut butter is still a staple, but Lonely Planet, once our bible, is now about as reliable as Cliff’s Notes.  Part of the problem is that we have changed; no longer do we seek out the cheapest rooms and eats.  We have grown accustomed to more creature comforts, will fly rather than take a bus, although few things are more pleasant than train travel.

maureen

     Lonely Planet has come a long way

Since LP has changed ownership from its hippy founders Tony and Maureen to a UK-based company and now, we understand, to an American firm, it has gone downhill.  The authors of each edition are often locals, not foreign travelers.  The directions they provide seem to assume that you already know something about the area.  And because they haven’t traveled as extensively as many of their readers, they write as if their waterfalls are the largest, their mountains the highest and their beaches have the whitest sand.  There don’t seem to be as many maps as before, either, and these are difficult to read, especially for my old peepers.  Despite the fact that nearly everyone still carries a copy of Lonely Planet, they have lost their younger backpacker audience who now are more comfortable with the internet than books.  And those of us who cut our teeth on LP aren’t comfortable with the new format and (lack of) information.  Sometimes, though, Lonely Planet is the only game in town.

That said, even Luddites like us couldn’t get along without our mac and wi-fi.  booking.com has become a godsend, giving us the freedom to find just the right lodging with only a day’s notice.  agoda is another option — sometimes they have more listings, especially here in the Philippines, but generally I like the service and format of booking.com.

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Easter Island, 2012

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