8 Reasons you should still buy a travel guide!

Does anybody buy travel guides anymore? I go into Waterstones, or surf Amazon, and see thousands of options, but none of my friends seem to want to buy them.

I, on the other hand, own a stack of them! Perhaps I’m a tad old fashioned, but I can’t understand why nobody else is buying travel guides to line their shelves. Here’s why I think you should go out and buy one!

  1. Get off your screen!

When I go abroad, I hope that I don’t have to spend one solitary second on my phone!

Even so, be it work calling me up, the landlord pestering me about rent, or feeling obliged to check the world news, a whole host of things will inevitably draw me to my mobile.

That’s why I don’t want anything else pushing me towards it! That means, if I need travel advice or recommendations, a travel guide is perfect.

I have a paperback in my hand with the relevant information I need and without having to glue my eyes to the screen I’m always looking at when I’m home. It’s a holiday for my eyes too. Sounds preferable to me!

  • All the information you need is in one place!

Personally, I don’t mind sifting through and collating huge swathes of information from across the internet, but that isn’t for everyone.

Of course, there is a wealth of information online that you could never fit into a book you can squeeze into your hand luggage. The downside of the internet though, is that there is so much information online that, even if you did extensive research, you’d never be able to read it all. Conversely, a good travel guide will be a concentrated vault of information, more than you can possibly need, but not way too much. Moreover, you’ve got all that in one place!

For planning, or spontaneous decisions in-country, a good travel guide will give everything you need as a tourist to experience your destination like a local!

  • Your book doesn’t need batteries!

This one’s obvious, but maybe so obvious that you wouldn’t even consider it.

I’ve been in a whole host of countries where my phone has died in my hand. Without a trusty travel guide in my backpack, I’d have no idea where to go or what to do.

Yes I love exploring and, sometimes, I go with spontaneity and explore in an off the cuff manner but, on days where I want a little structure, I like to know that my travel guide is going to be there no matter what!

You just can’t guarantee that with your phone so grab a travel guide!

  • There’s no Wi-Fi where you’re going!

I love to go to countries that other people won’t necessarily!

That often means Wi-Fi is less accessible than you’d like and mobile data can be hard to come by. When your phone has no access to the internet, it is almost as useless as if it were out of battery.

Moreover, if you’re going to have to pay for local Wi-Fi or data, it may well set you back a pretty penny! Your mobile is going to be a dead weight on your wallet and, as a thrifty traveler, that doesn’t sit too well with me.  

That is why you should again consider buying a travel guide, for when your phone lets you down!

  • There’s no Wi-Fi on planes and trains (although this is changing).

One of the most boring part of travelling can be… The actual travelling.

I personally love a flight or a train journey, but sometimes you need something to keep you busy. A lot of planes and trains still don’t have Wi-Fi so what better way to spend your time than learning about the company you’re going to than with the travel guide you purchased?

  • A guide is better researched and written than most blogs (not that I want you to give up on my content!)

Have you ever read a travel blog online and asked, can I trust this writer?

I know I have. It’s hard not to be cynical when you don’t necessarily know the credentials of whoever is writing. It could be a seasoned traveler with years of experience or a kid who’s never left his home county.

I personally write plenty about places I want to go, but I know that there are people who know a little more than me out there. I hope that what keeps you interested is that I have a lot of travelling experience, and the fact that I’m not a bad writer!

Even so, the benefit of a travel guide is that the information is vetted fantastically by professionals in the industry. You can trust what you’re reading and that’s critically important wherever you might be going!

  • Travel guides can be up to date!

Some people might tell you that travel guides go out of date fast.

I’ve heard that. Why would you buy a travel guide when you can get up to date information on your phone? Well I’ve already articulated several reasons why relying on your phone can be a problem; however, I want to address the elephant in the room.

Travel guides don’t just go out of date with a click of the fingers. If that were the case, why would anybody buy factual books? Good restaurants and attractions last. Moreover, local culture lasts. Most of the information contained in a good travel guide will therefore last.

Yes, there are always new attractions popping up and some things will change; however, a well-researched travel guide will provide timeless recommendations to form the backbone of your trip.

You don’t want to rely on your guide for every second of your time abroad, but if it can give you enough information to help you build a fantastic basis for your travels, it’s done a great job!

  • They’re actually a great thing to have on the shelf (particularly right now in lockdown)

Sitting here in lockdown, I am constantly perusing my bookshelves.

I have hundreds of books from fantasy fiction to self-help manuals; however, I am a traveler at heart.

Be it a guide on Madagascar, Europe, or Canada, I can’t help but keep picking all of them up and reading through. I’m planning about 50 different trips at the moment and my travel guides are providing a great source of escapism!

If you think that you’d get a similar sort of use out of a travel guide, pick one up today!


Personally, I see no real downside to buying a travel guide. It may cost you a few bob to pick one up, but they aren’t particularly expensive in the grand scheme of things. For the sake of a few square inches of space in your hand luggage, I see real value in owning one of these guides.

Reliable information that you can carry with you at all times, even when your phone fails you… What’s not to like about that?


Lockdown Reads 5: The Butterfly Lion

I’ve decided to write a series of short recommendations/critiques/summaries of my favourite books. These are titles you can perhaps purchase on one day delivery, or Amazon audible, to keep you busy during these uncertain times.

On this occasion, I plan on telling you about one of my all-time dearest children’s book. I grew up inhaling Michael Morpurgo’s various works but one, The Butterfly Lion, was always my favourite. It might not necessarily have the grandiosity of his work War horse, but the book is an emotional read, especially for a children’s book, and has charm coming out of its ears.

From the relationship between Bertie and Millie, the two human protagonists in the story, to the bond betwixt both of them and their lion, the book is nothing but heartwarming. Bertie is a young boy growing up on his family farm in Africa. When his father shoots a lioness, Bertie adopts her white lion cub.

Bertie, whilst sneaking away from school to try and see his lion, meets a young girl named Millie. The whole story is actually narrated by Millie to a young boy in the present.  Millie and Bertie become close friends until the First World War divides them. Bertie wins the Victoria Cross for valour when he saves two men and, upon reading of his exploits in a newspaper, Millie tracks him down.

Bertie and Millie find out that their lion was part of a circus and, although the circus has shut down, they rescue him from his owner. Bertie and Millie move to England, talking the lion with them, and complete their love story’s arc, getting married. When the lion dies, they are both greatly saddened, and Bertie carves a chalk lion onto the hillside. The white chalk lion attracts butterflies in droves and this gives the book its elegant title.

There are other nuances to the story that I have decided not to include in my narrative; however, this is the gist of the storyline. It is a beautifully crafted tale and Michael Morpurgo is a true artisan of children’s novels. If your children are bored in lockdown and need a read then this novel is a terrific option.

Lockdown Reads 4: The Lays of Ancient Rome

This recommendation is for a very different sort of book to those which I have written about before and will likely write about in the future.

The Lays of Ancient Rome, written by Thomas Babington Macaulay, a man with the most fabulously British name, is a collection of a series of narrative poems which recount the stories which have shaped modern understanding of early Roman History and canon.

I first learned of the book when one of my friends quoted this reference to me, in particularly poetic fashion, just before a boxing match:

‘Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate: “To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can men die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his Gods.”’

This particular excerpt is taken from the poem Horatius, a story of sacrifice not dissimilar to Thermopylae, but for the ending. Horatius and his two comrades defend the Sublician Bridge, the crossing point on the Tiber at Rome, against an advancing Etruscan army. Horatius ends up standing alone whilst Roman engineers demolish the bridge into the river to halt the Etruscan advance. Whilst Horatius survives, swimming back to shore, his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice is a powerful reminder of the strength of character which few men possess when they need to carry the world on their shoulders.

Aside from this poem, others, like The Battle of Lake Regillus and The Prophecy of Capys, tell other ‘foundation myth’ type stories absolutely brilliantly and eloquently.

This book of poetry is undoubtedly hard to read; however, to help nourish a blossoming understanding of Roman history, and a passion for classic works of literature, I could not think of one much better.

Lockdown Reads 3: Shoe Dog

I’ve decided to write a series of short recommendations/critiques/summaries of my favourite books. These are titles you can perhaps purchase on one day delivery, or Amazon audible, to keep you busy during these uncertain times.

We’re back to non-fiction for this one. I will start with a quick disclaimer this time around. I’ve never actually read Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, but I have listened to it on Audible a couple of times.

I will say, if you start listening to the audiobook, you might be warded off by Phil Knight’s introduction. I know, from some of my friends who have been in the car when I put on his dulcet tones, that his voice is not to everyone’s taste. I’ll tell you right now though, he doesn’t stick to narration for any longer than the introduction so skip that if necessary.

The book itself details the rise of then shoe start-up, and now fitness giant, Nike. From humble origins in sleepy Oregon to lucrative international deals with superstar athletes the world over, Phil Knight’s autobiography details the meteoric rise of his company.

The book is, however, much more than a simple rags to riches tale. There is much to be gleaned, if you treat the book as something of a self-help guide, from its founder’s consistent exuberance and unshakeable faith in his vision for Nike. I read the book for inspiration when I was raising capital for my own start-up and found it to be a fountain of information, particularly on how to be a good founder and a great human being.

Shoe Dog is a really interesting autobiography that lends itself to a much wider audience than just potential founders of startups. If you have an ambitious bone in your body, there is much to learn from Phil Knight’s life and I can’t recommend it enough.

Lockdown Reads 2: Mortal Engines

I’ve decided to write a series of short recommendations/critiques/summaries of my favourite books. These are titles you can perhaps purchase on one day delivery, or Amazon audible, to keep you busy during these uncertain times.

The second book on my list is Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. Admittedly, now that Peter Jackson has released his movie adaptation of the title, this book is not the best-kept secret it once was. The movie, whilst I personally consider it to be better than some others would argue, certainly does not do the novel justice. So, if you didn’t like the film and thus didn’t want to read the book, I would recommend that you change your tune and order a copy.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by the long ago fought ‘60-minute war’, settlements have taken to strapping on wheels and chasing one another for the scarce resources they need in a food web called ‘municipal darwinism’. Our protagonist, Tom Natsworthy, a resident and proud apprentice historian of London, falls out of the city and is thrust into the mad and dangerous world where predator cities hunt everything in sight.

With twists and turns abound, the first book of the quartet follows Tom’s quest for truth and his blossoming relationship with the terrifying Hester Shaw. Hester, for reasons that will become clear when you read Mortal Engines, is one of the most interestingly written characters I have come across in my experiments in reading science fiction. She alone deserves your eyes on the page.

For a post-apocalyptic quest like no other, pick up a copy and get reading.