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In Praise of the Old-School Guidebook

by Team Popupla
Analog joy. All photos by Daniel Schwartz.

The best way to get excited for upcoming travel? Queue up an internet search, ask around for word-of-mouth recommendations, and procure a trusty guidebook to do your research. 

Actually, a guidebook should be your travel companion the whole time. Crack one open to stoke wanderlust. Thumb through a dog-eared paperback while on the road — and stumble on a little gem of info that will change the course of the day. After the trip's all said and done, there's satisfaction in stacking that book on a shelf as a bucket list souvenir. A quick flip through the pages brings back all the good memories. 

There are so many reasons why old-fashioned guidebooks are just as good as new-fangled technology. Here are five of them.

1. PLANNING IS HALF THE FUN

For the seasoned traveler and blank passport-holder alike, there's more romance in a guidebook than in any smartphone app. Guidebooks offer something tangible and real — the expert tip, fact-checked and edited, with interesting info and stories about how to see iconic places and wander down little-known paths. The best guidebooks have something to teach and entertain readers at every turn of the page ... before you've even left your driveway.

2. GUIDEBOOKS TAKE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE BEST SITES

You're visiting Paris for the first time (finally!) and want to know your Marais from your Montmartre. You're road-tripping South Africa and need an overview of the Wild Coast and Zululand. The compact and colorful  will take you there. And so much more: They will provide historical context, make introductions to art and architecture, have tons of cultural insights, and include easy-to-follow itineraries that paint a portrait of your destination. Top 10 destination booklets break down the best annual events, restaurants, outdoor markets, and self-guided walks, and include awesome pull-out maps.

3. PHYSICAL MAPS ARE A LIFESAVER

When you're in a new place, without a compass or a dependable and overpriced international data plan, you'll be glad you packed paper. DK's color photos, four-color maps, and diagrams are extremely user-friendly. The Survival Guide and Street Smarts sections distill the essentials — and easily answer your jet-lagged brain's questions about time zones, currency, road signs, and where to find free WiFi.

4. BOOKS DON'T RUN OUT OF BATTERY

Ever.

5. EXPERT ADVICE IS ALWAYS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

IRL travel writers, researchers, and a whole host of pros provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. Blood, sweat, tears, and years go into the making of a quality guidebook. DK covers hundreds of places around the globe, in print and digital formats. 

Happy reading. Happy trails.


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