Trains in Thailand are punctual, comfortable, cheap and serve reasonable food.
South east Asia on a shoestring, 1st edition, 1975
From our experience they got one out four right (cheap). My how things have changed in the 35 years and 15 editions since that first Lonely Planet book.
I’ve just finished reading Brian Thacker’s light and enjoyable Tell Them to Get Lost, where the author attempts to use Lonely Planet‘s first edition of South-East Asia on a Shoestring to guide him around the region. Staying in grimy guesthouses with sagging beds, stained sheets and little of the way of plumbing is not my idea of fun travel. Nor is a diet of booze, drugs, pizza and banana pancakes. You can tell I’m not a backpacker.
Neither are many of the Lonely Planet’s readers any more, which is why they often now list hotels that are beyond our budget. Each to their own.
Independent travellers are blessed now with so many resources for planning their journeys. You can visit tourist organisation websites for guides to destinations and attractions, read blogs (like this one) and reviews for other peoples ideas and experiences, virtually visit a location through mapping tools, photos and even in some cases street views. Many destinations even have mobile phone apps to guide you around once you arrive and various portable internet options mean that you may be look up anything you need to know while on the move.
But I still like to take along a copy of the local Lonely Planet for those odd times you just need a hint on how to get from A to B, a map of city streets when you haven’t been to the tourist office or got internet access, the opening hours of a museum, the location of a hospital, or just how to say “hello” in the local language it is reassuring to have a copy of the Lonely Planet handy. It’s not a bible for your journey but more of a comfort item.
The problem is that Lonely Planets are often big and heavy, which is not so good when you are trying to pack light. So I’m giving the ebook versions a try on my mobile. Here’s hopping the batteries still have power when I need them!