Choosing the best travel guide for you

Alice Mottram 19 March 2015

As the end of term is upon us, the promise of an exotic getaway beyond the limits of Cambridge is difficult to resist. Whilst wikipedia, google maps and countless apps have sprung up, only with a travel guide in hand is one truly ready to face the challenges of life outside university. Choosing the right guide for you is of the utmost importance, as it will become your pioneering companion in the face of adversity. You will be defined by your travel guide: the fastidious tourist, the ‘gap yah’ student, the hipster. So, which will you choose and where will it take you?

Dorling Kindersley

Range – There is a DK guide for most places on Earth, but there are noticeable exceptions. Whilst there are guides for most European countries, their regions, major cities, and top 10 tourist spots, there isn’t a single guide to the fine nation of Nepal.

Price – As the guides are updated annually, the older editions can be purchased at a reduced price. Catch a flavour of Rome’s top 10 attractions from £3.99, or roam Italy at leisure for £14.39. 

Size – Whilst the guides to whole countries are better for pre-trip planning, the USA edition pushes baggage allowance at a comprehensive 772 pages. The slimmer pocket map and guide books are backpack friendly. 

Images – Lavishly illustrated pages fill these guides, as DK endeavour to “show you what others only tell you”. The stylised city walks and architectural drawings are an endless delight.

Overall – Designed for the fastidious traveller, with a DK guide in hand, the world really is your oyster.

Lonely Planet

Range – No corner of the Earth too remote, a shelf of Lonely Planet guides is the quintessential ‘gap yah’ souvenir. 

Price – The pocket guides retail at £3.99, and the full guides around £10.

Size – Leaving no stone unturned, the good people of Lonely Planet have produced a 960 page guide to the whole globe. For the ‘gap yah’ student with only a limited backpack for company, the standard and pocket size volumes will provide solace in the darkest of hours. 

Images – Lacking on images, these guides have sacrificed aesthetics for reams of text detailing information on every aspect of foreign travel. 

Overall – This is surely the first choice for every student adventurer. When you check in to your hostel and see a pile of Lonely Planet Vietnam, in five languages, you’ll know you’re not alone.

Wallpaper* City Guide, Phaidon

Range – If Wallpaper* have not published a guide to the city you are visiting, then it is either under the jurisdiction of Lonely Planet, or simply not cool enough to warrant a guide.

Price – All sell for £5.95. It would be a reasonable price, and less than most competitors, if the content were less glamorous and more useful.

Size – Pocket size and less than 250 pages, these are lightweight volumes to have in hand as you travel.

Images – Generous on photos, these guides are aesthetically very pleasing. The block colour covers betray image heavy content. Unfortunately, a glossy photo of urban life is not necessarily helpful when lost in a foreign metropolis. 

Overall – The serious traveller might laugh at these assuredly hipster guides, but think how artsy you will look with one in hand on your Instagram.