Is Lonely Planet Killing Travel Blogs?

Lonely Planet Guidebooks have been around for a while and they are one of the first publications dedicated to budget travel -something we do.  More importantly, they are the most popular guidebooks around. Lonely Planet books are frequently updated, written in an inspiring – often humorous – way, and provide information without bias. They are simply great, BUT … is Lonely Planet killing blogs?

China Lonely Planet Guide, Shanghai
China Lonely Planet Guide, Shanghai 2011

Travel Bloggers’ Guides

Travellers experience the destinations all the time and some of them share their stories with the world on their blogs. These mini guides contribute to the wealth of collective knowledge, which is few-clicks-away – wherever you are in the world. Whatever destinations you’re visiting, more likely than not there was someone who wrote about it – often very recently. These real stories can help another traveller get a feeling of a place before arrival, recommend places to stay, eat, party, or things to do. There’s a lot of information out there, scattered across the web, all within your reach. A variety of stories, from many authors with different preferences – all to be discovered by you.

Lonely Planet Guidebooks

In a nutshell, Lonely Planet does the same – in a more minimalistic manner. Lonely Planet Guidebooks predominantly consist of concise summaries and bullet-pointed recommendations. Enough to get around, but probably too little to learn more of what the destination really has to offer. Since they are so popular – and still growing in popularity – they replace the first-handed experience written on travel blogs. To some extent they do kill travel blogs by taking away the readers who opt for the book (paper or electronic).

Our opinion on the matter

In our (me and Agness) opinion, the answer is no. While the availability of all-you-need-to-know in one place takes away many people otherwise looking for the alternative source of information on travel blogs, there is no escape for something similar getting published by someone else. There’s no escape from that and that’s good, because not everyone has the time to replace a short summary with a search for appropriate blog post. It’s easier, quicker and still quite reliable.

Also, Lonely planet supports travel bloggers! If it wasn’t for Lonely Planet retweeting my post last year, we may not have got this serious about blogging. With a single tweet, Lonely Planet changed our blogging experience. I believe we are not the only ones with similar experience.

Is Lonely Planet Killing Travel Blogs? Speak your mind :)

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Cez Krol
Cez Krol
I’m always positive and never bored – there’s just so much more to see and experience! I began my journey around the world in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging today. You can typically spot me working on a laptop or rock climbing.
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62 thoughts on “Is Lonely Planet Killing Travel Blogs?”

  1. Nah! The strength of travel blogs are their niche, I think. I read blogs because I relate to the blogger or enjoy their unique perspective or share a love of something (usually climbing or adventure-y things!) – the uniqueness of which is something that Lonely Planet will have a hard-time out-doing with a travel guide!

  2. Great topic!

    I think Lonely Planet are shooting themselves in the foot with their gradual (and sometimes not so gradual) format changes over the years. Even ten years ago, LP guidebooks were quirky, entertaining and easily navigated. Changes to the format over the years have seen them become less funny, and generally blander. The 2010 – 2011 overhaul they made was the most radical, and has almost turned me off with their lack of personality and strange layout. It’s difficult to locate important information quickly, and much of the best practical stuff has been left out.

    The answer? Travel blogs!!!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I agree with that Tim, thanks for sharing. I have notices the lack of personality and strange layout of the latest China guide. Don’t like it at all. Blogs seem to be more reliable nowadays in my opinion :). Maybe because I’m a blogger myself.

  3. I don’t think LP kills travel blogs. Most travel blogs are way more personal, so I think people are using a LP and a blog for different reasons. I tend to read both. LP for general research and then travel blogs for actual real life experiences. I have actually often changed my mind about certain sights in Lonely Plant once I read a review on a blog.

  4. I would say no only because I do not plan on traveling to most places i read about on travel blogs, the blogs themselves are the adventures, just cant get that from a book!

  5. santafetraveler

    In a word, no. A travel guide is obsolete the minute it hits the printer and can no longer be changed. New things come, old things go – not ancient sites, but shops, hotels, restaurants, etc. There is no way for the guides to be really up-to-date. If you keep your blog up-to-date as we do, you become a much more reliable source. We have an edge as we’re based in the place we write about.

    If you write extensively about your travels- your account is going to be much more compelling than a short blurb that most guides offer. I think good travel blogs are the best source available to travelers who want to know what the actual experience is like.

  6. Great post Cez!

    I agree, I think that Lonely Planet books are great for many reasons. We especially like them for the maps and the orientation section – helps us figure out which area of town we want to stay in, etc.

    We (of course!) always read other people’s blogs for first hand, up to date information…and for great places to eat and maybe to stay as well!

    Cheers for the post :)

  7. No I don’t think so! If anything it’s the other way around as travel blogs are gaining in popularity, and Lonely Planet has been bought by another company only recently! I like both though….I like having a travel guide book with me because I don’t always have internet when I’m traveling….but I love reading travel blogs because they have more info on places I want to go :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thank you Michelle for sharing. I agree with that. I remember using them during my first trips and they were very helpful :).

  8. Hi Cez,

    I think the two are quite different markets. Plus Lonely Planet was around long before travel blogs. I remember travelling around Europe for a month in the early 90’s with a travel book.

    The internet and travel blogs allow specific searches and drill downs. You can get real time information and a very personal perspective.

    Lonely Planet whilst in many ways are the experts they are an ideal travel companion. Great for when you do and do not have access to the internet whilst on the road.

    I think the two concepts can work really well together.

    I’m very envious that you managed to get a retweet from Lonely Planet. Which article was it?

  9. That LP guidebook is obsolete even before it gets to the printer. Even if they update it online, it would be hard to keep up- things change rapidly these days. I’ve seen stuff they’ve written online about Santa Fe – where I’m an expert- that’s incorrect. So…. I think blogs are fine- it may be Lonely Planet that is becoming obsolete.

  10. Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER

    Saw the title, only now reading the post. I was writing something opposite and didn’t want my mind to get twerked. Returning from a blog conference the other month made me think a lot about how traditional media is changing the way we do things. More things are going by way of social media and networks as we all go more wireless.

    Your post calls up a nice idea, but I disagree. These days, I’ve been taking last-last minute trips abroad and this requires me to get information on-the-fly. I still use guidebooks from time to time but I doing internet searches calls up specific information I need and they’re usually from travel bloggers. I’ know eTrampings gotten called up in some of my travel information searches. (Not to mention, I’ve had guidebook writers email me on travel information in Korea.) I think travel writers and bloggers will feed each other.

  11. Natalia | Always Trekking

    Interesting argument. Lonely planet is my travel book of choice whenever I go away. I never visit a country without it. It’s nice to read blogs about certain destination, but not one blog is as comprehensive as a lonely planet guide.

  12. LP provides bullet points for destinations. It is hard to find inspirational and heart felt stories you guys as travel bloggers are doing! We can find personal stories and photos in blogs, but we can only find robot types of things in the LP guidebooks.

  13. They have different uses. In a sposition to read up thoroughly and get up to date and varied information on a place before you go or when you’re there? Travel blogs are perfect.

    Travelling through a country where internet is rare and you have to make decisions quickly? A Lonely Planet stuffed into your backpack is priceless.

    Lonely Planet is also useful for general info on a place – things to do, see, whether it’s worth a visit – these type of things will generally not change over time.

  14. Simone @ www.theconstantwanderings.com

    I’ve had this same conversation many times, especially when I was traveling in Southeast Asia where Lonely Planet guides made it near to impossible to escape tourism. It was a major reason we saw an influx in Westerners in all of these once remote places! But at the same time, it does wonders for the economy of these developing countries. I had the privilege of meeting Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, when in a question and answer series for Entrepreneurs in Melbourne. He is vibrant, charming, and has such a charismatic nature about him that makes it impossible to feel any negatively about LP. He and his wife simply wanted to provide friends and fellow travelers with the ultimate advice to help ease their travels. It’s definitely a resource that has forever changed the way we travel.

  15. Jessica @ The Dining Traveler

    Nothing beats the first hand account of someone who you read and follow their adventures closely. I have had the loveliest meals and experiences traveling just because of a recommendation of a travel blogger.

  16. The short answer would be: “not at all” – in fact, LP guides and good blogs do work hand in hand to inspire travellers. LP guides are short and easy to use resources that can be carried on the plane, bus and just anywhere. Blogs are a step ahead in the sense that they often do inspire people to travel other than just give the bare indications of where to stay and what to eat. I surely use them both :)

  17. I was surprised to see this question posed this way round (which enticed me to read it in the first place). When I started travelling the web didn’t exist but I couldn’t be more glad that it does now. The web must have had a huge effect on guide book sales so I’m so glad to see people still use them, including those that grew up in this web dominated world we now live in.

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