Who needs them anyway?
Seriously, all of my travel research and planning has been done online. I compiled some must-sees and recommendations in Evernote before we departed, and referred back to them when we were in the corresponding country. On the road, the Triposo app has been a lifesaver. I download guides for each city in advance, so I can access them offline. Even offline, you can use the city maps, and it will pick up and track your location (you’ll never get lost). It pulls in information and ratings from sites like Wiki and Yelp, offering ideas for sightseeing, places to eat and stay, and background on each destination, as well as the latest exchange rates, weather, local phrasebook and current time. For big cities, it usually includes a metro map. For free.
The problem with guidebooks is that information can be out of date by the time they go to print. Places close down, move elsewhere, or get pricier and more mediocre through complacency. I’ve learned to always seek out the most recent reviews and details online. Too often, I’ve been disappointed by places touted as the ‘must dos’. Personal recommendations and Yelp have yielded better results, especially for hole-in-the-wall type establishments. I’m not saying that long waiting lines and bulging crowds are always a bad sign, but they’re not always a good one, either.
As it turns out, overplanning stresses me out. When I feel I have an enormous list of sights to see and restaurants to hit, I really can’t enjoy myself. I need to pick just a few priorities, and then leave myself room to wander, snap photos and be a sponge.
I meant to get us both all our shots before leaving. I honestly did. I wasn’t worried about Europe or North America, but I was a bit concerned about south east Asia. Thing is, between wedding madness, moving madness, and winding up work madness, I left it to T to organise this (he has a family doctor and I don’t, which is something I need to sort out at some point). Before I knew it, we were less than two weeks out and at that point, I threw my hands up. We weren’t travelling off the beaten track, and the odds of getting malaria in the main cities were low.
We took a gamble, and made it through without any serious illness. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, but I am now on the side of those who reckon it’s up to you to weigh up whether the expense/hassle is worth it, based on where you’re travelling and your general state of health.